Projector Reviews

1080p Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Image Quality-18

Sanyo PLV-Z3000

The Z3000 does have some spare lumens. It’s another projector that’s average in brightness, so I can’t beat on it too much, since it measured a good 150 lumens more than my own RS20. So, it has adequate brightness for sports. While the Z3000 we calibrated, never had quite as good color as we expected (strange color management abilities?), it still looks good on sports and Discovery HD, etc. The skin tones weren’t as good as most, but then, considering lamp variations, etc., another unit might have done better. (Still we have to blame a little on the less capable color controls.) Sharpness is better than average for an LCD projector, but not a match for a good DLP. The Z3000 is more a well rounded, average brightness projector that just makes the UHC cut, rather than a projector particularly good for sports and HDTV.

Sony VPL-HW15

The Sony HW15 was certainly in contention for one of the two Best In Class – Runner-up awards. More than anything else this is the category that cost it an award. It’s another projector without the lumens to really well with some ambient light present, as it only measured 771 lumens. True, that’s not a whole lot less than the JVCs like mine, but those aren’t the competition. In the Sony’s class, the projectors are in a sense more versatile, and less focused just on movies and picture quality.

Given the lumens, the Sony does well with the content, but, again, not enough lumens to do battle in terms of sports and HDTV content calling for brightness/some ambient light. In that regard it has to go head to head with the LG projector – both are LCoS, both have CFI for motion smoothing, both have similar sharpness and excellent color. The LG costs maybe a couple hundred less at this time, but the killer difference between these otherwise similar projectors is brightness. The LG can match the Sony’s 771 lumens and raise it by 609, about 80% brighter (1380 measured lumens).

End of conversation. For this type of viewing, my money strongly favors the LG.

$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors

Above, a little sunlight coming in the partially open shades on the doors. The image on the screen is about 112″ diagonal, put there by the Optoma HD8600 with its 1110 measured lumens. The room is much brighter in reality, than it appears here. The image on the screen is sufficiently brighter than the rest of the room, that the room appears dark. I can sit in my captain’s chair, there on the left, and easily read a newspaper in that light.

InFocus SP8602

You don’t have to read the following paragraphs about the Screen Play 8602, you just have to know that if you mount it close, and up high as it will mount, this is by easily the brightest projector in the group. It’s a nice, sharp DLP. It has CFI for smoothing motion (best for sports). (And don’t forget the great color.) That’s it. It’s got all you want for sports and HDTV viewing. The rest, below are the unusual details of how the unique optical setup, can give you the option of all those extra lumens.

Oh, the InFocus SP8602, when ideally mounted, easily has more lumens than any other projector it this class. You may note that in the chart I show a respectable 1110 lumens, but that’s mounting the projector at the mid point of the lenses zoom range, and mounting the projector just a couple inches above the top of the screen surface. Now that’s how we normally measure.

You must realize that projectors with lots of range in their zoom lens will also have varying brightness, with the projector signicantly brighter at wide angle (closest to the screen) than telephoto (way back for shelf mounting). The thing is, the InFocus gets a much larger boost in lumens as it moves roughly three feet closer to the screen, from the mid-point to wide angle. In fact with minimum distance placement, we measured 1343 lumens. That’s almost an 18% drop for that small movement, a lot considering the lens is only a 1.5:1 zoom. Consider the Epson UB projector. With the same screen, their best in report 2.1:1 zoom has these characteristics: A 23% drop from wide angle to mid. That’s not much more loss in lumens considering that’s about a 6 foot difference in placement, not 3. OK, you can understand that if you want max lumens from the SP8602, you’ll want to mount close.

But that’s only half the story. Their lens setup has another behaviour I’ve never encountered before. Lens shift only works in a narrow range, it only allows the projector to be mounted from just above to maybe 2 feet above the screen top. The thing is, we’ve measured lens shift effects on brightness with other projectors. Normally varying the height as much as the range of the InFocus only affects brightness by a few percent (the Epson about 3). With the InFocus, though, instead of mounting just above the screen top, mount it at maximum (for a 100 inch screen, the InFocus can be anywhere from 2.5 inches to about 15 inches above the screen top.

When you go the maximum, though, brightness jumps about 18.5%, not just a couple. Thus, if you can mount it high, and close – wow, all of a sudden you are approaching 1600 lumens!