$2000 - $3500 1080p Home Theater Projectors
Things now get more interesting. Projectors in this group vary widely in how they perform out of the box. Some are dramatically worse than the three less expensive projectors above, while a couple are really excellent!
BenQ W5000 projector
The W5000 is definitely one of the better projectors in terms of out of the box performance. In fact the W5000 was about as close to dead on in color temperature (to 6500K), as about any projector measured, in best mode. It is, however, a little strong on greens, and it should be adjusted for that.
Optoma HD803, HD80*, HD8000 projector
Out of the box performance seems to be a weak spot for most Optoma home theater projectors. The HD803, which is similar to the HD80 and HD8000 (the last two being basically the same projector except for the extra ISF programmable color modes on the HD8000), exhibits a significant shift to green, right out of the box. Also, the whites (100 IRE) tend to be cooler - more blue, than the various gray points I measure, which are closer to each other in color temp.
The HD8000 was very similar, also with the heavy shift to green. We did not review the HD80, but, as noted above, it is essentially identical to the HD8000, and we have no reason to believe that its out of the box color is any better.
The Optomas out of the box color performance can be properly corrected by a professional calibrator, and I'm sure a good job can be done by consumers using one of the calibration discs, such as AVIA, or DVE.
Epson Home and Pro Cinema 1080 UB projectors
These two projectors are also essentially identical in performance. However, the Pro version does have the ISF Day and Night modes, (not accessable, until calibration is done by an ISF professional calibrator). We did not test the Pro version.
Overall, the Epsons rate a "very good" out of the box. That's with one note: For some reason, Epson chose to use the 7500K color temp setting for the default in their "best mode" - Theater Black 1. Just change that to 6500K, and you are all set. Since that's pretty much a no-brainer adjustment, and since the end result is almost dead on, they deserve the "very good". That's still not to say it can't be improved, since when set at 6500K, the overall image is just a tad warm. That too, is a snap to fix.
Where the Epson has issues is primarily in the Living Room mode, which I found needed a lot of work. Dynamic mode was actually just about what was expected - great color temp, except for heavy green, which is often occurs in a projector's brightest modes, to better cut through ambient light. I recommend bringing down the green in Dynamic mode, and was able to get a much more enjoyable image after adjustment, while only giving up about 300 lumens out of over 1800 lumens to do so.
Sony VPL-VW40 projector
The pre-production unit I tested definitely had issues out of the box, with some background blue hotspots in the corner. While I never received a 2nd one, I do expect that this would be a non-issue in post-production units. Even so, the Sony's out of the box performance definitely needs work. It is noticeably strong on greens in Best mode. In addition, the darker the image, the more shift towards blue. All of these problems were calibrated out without too much difficulty. Strangely, Dynamic mode was better balanced, but not significantly brighter.
Mitsubishi HC6000 projector
Not bad, but also not great. While the color balance in Best mode doesn't suffer from any significant green shift, the default setup, overall, is too warm (red) when the Warm color temp setting is selected, and about equally too cool (bluish), when set for Medium. Green is just a little too strong (but correctable), and not anywhere as great a green shift as some others, notably the Optoma projectors as a group.