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1080p Projector Review 2008 - General Performance

Posted on March 14, 2008 by Art Feierman

For purposes of this comparison, I have trimmed the list of topics to those most significant. Of course, more info on all topics is available on the individual reviews.

Projector User Savable Settings

There is a lot of variation between projectors here, but all offer at least 3 user savable settings. JVC and Sony each have three, most have more, with the two Epsons holding the record with 10 each.

About half of all the projectors in this review, are now ISF Certified, which doesn't promise a better picture, just that at least two savable modes (ISF Day, and ISF Night) are set aside for professional calibrators to use, and that certain types of adjustments are possible. Being ISF certified doesn't mean you are going to get excellent color accuracy or anything, out of the box, just that it guarantees that a professional calibrator (which few people spend for) has the tools they need to do a good job, with the necessary minimum of controls. Almost all projectors have most/all of those controls, and many are hidden in password service menus - only for service techs or calibrators.

I should correct myself, not all projectors offer at least 3 savables, in the traditional sense (such as User, 1,2,3). Some, like most Optomas use recognition systems so that you can make changes to your colors, brightness, etc. from your DVD player, and it will remember that those changes are for that device, and you put in different settings for your cable box, and it remembers those when playing source material from that. The end result is the same. The ability to put in, and have the right settings for "most occasions".

Now that I own the JVC RS1, I will say from past experience, that I think for those that want multiple settings for different sources and ambient light conditions, may find only 3 savables to be a bit limiting, But, I don't really consider it an issue. However, if I had my druthers, I'd recommend manufacturers provide 4 minimum, and probably 6, which should satisfy everyone.

Home Theater Projector Remote Controls

This is another area where I'll refer you back to the individual reviews for more details. Perhaps the best thing to do, is explore what makes a good remote vs. a so-so (poor) one.

Of course, few people will base their choice on the remote control's performance no matter how good or bad. And there's always the option of using a room control system, or a good universal remote control, to get rid of the 5 minimum remotes, that most of us have.

Here are thoughts on what makes for a superior remote, in no particular order:

1. Good range. Mmost have no problems, but range is more important if you are shelf mounting, and/or have a particularly large screen, since the distances are greater. For example, I sit about 12 feet from my screen, and my JVC projector is shelf mounted 20 feet from the screen. Everytime I use it, I have to bounce the IR signal off the screen - requiring a range of 32 feet (and some surfaces, such as my gray firehawk, don't seem to bounce the signal as well as white surfaces in general).

2. Larger, well spaced buttons, preferably grouped in such a way, that you can feel your way around easily. Some of us have large hands, and are driven crazy by the tiny, packed in buttons found on some remotes, such as the remote Optoma uses.

3. A good backlight. Virtually every home theater projector's remote control is backlit. Some are very bright, some are dim, some are red, some are blue, some are orange, or yellow. Blue and red seem to be harder to read than white/yellow, and orange. But brightness is most important, some of these remotes are hard to read, even with the backlight on!

4. Any reset type buttons should be well isolated from other buttons.

5. A sculpted remote, so it fits better in the hand.

6. Having buttons for direct controls that you use often. Having separate mode, and source buttons is probably more important than having a button for sharpness, or contrast (although those that change their settings 3 times during the course of watching a movie would argue with me).

And the buttons themselves should have their functions printed on them, so that they can easily be read when your theater is fully dark.

Something rarely found, is also at least one button that glows "significantly" in the dark, so you can find it. I have the optional remote for the PS3. I can never find it. The remote is black, and no backlight, or glowing buttons.

If the remote is a big issue to you, consult the individual reviews. I'm not going to organize them here for you, but here are a couple of favorites and why.

Epson's remote controls: Excellent range, bright backlight, (orange) with all buttons labeled, so they light up, good spacing and organization, for "feeling" around.

JVC remotes: Not quite as good, backlight not as bright, range still good, backlight button not in a great place, different spacing would help.

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