PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Kris Deering Posted: May 02, 2012 10 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,500 At A Glance: Class-leading black levels • Outstanding pixel sharpness • 3D performance lacking

Last May, I had the pleasure of reviewing the first 3D projector offered from JVC, the DLA-X3. At just under $4,500, it represented an amazing balance of value and performance. This year, JVC has made some radical changes to its projection line, including two new projectors with its e-Shift 4K upscaling feature. Replacing last year’s DLA-X3 is the DLA-X30, which adds lens memory to the package along with some new 3D options. But the biggest news is that JVC has lowered the price by almost 25 percent. So does last year’s amazing value become this year’s doorbuster? Let’s find out.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 24, 2012 1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
(92-inch high-gain screen)
3D Performance
(118-inch standard screen)
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $25,000 At A Glance: Superb 4K resolution • Excellent blacks and shadow detail • High-gain screen recommended for 3D

Editor's note: This is an addendum to our earlier review of the Sony VPL-VW1000 4K 3D projector, covering only its 3D picture quality. Click here for the orignal review.

In our February 2012 issue, we published an exclusive first look at Sony’s new top-of-the-line projector. In addition to stunning performance with conventional, high-defintion, consumer material, the VPL-VW1000 employs 4K imaging chips, offering four times the resolution of standard high-definition video.

Kris Deering Posted: Apr 20, 2012 3 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,299 At A Glance: Bright 3D picture • Dynamic iris needs work • Easy install and calibration

Last year, we started seeing the first 3D projectors hitting the market, and most of these were reserved for the mid- to high-end customer. This year, we’re seeing a trickle-down effect from the high-end manufacturers, plus a lot of the more value-oriented brands that are stepping into the 3D arena. Epson is at the forefront of the latter with a few new options in its PowerLite Home Cinema lineup. For this review, I got the chance to spend some time with its new PowerLite Home Cinema 5010e, a 1080p- resolution LCD projector that brings 3D capability to the Epson line for the first time.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 19, 2012 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $8,000 At A Glance: Superb black level and shadow detail • Accurate 2D color • Complete but complex features

JVC has a problem—a problem more projector manufacturers wish they had. When the company launched its relatively affordable DLA-RS1 LCOS projector several years ago, it created a sensation. Every model year since then brought new updates. Expectations rose, and prior to every CEDIA (the September trade show that is the traditional launching pad for new home theater projectors), we’ve wondered what JVC would next bring to its lineup. The cosmetics have changed several times, but more importantly, a basic run of slow but steady improvements has continued. It has even inspired other projector manufacturers to up their game, and the increased value available to the consumer across the market in general has been substantial.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Apr 04, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,499 At A Glance: Poor blacks & shadow detail • Good color • Good detail with 1080p content • Very limited placement options

In my ongoing quest for low-cost projectors that perform well, I came across the H1085 from Vivitek. Unlike most such projectors, this one is available only through custom installers. How does it perform? Let's find out.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 20, 2012 3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,495 At A Glance: Many advanced features • Superb detail and color • Deepest blacks we've seen at this price level • Poor shadow detail

A front-projection system is usually the display of choice for serious home-theater enthusiasts. But such systems are more expensive than most flat panels and rear-projection TVs, especially when you consider the cost of a good screen. So finding a low-cost projector that performs well is the Holy Grail for those who want a true home cinema without breaking the bank.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 07, 2012 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,499 At A Glance: Among least expensive 3D projectors • Good detail and color • High black level in 2D, low brightness in 3D • No lens shift

Like it or not, 3D compatibility is becoming nearly ubiquitous in midrange to high-end flat panels and projectors. But what about those who are looking for an entry-level projector with 3D? Are they out of luck? Not according to Optoma, whose HD33 DLP projector sells for less than $1,500, making it one of the least expensive 1080p 3D projectors on the market.

Kris Deering Posted: Jan 27, 2012 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $7,999 At A Glance: Outstanding out-of-the-box accuracy • Whisper quiet • Punchy 3D images

The performance we’ve been seeing from the projector world as of late has just been astounding. Sony has been right there at the top of the heap, too, earning our Top Pick for the last three projectors we’ve reviewed. The company continues to push new boundaries with its recently reviewed flagship 4K projector, the VPL-VW1000ES, and price/performance boundaries with its superb VPL-HW30ES. Last year Tom Norton was pleased as punch with Sony’s first 3D projector, the VPL-VW90ES, and I’ve been lucky enough to follow it up with its latest high-end effort, the VPL-VW95ES. Sony claims improvements in 3D performance and value. With a price point that falls $2,000 less than last year’s model, the company’s definitely made good on the value part. But can a lower-priced high-end model really outperform last year’s Top Pick? Let’s find out.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 06, 2011 9 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance   (See Review)
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Editor’s note: Click here for Tom Norton’s review covering the 3D capabilities and performance of the VPL-VW1000ES.

Editors Note: Home Theater is pleased to bring you this exclusive first review of Sony's VPL-VW1000ES, the world's first 4K projector built from the ground up for the consumer market. With more than four times the resolution of HDTV, 4K is already transforming digital cinema, and it now stands to create a more engaging and dramatic home theater experience as well.—Rob Sabin

Price: $25,000 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Excellent blacks and shadow detail • Four times the pixel density of 1920x1080 HD

Things could hardly be looking better for the video projector fan. The quality you can get today for under $10,000—or even under $5,000—is astonishing.

But the competition is fierce, and to stand out in the crowd, manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. True, 3D is still on its run as the NBT of the decade. Beyond that, 4K video lurks, waiting for its time in the spotlight.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 02, 2011 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,700 At A Glance: Deep blacks • Accurate 2D color • Outstanding brightness

Sony’s VPL-HW projectors go back a few years, with steady model-to-model refinements. Last year it was the VPL-HW20; this year it’s the VPL-HW30ES. Note that the HW30 now carries Sony’s premier ES designation. But there’s more than that to account for its price premium over the VLP-HW20. Not only does the new model build on its predecessor’s already excellent 2D performance, but it’s also 3D-ready, using active shutter glasses you can purchase separately along with an external 3D emitter. Or if you prefer your projector to be 3D-capable right out of the box, you can purchase it with two pair of model TDG-PJ1 glasses and the TMR-PJ1 emitter included as the VPL-HW30AES for $4,000.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 13, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $6,995 At A Glance: Satisfying brightness on a big screen • Excellent resolution and color • So-so black level and contrast

A few months back, we reviewed the Digital Projection HighLite Cine 260-HC (Home Theater, May 2011). But like most three-chip DLP designs, its $30,000 price could buy a nicely equipped new car. Some day, perhaps, the prices of such projectors may come down to earth, but until then, most of us are left to other options.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 21, 2011 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $5,500 At A Glance: Bright, punchy images • Good (though not highly accurate) color • Middling black level and contrast

Many of us here at Home Theater are big on 3D, but a lot of front-projection fans have been holding off. Until recently, their only options in the $5,000 3D projector market were two identical JVC models (sold either through that company’s pro or consumer distribution channels).

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jul 29, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1299 At A Glance: Good detail & shadow detail • Vivid colors • Not-so-great blacks • Excellent user interface

I've always liked Epson projectors—they generally produce an excellent picture for a reasonable price, which makes them a great value. The PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 is no exception, though it's not quite the home run that Epson's UB (ultra-black) models are. In fact, my primary complaint with the 8350 is its not-so-great blacks, which isn't helped much by the dynamic iris on real-world material. Granted, its blacks are better than those of the Optoma HD20, but they're still too bright to achieve a really great picture, especially in dark scenes. Also, colors are not spot-on accurate with this Epson, though I didn't find that bothersome when watching Blu-rays, DVDs, and TV programming. Another surprise—despite color fringing and softness I saw in certain test patterns, the detail in real-world content was quite good, if just a tad softer than the DLP-based HD20.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jul 29, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $999 At A Glance: Excellent detail & color via HDMI • Poor blacks & shadow detail • No lens shift • Excellent user interface

In some respects, the Optoma HD20 is an exceptional value, providing a razor-sharp 1080p image for just about as little money as any projector I know of. It's overall detail and color are excellent via HDMI, and it offers extensive controls, surprisingly advanced features, and a well-organized user interface. However, the lack of lens shift makes placement difficult without invoking the keystone control that can degrade the detail a lot. And even if you solve that problem, the shadow detail is poor, which causes dark scenes have large areas of solid darkness rather than subtle low-level details. Finally, at the largest image size I could manage in our studio given the lack of lens shift, the black level was quite high, which means the black of space was dark gray and letterbox bars were obvious. For better performance in this critical area, a larger image is a must.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 12, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $9,999 At A Glance: Deep, rich blacks • Accurate color • 3D-to-2D conversion • improved brightness and contrast

3D Gets Big

It seems like only yesterday that I reviewed Sony’s VPL-VW85 projector, but it was a year and a half ago (Home Theater, November 2009). Sony launches a new flagship home theater projector every year at the September CEDIA EXPO, and 2010 was no exception.

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