Projector Reviews

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

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

Entry level: Under $1000

Viewsonic 7835 (one of the brightest)
Optoma ML750, ML750ST
AAXA P700
Sony MP-CL1
Epson HC1040

AAXA P700

aaxa p700 pocket projector front
Reasonably bright Pocket LED projectors aren't hard to find these days. The AAXA, however is a rare pocket projector, in that has an internal battery pack, and that changes everything!

One of my favorite pocket projectors, and one with internal battery, the AAXA P700 received a Hot Product Award when reviewed two years ago. It sports 720p resolution, with 650 lumens, and, of course, uses an LED light engine and DLP chip. Still current, it competes with another brand new AAXA; the M5. We are reviewing that now, having just published Nikki’s review of the M6 – which is similar but 1080p. The P700 is a good bit smaller than the newer, brighter model.

This year, in terms of a pocket projector earning an award, we couldn’t deny the new AAXA flagship, the M6. For $100 more than the M5 and $200 more than this P700, you get full 1080p resolution, and more brightness.

It may have not won an award this year, but if your budget is tight, definitely worth a close look as it sells for a solid $100 less than the M5.

Viewsonic PJD7835HD

PJD7835HD DLP Projector - front view
Viewsonic PJD7835HD - Full HD resolution, MHL, and 3500 lumens at $899 MSRP

The Viewsonic PJD7835HD is a projector that picked up an award last year. It was brighter claiming 3500 lumens, and a bit more capable (it has MHL support) than the significantly lower priced PJD7822HDL, but, alas, the 7835HD is no longer a current product. That said, color was not as good as the BT3050 – this year’s Performance winner.

Optoma ML750 and ML750ST

Optoma ML750
Optoma's powerful, but tiny ML750 LED projector.

The only difference between the Optoma ML750 and ML750ST 720p LED pocket projectors is that the ML750ST has a short throw lens – and it sells for about $25 more online. Both are right around $500.

This is the single most attractive aspect of these Optomas compared to others is their size.  True, the ML750s don’t have an internal battery, but they are downright tiny at roughly 4.5” x 5” x 2”, compared to the M6 at roughly 7” x 7” x 2”, and only 0.9 pounds (plus power brick). If you were to see the two side by side, the Optoma looks a whole lot smaller than the M6.

Brightness-wise, the Optoma claims 700 lumens, although it did come up short a good bit (as most pocket projectors do when we measure them).

Think of it this way: Two of the ML750s take up less space than one M6. Most folks won’t care since the M6 is tiny compared to any lamp based projector. Still, the ML750 size is a key reason for their popularity, and a good selling point. Every bit as important, or even more so to some, is the ML750’s short throw lens.

In reality, pico projectors barely fit in pockets, and pocket projectors don’t fit into pockets at all (unless they are some HUGE pockets), but the ML750 and ML750ST are about as close as pocket projectors get to fitting into the larger pockets in your wardrobe.

Sony MP-CL1

Sony_MP-CL1_beauty_front_pro
The MP-CL1 is a true pico projector.

It’s pretty elegant and has an interesting feature set, including using a laser light source, and no focus needed. It has a 1.2:1 zoom – not a feature regularly seen on these smaller projectors. But once you get past the interesting design features, it suffers from the same symptom of most other pico projectors – being unreasonably dim (37 lumens in this case).

Resolution is interesting – it’s a hybrid –  1920×720 so it’s got the horizontal resolution of a 1080p projector but only 2/3 the vertical resolution of one.  Nice picture, fun “toy”, but I’m just not a fan of these really small picos, at least if they can’t put a solid 100 lumens up on the screen, which would be enough to do a very respectable brightness job on a 60 or 70” screen. 37 lumens won’t get you there. A great, if expensive, stocking stuffer, for the person who will appreciate it for what it is.

Epson HC1040

Last year we had an award in this class, for Bright Room projector. We always have lots – some say too many – awards in this report, and this time I decided on an award for the best pocket projector instead. We had no truly new “bright room” models reviewed in this price range, and no award. As per my comments last year, I found Epson’s own HC2040 or HC2045 as being also bright at 2200 lumens, even if not as bright as the HC1040’s 3000 lumens.

Epson HC1040

At the time, they were priced the same, but the HC2040/2045 offered a lot better feature set, including CFI, 3D, and a couple of other things the 1040 lacked. It’s still one of the best, even if a no-frills projector, when you need maximum lumens for the low price.

Remember, it’s a 3LCD projector with 3000 color and white lumens both. In a bright room, you need as many color lumens as you can get to cut through ambient light and not wash out excessively. Much of the non-3LCD competition have about 40% to 65% of the color lumens as they do white, so you need a brighter rated DLP (say 4000+ lumens) to be as effective in that bright room of yours.