Projector Reviews

Your Holiday Guide To The Five Best Home Theater Projectors Over $2000 – Part Three

Speaking of 4K, time to take a look at our last two great projectors.  The first of the two uses pixel shifting, but has more than that going for it.  It has all the latest inputs – HDMI 2.0, and the important HDCP 2.2 copy protection.  That’s the “stuff” that Blu-ray UHD (4K) will require.  The other – a true 4K projector, is equally “future proof.”

Epson Pro Cinema LS10000

Let’s start with the less expensive of the two:  Epson’s brand new Pro Cinema LS10000, which starts shipping mid-November, the MSRP looks to be “under $8000.”   I got to do a full review of the LS10000 using an engineering sample provided by Epson, shortly before they announced the projector at CEDIA.

This is one cool projector, I know I spent far more than 100 hours viewing it.  It’s very bright, has excellent black level performance and Epson’s Super-Resolution on this projector produces the sharpest, most detailed looking image using pixel shifting, that I’ve encountered to date.  Only Sony’s far more expensive 4K projectors appear sharper on 1080p or 4K content.

Above images are standard 1080p (the football and Victoria Secret model photos are 1080i, essentially half the resolution of 1080p).  4K images are below.

The rest of the technology is fun too.  Although Epson has long been the primary manufacturer of the LCD’s that go into projectors.  No 3LCD panels for the LS10000, though.  The LS10000 and it’s non-pixel shifting little brother (the LS9600e) both use Epson’s new reflective panels, Liquid Crystal on Quartz.  not LCoS (silicon) panels.  BTW, nice irony:  Epson is Epson Seiko, legendary for Seiko watches – and the folks that invented those highly accurate quartz watches that impacted the entire watch industry.

Epson LS10000 Handling 4K Content

You are looking at full screen, and in some cases – close-up cropped images, all from true 4K content.

For you techies the other excitement around this Epson is the dual blue laser light source.  I’ve reviewed quite a number of projectors with solid state light engines – lasers, LEDs and hybrids, but this is the first one I’ve seen (outside of $100K+ projectors), that really looks great as a home theater projector.  As Mike our calibrator said, basically, it looks like a lamp-based projector when viewing, with no laser artifacts, or the usual disadvantages of lamps.

While the Epson may not be true 4K, it would appear to be not only the sharpest, but the  most future proof projector available today that doesn’t have true 4K panels.  It accepts 4K content. It’s 3D performance is extremely good, and bright!  Everything is in place to meet the new Blu-ray UHD standards when those products start shipping next year.

But it really is about the picture.  The LS10000 not only produces an image that seems sharper than anything below the price of the Sony 4K projectors, but has no lamps to change, and with a laser engine, color accuracy should hold for years, not just for hundreds of hours of use as is typical of lamp based projectors.

Expect to get years of awesome viewing from the LS10000.  By the time you get tired of this impressive projector, it will probably be time to upgrade to 8K!

High-end Screens: dnp

I’d like to focus on a first class, high-end screen before we tackle our last projector.

Not everyone has – or wants a dedicated theater.  Media rooms are becoming more and more popular – what’s the difference?  They are usually a compromise, as they usually have some ambient light, and are suitable for general TV as well as movies.  Here’s the problem though, the more ambient light present, the less great the image looks.  True of LCDTV’s but even more so with projectors.  Fear not, though, because there are some new screen technologies that will take a media room with soft lighting, and allow you to have the viewing quality of a blacked out theater (or close enough).

dnp is a well known European manufacturer of screens that have ambient light absorbing properties.  As you can see from these images, their screens can survive a fair amount  fluorescent lighting, and still provide a great image.  In these images below, you can see how effective dnp’s technology is handling ambient light.

So, why consider a dnp screen?  Because with one of these, your picture in  your “media room” can look about as good as the same projector in a dedicated, extremely dark theater.  Folks, this is fancy technology – most of the dnp screens in the 100” to 120” size in the $3000 to $4000 range.  But the good news is, “it’s a screen”.  It can outlast several projectors, so it’s a good long term investment.

I’ve decided to focus on one particular dnp surface, their 0.85 gain screen.  This is the screen that will allow your picture to still have awesome black levels on dark scenes, even in far less than ideal lighting and rooms.

dnp Supernova 0.85 gain screen

So check out these images.  The first image is projected onto three screens.  From left to right, are the Supernova .85, our featured screen.  The middle section is also a dnp Supernova, but with much higher 2.3 gain.  I like this one too, it would be particularly stellar in rather bright rooms, for people more focused on things like HDTV and sports than movies, as it can handle some very bright situations.  And finally, the rightmost part of the image is a typical, “normal” good quality 1.1 gain screen, which as you can see, its image massively washed out.

When there’s ambient light present, the difference between merely a good screen, and the “right” screen, can be rather dramatic.

dnp offers their screens with the usual black trim, or silver, and they even offer a borderless screen, which seems to be a new trend.

Now you won’t find dnp screens selling on the internet, so drop by dnp’s website.  dnp sells through a network of “integrators” (dealers).  They’ll be happy to tell you who their dealers are in your area.

One of the dnp .85’s is likely the best choice you can make if you are putting a serious home theater projector in a room that’s not a “cave.”  There’s also the 2.3 gain version (which costs less), that might work better in some rooms.  Ask your dealer!

The Supernova .85 gain is at home in a dedicated theater as well, performing its magic when you have friends over, lights on, for sports, and HDTV.

For many of us, these Supernova screens from dnp are the key ingredient to help your projector picture be the very best it can be!

 

Want more info on screens? Check out our Projector Screens directory for some general information, plus the full collection of our projector screen reviews. We’ve also got a two-part video series about Choosing the Right Projector Screen (Part 1 and Part 2) that you may find helpful.

When all is said, and done, if you can afford true 4K, that’s still going to provide the sharpest image possible, and allow you to sit the closest, especially when you pair a 4K projector with 4K content.  It’s time for me to introduce you one of Sony’s true 4K projectors, and the last of our five recommended projectors worthy of your consideration this holiday season!

Sony VPL-VW600ES

Sony introduced the VPL-VW600Es around a year ago.  Consider the VW600ES to be a great projector, but also note that it’s more of a system than just a projector.  Let’s start with basics.  The MSRP on the VW600ES is $14,999.

Your Sony projector investment will include the VW600ES projector and an outboard 4K server, plus a Sony Xperia android tablet to control the server.   Use the server to download 4K content from Sony’s rapidly growing 4K online library.  4K movies sell from about $3.99 to $34.99, but most new hits are $29.99  (Men In Black, in 4K is $7.99).  Remember, Sony Pictures is huge, with a massive library of movies and they are regularly adding to the 4K service.  I haven’t done a count but it must be approaching 100 4K movies, plus other 4K content.

Above, the Sony VPL-VW600ES displaying true 4K content. Most of these images are already heavily cropped

Ultimately 4K is where we projector folks all want to be.  Think this way would allow us to sit as close as 6 feet (if desired, and practical in your room) from a 120” screen, for maximum immersion. Even that close everything will still be looking very sharp!   This Sony is  true 4K and it brings you to a whole other level of wow.

This Sony is no stocking stuffer, this is the grandest holiday gift  you are likely to give yourself or your family, unless someone’s putting a bow on a new Tesla, or Jaguaar, and parking it in your garage! The projector itself is well endowed, with features, and performance.  It’s bright enough for large screens, 150” diagonal is no problem for great 2D viewing, 3D viewing is really good too!  Color is truly excellent, but at the end of the day, being true 4K, is what sets it apart.

Above, the VPL-VW600ES showing non-4K content, either 1080p from Blu-ray disc, or 1080i off of satellite.

The VW600ES will last you for a great many years before technology has you thinking about something different.  We’re at a cusp today, the beginning of the migration from 1080p to UHD 4K which technically has 4 times the resolution.   As someone who has had a VW600ES in my theater for a total of over 3 months in the last year.   – Wow!

Santa? A little help here!

"Wrapping" It Up!

That folks ends our recommendations.  We’ve served up what I personally think are the five best projectors and values, spanning a price range of $2299 to $14,999.  For those of looking to spend a little less, do check out our five, under $2000 picks, in our other Holiday Guide.

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