InFocus X10 projector
Click here to enlarge. So close. "The X10 is very good out of the box (that's pretty much an InFocus trademark). It's one of a relatively small percentage of projectors that many can enjoy without any adjustments." That pretty much covers it. If you are the type of person who never adjusted your existing TV set, you'll probably be happy with the standard settings. Contrast, however was way too high, and colors were a touch too warm (reddish) but less so than the Sanyo PLV-Z700. The thing about most InFocus projectors is that once calibrated properly, they deliver extremely accurate results with exceptionally gorgeous skin tones.
Click Image to Enlarge
The Epson and InFocus do the best job right out of the box. Realizing these are entry level 1080p models, I suspect very few will even consider spending for a professional calibration. My recommendation, with any of these, try it right out of the box, but then put our settings into one of the user memories, and switch back and forth. Ours should provide anywhere from a slight to a dramatic improvement. Just remember, ours are general settings, and each projector of the same model is a little bit different, primarily due to lamp variation. Also lamps change their color balance slightly as they get more hours. So if you do notice a slight shift over time, try minor adjustments, but do so in a new user memory so you can compare the original and the newer settings.
$2100 - $3500 1080p Home Theater Projectors
BenQ W5000 projector
The BenQ W5000's out of the box performance is very good! Color tracks very close to the ideal 6500K, but with a slight shift toward green which can easily be adjusted out. Colors are rich, and the overall look is very film-like. Nicely done!
Epson Home and Pro Cinema 6500UB, 7500UB projectors
We haven't reviewed the 7500UB yet, but realizing it is virtually the same as the Home Cinema 6500UB, we'll assume for purposes of this comparison that it will perform the same out of the box.
I described the out of the box image quality as "pretty good". TheaterBlack2 which we use as our best mode is a little warm (shifted slightly to red), and the image is oversaturated (easily cured by reducing color saturation from 0 to about -7). The projector also crushes blacks just a little, so taking the default brightness from 0 to +2 (or at least +1) makes a visible difference. Feedback from owners say our settings do provide a real improvement, although the out of the box is very watchable.
Epson Pro Cinema 7100 projector
This is another projector we haven't worked with, but, again, it is essentially identical to the Home Cinema 6100. We assume this projector does better than most, out of the box. We described the 6100 as "Darn good" and that I was "pleasantly surprised". We also stated: "the Epson is good enough (out of the box) to be enjoyably watchable." Note that the brighter modes, on the other hand, tend to be a mess. You'll need to do some work there, to get good color. Try our recommendations in the calibration section of the Home Cinema 6100 review.
Panasonic PT-AE3000 projector
We stated this, relating to the out of the box picture quality, in the full review: "Hooking up the PT-AE3000 for the first time, before any adjustments were made, yielded very good color accuracy. In fact, very little needed to be done to the color settings when we calibrated the projector. Still, calibration did yield a small, but real improvement." The default Cinema 1 was a bit oversaturated (easy to fix). "Extremely watchable" out of the box performance. That's a real plus for those that just can't be bothered.
Optoma HD8200 projector
The HD8200 isn't bad, but needs work. Basically the image is simply too cool, with the color temperature over the full range of gray, averaging about 7250K, instead of the ideal 6500K. This review will be the next one published, but I haven't spent extensive time viewing the HD8200.
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector
The PLV-Z3000 is just "watchable" out of the box. Reds are weak, and there's a shift to yellow green as well. Let's say "watchable" is hardly a compliment. This projector cries out for a calibration (or at least our settings), to even begin to achieve what it's capbable of. Even our calibration never completely got rid of the yellow-green shift, but it got rid of most of it, yielding a very good picture.