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Comparison Projector Review - Warranties

Posted on August 14, 2006 by Art Feierman

Comparison Projector Review - Warranties

I can tell that a significant slice of projector buyers just don't pay attention to warranty. It's easy to tell, the Warranty page of each review, gets far less page views than any of the other four sections.

That's really too bad, for warranty coverage is one of the big differences between some projectors, and the difference can be really costly to some users.

In this group of six projectors, basic warranties vary from barely acceptable - one year parts and labor, and no loaner or replacement program, all the way up to excellent: Three years with a loaner program.

Why is it really important? Most projectors should last years of normal use, but, still, a certain small percentage of owners will suffer from failures. With projectors selling for under $1500, any significant out of warranty failure, pretty much makes the projector a throw away. If you have a three year warranty, that's not so bad, but if you have a projector with a one year warranty, and you have, say, a power supply, or "engine (LCD or DLP, related parts), it's quite likely that your repair bill will be upward of $500.

So lets say your projector fails after 15 months, and only has a one year warranty. You start looking at $500+ repair and then have to consider that it's still going to be an out of warranty projector after fixed. Also, by that time you may have used up to half of your $300 or $400 lamp. Now let's say your projector sells for around $1100 or less, as 4 of these six do. Then think "it's 15 months later, and the next generation projector, with even better performance, may only be $800.

Logically, unless you feel really lucky (not likely since your projector just broke shortly out of warranty), for a couple hundred bucks or so more than repairing your projector (and factoring in the amount of lamp used), you can buy a brand new projector, with slightly better performance and a full warranty and a fresh lamp!

Value added coverage - comes in two forms: A loaner program, where the manufacturer loans you - at no charge - a projector to use while yours is getting fixed under warranty. Loaner programs are particularly nice if your company or school does asset tracking, and replacing a projector, means dealing with updating serial numbers, etc. with your asset tracking people. A replacement program is similar to a loaner, except the manufacturer simply replaces your broken unit with another projector of the same model (no not a new one, but one out of their "replacement fleet"). The big advantage here, is that you get the replacement and ship the broken one back in the box the replacement came in, and you are done. With a loaner, you get one in, ship yours for repair, get yours back, ship back the loaner - more work. Those who travel with projectors should definitely favor the replacement program. OK, back to our six projectors. Two models, the InFocus IN26, and the Dell 2400MP come only with a one year parts and labor warranty. But the Dell, provides a replacement program with it. Both InFocus and Dell offer extended warranties out to 3 years, and the Dell extended warranties include their replacement program. The Dell's extended warranties cost less than the InFocus warranties, giving the 2400MP a major leg up over the IN76. With either the Dell or InFocus projectors, I would recommend extending the warranty to at least 2 years, 3 if it makes sense to you. You should factor the cost of at least one year of extra warranty into the buying cost of your projector, for comparison's sake. Epson's S4, and Optoma's TX-700 come with 2 year parts and labor warranties. Epson, however provides a 2 year replacement warranty with theirs, vs. Optoma's basic coverage. With three year warranties standard, the Panasonic PT-LB60 series and the Mitsubishi HD4000 have by far the best warranties. In addition, the Mitsubishi comes with 3 years of replacement program, while the Panasonic offers 3 years of loaner program. Either warranty is "best of class". One extra-special, but not inexpensive option is available on the Dell. Just like they offer optionally on their laptops, they offer their "Complete Care" option above and beyond their regular extended warranty with replacement. With Complete Care, the warranty is widened to cover most accidental damage. (We still don't recommend dropping projectors.) This does increase the cost significantly, the two year extension to three years total is $338, vs their regular extended, of $169.

As you think about that, just remember that $338 extra is just a touch more than 30% of the cost of the projector!

So, how do these standard warranties stack up? It's pretty straightforward, Panasonic and Mitsubishi are the best, followed by the Epson. Then the Optoma, followed by the Dell, and the InFocus at the bottom of the pile.

Again, you make the call, for extended warranties on the InFocus and Dell, just remember that it's adding a chunk to the cost of the projector itself.

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