PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Al Griffin Posted: Sep 02, 2016 7 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp “4K Enhanced” picture
Ultra HD and HDR compatible
Impressive 3D performance
Minus
Some motor noise with Auto Iris active
High fan noise in certain picture modes

THE VERDICT
Epson’s Ultra HD and HDR-compatible 3D LCD projector delivers a compelling mix of performance and features for its $3,999 price.

With 4K/Ultra HD quickly taking over as the default resolution for new TVs, it seems ironic that projectors, the display type that would most benefit from 4K resolution, have been slower to transition to the new format. Sony is the only manufacturer to introduce 4K-res projectors aimed at the general home theater market, and with the cost of entry for those models stuck in the $10,000-plus range, it’s clear that 4K projection has a way to go before it becomes mainstream.

Al Griffin Posted: Aug 17, 2016 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $890

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive brightness
Clean, detailed picture
Good overall 3D performance
Minus
So-so contrast
Relatively high fan noise

THE VERDICT
ViewSonic’s low-budget Pro7827HD home theater projector has its compromises but delivers impressive performance for the price.

When you consider the benefits of buying a 1080p projector, the main one that should come to mind is price. There are a few native 4K models, including ones with high dynamic range capability, but they still remain costly, with the cheapest being Sony’s VPL-VW350ES at $8,000. Even those that accept 4K signals and deliver a faux 4K picture, such as JVC’s e-shift models, remain in the several thousand dollar range. Survey the plain ol’ 1080p field, on the other hand, and you’ll find plenty of bargains, including ViewSonic’s LightStream Pro7827HD DLP projector, with a list price of $890 and an online street price of just $799.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 06, 2016 0 comments
With the warm spring beckoning us Northerners to the outdoors, thoughts of week-long beach vacations or camping trips bring on a serious dilemma: How in the world are we going to watch movies? OK, maybe, maybe not. But if you happen to be a millennial or a teenager with a smartphone, you know that its screen handily doubles these days for your old pappy’s big-screen TV. Except, it’s really not so big, is it? You can crowd in only so close when you’re trying to share your latest photos or a download of American Horror Story with a group of friends.
Michael P. Hamilton Posted: May 25, 2016 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly accurate and stable colorimetry out of the box
Impressively sharp and detailed images at a reasonable price
Useful calibration adjustments including lockable ISF modes
Minus
Punitive light leakage from lens opening
Limited lens adjustments constrain placement options
3D glasses not supplied

THE VERDICT
BenQ's HT 3050 delivers surprisingly good performance for its price, but noticeable light leakage drags down an otherwise strong recommendation.

For a while now, projector manufacturers who employ three LCD panels for the required red, green, and blue primary colors (we’re talking about you, Epson) have pointed to that technology’s ability to deliver equal lumens output for both white brightness and color brightness. Citing research by various international standards organizations, the 3LCD consortium maintains that single-chip DLP projectors (referred to as 1DLP) may suffer...

Al Griffin Posted: May 18, 2016 2 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Ultra short throw design
Accurate color
Built-in smart/streaming features
Minus
Mediocre picture contrast
Limited brightness
Poor picture uniformity

THE VERDICT
LG’s PF1000U has a number of compelling convenience features, but its performance is well below that of other comparably priced 1080p projectors.

A compact, portable projector makes sense for a rec room or vacation home where a full-scale, full-time home theater isn’t possible—or even wanted. LG isn’t well known as a projector company, but they’ve been steadily building a portfolio of compact projector options over the past few years. Last year, I checked out the PF85U (soundandvision.com), a 1080p model with an array of smart features, including Web browsing and Netflix streaming. This time around, I’m looking at LG’s PF1000U, another 1080p DLP model packed with an array of smart/streaming features.

Kris Deering Posted: May 05, 2016 12 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Twice as bright, same contrast
HDR10 compatible and full P3 color support
HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2
Minus
Black uniformity hit or miss
New HDMI chips slower to sync
Still no native 4K

THE VERDICT
With nearly twice the brightness of its predecessor, big improvements to 3D and 4K playback, and a good dose of UHD future-proofing, the DLA-X750R is more than just a mild refresh.

When new JVC projectors were announced at this past October’s CEDIA, they basically looked the same as the models from two years ago, with only some modest differences visible on paper in the brightness rating plus support for the latest version of HDCP. But in use, the new DLA-X750R features some significant upgrades from the outgoing DLA-X700R. Let’s dive in and see how JVC delivered one of the best projectors I’ve reviewed to date.

Kris Deering Posted: Apr 28, 2016 3 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $850

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fantastic portability
Super bright
High-end features at a low-end price
Minus
No lens shift
Focus uniformity less than stellar
A bit noisy

THE VERDICT
What it lacks in size, it makes up for in features. The Home Cinema 2045 packs a wallop for the dollar, delivering a bright and accurate image from a wonderfully portable unit.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I have become very jaded in my view of home theater projectors. Looking at my history with Sound & Vision (and previously Home Theater), I have always had the privilege of reviewing the upper crop of projectors; rarely do I get to evaluate more value-tier options. This wasn’t always the case, though. There was a time in my life when most of the projectors I used personally or reviewed for other publications were priced for a consumer on a much tighter budget. And so today, I’m intrigued to take a look at a more budget-conscious model. Enter the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2045, a three-LCD 1080p 3D projector that, while low in cost ($850), boasts a feature-rich spec sheet.

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Kris Deering Posted: Mar 21, 2016 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $14,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Native 4K imaging chips
HDR10 compatible
Minus
Lacks full HDMI v2.0a capabilities
Less than perfect focus uniformity
Careful setup needed for best results

THE VERDICT
Sony’s mid-cycle refresh of the VPL-VW600ES offers decent bumps in dynamic contrast, brightness, and features. While it still lacks some key future-proofing and has a few niggling issues, its compelling native 4K imagery is some of the best we’ve seen from front projectors on the market today.

Here we are now a full four years beyond Sony’s debut of the VPL-VW1000ES, the first consumer-level native 4K projector. And yet the bounty of 4K content that was promised at that time is really now just coming to fruition with an assortment of streaming options and a new Blu-ray format springing forth. In late 2015, Sony did what I’d call a mid-cycle refresh on one of our previous Top Picks, the VPL-VW600ES (May 2014; review at soundandvision.com), adding a few new features like HDR capabilities and improved contrast and brightness. But is the VPL-VW665ES the projector to buy as we head into the land of Ultra HD and all its promises?

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 14, 2016 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great brightness for the price
Dynamic iris control enhances contrast
Very good 3D performance
Minus
Low Lamp Control setting greatly diminishes brightness
Manual focus, zoom, and lens shift controls

THE VERDICT
Thanks to its dynamic iris, Sony’s 1080p projector beams bright images with great contrast and delivers performance so good that you may not care it’s not 4K.

The last time I had my hands on a Sony product, it was a 4K projector priced at ten grand. That model, the VPL-VW350ES, had many positive attributes (I gave it a Top Pick stamp, after all), along with one weakness: somewhat lackluster contrast compared with that of projectors that provide a dynamic iris control.

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 14, 2016 10 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very good brightness for the price
Excellent contrast
Fully motorized lens controls
Minus
Slight enhancement artifacts

THE VERDICT
JVC’s DLA-X550R continues the company’s streak of producing high-value projectors that deliver high-contrast images.

Most projector manufacturers refresh their product lines every fall like clockwork, but JVC opted to sit things out for 2014. The main reason (I suspect) was the state of flux surrounding the HDMI standard, which at that point was evolving to a new 18-gigabit-per-second version designed to accommodate a full range of 4K/Ultra HD bells and whistles, including 60-hertz frame rate, 4:4:4 color sampling, and high dynamic range.

Michael P. Hamilton Posted: Mar 02, 2016 8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent, Rec. 709 color palette for long-term, fuss-free accuracy
High-grade optics provide edge-to-edge sharpness
Precision calibration controls for hobbyists; ISF modes for the pros
Minus
Short throw ratio and limited vertical offset require careful planning for permanent installation
Not stealth fighter quiet (but not “arrest me!” loud, either)
3D glasses optional

THE VERDICT
At $1,399, you’ll have a better chance of finding Waldo than another projector that equals the HT4050’s package of color accuracy, image clarity, and overall fidelity.

Beginning in 2009 and yearly thereafter, Taiwan-based BenQ Corporation has claimed the distinction of being the best-selling brand for DLP projectors worldwide. While models designated for the business and education markets bolster the overall sales figure, the company has enjoyed a strong presence in consumer home theater as well. BenQ aims to retain that No. 1 status, aided by their new HT series of home theater machines, which includes our review unit, the range-topping HT4050. Stocking the projector with an assortment of finely honed features, BenQ promises the performance level found in more costly models while targeting an appealing price point. Will the HT4050 deliver winning image fidelity and a winning sales formula for BenQ? Let’s find out.

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Kris Deering Posted: Oct 29, 2015 13 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Laser light engine
HDCP 2.2 compliance
Excellent contrast and accuracy
UHD color support
Minus
Not true 4K
Pricey
Contrast not quite up to lofty claims

THE VERDICT
Few projectors can compete with Epson’s first salvo in the reflective LCD market, and the company’s laser engine delivers bright images with flagship-level contrast and accuracy.

Last year’s CEDIA Expo was a bit of a buzzkill for projectors. We continued to see a dropoff in the number of manufacturers, and two of the biggest names in consumer projectors, Sony and JVC, both decided to forgo new models altogether. But that didn’t stop Epson from unveiling one of the most exciting projectors I’ve seen in years, the PowerLite Pro Cinema LS10000. Not only is it unlike any previous Epson model, but it’s also the first laser-driven home theater projector I’ve seen—and at a sub-$10,000 price point. But can it compete with the juggernauts from Sony and JVC at these higher price levels? Let’s find out.

Kris Deering Posted: Jun 30, 2015 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Performance close to higher-end models
Excellent dynamic iris
Minus
HDMI slow to lock onto signals
Annoying gamma tracking after 100 hours

THE VERDICT
The combination of the DLA-X500R’s performance and value make it a favored pick in JVC’s current line.

Last year, I went to the 2014 CEDIA EXPO hoping to see some new native 4K projector options from JVC, but unfortunately, I came away disappointed. For the first time in recent memory, JVC decided to skip the annual model refresh and stick with their already superb 1080p projector offerings. This is understandable, given the embryonic state of the 4K market (and other variables that I’ll talk about below). But the line’s extra longevity did give me the chance to review what I believe to be the best overall option in JVC’s current family, the DLA-X500R. This projector may not have all the bells and whistles of its higher-priced brethren, but it does have what some would call “all the right junk, in all the right places.”

Michael P. Hamilton Posted: Apr 29, 2015 3 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Epson puts the “light” in PowerLite
Well suited for brighter environments
Adjustments galore
Includes two pair of 3D glasses
Minus
Dynamic range short of true black
Default color tracking errors

THE VERDICT
Powerful light output with quiet operation and excellent build quality partner with 3D at an attractive price.

Even for those of us within the electronics industry, the constant evolution and ascending levels of technology combined with an ever-lower price of admittance continues to astonish. In the universe of projected light, a stellar example of this can be found in the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 projector.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 17, 2015 2 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright, punchy picture
Excellent color
Compact size
Minus
Mediocre blacks
High vertical offset with limited lens shift

THE VERDICT
You wouldn’t expect the type of performance this BenQ delivers for the price, but it will impress even a fussy videophile and blow away the newbie.

Flat-screen 1080p HDTVs have been dropping in price. Nonetheless, short of a blowout sale, a really big-screen set—say, 70 inches diagonal or larger, even in plain old 1080p, will probably set you back a minimum of $1,500. Compared with prices even two years ago, that’s cheap, but for most buyers it’s still significant cash.

What if you discovered that for less money you could get a picture that’s three or more times the size (by area) of that 70-inch flat-screen set? How does $1,200 sound?

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