Optoma HD65 Projector vs. the Competition:
Optoma HD65 vs. the Panasonic PT-AX200U Projector
Interesting match up. The Panasonic, a 3LCD projector is the best seller of the 720p projectors, and one reason is plenty of placement flexibility, unlike the HD65. The HD65, though is very portable for those who want to take it to the cabin, or move from room to room, not that the Panasonic is huge, at all.
The Panasonic is definitely the brightest of the 720p projectors (3 chip DLP's notwithstanding - way more money than even most 1080p projectors). The PT-AX200U has twice the lumens in brightest mode (with the Panasonic that assumes the zoom lens in mid position, in full telephoto it's only about 50% brighter).
When you are looking for best mode performance for movie watching, though the big difference in lumens disappears. In fact the Optoma beat the Panasonic by about two dozen lumens, with both in there best modes after adjustment!
The Panasonic will have better black levels, though not drastically so, but, on the other hand, the Optoma projector projects a slightly sharper looking image.
Optoma HD65 Projector vs. the Optoma HD71 Projector
Here are the basics, more detail will be found in the comparison review, between these two Optoma projectors.
Basically, the HD65 definitely has better color out of the box, and is "good to go", while the HD71 definitely needs some "work" to get good skin tones, etc. The HD71, though is a much brighter projector for the extra roughly $300 dollars, and also contains a single small speaker (not exactly what you want for watching movies).
Technically, the HD71 has a 6x speed color wheel, compared to the HD65's 4x wheel, and that means more folks will see rainbows with the HD65. The percentages are still very small - less than 5% of the population, but for those sensitive, 6X is a significant improvement.
Black levels and shadow details are in the same general range between these two, so other factors, like brightness or size, become deciding factors.
From a placement standpoint, both of these are about as inflexible as one can find, pretty much meaning ceiling mounting or table top, but with your flexibility limited to about 1 foot or so front to back, (depending on screen size). For either of these, first figure out if they will work in your room, if not - move on to other possibilities.
Optoma HD65 Projector vs. Sanyo PLV-Z5 Projector
The Sanyo PLV-Z5 remains a highly popular projector even though it's well into its second year. It definitely has the black level advantage over the HD65 projector, and shadow detail by perhaps a very slight advantage as well.
But, when it comes to brightness, th HD65 has about twice the lumens in best mode. The Sanyo projector is a great projector for smaller screens, typically 100" diagonal or less, and depending on the screen surface, a little more. By comparison, the HD65 has almost as many lumens when in its best mode, as the Sanyo has in brightest, and can go up an extra 20" diagonal in screen size.
Of course, the 3LCD Sanyo, clobbers the Optoma projector in terms of placement flexibility, with its 2:1 zoom lens, plus very generous lens shift. The Sanyo will therefore work for just about everyone, whether you want to ceiling mount, shelf mount or set it down on a coffee table. The Sanyo PLV-Z5, also has a sharpness advantage, although slight, plus a 3 year warranty, compared to Optoma's one year.
HD65 vs Epson Home Cinema 720
An interesting trade-off here. The Optoma has the brightness advantage in "best" mode, although the Epson has several movie modes. Even the brightest, though, is still about 30% less than the Optoma. I have always recommended the Epson for those heavy into sports, or a fair amount of ambient light, because its bright modes are its strength, with Dynamic cranking out over 1600 lumens, and Living Room, almost 1000 lumens.
The Epson is roughly the equal to the Optoma in terms of black levels. The Epson's dynamic iris may even allow it to best the Optoma in scenes that are mostly dark, without bright areas, although on mixed brightness scenes, the Optoma should have a slight advantage or a tie, depending on the scene makeup.
HD65 vs. Mitsubishi HC1500
Whereas I favored the HC1500 over the HD65's predecessor, the Optoma HD70, that's not the case here. Overall, I am leaning to the HD65, despite it being the noisier of the two, and leaking more light. Both use 10 bit processing (the HD70 only 8 bit).
The Optoma definitely has the better "out of the box" color. Black level and shadow detail performance will be comparable, but the HD65 will win the black level battle, if not by a really great amount. One strength of the HC1500 has always been brightness though, and it that regard, it falls between the HD65, and the more muscle bound HD71. The HC1500 puts out about 1200 lumens in best mode, and 1800 in brightest, compared with about 600 and 1200 respectively. One difference, though is that Mitsubishi really gets all the lumens it can out of its Sports mode, while we measure 1140 lumens from the HD65, but know we can get perhaps another 20% out, and still have color at least as good as the HC1500.
I say I favor the HD65, but if brightness is the decider, you probably are comparing the HD71, not the HD65, to the Mitsubishi projector, so what I'm saying is, - "if both of these are bright enough, I favor the HD65, for other reasons".