Projector Reviews

2017 Best Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – $8000+ Non-Winners

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

Class: $8000 and Up

Sony VPL-5000ES
Sony VPL-665ES
BenQ HT9050

BenQ HT9050

BenQ_HT9050_LED_projector_top-front
The BenQ HT9050 is a 4K UHD, single-chip DLP projector for the home theater.

As mentioned in the previous section, the HT9050 seems immediately to be a much better value at $8995 than the $1000-less HT8050. For the price difference, you get a solid state, long-life LED light engine (no need for expensive lamps) and support to BT.2020 color.

Most of the rest of two projectors are identical. The standard zoom is manual, with a 1.6:1 ratio, so there’s no Lens Memory for those who want a wide screen for movies. As seems to be the thing with these new 4K UHD projectors, no 3D (sad).

The optics are excellent – this BenQ is razor sharp. While other folks can make their projectors look as sharp as a true 4K projector using more image processing, this BenQ does it naturally. I’ve switched from the UHD65 to the BenQ (takes 3-4 minutes), replayed a scene, and felt I was watching a clearer crisper image. Just a little, but that’s still a very good thing.

What perplexes me, and cost the BenQ a shot at an award here, is that it supports BT.2020 – it seems to do a pretty good job approaching P3 color space, but it doesn’t support HDR. Sorry, that’s it. For some content, that’s not going to be a problem, but I spent time watching scenes from two of my favorite new 4K movies for testing projectors – Passengers, and Ghostbusters 2016. Dark, intensely rich scenes like the swimming pool and universe scene near the end of Passengers are just so much more intense and have a richer more dynamic look (even though not as bright).

On the other hand, thanks to its sharpness, if your thing is sports, it’s great on 1080p and should prove stunning on 4K sports, some of which are coming rather soon (I hope).

Sony VPL-VW665ES/675ES

Sony’s current model is the VW675ES, who’s only change over the 665ES was the addition of support for Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR, which is geared for 4K streaming. It is a great projector, with excellent black levels, and true 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160 – no pixel shifting needed! It’s got a motorized 2.1:1 zoom lens, very good lens shift, and Lens Memory.

The VW675ES could have taken an award here (also the VW5000ES), but in this case, I felt in particular that the $10,000 more expensive, brighter, and ultra short throw VPL-VZ1000ES was more impressive. Not to mention unique and more versatile, in terms of being able to move out of the home theater into “normal” rooms.

Sony VPL-VW665ES
The Sony VPL-VW665ES features support for Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR, which is geared for 4K streaming.

The Sony doesn’t need much calibration as it has some gorgeous modes to choose from, but it can be improved. It’s nicely quiet, and is even physically fairly sleek looking (at 31 lbs). Basically, it’s got the full feature set. Sony has 4 other 4K projectors, three in this Class’ range.

There could be a strong argument to give this more expensive Sony the Value award in this Class. It’s $5K more, but it is true 4K, vs the JVC RS520 which is a 1080p pixel shifter (one with the best overall black level performance available today).

Overall, it’s an excellent projector, and an excellent choice for a dedicated home theater, or a well-designed media room. Definitely a top choice, if this is your budget.

Sony VPL-VW5000ES

Sony VPL-VW5000ES
Sony's flagship, true 4K VPL-VW5000ES projector is big, bright, and beautiful.

This projector didn’t win an award this year, simply because there was no point. It’s still the best home theater projector to grace my home theater, and we did give it our Best of the Best award (aka most outstanding projector of the year) last year.

$60,000 prices it about the same as a mid-priced Lexus, but it’s more of a Maserati. 5000 lumens, HDR, BT.2020, and a laser light engine. And, again, the best projector I’ve ever got to play with. This projector has better optics than the lower models like the V675ES and VW365ES. Awesome!