Projector Reviews

2018 Best Home Theater Projectors Report – Non-Winners $1000-$2500 Class

This page contains comments on projectors that were considered in this year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report, but did not win awards.

Optoma UHD65

Optoma UHD65 Front

The Optoma UHD65 was our Best Value Award winner in the $2,000 – $3,500 class in last year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report. One of the first 4K UHD projectors to start shipping, the UHD65 uses the 2716×1528 x2 chip to get 8.3 million pixels on the screen. It has good placement flexibility with a 1.6:1 zoom lens and modest amount of lens shift, but no Lens Memory.

The UHD65 can handle HDR better than some, and even tackles the BT.2020 color space. The UHD65 calibrates well, although it does seem to crush just near whites, but just the slightest. Dark shadow detail is great. It produces a great image with good color, but its black level performance leaves something to be desired.

Optoma UHD60

Optoma UHD60 Front

The Optoma UHD60 is sibling to the UHD65, and only has three key differences. The UHD60’s case is white, rather than black, making the UHD65 more ideal for a home theater than the UHD60. The second difference is in the color wheels – the UHD60 has an RGBY, and the UHD65 has an RGBRGB. The third is that it has 3,000 claimed lumens, over the UHD65’s 2,200, making it a great bright room projector. Sadly for Optoma, the TK800 won out over this one.

The Optoma UHD60 is a $1995 (less than the UHD65) 4K UHD projector that can handle HDR and makes an attempt at the BT.2020 color space. It, too, has a 1.6:1 zoom lens and modest lens shift for good placement flexibility. It also has CFI for sports viewing, and uses lamp dimming to improve black level performance. None of these UHD projectors have been able to touch the black levels of the Epson HC5040UB, though, but the UHD60 is slightly sharper than the Epson – always trade offs, as we say!

BenQ HT2550

benq-ht2550

The BenQ HT2550 is a great home theater projector for $1,499. It uses the new 4K UHD chip that is 1920×1080 x4, rather than the 1920×1080 x2 that we’ve been used to and have seen in a number of Epsons, including our Performance winner in this category, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB. The HT2550 has a bright room twin, the TK800, which won an award in this category.

It offers HDR support, but none for the BT.2020 color space, which is a shame. It does, however, have a fast RGBRGB color wheel, making it more ideal for those who want the DLP look without the rainbows. To be fair, only about 5% of the population is affected by the Rainbow Effect, but if you are of that small percentage – the HT2550 shouldn’t bother you. This BenQ also has a three year parts and labor warranty – one of the best around!

Vivitek HK2288

Vivitek HK2288/HK2299

The Vivitek HK2288 is a 4K UHD projector, using the 2716×1528 x2 pixel shifting DLP chip. The HK2288 projector sports an RGBRGB color wheel and offers a manual 1.5:1 zoom lens, with a modest amount of vertical lens shift! It produces 2,000 lumens in its brightest mode, and, once calibrated, produces some great color. Disappointing, though, is that it measured 1,300 lumens after calibration – we would have hoped for better for a projector with 2,000 claimed lumens.

The HK2288 supports HDR, but not the BT.2020 color space. It is one of the few projectors around that has three HDMI inputs, rather than two. This, in some cases, may be enough for people to avoid having to use an HDMI switcher! We wish more projectors had 3 HDMIs. Speaking of three – it has an excellent 3-year parts and labor warranty.

Epson HC4000

Epson_HC4000_angle

The Epson HC4000 was last year’s Best Value winner in the $1,000 – $2,000 price range. This year, it was beat out by Optoma’s UHD50, a 4K UHD projector released earlier this year. The little brother of the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, we would consider it to be more home entertainment when compared, as its black levels just aren’t up to par with the 5040UB. It bested its 2,200 lumen claim by 20%, and can be used in rooms with moderate ambient light.

The Epson Home Cinema 4000 has excellent color, right out of the box in its best modes, and calibrates beautifully. It supports HDR and the BT.2020 color space. It also has CFI for sports viewing, and two HDMIs, but no speaker system. Home theater projectors don’t tend to have speakers, as the assumption goes that you will be using an AV receiver or other such sound system rather than on-board speakers.

Epson HC3700

epson-hc3700

The Epson HC3700 was launched in the summer two years ago, and was the middle of three new 3000 series projectors. The HC3700 easily beat its 3,000 lumen claim, making it a contender for our Bright Room Award, but didn’t make the grade when compared to the BenQ TK800. That projector is bright and can handle 4K content, making it the obvious choice as more and more people are calling for 4K. Overall, this is a nice projector, surrounded by other good alternatives.

LG MiniBeam PF1000

PF1000U_side 1 sm

This ultra short throw LED projector claims 1,200 lumens, and measured at just over 1,000, making it a reasonably bright projector. Its stereo 3-watt speakers perform especially well for such a small projector. This LG projector feels more like one of today’s smart TVs. As a group, with the exception of some of the smallest (usually LED projectors), home theater projectors are pretty dumb, save for those that won our Most Innovative: Smart Projectors Award this year.

The PF1000U has an online app and a browser, WiFi, TV coaxial and digital TV inputs, a Bluetooth audio out, and Ethernet. Color was pretty good, with entry level black level performance. One to consider if you want a smart LED projector, but its smarts weren’t enough to compete with the newer smart projectors that came out this year – those ones can do 4K!