1080p Projector Comparison Report8

$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors

InFocus SP8602 projector

The SP8602 from InFocus, is a major departure from recent InFocus home theater projectors. Last year InFocus, an Oregon based company was taken private. This is their first new home theater effort. Gone are the cool flying saucer shaped projectors. The SP8602 (SP short for ScreenPlay, InFocus’ old designator for home theater projectors), is a large, commercial looking unit. Oh, it’s not that bad, but, let me put it this way. It’s the same physical box as their 7000 lumen commercial projector.

One thing InFocus has always done well, and that’s color accuracy. For whatever reason, most InFocus home theater projectors, over the years, seemed to start out with pretty good color, out of the box. Better still, they have calibrated beautifully. The absolute best color I’ve seen from any projector I’ve reviewed was from last year’s InFocus IN83, so I expected great things of the SP8602.

The color is excellent, not as perfect as the IN83’s but about as good as anything else I’ve seen recently. Brightness – a hallmark of the old IN83, isn’t as impressive, but the SP8602 puts out about 800 lumens in “best” mode with Brilliant Color off, and 1059 with it on. The brightest mode delivers over 1100 lumens.

Physical placement is good, not exceptional. While the projector does have lens shift, it isn’t designed to be rear shelf mounted. Lens shift is different than most projectors but let’s you place the projector between the top of the screen surface and a respectable distance above (varies depending on screen size).

Black level performance is very good, not great. Like most of the best DLP projectors with dynamic irises, it is competitive with some of the “ultra-high” contrast. Put it all together, and you have a really bright projector for movie viewing, more “brightest” mode lumens than most, and great color with good blacks and excellent shadow detail. The dynamic iris, however is a little rough. Not as bad as some, it works well enough most of the time, but sometimes it is a little too noticeable. InFocus has advised they are working on improving the firmware.

JVC DLA-RS15 projector

The JVC DLA-RS15 is JVC’s “entry level” home theater projector, if you buy into “entry level” being about $5000. Extremely similar to the more expensive RS25 and RS35, the DLA RS15 projector is just a touch less sophisticated. It’s a medium large home projector, finished in shiny black with a little gold trim. Rather tasteful (remember, I’m biased, I own the identical looking RS20). It’s fancy, with power everything: Zoom, focus, and lens shift. It will support 3rd party anamorphic lenses. It has a particularly nice remote control Placement flexiblity is also excellent, built around the 2:1 zoom and a healthy amount of both vertical and horizontal lens shift.

Black levels are excellent, and although a step down from the more expensive JVCs, the RS15’s blacks are still better than virtually every other projector out there. Color accuracy is very good, but the controls aren’t as complete as the other JVC’s. As a result of that, the RS15 can’t quite match the really superb color accuracy of the other two JVCs.

The RS15 is bright in best mode, with about 700 lumens but can’t quite stretch it to 900 lumens in brightest mode, so, (like the other JVCs) it’s not quite average brightness in its brightest mode.

JVC DLA-RS25 projector

The DLA-RS25 projector replaces the JVC RS20, our Best in Class winner in 2009. The two are very similar, with the major difference between them being the RS25’s addition of creative frame interpolation. I know of no other projectors capable of matching the RS25’s black levels (other than the RS35). Color handling is excellent. The provided THX mode produces excellent color accuracy, although a professional calibration can improve on it slightly. Like the other JVC projectors it has power everything, a good selection of inputs, user savable memories, a physically attractive (if a bit large) appearance, an excellent remote control, and a two year warranty. The RS25’s $8000 sticker, isn’t for the feint of heart, but it produces the kind of quality image that we are willing to pay for.

Ultimately the RS25 is about the picture. Consider: I can think of almost a dozen projectors that can look every bit as good on a bright scene, including projectors from Sony, Epson, LG, Panasonic, and InFocus… In fact some times the JVC might look better, some times the other projector.

That’s great, but it’s the dark scenes that “separate the men from the boys.” (I hate to think of how politically incorrect that phrase probably is now.) Fairly dark scenes where the darkest areas are washing out on most of those other projectors, are still dynamic on the RS25. On a wide array of extremely dark, very dark, and dark with small amounts of bright area scenes, the JVC will still look great overall, and look dynamic while the others turn dull and flat by comparison.

Now if most movies didn’t have some dark and very dark scenes, people wouldn’t be so concerned about black level performance. The reality is, that dark scenes exist in almost all movies, and folks, that’s the tie breaker, the reason why the RS25 is considered a great projector.

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