$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors
BenQ W20000 projector: The W20000 looks just like its less expensive sibling - white and silver, large and wide, and intentionally visible grillwork. That large lens hood protects the center mounted lens. Like the W5000, it is less pretty, than impressive looking.
InFocus IN82 and IN83 projectors: I'll just copy what I said about the X10, it's just shinier: It has a classy look. Fairly large, it is all slow curves. Nothing jumps out at you, the lens is recessed, set back in a flat surfaced front with extended trim all the way around. To make it prettier, they could remove the large white InFocus on the top. The IN82 and IN83 do not have adjustable feet, but instead come with an attachable stand. If possible the projector looks even better on the stand. The IN82 and IN83 lack a control panel, relying on the remote instead.
JVC DLA-RS10, RS20 projectors: Medium large, moderately narrow and long, with just a little gold trim and a bit of sculpting, make it clean and good looking. The center mounted lens is not only recessed, but a door slides to protect it when powered off. Both these models feature the cable connections on the right side (looking from the front). I should note that the RS10 and RS20 are JVC Pro products. Essentially indentical projectors are sold by their consumer division. Sadly for those that opt for the HD350 and HD750, the great gold trim is replaced by silver. Tsk, tsk, I have an RS!
Optoma HD8000-LV projector: Same as the HD806: A smaller projector with an off white finish, sloping front, chrome looking protruding lens. I guess you could say it has a Euro-look. An interesting look. Not bad!
Planar 8150 projector: Definitely the most unusual projector in the whole group. The projector is basically round! It's a bit wider around the top than the bottom so the sides slope inward. The black piano finish looks good. If it weren't for the slightly protruding centered lens, and the cables, you might not figure out it's a projector. For me the verdict is still out on the styling.
Sharp XV-Z20000 projector: Another pretty good looking projector with black piano finish. The centered lens sticks out a bit, and the front slopes back to the sides, more so than the Sony. It's a moderately large box, wide and deep. The look says "serious projector".
Sony VPL-VW70 projector: Should be indentical to the HW10: The Sony looks good. It's similar looking to the Optoma HD8200, being moderately large, narrow and deep. The front has angles moving back to the sides, with the center area dropping back. The centered lens isn't recessed per se, but is recessed to the parts of the front that come out the most. The black piano finish and light sculpting of lines gives it some style. The VW70 has a very small control panel on one side, and the inputs on the other. You'll either like or hate the inputs on the side, depending on which side is visible to the people in your room.
OK, the beauty pagent is over, time to get back to some important aspects of these projectors.
Projector Control Panels
No point into going into the control panels here. They are well documented in the individual reviews. The only key point to mention here, is that the InFocus projectors, as well as the Optoma HD8200, lack control panels. Instead, they are dependent on their remote (so don't lose the remote and keep a spare set of batteries around). Amost all projectors have their control panels on the top. There are exceptions, including the Sony projectors and the Panasonic PT-AE3000, which put them on the side.
All the projectors in this review have a number of things in common. All, but those mentioned in the first section, have their control panels in the back (the ones with the input section - cable connections - on the side, are the Sonys, and the JVCs).
All of these projectors have at least two HDMI inputs. All the HDMI inputs are HDMI 1.3 (support for Deep Color) except the BenQ W5000, and I believe, the Sharp XV-Z20000.
All have at least one component video input. Today we all tend to use HDMI, but for those replacing older projectors who only have component cable run, it's good to know they are still able to use their cabling.
All the projectors but one, have an analog computer input. That exception is the JVC RS10. Why it lacks it, is beyond my grasp. Perhaps it's just to differentiate it from the RS20, but omitting it is a silly thing to do. There are work arounds, but, why make us suffer. Those of us with Mac's all have HDMI, as do many PC's and PC laptops these days. Those without, will have to use a work-around if they want to hook up their PC.
Screen Triggers: Most projectors have one, some have two (two lets you raise/lower a motorized screen with one, and control an anamorphic lens sled or screen masking system with the other). Today, however, screens and sleds and masking systems can be controlled with IR or RF remotes in most cases, so screen triggers aren't critical.
RS232 (service port) All the projectors have one. This allows your projector to interface to a room control system or PC for control. In some cases, the port can be used to download firmware upgrades. Sorry, I haven't followed which can/can't do downloads, but very few manufacturers ever offer firmware downloads.
Please see the individual reviews for details and screen shots of various menu pages. Some projectors have great menu layouts, some have type small enough to be a problem for some to read, but, the bottom line is that you almost certainly wouldn't change your mind about which projector you will by, based on the menu system! For that reason, while it's a very minor factor in deciding award winners, we won't take your time up comparing the menus.
Remote controls have several attributes worthy of discussion. Basically: The layout and ergonomic considerations (large small, one handed use, or two), and especially, effective range.
Each remote is discussed in the individual reviews. While you may or may not like a projector's remote, I seriously doubt anyone will change their purchase decision because of a remote's abilities. Hey, if you love your projector, but hate your remote, it's just one more excuse to go out and buy a nice universal, programmable remote to control all your equipment! For example, I love the layout of my new JVC projector's remote control, but its range is a real problem. No problem for me, as I'm just now deciding on which universal remote to buy, and hope to have it up and running in a couple of weeks.