Projectors for Review in February 2010 – Home Theater Projectors

Greetings one, and all,

OK, due to some typical “dynamics” things keep changing around here, regarding what projectors are about to be reviewed.  I haven’t mentioned this, since yesterday, and things have already changed, due to updates on what projectors are arriving and what just “snuck” in the door.

My primary focus right now, is to finish the “mandatory” 1080p projectors that I think essential before starting this year’s March publication of our 1080p Projector Comparison Report.

So, let me start by saying that I’m currently working with the 720p BenQ W600, 3D ready projector.  We’ve already measured and calibrated it – (as best we could) – it’s a veritable light canon, and may be the brightest non-3 chip DLP we’ve measured for home theater.  That’s not surprising as it is a  “cross-over” projector.  But, enough:

I’ll be doing my First Look blog, about the W600 projector tomorrow.  Let me say, though, I’m not ready to complete the review.  What I’m still missing is some 3D content, which I’m frantically trying to locate.  (It needs to be Mac based, not PC, and I’m asking Sony, who just announced their BDP-S470 Blu-ray player with 3D support.)

So, the W600 will get its blog, and most likely the review will be resumed shortly, once some decent 3D software is found (I’ve got the shuttered glasses ready to go.)

But, Lo! and Behold!  MORE REVIEWS:

The LG CF181D arrived at my door today – (they promised by Friday). Well, so many forum folks and others have been emailing me asking about this LG projector that, its now been moved up, to “in process” status. Mike will be picking it up, today, for calibration and measurements, and it will publish, probably, late next week.

After the LG, I’ve got these to choose from:

Mitsubishi HC6800
JVC RS15 (or 35, but probably not both)
and, of course, if I can find one:  BenQ W1000

And that folks, will be it, then, early March, I’ll take my 15-20 days “off” to write the entire report.  And when that’s done, back to normal review schedules, which should include more 3D.

News and Comments

  • Gary J. Svehla

    No review of the InFocus SP8602, which
    is now shipping???

    And PLEASE review the JVC RS 15, since you
    already reviewed the 25 and the 35 is a
    glorified 25. The RS 15 is the one I would
    be most curious to read more about

    • Hi Gary,

      The RS15 review is my priority. I’ve told that to my contacts at JVC. They understand as well, as I pointed out basically the same thing, and especially since last year, the RS10 was our Best In Class Runner-up. As to the RS35, I really am curious, and it may be a glorified 25, but several people at JVC point out, that for those of us who really care, an RS35, should be a noticeable improvement over the RS25. I’m dying to find out. I wouldn’t swap my RS20 for a 25, for the CFI, and only the slightest improvement in blacks, and a somewhat better CMS (as I’m very pleased with my calibrated RS20). But, if the RS35 is sharper, much better pixel alignment, perhaps another increase in blacks, etc. That I might consider for myself. (But in reality, I do think I’ll wait until fall, especially with 3D and other issues, I personally don’t really need to spend for “slight improvement”, every year. -art

  • Pat Boyle

    Just a little bit ago the first generation of 1080 projectors came on the market. As I remember most of these projectors were dimmer than the previous generation of 720 projectors. They have since gotten brighter and best mode lumens are no longer much of a problem.

    Now 3D is here and brightness is again a big issue. Only the brightest projectors will do. The 720 DLP projector rides again!

    • Hi Pat, hmm, you have a valid point.

      On the other hand, the difference between 720p and 1080p projectors isn’t that great anymore. While I am not aware of any 1080p’s that can match the lumen output of the dynamic modes of the brightest 720p’s – the PT-AX200U, the Epson 705HD, and the “new champ” I think, the Optoma HD66, when it comes to best quality modes, the scenario is different.

      The LCoS projectors other than Sony’s seem to mostly put out between 700 and 900 lumens in best mode, rivaling or beating the Panasonic PT-AX200U for example.

      But, ultimately it comes down to ft-lambert’s Your point is valid, even these new 720p 3D projectors from Optoma, BenQ, and other DLP companies,with their “lots of lumens”, are going to have trouble getting to 12 ft -lamberts while doing 3D, on any large screen. I know the amount of loss is in part determined by the type of polarization, etc., and I don’t at this time, know how to directly correlate 3D brightness to 2D brightness, but hope to figure that out as I review a couple of 3D pjs. My problem is still lack of content, but I really hope to have some content by end of next week. My problem is I need content that runs on a Mac, or on PS3 / Blu-ray. Any thoughts?

  • Matt Reinhard

    I second the request for a full review of the InFocus SP8602 shipping model. Easily one of the most anticipated <$5K projectors of the last 6 mos.

    • Matt, I’m excited too. My first attempt to review it was a bust, mostly because of bad communications. While it really looked good, when I had the engineering sample here, I wasn’t able to use any of the calibration controls – so I couldn’t adjust grayscale, etc.

      As it turns out, that was because I was working over HDMI. Had I tried component video, I’m told it would have worked just dandy, and I could have fully calibrated it. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn of that until right after it was shipped back. InFocus has been having software/firmware issues which seriously delayed it’s launch which should have been 3 months ago. That said, they tell me the SP8602 is ready for primetime now, and starting to ship. Looking forward to it. While it’s here, I have several LCoS to compare it to, and the Epson of course. I have my RS20, the LG (just arrived) and I still have the Cinetron.

      Just guessing of course, but from what I saw before, my take is that the InFocus will have better blacks than the LG, the Cinetron, and the Sony HW15. The VW85 improved significantly over the VW70 last year, in blacks, so that’s probably close, with, (best guess) the Sony having a slight edge. (The JVC still reigns supreme.)

      However, if, like the Planar PD8150, it has really excellent blacks then we have a razor sharp alternative to the LCoS, without spending as much as the Planar PD8150. BTW, it’s been too long since I’ve seen the Planar, but if I had to bet, I’d say the two are very close on blacks. My hunch is that the InFocus won’t be any better at them, but very close.
      As to color, even without calibrating it the SP8602 was showing excellent potential. We shall see, soon enough.

  • J Reese

    I third the request for Infocus SP-8602 review. Seems like you are avoiding this?

    • Hi J Reese,

      See my response below to Matt. Actually, I’ve been constantly been harassing them, pretty much every week since our first attempt with the engineering sample. But, at least I’m getting one of the first full production units to review. The doorbell rang. I thought it might be the 8602, but it was the Mitsubishi HC6800. The InFocus, though likely will arrive tomorrow. Fun.

  • Simon

    Art, you’re looking/waiting for a BenQ w1000 but there’s another interesting little projector: the new Vivitek hd1085.
    It seems to be a credible improvement over the old hd1080. Maybe you’re luckier to find a new Vivitek 😉

    • Hi Simon,

      OK, I’ve got to give’m a call, on other matters. I’ll ask what they’ve done to the 1085, or even if itis shipping? -art

  • Matt Reinhard

    Good news, thanks Art! Sounds like if everything is as it seems, it should hit the sweet spot for price/performance.

    I’m hoping the best mode lumens are up there, keeping in InFocus tradition. I’m currently using a BenQ W6000 because of a large screen (159″ 16:9), and hope I can light it up just as well, but with big contrast improvements.

  • Sauce

    How about the Vivitek H5080? It’s been hard finding any qualified reviews.

  • Kendall Luelf

    Any word on the SP8602 yet? I recieved mine 2-10 and have been anxiously waiting a full review of a calibrated unit.


    • Greetings Kendall,

      Hmm, It should be in transit, and arriving in the next day or two! I’m looking forward to it. Just learned that JVC is shipping me BOTH the RS15 and RS35 tomorrow. It’s going to be a fun next 3 weeks. (and 5 projectors!) -a

  • Kendall Luelf

    If you do get the sp8602, will it be in the March comparisson?

  • Jonathan G

    Hey Art,

    I posted this on an older blog about the HC3800, but thought maybe here would get more attention. Before you disappear for your 15-20 days “off”, I am in need of some advice. I am building a HT room for a ceiling mounted projector to mainly watch movies and play PS3. Mount can be 12-15 feet away to make a 95-105″ image. Four years ago I owned a Panasonic LCD projector and was pleased. Shopping now I am torn between the PTAE4000U and the Mitsi HC3800. I am fairly confident I would be pleased with the PTAE4000U but am wondering if I would be just as pleased with the HC3800 and save around $700 at the same time.

    I have been 3 years without a projector and am in no way a video expert, but I do want to get the best that I can.

    Can you help me choose between these projectors?

    Thanks a million!

    • Hi Jonathan,
      I get to look down from above. I see all comments grouped together, old blog or new. So, I’ll answer this one.

      From what you say about your preferences, I would have to spend the bucks and get the Panny. You’ll find the PT-AE4000 to be a rather dramatic improvement from your older Panny, which I take to be a PT-AE900U, based on age. For those movies, the superior black levels will make a pleasurable improvement on many dark scenes. Both are good for gaming. The Panny is much more versatile. I just think the better blacks means less opportunities for darker scenes to disappoint you. If you decide to save the bucks though, and go with the HC3800, my taste is to pair with an HC gray screen to help lower the blacks a bit. -art

  • Jonathan


    Thank you so much for the recommendation. I have been leaning towards the Panny, but I always look to save money if I don’t think I will notice the difference. Not having a lot of experience, I wonder if the image from the HC3800 would still blow me away while saving me the money. However, I do have concerns over the audible noise of the DLP and placement flexibility.

    While you are handing out recommendations, in the Panny pricerange (and not above!) do you suggest I look at any other models?

    Thanks and also thanks for your in-depth reviews. Whatever I end up with, I will definitely check your articles for calibration tips.

  • Scott Halmi

    Good morning, Art:
    I have read your review of the Vivitek HD1080, along with many others. Due to tight budgets (ok, and cost overrun on my ‘man-cave’ downstairs) I am limited in options to the Vivitek or the Optoma HD20.
    I could use the extra lumins the Vivitek ofers, but am very concerned about the ‘rainbows’ I’ve been reading so much about. As both units are only available on line, I cannot preview them.
    The unit would be a ‘weekend warrior’ for family movies and for the kids. I don’t know if I’m ‘sensitive’ to rainbows or not. Should I be concerned with this?

    • Hi Scott, If you can’t find a dlp locally, say Best Buy – Magnolia, then it’s purely guesswork. Even then, if a magnolia store has a dlp on display and working, its probably more expensive, with a faster color wheel still. But, if you see no rainbows on dark scenes when there’s fast moving white areas, then even on a slower wheel’d DLP you will be less likely to notice, or be bothered by them. Conversely if you see them easily on a higher end DLP, avoid DLP altogether.

      If you can’t see any, make the call but buy from a dealer with a clear and good exchange policy, and realize you will probably have to make the determination in the first few days. And have a backup plan. Or, go for one of the lower cost 1080p LCD models like the 8100 Epson, or you should be able to find A Sanyo z700 or one of “last year’s models” bouncing around the $1K price point. Best of luck. -a