Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Best in Class Awards for 2010-12

Special Interest Award : Planar PD8150

HThe Planar PD8150 projector earns a Special Interest Award!ere’s another excellent DLP projector. The Planar PD8150 offers the best black levels of any of the DLP projectors, and its “out of the box” color accuracy is one of the best we’ve seen. I haven’t seen a PD8150 in about 18 months. Even so, it still has to be one of the best performing DLP projectors out there.

A bit of background. Planar is relatively new to home theater projectors – just a couple of years and change. One of their first actions as part of their entry, was to buy Runco, getting them the two top US brands of high end home theater projectors: Runco, and Vidikron. Those two lines are sold primarily though very high end home theater dealers. This allowed Planar the entry into that market, and the Planar branded projectors nicely serve as “entry level” products for those dealers. The PD8150 is the flagship of the Planar line.

Keeping in mind that projectors sold through local dealers will cost you more, but you get more support. With higher end dealers, that support tends to be better still. Thus, the Planar is not a projector for hobbyists, but for those who want a real quality picture, no hassle support, and are wiling to write the check.

With a price of $7999, the PD8150 is anything but cheap. In fact that puts it right there with the JVC RS25.

Placement flexibility – normally a real weakness of DLP projectors – is pretty good. The Planar has a good amount of lens shift, and it offers a 1.3:1 zoom lens – a bit more range than the 1.2:1 found on most DLP projectors. The two combine to allow a significant number of users who prefer to rear shelf mount, to use this projector. Those with a 100″ diagonal screen can typically make it work in a room as much as 19 feet deep.

Brightness is a weakness of the PD8150, compared to most of the competition in this class. It’s just above average brightness in its “best” mode, but is not much brighter at its “brightest”. This makes it stronger as a projector for primarily movie watching, than one for those planning to watch a lot of everything including sports. Still, it has more than sufficient lumens for smaller screens, handling a 110″ screen for movie watching, without breaking a sweat.

As is typical of good DLP projectors, the image sharpness is excellent.

Post calibration, the Planar is excellent overall in terms of color accuracy, and a well balanced looking image.

It’s got very impressive black levels for a DLP, thanks to use of a dynamic iris. That gives it a significant advantage over the old InFocus IN83, my favorite DLP projector from last year’s report, but it still comes up short of the JVC RS15, and much more so compared to the RS25 or RS35. Blacks are pretty good, I’ll say it again, but for perspective, I’d say they still aren’t even quite up to the Epson UB projectors which are far less money.

Bottom line: As I stated in the review: “I’ve now managed over 50 hours viewing on the Planar – and I never put in that many hours on a review projector, unless I’m impressed.” The Planar is an excellent projector over all, although not a very bright one. It has all the positive attributes that many people like about DLP projectors, and black levels that come close to the best. This is a projector that will have a lot of appeal to those not intimidated by its price, and who seek a quality local installing dealer, not only for a great viewing experience, but also want to set up a home theater with the mimimum of hassle.

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