Projector Reviews

Home Projector Comparison Report – Performance-5

Sony VPL-HW15 projector

For movie watchers, the Sony has some reasonble best mode brightness, measuring 536 lumens post calibration. That puts it about in the middle of the pack, and perhaps just on the high side of average in lumen output. Switch to brightest mode, and the SXRD VPL-HW15 projector, only jumps to 771 lumens making it the third dimmest in the class, and that translates into not a whole lot of lumens for dealing with ambient light. All considered, that makes the VPL-HW15 as a better projector for those almost exclusively focused on movies, than for those wanting an all around projector for lots of HDTV and Sports as well as films.

$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors

It’s interesting that in this category, the “best” mode brightness as a group, is much brighter than the mid-priced group. At the same time, collectively, these are not quite as bright in brightest mode. These differences are primarily due to there being no 3LCD projectors in this group, instead, a balance of DLP (6) and LCoS (3) projectors.

Lumens Lumens
Best Mode Brightest Mode
InFocus SP8602 785 1110
JVC DLA-RS15 657 746
JVC DLA-RS25 727 853
JVC DLA-RS35 656 781
Optoma HD8600 696 1166
Planar PD8150 468 606
Sony VPL-VW85 598 725
Vivtek H9080FD 367 526

InFocus SP8602 projector

The InFocus SP8602 projector really has some curious performance when it comes to brightness. Don’t get me wrong, overall, it’s the brightest projector in our $3500 – $10,000 class.

What’s weird about the SP8602 is the significant affect lens shift has on brightness, and also the unusually large amount of affect the zoom lens position has on brightness. For the measurements shown in the chart, the SP8602 was measured with the zoom at mid-point (as is the case with all reviews), but, of note, the lens shift was set to 0 offset. That means the projector is mounted with the center of the lens even with the top of the screen (when ceiling mounting). The thing is, if you mount the projector higher, compared to the screen top, the SP8602 measures brighter and brighter. In fact, by the time you get to the maximum offset (about 14.9 inches above the top of a 100″ diagonal screen), the projector brightens by 18.5%. That would take our 785 lumens up to about 930 lumens.

As I stated above, the lens zoom positioning has a lot more effect on brightness than I normally expect for a 1.5:1 zoom. In fact, it’s more like the typical 2:1 zoom. The InFocus gets a healthy 16% boost in brightness as you move from center position on the zoom to wide angle.

Finally InFocus’es Brilliant Color implementation adds still another 35%.

What you end up with is a projector who’s overall brightness varies more on how you place it in your room, than any other projector in this report. In almost all situations, this ScreenPlay 8602 is the brightest projector in its class.

Let’s add in the boost for turning Brilliant Color on, and the 930 lumens jumps 35% to 1255 best mode lumens, and that’s still at the mid-point of the zoom. If you are ceiling mounting (almost certainly with this projector), and can mount it up high (not a chance with low ceilings), above the screen by that almost 15 inches, and go with Brilliant Color on, and mount it with the lens at wide-angle, and all of a sudden, you have 1456 “best mode lumens”. OK, few will be able to position it perfectly to get every last lumen out, but still consider that the 1255 mid-point zoom lumens make this projector capable of a “best” mode that’s brighter than any other projector in the group’s “brightest” mode.

It took a lot of work, and help from InFocus engineers to sort all this out. Our intial measurements were disappointing compared to claims, until we sorted through everything. At first I complained to them that it wasn’t as bright as last year’s IN83. As it turns out, depending on your setup, it’s typically going to be brighter than the IN83.

As is typical for these higher end projectors, none, not even the InFocus, have as many bright mode lumens as some of the lower priced projectors.

In reality “bright” mode lumens aren’t significantly brighter than “best mode”.

Remember, the numbers in the chart assume mounting at 0 offset, not at the brighter maximum offset, and with the lens at mid-point. In the review itself we reported at “best mode” of 1059, but that was with Brilliant Color set to On.