Here we provide brief information regarding how the home projectors are physically laid out, placement flexibility, and more.
Projector Physical Appearance
I'll tackle two areas in the Physical Appearance section, first, general layout. We can assume, unless otherwise noted, that all these projectors have adjustable feet (at least one pair), control panels on the top, and inputs on the rear. The lenses are typically mounted offset to one side or the other, so I will only mention it if it is a centered lens (easier for installation). Some have motorized zoom and focus, some have lens shift (manual or motorized), etc. All this is documented in each review, so in this section, a short paragraph, and a link to the appropriate page in the original review.
Speaking of appearances, the image above is a "beauty shot" of the LG CF181D.
The projectors in this report vary a great deal in styling, anywhere from ugly box to highly stylish. Most of us don't care what a projector physically looks like with the lights on, but some do. Then there's the "wife factor" - "that thing's too big and ugly to go in my room". I'm not a judge of esthetic beauty, so I'll just make a brief comment or two about each projector:
1080p Projectors under $2000
BenQ W1000 projector: This DLP projector is one of the smaller projectors in this review, with only Optoma's HD20 being signficantly smaller. The W1000 is virtually identical to the Vivitek H1080FD. The two are basically the same projector with minor cosmetic differences and a different color wheel. Small enough to be portable.
Epson Home Cinema 8100 projector: The HC8100 uses the same case as the HC6100 used last year - primarily white, slightly darker side panels, silver trim. Not bad looking, but very plain compared to the older Epson 1080 series, which was very curvy and stylish.
Mitsubishi HC3800 projector: Medium sized, it is styled with a dark finish, a protruding lens with hood far to one side. Some say it looks really cool, but doesn't do that much for me.
Optoma HD20 projector: The HD20 is finished in white. It is the smallest home theater projector in this review, which means it's also very portable, if need be.
Panasonic PT-AE4000 projector: Sorry Panasonic, from a styling standpoint, the only award this projector could earn is "most industrial looking box". (Well, that's what I wrote last year. To be fair, the Panasonic has some real competition for industrial look - from the new InFocus SP8602. The Panasonic is a medium-large projector finished in a dark gray. Of note, the Panasonic has a centered lens, and its control panel hides behind a door on the right side (if looking from the front). Hey, considering the PT-AE4000 is probably the best selling 1080p projector out there, what does that say about our taste? Or perhaps many of us have learned that what matters is the image coming out of the projector, not what the projector looks like when turned off.
Samsung SP-A600: Samung's SP-A600 is a nicely sculpted projector, with lots of soft round curves, and finished in a shiny piano black. While it's hardly a large projector, it is a size up from the BenQ, Vivitek and Mitsubishi projectors. Definitely a nice looking projector, for those who worry about looks, with the lights on.
Sanyo PLV-Z700 projector: It's white, has rounded corners, and is fairly small. A motorized door covers the lens when power is off. Not bad looking for a box!
Sharp XV-Z15000 projector: This Sharp projector's case comes from the business side, as one could guess by some of the features (a recessed handle, and Auto keystone correction - turn that one off!). The Sharp XV-Z15000 has a shiny black case. the lens barrel is silver, for contrast. The projector is wider than deep and most noticeable, it's not very tall, The lens is protected when not in use, by a manual door. Too bad it's manual, which means very inconvenient if mounted (nice if you are portable though). As a result few will close the door. Sanyo and JVC motorize their lens covers, which makes more sense. But remember, this projector case was originally designed for portable business projectors.
Vivitek H1080FD: Another small DLP projector finished in white, it is a good size larger than the Optoma HD20, and almost identical to the BenQ W1000 it is similar to.