Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Best in Class Awards for 2010-4

Special Interest Award: BenQ W1000

I felt morally obligated to provide at least one of the Entry Level class awards to one of the three, under $1000 projectors. To tell you the truth, it may have been the toughest award decision to make in this report. Each of the three – the BenQ W1000, Vivitek C1080FD, and Optoma HD20 has advantages over the other two. To make matters even more complicated, the BenQ W1000 and the Vivitek are mostly identical. The biggest practical difference being brightness, and color wheel. The Vivitek has the faster wheel, and therefore, noticeably less brightness. The W1000, though will have more people seeing rainbows than the Vivitek or Optoma (the Optoma has the fastest wheel of the three).

The final decision to give the Special Interest award to BenQ was the result of weighing the projectors as to how they fit, compared to all the best projectors in this class. My logic worked this way:

The extra brightness is a big plus. For those who are rainbow sensitive, they will notice less rainbows on the Vivitek, than the BenQ W1000, and less still with the HD20.

The thing is, we did award the higher Best In Class – Runner-up award to the Mitsubishi HC3800, a DLP projector with a faster wheel. As a result we see those who pass over the W1000, due to the rainbow effect, have a more expensive, but overall better “award winning” projector to choose from.

Being the brightest of the lowest cost units, is something that makes the BenQ preferred by those on tight budgets, who want large screens or plan to tackle some real ambient light from time to time.

If you know you are rainbow sensitive, you should give up some lumens for the faster color wheel on the Vivitek. And if rainbows bother you more than a little, or you can give up a lot of lumens to go with the HD20 which would have even less rainbows. The W1000’s blacks also are the least good of the three low cost projectors, but that’s a trade-off for the extra brightness too. Thus, if you are rainbow sensitive, spend a bit more for the blacks and the faster color wheel, or spend about the same, for one of the other two.

The BenQ W1000 is a very nice projector. If you want a more expensive projector that “cures” some of the W1000’s weaknesses (black levels, rainbows), all you have to do, is find a few hundred more dollars, and step up to one of our Runner-up winners, the Mitsubishi HC3800, (a very logical move up), or consider the LCD (completely rainbow free) Epson Home Cinema 8100.

Class: Medium Priced 1080p Home Theater Projectors: $2000 - $3500

Best In Class Award: Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Projector

See Art's Video Summary of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, 9500UB review

This is starting to get old. In hockey, they call it a hat-trick. Yes, Epson’s Home Cinema 8500UB wins our Mid-Priced class Best In Class award! That’s three years in a row for Epson. This 8500UB is Epson’s third generation “UB” (ultra-black) projector, and the 8500UB is the third “UB” to win the top award in this price range. Last year, the 8500UB’s predecessor, the 6500UB won the award, and the 1080 UB, won the year before that! Note, last year it did share the title with the Panasonic PT-AE3000, but this year, the replacement Panasonic is under $2,000 and is considered in the Entry-Level class.

Epson keeps coming back for more awards in this Class because the “UB” projectors have a number of strengths.

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