Posted on August 2, 2011 By Art Feierman
A great overall projector, but sports and HDTV viewing is not its best strength. That’s in a large part due to the lack of lumens. If you actually wanted to use best mode for programming like Discovery HD, you’d only have 430 measured lumens, and for sports – the 930 lumens is not quite average for a brightest mode (across all projectors in the report), and is the second dimmest in this class – besting the Viewsonic by a whopping, can you count them, 8 extra lumens.
The Panasonic PT-AE4000 is just average in sharpness. Actually their SmoothScreen technology makes the pixel structure completely invisible at normal viewing distances, a real plus, but it does make for one of the softest looking images. Those craving a really sharp (and bright) image for sports and digital content, will probably be happier with a different projector, if that’s their main concern.
The Panasonic may be (my humble opinion) the best overall projector in this class, but it definitely isn’t my first, or 2nd… choice for HDTV/sports. And I say that despite the fact that it is the only projector in this class to offer creative frame interpolation to smooth out motion. Panasonic does CFI especially well, and it is a feature I like using for sports viewing.
So, don’t kid yourself, on the right sized screen, in good room (for the projector) your friends will still be dropping their jaws. (Here’s something to pause and reflect on – if HDTV/Sports is your thing, consider the Panasonic against the $500 more expensive (mid-priced class) LG… hmm!
The SP-A600 is a perfectly good projector, and being a DLP, has a really nice sharp image. Lumens are average (about 700, 1000), so nothing to write home about there. Color is very good. Other aspects not withstanding, you have to ask yourself, this, if HDTV/Sports is your thing: “what is there about the Samsung, that would make me choose it over the less expensive Mitsubishi HC3800. If you figure out that answer, let me know.
It’s tough on last year’s models. And the PLV-Z700 is just that. I’ve always liked this projector, but it’s just not as competitive here, in year two, especially as the street price hasn’t dropped much. It is one of the sharpest looking LCD projectors, which is nice, and for HDTV/Sports it has a healthy 1157 measured lumens in brightest mode.. My personal taste is that I like this projector, and it would make a very good projector for HDTV and sports, as long as you keep the screen size limited. BTW, it has 3 Cinema modes – the brightest still has very good color, and almost 900 lumens. You’ll give up (of course, some of the color accuracy, etc. going to the brightest mode.
The Sharp may be of the “dimmest bulbs” of the projectors in this report, when it comes to “best mode”. We measured a mere 312 lumens. That’s the 3rd lowest measurement in this report, and the least bright in this class. That’s ok though if you are into sports, etc. The Sharp as slightly over average 1099 lumens measured in brightest mode, which keeps it “ball park” with all but the two super bright crossover projectors the BenQ and Vivitek. Since the Sharp isn’t so bright in best mode, it’s not likely that the Sharp will end up facing a large screen, and that means it can kick a bit of butt in brightest mode, on say a 92″ screen.
The optics disapppointed me a bit, the image is very sharp at the focus point but rolls off a bit. If you buy one of these, go for best focus about 1/3 of the way from the dead center to any corner. That will really help, if you focus dead center (you shouldn’t with any projector) you will be able to see the softness at the sides and corners. Hey, even that way (in the corners), the Sharp is still going to look about as sharp as any LCD projector, and it will look sharper overall.
Think Panasonic PT-AE4000 but a lot less money, and not quite as good. In terms of lumens, the Viewsonic is almost identical to the Panny. We measured 23 more “best” lumens and 8 less, “brightest” ones. And it lacks the CFI – creative frame interpolation that the Panasonic has (it’s the only one in this class to sport CFI).
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