And that folks, is the same concept that makes reviewing and awards subjective. My picks are subjective, and they reflect my well-known biases, or if you prefer – my priorities. Bias isn’t a bad thing, it’s just one more piece of information. Consider one bias that I will remind you of in the awards – I’m big on black level performance in home theater projectors (but not near as concerned with home entertainment projectors – none of which really have good black levels anyway). To me, when you put a projector in your cave or home theater and get to a really dark scene in a movie, that’s what separates a great projector from a good one.
There are plenty of under $2000 projectors that do a great job on bright and average lit scenes, as good as many significantly more expensive projectors, but the differences on very dark scenes are technically not the difference between “night and day” but can be extremely dramatic. To me, achieving excellent black levels, for example, is more important than a small improvement in sharpness. Other reviewers might disagree. I will at least try to always point out, for example, that “why this projector beat out that one for such-and-such award was the great black levels, vs, lower price, or quieter operation” where applicable.
There are no single best home theater projectors or home entertainment projectors – for everyone shopping around a particular price point.
Our goal is to help you find and choose the best projector at your budget, for what you need: one that works in your room conditions, for the type of content you watch, and for what you think most important (that subjective stuff again).
That’s why our awards vary so much: Because it’s not always this one is better than that one, but this one is better than that one, if your situation is… (fill in the blanks).
Since last year, there have been a great many new 4K capable projectors. As a result, they are plentiful in the $1000 - $2500 class, and in the $2500 – $5000 class. Two years ago, we only had a few 3LCD and LCoS projectors that could accept 4K – basically Epson, JVC, and Sony. The 4K UHD DLPs started rolling out over a year ago, but we’ve brought in about a dozen in the past 12 months.
Thanks to the new “lower resolution,” smaller DLP chips this year, we have 4K capable projectors in all price classes but entry level, and street pricing is getting very close to $1000 on a couple of models.
Mixing 4K capable projectors with 1080p projectors that are not, makes for some interesting decisions – for example:
At $1995 there’s a pure 1080p Sony – the VPL-HW45, then there’s the Optoma UHD60 – a 4K UHD (2716×1528 x 2), and a 1080p pixel shifter, the Epson HC4000 around the same price. Decisions get murky – the Sony, for example, is the least natively sharp of the three (as expected, being the lowest in resolution – no pixel shifting), but it has an excellent picture. The Epson and Optoma both handle 4K, but the Epson is loaded with features, the Optoma is natively higher resolution… Well, that’s why we give out more than one award in each class.