A truly exciting year for home theater projectors, with a number of all new projectors and noticeably improved ones. This is a huge difference from last year, where there were first of all, few all new projectors, and several of those with the most potential, came up a bit short.
1080p Home Theater Projector Overview
Again this year, we use the same pricing categories as the 2010 and 2011 home theater projector report, three of them. Under $2000, $2000 to $3500, and $3500+. What is different this year, is that we have 3D projectors in all price classes (in 2011, they were all in the $3500+ category.
The other major change this year, is that in a few cases we'll have a Best In Class 2D, separate from Best In Class 3D awards. This was very necessary, as for example in one price tier, the most impressive projector at 2D, has no 3D abilities. Better to have a best 2D and a best 3D, than to compromise on one projector that may not be the best at either.
For the flexibility I wanted this year, there is no fixed number of any awards. In a couple of cases there are ties for Best In Class, or ties for Runner-Up. One price Class has a 2D only award, but in the other Classes, I chose not to break out 2D only, so projectors with great 2D but weak 3D, have to deal with that.
We will start with a listing and quick summary of each projector considered in this report. Links will be provided to our specs page (with manufacturer data sheets) and of course to the individual reviews. This includes quite a number of projectors from last year's reports and even a couple in their 3rd year. Many of the older ones really aren't that competitive, but are still actively being sold. In a couple of cases though, really good projectors from previous years, managed an award this year, thanks mostly to significant price drops, to keep them highly competitive.
Many images of movie or HDTV scenes, are placed throughout the review. All the images on this page, unless otherwise noted, are from Best In Class winners or Runner-ups. Those that are not, will be tagged, and are there primarily for comparison purposes.
We also have A Special Interest Award or two for you. This award can go to just about any projector that I feel, though not mainstream great, has something special going for it that still makes it an exceptional choice for a smaller group of potential owners. A projector that really works best on smaller screens, might be an example. Another could be a projector with some form of wireless HDMI, for those who opening up their walls to run HDMI cabling is a bigger expense than the projector itself. It might be one that shows movies plug and play by just attaching your iPhone or iPad. (no, not this year - there are two , the Epson MG850, and MG50, but neither meets the 1080p resolution standard for this report. Even an exceptional gaming projector, might grab one, even if it's just OK on movies...
That doesn't mean that there are any Special Interest Awards this year. As with the lead in for the Awards page itself, this was written prior to actually selecting the award winning projectors.
Finally, as always, we will add a limited number of direct comparisons between our favorite projectors within each class.
Last year, the number of new home theater an home entertainment projectors was rather limited, a left-over result from the recession. This year, things have been far more interesting. Last year, if it wasn't for the few 3D projectors, there was little really new to impress.
This year, by comparison, it's "almost" a feast of good projectors. 5 related, but all new Epson projectors, and two brand new projectors from Panasonic! In addition, there are improved versions of JVC's three projectors (we were a bit disappointed with them last year, due to dim 3D, significantly improved Sony projectors, a new 3D capable BenQ built on the older W6000 projector, but even brighter.
Click to Enlarge.So close
One of the big improvements this year, is that there are finally some pretty bright projectors, that can do 3D. Not one of last year's 3D projectors could I recommend for, say a 110" diagonal screen - (or even a 100 inch), when viewing 3D. They were all varying shades of Dim, or somewhat dim. This year, we've got a number that qualify as decent, or reasonably bright, when doing 3D. What a difference a year makes! Even the updated versions of some of those really dim ones, have improved noticeably. JVC's X70R, for example is now decent in 3D in terms of brightness - at 100" diagonal it's still a bit dim, but sufficient for most who see 3D as something secondary - a casual interest, and not demanding great (for today) 3D.
We reviewed as many home theater projectors as we could, but still missed a few in the under $10,000 price range, and a couple of more expensive ones as well
Click Image to Enlarge