Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Best in Class Awards for 2010-11

Best In Class Award, Runner-Up: JVC DLA-RS25

It’s getting to be a bad habit – giving both Best In Class, and the Best In Class Runner-Up awards in this premium class, to JVC.

This year it’s even stranger, since the JVC DLA-RS25 is identical to the Best In Class winner, the RS35! Again, the only difference is that JVC picks out the best components and modules to make a limited number of “superior” RS35s.

It really comes down to this, in my opinion, only the RS35 bests the RS25. And nothing comes overly close to the RS25, for that matter. True, there were other projectors considered, and one actually picked up a tie with the RS25. Even pointing that out, I have to say, overall, the RS25 would be my choice over the SP8602 below, but I’m not sure that the majority would agree with me. It’s going to be more about what you consider most important, and the trade-offs between the two.

Best In Class - Runner-up: InFocus SP8602

This projector is the only one to have its award changed after the report was published. Prior to the report, InFocus advised that they were working on an dynamic iris action improvement. The Dynamic iris was my only major issue with the InFocus SP8602 projector. While the InFocus projector delivers some very fine, dark blacks, even at its best it can’t match the JVC RS25 (which gets great, consistant blacks without a dynamic iris.

That said, there is compelling reasons to consider the InFocus SP8602 on par with the JVC RS25. Consider please – the JVC does provide the sharper image, and it is noticeable on all digital content such as sports. It’s not a huge difference, but many, including JVC owners such as myself, do wish our JVC’s were that much sharper overall.

Sharpness differences alone wouldn’t offset the JVC’s black level advantages, but the InFocus SP8602 has more going for it, and one of those things is that it is dramatically brighter than the JVC. Oh how I would love those extra lumens when it’s HDTV sports or Discovery HD time.

The InFocus offers rather good though not the best placement flexibility. Of course, any time we encounter a single chip DLP projector with good placement flexibility, we get excited. The InFocus’es unusual lens shift setup, is unequal, and has some unusual aspects, but, it should work in most rooms, ceiling mounted, and it can be shelf mounted. Interestingly the lens setup is such that the projector is noticeably brighter when it is near maximum lens shift than say normal 0 offset (lens even with top of screen). The projector actually puts more lumens on the screen as the angle (amount of lens shift) increases as you mount the projector higher than the top of the screen.

If ceiling mounting, and you want to mount fairly close (wide angle), and can mount about a foot and a half above the screen then the InFocus SP8602 ideally mounted is capable of just over 1400 best mode lumens (by far the best in the report), and roughly 2000 lumens in brightest, with Brilliant Color on. And, as I pointed out in the review, their Brilliant Color implementation is pretty tame, compared to most which can make the image a bit over the top. Not so here, so you really can put a great looking roughly 1400 best mode lumens on the screen, if you need to and have the flexibility.

Finally, “it’s the color, stupid” to paraphrase a lot of cliche’s. InFocus has always seemed to stay focused on great skin tones on their home theater projectors. Even back to the ancient InFocus 4805 home theater projector many years ago, InFocus delivered believable, natural skin tones. In this regard, I give it the slightest edge on my JVC!.

So, that’s the story… I’m not ready to trade my projector for the InFocus, but, in a different room if I needed more lumens, the InFocus SP8602 would have to be my next choice, of what’s out there in this price range.

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