Projector Reviews

1080p Projector Comparison Report – Performance6

One more thing: A few projectors are now featuring digital compensation to allow better pixel alignment. Most notably, JVC has offered it in the older RS1 and RS2, as well as their new RS10 and RS20. The weakness of digitally aligning them is that you can only move a panel’s image over in increments of one pixel. That means if you have a panel about 1/3 off, you can’t improve on it. But, if a panel is off by 3/4 of a pixel, moving 1 pixel in the right direction, and now you are only off by 1/4 pixel. Better!

My next point relates to sharpness controls. Every projector has them. Most projectors, out of the box, have default settings that tend to be slightly oversharpened. While that can give you a very crisp looking image, it doesn’t improve, actually it can decrease true detail sharpness. So, be careful out there. When you adjust your sharpness, don’t get carried away. As soon as you start seeing shadows separating dark and bright areas that should be cleanly separated, your sharpness setting is too high. Then there are dynamic sharpening tools typically with names like edge sharpness, dynamic sharpening, etc. They too can give you that sharper look, and, if you prefer that, go for it. Keep in mind though, that from a purist standpoint, you want to avoid technology that provides the illusion, but no substance, for the illusion is usually accompanied by some loss.

The last point I would like to make is film vs. digital. We have been in love with movies for about 100 years, and, with the few exceptions, movies are shot with film. The film used has lots of resolution, but has its own artifacts that it adds to the overall picture. Obviously film grain is one of those things. For this reason, watch a film movie (on Blu-ray) and a similar scene shot and delivered digitally, and you will have a sharper looking image with the all digital scene. For this reason, my take is that sharpness differences are going to be more noticeable when watching Discovery HD, or a live sporting event, than on a movie.

Finally, I do tend to notice the differences, and for two reasons. Both of these reasons lead me to believe that for the vast majority of folks looking for projectors, there really is no issue. First, I have a large screen, and I like to sit close. My eyeballs are only about 11.5 feet (2.92 meters) from my 128″ screen. That gives me a much larger picture (and relative pixel size), then, say, a person with a 110″ screen sitting 14 or 15 feet back!

The other reason is vision. I’ve never had the guts to give up glasses for laser surgery, for fear that my vision would not be quite as good as it is with my glasses. Just a few months ago, visiting the opthamologist, I still measured 20/15 (corrected) in each eye. So, I’m “cursed” with two problems: I like a really large image, and my vision is extremely good. (Where are those “4K” projectors and matching content?)

For this article I am describing projectors with just two terms, average, and sharper still. Below I will simply list the projectors as one or the other, organized by our price categories.

$2100 and under 1080p Home Theater Projectors

Average sharpness Epson Home Cinema 6100
Mitsubishi HC5500
Sanyo PLV-Z700
Sharper still InFocus X10
Optoma HD806

$2100 - $3500 1080p Home Theater Projectors

Average sharpness All Epson projectors
Panasonic PT-AE3000
Sanyo PLV-Z3000
Sony VPL-HW10
Sharper still BenQ W5000
Optoma HD8200
Mitsubishi HC6500
Mitsubishi HC7000
Viewsonic Pro8100

$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors

Average sharpness JVC DLA-RS10
JVC DLA-RS20
Optoma HD8000-LV
Sony VPL-VW70 (assumed based on the VW60)
Sharper still BenQ W20000
InFocus IN82
InFocus IN83
Planar PD8150
Sharp XV-Z20000