Epson Home Cinema 8700UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z4000
This battle is between two projectors slightly upgraded projectors for the fall 2010 season. There was very little in improvement between the Z4000 and the older Z3000, less than the improvement in the 8700UB over the older 8500UB. That said, the balance between these latest Sanyos and Epsons hasn't changed much since last year's comparison. So what does that mean? The Epson still handlily produces better blacks (though not drastically better). The Sanyo PLV-Z4000, afterall, I still consider to be an ultra high contrast projector, even if at the lower end of that range.
The Epson Home Cinema also has more lumens to offer, approaching 500 in best mode, compared to the Sanyo's 320 measured. In brightest modes, it's the Sanyo coming up a little short of 900 lumens compared to the Epson being very close to 1200 lumens. Now the Sanyo has some interesting modes, including Brilliant Color, which is still a very usable movie mode, and with decent brightness. I'll give the Sanyo that, but have to remind you, that Brilliant Color on the Z4000 only puts it in the same general brightness range as the Epson in THX.
Both projectors are manual zoom and focus, both have basic support for an anamorphic lens. Epson's warranty is two years, (and they will honor the lamp warranty for the duration of the projector's warranty)! Epson provides a rapid replacement program, should your projector have a covered problem, under warranty. Sanyo, on the other hand offers a more basic warranty, but for three years, not two. I should note that the more expensive Pro Cinema 9500, offers three years, and their replacement program.
Both projectors - Sanyo and Epson, are a little less expensive than last year's models. Epson, however, is launching the 8700UB with an in the box free spare lamp offer. If you consider that (never mind the longer lamp life to begin with), the two projectors are pretty close in price. That considered, the Epson is going to be the projector of choice for most.
Finally, though, this Sanyo calibrates a lot nicer than the Z3000 did last year, but then so does the Epson, with a great looking THX mode, right out of the box. The Sanyo is a fine projector for under $1800, but the Epson just delivers more performance for the bucks.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB vs. BenQ W6000
It's been so long since a W6000 has been in here, but it still remains a favorite of mine. The W6000 being a DLP projector has that DLP look and feel. I normally describe that as being particularly rich looking in terms of the darker colors. Skin tones once calibrated are most impressive. Although the W6000 has lens shift, and a 1.5:1 zoom lens, it's still no match in placement flexibility compared to the Epson, but it is close enough, that for most, the W6000 (placement wise) will work just as well as the Epson.
The Epson offers more features overall, than the W6000, but the W6000 has a couple of major strengths going for it. Most noticeably, overall brightness. Even with Brilliant Color turned off, we measured the BenQ at 866 lumens. But wait - turn on Brilliant Color, and bingo - a best mode that measured 1039 lumens - double that of the Epson.
That makes the W6000 the better choice for those into movies, and large screens.
When it comes to maximum brightness, again, the W6000 has the advantage. The W6000's brightest mode measured 1750 lumens - about 50% more than the 8700UB. Unfortunately, though, that Dynamic mode is very heavy on green, and allows almost no ability to adjust it. As a result, the Dynamic mode is strictly for when you need every last lumen. Football is watchable, but barely. I would use a calibrated Standard mode, which can yield 1250 lumens a few more than the Epson, and in that mode color is pretty good.
So, the W6000 overall, is a better choice for a larger screen, and though it does a great job on blacks for the money (it too has a dynamic iris), it still isn't as good as the Epson.)
The W6000 and the Epson 8700UB are two good alternatives. What you need to do, is figure out which makes the most sense for your room, screen size and type, lighting, and viewing habits... Have fun!