Projector Reviews

2017 Best Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – $1000-$2000 Non-Winners

Comments on projectors considered in this report, that did not win awards.

Class: $1000 - $2000

Epson HC3700
LG PF1000U
Sony VPL-HW45ES

Epson HC3700

Epson HC3700
The Epson HC3700 beat its 3000-lumen claim.

This model was the middle of three new 3000 series projectors launched in summer a year ago. It’s a step up from the HC2000/HC2045, in a number of areas, starting with easily beating its 3000 lumen claim. It has 3D and CFI (frame interpolation). By comparison, our “Bright Room” winner in this class lacks 3D, but claims 4800 lumens.

The HC3700 didn’t pick up an award this time around because, to a large degree, it falls short when compared to the other two Epsons – the HC1440, which easily out muscles it when you need brightness, and the new, but more expensive HC4000, which handles 4K content, offers pixel shifting, and has motorized lens features and lens memory.

The HC3700 falls in price about halfway between Epson’s winner in the lower class – the HC2040/2045, and the HC4000. Sorry, HC3700, you’re a nice projector surrounded by other good alternatives.

BenQ HT4050

BenQ-HT4050-front-angle
The BenQ HT4050 is a reasonably bright DLP claiming 2000 lumens with excellent color.

Nice projector – a reasonably bright DLP claiming 2000 lumens with excellent color, and slightly better black levels than our top award winner in the Under $1000 class – the $300 or so less expensive, but still 2000 lumen, HT3050.

The HT4050 suffers from a lot of serious competition in this class, but it’s a solid projector. Consider, although it street prices under $1400, it faces competition from these three models right at $2000: Sony VPL-HW45ES and our two main winners – the Epson HC5040UB and Optoma UHD65.

The BenQ HT4050 has pretty good placement flexibility with a 1.6:1 zoom and a fair amount of lens shift.

For those of us rainbow sensitive, we tend to favor BenQ over other DLP manufacturers as they tend to have the fastest color wheels in their projectors for each projector’s price point. I say thank you to them for that.

If you are a fan of DLPs for their higher native contrast, in projectors in this price range, the HT4050 is a capable, solid performer with an excellent picture.

LG PF1000U

LG PF1000U projector
The LG PF1000U is an ultra short throw LED projector that claims 1200 lumens, sporting smart capabilities.

The PF1000 is a most interesting projector. It’s an ultra short throw LED projector that claims 1200 lumens. We measured it at just over 1000 lumens, not exactly lamp projector brightness, but very reasonably bright. Its pair of 3-watt speakers perform especially well for such a small projector.

This LG projector feels more like one of today’s smart TVs. As a group, with the exception of some of the smallest (usually LED projectors), home theater projectors are pretty dumb.

The PF1000U has TV coaxial and digital TV inputs, it has Bluetooth audio out, an online app and a browser, a remote control with pointing system, Wi-Fi and Ethernet. I can’t understand why most of the projector industry can’t get on board, and get “smart!”

Color was pretty good, but black levels purely entry level.

As you can see, an interesting projector, especially being an ultra short throw. Some folks will love it, but it is expensive when you consider the AAXA M6 is barely more than half the price.

Sony VPL-HW45

Sony VPL-HW45
The Sony VPL-HW45 is a 1080p projector with good placement flexibility.

This Sony also doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s an excellent projector overall, but it is strictly 1080p with no 4K content capabilities.

As a 1080p projector, it’s nicely bright and has near perfect color in its best mode, right out of the box. Lacking a dynamic iris, though, hurts it on black levels a bit, although the HC4000 is only slightly better, at best. The Sony itself has better native contrast than that Epson. I’m not really sure about the UHD65, but I suspect the Sony has the edge.

Very good placement flexibility with a manual 1.6:1 zoom (that means no Lens Memory) and plenty of lens shift. The projector is minimalistic when it comes to inputs, relying mostly on a pair of HDMIs – which should be an inconvenience to very few.

At the end of the day, it’s the lack of 4K content handling that leaves this HW45ES un-rewarded in this report. On 1080p content, neither of the winners has a real advantage.  With that in mind, if you aren’t going to chase 4K at this time and don’t need Lens Memory, this is a great projector for the bucks.