Posted on November 12, 2013 By Art Feierman
The HD06 is a light canon, in its “best” mode, far brighter than the other 4 projectors, with 1183 lumens and while it doesn’t have many extra lumens (12557) in its brightest mode, it still comes in a solid second in brightness in brightest mode. Brightness is not the HD806’s issue, it scores great here.
The Optoma has the brightness to be a good projector for HDTV and sports, but picture quality (not brightness), make it less desirable for serious movie viewing.
As is consistent for Epson projectors, the Home Cinema 6100 is the brightest of the 3LCD projectors in both “best”, and “brightest” modes. It is the one best suited for larger screens for this reason. While it is brighter than average for a home theater projector in its TheaterBlack1 mode, it still could use a little more if you are looking for a really large screen (say 123″ diagonal). Still, if walls are dark, it can do it, and as the lamp ages and dims, in a pinch there are some intermediate modes that can increase brightness by 50% or more. TheaterBlack1 produces an extremely good image post calibration.
Where the Home Cinema especially shines (pun intended) is in its Dynamic and Livingroom modes. There are color issues in Dynamic with very strong yellows and greens, but it just slices right through ambient light that would damage the picture with any of the other projectors in this group. Better still is the Epson’s Livingroom mode – while it is a “mess” right out of the box, a nice calibration, yields about 20% less lumens than its Dynamic mode. That still keeps it about as bright as the Optoma HD806 but with better picture quality.
The InFocus X10 is the second brightest of these five projectors in “best” mode, and has enough to handle a large screen without problem. And it delivers very accurate color doing so.
While the X10 comes in third of the five in terms of maximum lumen output, with almost 950 lumens after our “quick-calibration”, it still has a good amount of punch. It will still handle a large screen, but with slightly lower room ambient light levels than the brightest of this group. The X10 was able to deal nicely with my own 128″ screen, and had lumens to spare – in all modes on my 106 inch diagonal Carada Brilliant White screen.
The Optoma scores highest overall, for brightness, but to keep some perspective, its “best” mode isn’t a match in quality for the other projectors “best” modes, and often, not as good as their brightest, and that creates a situation where I think of the HD806 as a projector that only has a “brightest” mode (or several).
For overall balance and brightness, the Epson Home Cinema 6100 and the InFocus X10, with their markedly different balance of brightness between “best” and brightest. The Sanyo and Mitsubishi are best saved for medium to smaller screens with the Mitsubishi less desireable if you plan to do a lot of viewing with some ambient light present (intentional or otherwise). Of those two, The Sanyo is more versatile thanks to brighter “brightest” mode, and a couple of rather interesting, good quality, (but not “best”), Cinema modes that still do a very good job!
Relative to brightness, your screen size/type, your walls/ceiling/floor darkness, what type of content you watch, and how much ambient light you will need to deal with should help you determine which of these will work best for you. If you are just starting to “assemble” your viewing room, you may have some control of several of those factors, so think things through. The ability to put blackout shades on any windows, as one example may change which of these projectors is best for you.
Lumens – Other mode: While we focus on the “best”, and “brightest” modes, on occasion, we find an intermediate mode, or “almost best” mode, with slightly compromised quality, but still good, that non-enthusiasts should still find satisfying, and may solve brightness problems. We only have listed two here, as both are lower brightness projectors and those modes are still pretty good. Other projectors like the Epsons have such modes, but, since they are inherently brighter in “best” mode, we didn’t feel the need to list them in the chart.
* We have not yet tested the Epson Pro Cinema 7500UB. We expect it would measure almost identically to the 6500UB
** We have not yet tested the Epson Pro Cinema 7100. We expect it would measure almost identically to the 6100.
*** The Panasonic PT-AE3000 we received was definitely a pre-production sample. Typically, we find that such units test 10-15% less than full production units. You may want to add an extra 10% to each number.
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