Projector Reviews

2011 Home Theater Projector Comparison- Physical Tour-3

$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors

InFocus SP8602 projector: InFocus used to put a lot of effort into designing home theater projectors that looked cool. With new management, at least so far, InFocus has relegated styling to the back burner, with the SP8602 sharing the same industrial looking box as their 7000 lumen commercial projector. Finished in a flat very dark gray, the styling is limited to vertical ribbiing all the way around, a top and bottom that look like “lids” as they extend slightly beyond the front and sides. There’ is also some silver trim around the lens and around the top and bottom plates. Lens controls are hidden behind a slide removable top panel.

JVC DLA-RS15, RS25, RS35 projectors: Medium large, moderately narrow and long, with just a little gold trim and a bit of sculpting, make it clean and good looking. The center mounted lens is not only recessed, but a door slides to protect it when powered off. These models feature the cable connections on the right side (looking from the front). I should note that the RS15, RS25, and RS35 are JVC Pro products. Essentially identical projectors are sold by JVC’s consumer division. Sadly for those that opt for the HD550, HD950, and HD990, the classy gold trim is replaced by silver. Tsk, tsk, I have an RS!

Optoma HD8600 projector:

Planar 8150 projector: Definitely the most unusual projector in the whole group. The projector is basically round! It’s a bit wider around the top than the bottom so the sides slope inward. The black piano finish looks good. If it weren’t for the slightly protruding centered lens, and the cables, you might not figure out it’s a projector. For me the verdict is still out on the styling.

Sony VPL-VW85 projector: Very nice looking for one of the largest projectors covered in this report The top is finished in a shiny black with tiny blue speckles (that just add a touch of blue to the color when hit by a lot of light). The front is nicely curved back toward the sides. As I mentioned when reviewing it, the styling is wife friendly, or should be if the size isn’t a concern.

Vivitek H9080FD projector: I like what I said, in the review: “It’s BIG, it’s mostly black – with a large silver plate running down the center of the top, from almost the front, to the back. The manual zoom lens is recessed. It reminds me a bit of the older big BenQ’s but none of them are still around for this report. Not bad looking.

OK, the beauty pagent is over, time to get back to some important aspects of these projectors.

Projector Control Panels

No point into going into the control panels here. They are well documented in the individual reviews. The only key point to mention here, is that the InFocus projectors, as well as the Optoma HD8200, lack control panels. Instead, they are dependent on their remote (so don’t lose the remote and keep a spare set of batteries around). Amost all projectors have their control panels on the top. There are exceptions, including the Sony projectors and the Panasonic PT-AE3000, which put them on the side.


All the projectors in this review have a number of things in common. All, but those mentioned in the first section, have their control panels in the back (the ones with the input section – cable connections – on the side, are the Sonys, and the JVCs).

All of these projectors have at least two HDMI inputs. All the HDMI inputs are HDMI 1.3 (support for Deep Color) except the BenQ W5000, and I believe, the Sharp XV-Z20000.

All have at least one component video input. Today we all tend to use HDMI, but for those replacing older projectors who only have component cable run, it’s good to know they are still able to use their cabling.

All the projectors but one, have an analog computer input. That exception is the JVC RS10. Why it lacks it, is beyond my grasp. Perhaps it’s just to differentiate it from the RS20, but omitting it is a silly thing to do. There are work arounds, but, why make us suffer. Those of us with Mac’s all have HDMI, as do many PC’s and PC laptops these days. Those without, will have to use a work-around if they want to hook up their PC.

Screen Triggers: Most projectors have one, some have two (two lets you raise/lower a motorized screen with one, and control an anamorphic lens sled or screen masking system with the other). Today, however, screens and sleds and masking systems can be controlled with IR or RF remotes in most cases, so screen triggers aren’t critical.

RS232 (service port) All the projectors have one. This allows your projector to interface to a room control system or PC for control. In some cases, the port can be used to download firmware upgrades. Sorry, I haven’t followed which can/can’t do downloads, but very few manufacturers ever offer firmware downloads.