With prices falling faster than confidence in Greece's economy, is there a better big-screen deal these days than a front projector? Back in 2008 even bargain-basement-priced 1080p models cost about $3,000 - about half what they cost just a year earlier, but still a sizable chunk of change.
Winter is my favorite season, when all the past year’s new flat-panel TVs have been reviewed and I can switch my attention to projectors. This season was particularly bountiful, as I was able to score three of the best projectors on the market for review. Sony’s VPL-HW50ES, plus an Epson and a JVC, all arrived on my doorstep within a few days of one another. Not too shabby, that. Time for a roundup.
This is my second time writing this review. I don’t mean that I tweaked and changed it a lot and that this is a second draft. I mean I had to completely rewrite it. No computer error: I simply found something so bizarre, so transformative about Epson’s Home Cinema 5010 projector that it radically changed my opinion of it. So much so that I had to start over completely.
There are two ways to look at the rapidly decreasing price point of 3D HD projectors. The first way: Manufacturers are racing one another to the bottom by finding ways to make 3D cheaper and cheaper. The second, more accurate way: 3D is just a new feature (though one marketed to within an inch of its life) found on cheaper and cheaper products, just as 1080p resolution was a few years ago.
Looked at through those eyes, the Sony VPLHW30ES is less a “new 3D projector” and more a continuation of a long line of excellent SXRD models from Sony that now just happen to also do 3D. Plus, it’s a fantastic value.
Doing its part to bring cutting-edge theatrical digital projection technology to a price point that's still hazy but should at least be less thanstratospheric, Sony announced the VPL-VW1000ES projector - the first of its 4K capable SXRD units to be aimed at the home market.
Let’s go over some of the numbers here: 1080p, 3D, $1,000. Pretty solid specs and pricing for flat-panel TV, except ... this is no flat-panel. BenQ’s W1070 is, as you have probably deduced, a projector. I’ve reviewed a few projectors in this price range as exclusives for soundandvision.com and all came up rather lacking.
Optoma made a name for itself early on by making high-quality, low-cost DLP projectors. But with the HD8300, Optoma isn’t going after the budget end of the projector spectrum. Instead, the company is aiming right at its new heart: $5k-ish 3D.
Sharp was once king of the $10,000 projector class, a class now nearly disappeared. With the 3D era under way, it returns to the game with this $4,995 offering, only to find the market far more competitive than before. Most notable is the $500-cheaper JVC DLA-X3, the baby brother of the X7 model I reviewed in the April/May issue.
I first experienced Runco’s new D-73d 3D projector at the CEDIA Expo last September and was pretty impressed. By “pretty impressed” I mean that it was the best display of 3D technology I witnessed at the show. I find myself prone to headaches and discomfort when viewing many 3D demonstrations, and the D-73d was the easiest-on-the-eyes solution I’d seen. But there is a big difference between being wowed by a 10-minute demo and evaluating something critically for hours on end. So, when an opportunity to review this new projector at Runco’s factory headquarters came up, I jumped at the chance!