Projector Reviews

1080p Projector Comparison Report – Performance5

Optoma HD8000-LV projector

Pure guesswork time. The older HD81-LV was the light canon of the higher priced projectors, no, of all the projectors in last year’s report. Nothing could beat it, nothing came particularly close. I don’t know if the HD8000-LV has been changed enough to compromise that brightness, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for the answer. Meantime, these are the adjusted lumen measurements from the HD81-LV review: “Best” mode 1061 lumens (iris open), and in “brightest” mode, an astounding 2092 lumens, by far the brightest of any 1080p projector we have tested. Let’s put it this way, even if the HD8000-LV is 20% less bright than the older “LV” it would still be the brightest projector in the group! Large screens – not even a challenge!

Planar PD8150 projector

The Planar PD8150 is average in brightness for 1080p home theater projectors although it is well lower than average for this group. Still, for movie watching, it’s got enough to handle some of the larger screens. The problem is that if you want some lights on – even at pretty low levels, the PD8150 projector is not going to cut it, with a measured 606 lumens. That makes it the dimmest of this group of projectors, in its “brightest” mode. Bottom line, The PD8150 is best as a small screen projector, and in most situations, you’ll want to limit your screen to a maximum of 100 inches diagonal, unless you are only interested in movie viewing.

Sharp XV-Z20000 projector

Well, the XV-Z20000 wins the “dim bulb” prize for this collection of higher priced projectors. In its “best” mode, with the iris closed down it just makes it to 200 lumens! I found the mid setting of the iris, though, to still provide almost as good black levels, as compared to closing the iris, so I’ve put that number – 264 lumens, in the chart above. Switch to “brightest” mode, and the Sharp jumps to 638 lumens, still the second lowest of the group.

Bottom line: The Sharp projector is a very good choice for small screens, but probably should not even try to tackle a typical screen larger than 100″ diagonal. It’s probably happiest with 82 to 96 inch screens

Sony VPL-VW70 projector

Well, I’m still waiting for a VPL-VW70 to show up. Too bad, as its predecessor was one of the most impressive projectors in last year’s comparison. Best I can do here, is conjecture about brightness. I’ll assume it is about the same as the VW60 it replaces. That, however, is a big “if”. JVC managed to significantly jump the lumens of their competing RS20, (another LCoS projector) so it’s quite possible that the VW70 is also brighter than its predecessor, despite being rated as 100 lumens less bright (800 instead of 900).

The older VPL-VW60 tested out this way: In “best” mode, it measured 355 lumens, a far cry from the JVCs, the other LCoS projectors in this review. In its “brightest” mode, the VW60, however only cranked out only 521 lumens, which, if the VPL-VW70 doesn’t improve on that, puts it dead last in this group.

Assuming the VW60’s numbers for the VPL-VW70, the projector is best on smaller screens, with 100 inch diagonal probably being the largest it can effectively handle, and like the Sharp, is probably best off with at least one size smaller screen. Let’s cross our fingers that the real VW70, when it shows up, turns out to be at least one notch brighter than the VW60.

OK, that finishes our section on brightness. But there’s still a lot more to cover. Image sharpness is next!

Projector Sharpness

Projector sharpness is very good on all these 1080p projectors, but there are still differences. Not one of the projectors covered has an image that appears sufficiently soft or lacking in detail, to be a serious issue. That said, some folks will consider sharpness differences between some of these projectors to be enough to consider it in their final decisions.

A few thoughts before we get started. It seems that these days, the sharpest projectors tend to be the DLP projectors. While there are some very sharp 3LCD projectors, I’d say the best of the 3LCD crowd still doesn’t appear quite as sharp as most of the DLP models. As a rule of thumb, the LCoS projectors we’ve tested (Sony and JVC), seem a touch softer than the DLP models.

The question is why? The answer, however, is: “not sure”. Still, this is a good place to speculate.

Of the three projector technologies, only DLP is a single chip. LCoS and 3LCD both use three panels (red, green, blue) and recombine the light using a dichroic prism.

In many reviews you see mention about pixel alignment with those 3LCD and LCoS projectors. Basically, it’s essentially impossible to perfectly align the three panels. With an extremely well aligned projector, you are still probably looking at at least one color panel to be off as much as 1/4 pixel, either horizontally or vertically. This gives you that fine color fringe (typically red on one side, green on the other), on fine lines or a severe change from white to dark. Keep in mind, that you won’t normally see that from your typical seating distance, only if you get much closer.

More typically, those projectors might be off a half pixel one way, and perhaps a quarter pixel the other way (talking vertical and horiztonal). We’ve even seen projectors where one panel is off by more than a pixel, but that seems to be rare, and would normally be considered a defect by the manufacturers.

At this point, I attribute the typically slightly softer look of 3LCD and LCoS projectors (compared to DLP) to pixel alignment. It doesn’t even matter why, only the final result, of course, matters.