1080p Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Image Quality

Home Theater Projector Image Quality

The goal of this section is to allow you to quickly read over our findings for different home theater projectors. A large portion of the content below will be snippets from the original reviews. That seemed to work well in last year’s report, so we’re sticking with it.

Above, Epson Home Cinema 8100: Men In Black, Blu-ray

For image quality, our primary concerns will be:

Out of the box color (without adjustment)
Naturalness of flesh tones
Black levels and shadow detail
Projector brightness
Image sharpness
Overall image quality
( “feel” of the projector). My partially subjective opinions on “film-like performance”, ease of watching, and for lack of a better term, “wow factor” (some projectors just look good, and others make you think “awesome”, even though they may technically be very, very similar).

1080p Home Theater Projectors - Out of the Box Picture Quality

First things first: While the “out of the box” picture quality varies significantly (from not very good to extremely good), not one projector reviewed couldn’t be improved with a good calibration. We always recommend you get your projector calibrated to get the most out of it. Best of course, is a professional calibration (unless you have the gear to do it yourself), but, alternately, you can improve a projector’s performance even with a basic end user calibration disc. The third alternative is to try the calibration settings we provide. They aren’t quite as in-depth as a full professional calibration, but readers typically report a visible improvement when using our settings, compared to out of the box performance.

$2000 and under 1080p Home Theater Projectors

This year there are ten projectors in this group of entry level priced 1080p projectors. That’s twice the number as last year, despite lowering the maximum price of this category to $2000 (from $2100). This year the projectors are nicely spread out from $999 (actually $899 by the time you read this), all the way up to $1999. At the time of this report, six of the projectors are between $899 and $1500, and four of them between $1500 and $2000.

Our focus when discussing out of the box picture quality, is on “best” mode. Best mode for most projectors is the least bright, but is optimized to be best for viewing movies in a fully darkened room.

BenQ W1000

In the full projector review of the BenQ W1000, I wrote this about how the W1000 looked, right out of the box: The “out of the box” color is very good, but a touch too much red… that about covers it. Yes, this is a projector that most owners will find to be perfectly pleasing with the default color modes.

Epson Home Cinema 8100

Here’s the original word on the HC8100: “Out of the box” picture quality leaves a good bit to be desired. That’s nothing to worry about, or even consider seriously as this is not a production unit. I am expecting that there will be different final color tables when the projector starts shipping. Past Epsons have usually been good to very good, right out of the box, which is to say, they can still be significantly improved with a calibration, or, failing that, try the settings we provide. We never did receive a second, full production version, for a second look, but would expect the out of the box to be at least “good” as that’s pretty safe for a projector only slightly improved over its predecessor.

Mitsubishi HC3800

Nicely done! This paragraph from the original review pretty much is all that needs to be said: Very impressive color and overall picture right out of the box, and that’s twice as impressive because this is an early engineering sample. Not only are there good looking preset combinations, but the minor color inaccuracies are easily corrected with a calibration.

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