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Home Projector Comparison Report: Summary

Posted on April 4, 2012 by Art Feierman

Below find my final thoughts and suggestions. -art

View the Best In Class Awards page for a detailed summary of the winners, and why the won their awards!

All Home Theater Projectors Winning major awards in this report

Winners are listed by Award.  In the case of ties, they are listed alphabetically.

Entry Level Projector Class - Under $2000

Best In Class, 2D Panasonic PT-AR100 projector
Best In Class BenQ W6000
Special Interest: 2D Value Viewsonic Pro8200
Best In Class, 2D / 3D (tie) Acer H9500BD
Best In Class: 2D / 3D (tie) Epson Home Cinema 3010/3010e

Mid-Priced Projector Class: $2000 - $3500

Best In Class (tie) Epson Home Cinema
Best In Class (tie) Epson Pro Cinema 6010
Best In Class Runner-Up (tie): BenQ W7000
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie) Panasonic PT-AE7000

Premium Priced Projector Class: $3500 - $10,000

Best In Class: (tie) JVC DLA-X70R
Best In Class: (tie) Sony VPL-VW95ES
Best In Class: Runner-Up Mitsubishi HC9000D

View the Best In Class Awards page with summaries done on each of the winners!

Projector Recommendations For Those Only Interested in Movies

These are projectors that are generally great for movie viewing, but for one reason or another, are less practical for watching other content. The key reason a projector make this group: limited brightness in brightest modes. That means the inability to handle any significant ambient light, since most people don't watch sports or most TV in a pitch black room. These projectors should have at least good black level performance. Almost all of these have "brightest modes" that are only average or below in brightness.

Projectors that are completely well rounded, and equally good at HDTV and Sports (requiring at least average "brightest mode" performance), are not included in this list.

Afterall, the best overall projectors are the ones that win our Best In Class awards, and don't need to be also on these additional lists, even though they should be good For example, the Mitsubishi HC4000 could be said to be very good at movies, but it is equally good at sports and HDTV. As a result it's not listed as a "movies only" projector even though it would serve well as one.

This is not intended as a comprehensive list, rather a good sampling:

  • Optoma HD20 (best of the sub-$1000 projectors, when it comes to blacks)
  • Mitsubishi HC7800D
  • JVC DLA-RS45/X30
  • Runco LS5
  • Sony VPL-VW95ES

Best Projectors For Sports (and HDTV) Viewing

The projectors on this list may also be very good for movie viewing, as well, but are listed here, because of combination of features (brightness, CFI, etc.) that make them particularly good for sports events and digital content.

Forget movies for the moment, these are the projectors that are best suited for HDTV and sports. The projectors must have at least average brightness to make this list (1000 lumens or more), in brightest mode. * denotes has CFI, which is considered a plus for most sports viewing.

  • BenQ W1200
  • BenQ W6000
  • Epson Home Cinema 8350
  • Epson Home Cinema 8700UB
  • Mitsubsishi HC4000
  • Mitsubishi HC6800
  • Panasonic PT-AE4000
  • Sharp XV-Z17000

Projectors That Really Come Into Their Own on Smaller Screens

This is just a small group of projectors that really don't have the ability to easily work with larger than 100" diagonal screens (unless the screens are higher gain). Their quality varies, and not all are necessarily great projector values, but all of them share the trait of not really having the ability to work well with screens of 110" to 130" diagonal, usually due to lack of lumens in "best" mode, rather than brightest. Some of these projectors would have been serious contenders for top awards, but for the lack of lumens. I have no stats on the breakdown of the various sized screens in terms of number of owners, so I don't know if 30% or 50% or 70% of home theater projector owners are using screens 100" diagonal or smaller. Best I can tell, the most popular screen sizes are 100, 106, and 110 inch. These projectors are iffy on anything bigger than a 1.0 gain 100 inch screen, due to lack of lumens, but all of them do a great job on smaller screens.

This is not a list of all the dimmer projectors, but a list of the best of the dimmer projectors (from a value proposition that considers price, features and performance).

  • Sharp XV-Z17000
  • Sanyo PLV-Z4000
  • Sony VPL-VWPro1
  • JVC DLA-RS60

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