BenQ W5000 projector
Solid, above average brightness in "best" mode, and respectable, brightness in "brightest" mode, make the W5000 acceptable for larger screens, but not with much to spare.
Epson Home and Pro Cinema 6500UB, 7500UB projectors
We assume that the Pro Cinema 7500UB will test out the same as the 6500UB, give or take the usual variation between units, as they are inherently the same projector.
The Epson combines a just slightly better than average "best" mode, with by far the brightest "bright" mode of this group, to be one of the best projectors for larger screens, or handling more than minimal ambient light. If that wasn't impressive enough (and a huge plus in our book), if you need an only slightly compromised intermediate mode, the Epson has a good one there too (Natural), where it still looks really good on movies, but can put out almost 200 more lumens while you still enjoy impressive picture qualty. Thus the 6500UB, and the 7500UB are our brightness stars in this group (along with the Epson Home Cinema 7100).
Epson Pro Cinema 7100 projector
Everything I just said about the two Epson UB's holds for the Pro Cinema 7100. The key difference between projectors relate to the LCD panels, and ultimately, black level performance, not brightness!
Mitsubishi HC6500 projector
The HC6500 is pretty bright in its "best" mode, with only the Sony having significantly (about 25%) more lumens. For movie watching, that should mean its pretty comfortable with a 110" screen, but not much more.
When you want to tackle ambient light for that football game, though, the Mitsubishi's "bright" mode, only adds about 50% more lumens. With 752 measured (post calibration), that still puts it below average. With that same 110" screen, you are going to have to limit any ambient light to not much more than the absolute minimum to enjoy sports and general TV viewing without being washed out. Drop to a 100" screen and you'll find a more acceptable solution.
Mitsubishi HC7000 projector
Where have all the lumens gone? The HC7000 may physically look like the HC6500, but there may be a hole on the bottom where the lumens fall out - my attempt at humor. Seems that to get the HC7000's very impressive black levels, it took more than the newer LCD panels, as the "best" mode brightness drops to the second lowest in this group (278 calibrated lumens). Going to "brightest" mode, not much to write home about there, either. Although the lumens almost double, we're still talking less than 550 lumens, and that makes the HC7000 the least bright projector in "brightest" mode, of this collection.
Bottom line: The HC7000, while an excellent performer in other areas, is the dim bulb of these mid-priced projector. The simple solution, consider the HC7000 if you are a small screen user. With a good room situation, the HC7000 should be fine on typical 100 inch diagonal screens, and great on smaller ones.
Optoma HD8200 projector
Although definitely brighter than average in "best" mode, the HD8200 doesn't do much better in "brightest", making it one of the least bright in the group, for when you need the lumens. You can point the HD8200 at a pretty large screen for viewing movies, but if you want to switch to HDTV, TV and sports, you are still going to have to keep the ambient light to a minimum. The brightest projectors (in bright mode) in this group are roughly 2.5x as bright, and that's a huge difference.
The HD8200, therefore, is a projector that will be best enjoyed (from a brightness standpoint) by those who are primarily movie watchers, and not overly concerned about other source material, or are willing to watch other material in a very darkened room.
Panasonic PT-AE3000 projector
As noted below the chart, the PT-AE3000 we worked with was a pre-production sample, so, we anticipated it wouldn't be as bright as a full production one. Though we haven't looked at another since, we have checked our measurements against that of a couple of other reviews, and expect that a production version would be a good 10% brighter, perhaps a bit more.
All that said, the Panasonic isn't a match for the Epson projectors in brightness, either "best" or "brightest", but also has a good intermediate mode. As a general rule of thumb, let's say that the Panasonic should be limited to small to medium screens, I'd say at least 10% smaller than what you could point the Epson at.
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector
Oh, if the PLV-Z3000 only had more lumens. In "best" mode, it measured the lowest of any of these projectors. That said, check out the brightness section in the Sanyo review. The PLV-Z3000 has three Cinema modes, and even the brightest - Brilliant Cinema is pretty good. That helps a lot, with about a 50% boost in lumen output, but that still leaves the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 below average in brightness.
The Sanyo, however, does better in brightest mode. Still not dazzling, but it's 1000 lumens is about average.
Our best recommendation is to limit the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 to smaller screens, 100" diagonal or below, although you can get respectable results up to 110 inch diagonal if your room conditions are very good (dark walls, etc.). Another way to help is to ceiling mount fairly close to the screen to get the extra lumens the lens passes when set up that way.
When you are sticking to those smaller screens, the PLV-Z3000 is capable of handling as much ambient light as, say, the Epsons can, with larger screens. (Figure the Sanyo on a 100" screen will have similar brightness to the Epson on a 123" screen, when both are at their brightest!)