PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Al Griffin  |  Jun 22, 2017  |  0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very good picture quality for the price
Flexible installation options
Fully backlit remote
Minus
Inaccurate out-of-box color
Some motor noise from Auto Iris
High fan noise in certain picture modes

THE VERDICT
Epson’s mid-range projector delivers very bright images, but it also offers enough refinement to make it a worthy upgrade over cheaper budget-priced models.

Let’s face facts: Budget home theater projectors can be a mixed bag. Last year, I tested a trio of such models from Optoma (December 2016 issue), InFocus (soundandvision.com), and ViewSonic (September 2016 issue). More recently, I checked out BenQ’s HT1070 (May), another projector that proved to be a high-value find. But while I liked the idea of getting a big, bright 1080p-resoluton picture for under $1,000, the less-than-impressive picture contrast and sparse installation features put a cap on my enthusiasm. When I look back at the bunch, it seems clear that “better” means “more expensive” when it comes to projectors.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 20, 2017  |  1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Calibrates well for accurate color
Better-than-average contrast ratio
Backlit remote control
Minus
Limited installation features
High fan noise in Normal Lamp mode
Not as bright as competition

THE VERDICT
The better-than-average contrast and accurate color potential offered by BenQ’s low-cost projector make it a great option for a budget home theater.

Budget 1080p projectors targeted at sports fans are a staple of many manufacturers’ lineups. These usually come with a promise to “transport you to the stadium” by projecting a bright, 100-inchdiagonal picture from just a few feet out from a wall or screen, and they include a Sports picture mode to give Astroturf that hyper-real, greener-than-green look. In some cases, however, such projectors can deliver surprisingly accurate images. Pair one of them with an equally affordable screen, and you’ll get a satisfying big-screen movie-viewing experience for under $1,000.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 06, 2017  |  1 comments

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

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stunning resolution
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
Compatible with 4K content
Minus
Some clipping in HDR

THE VERDICT
If you want a projector illuminated by laser light, this Epson is the only game in town for less than five figures. But there’s a lot more here to rave about than just the lasers.

If video projectors have one serious limitation as display devices, at least for the home, it’s lamp life. Manufacturers make glowing claims for this, sometimes as high as 6,000 hours; that’s to half brightness. However, the video perfectionist is unlikely to get to half that figure, or even a third of it, before he or she senses that the picture is growing dim. It’s not unheard of for critical users to replace the lamp at 1,000 hours to maintain the projector’s youthful good looks. But projection lamps aren’t cheap.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 30, 2017  |  0 comments

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

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color and detail
Bright, punchy picture
That price!
Minus
Middling blacks and shadow detail

THE VERDICT
With all of today’s hullabaloo about 4K and HDR, it’s easy to forget that there’s something special about a theater-like image on a big projection screen—even if it’s plain vanilla, standard dynamic range, and 1080p. One look at the Sony VPL-HW45ES will remind you of that fact.

I've been projector-less for a good two years. It began with a 2015 move across the country from California to Florida. Then came a steady stream of flat-screen TVs as that technology progressed from the 2K era to the age of Ultra HD with 4K resolution, advanced color, and high dynamic range (HDR). Still, it’s not like I’ve been exiled to the proverbial desert island. Those top-of-the-line TVs have been a treat, and there’ll be more to come. I’ve missed having a big screen, however, with the sense of image immersion that only a frontprojection setup can provide.

Kris Deering  |  Feb 27, 2017  |  1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $35,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
True 4K (4096 x 2160) D-ILA panels
Improved HDR support including HLG
Reference-quality optics
Minus
Fan noise can be intrusive
HDMI sluggish to sync
Native contrast not quite on par with rest of JVC line

THE VERDICT
While JVC’s first native 4K projector for consumers doesn’t quite deliver the contrast of its 1080p lineup, its projected image is breathtaking with both 1080p and 4K content. With its advanced laser light engine, reference-quality optics, and enough lumens to light up a massive range of screens, you have a true flagship-caliber offering from JVC.

While 4K has become the new norm for the flat-panel industry, its adoption into the home projection market has been slow, to say the least. Until now, Sony has been trailblazing native 4K for the consumer home theater market while others have offered quasi-4K options that use techniques to deliver near4K quality with 1080p imaging systems at more affordable pricing. Among those manufacturers, JVC led the way with their e-shift system, which over time has matured to contend quite convincingly with native 4K designs.

Al Griffin  |  Dec 13, 2016  |  0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $579

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Good overall performance
Backlit remote control
Minus
Limited installation features
So-so contrast

THE VERDICT
Good overall performance, ample adjustments, and a low price make Optoma’s HD142X a great entry-level projector.

You might not be aware of it, but there’s a new war going on. No, it’s not between countries, ideologies, or individuals; it’s between DLP projector manufacturers. A handful of companies are battling to provide a single-chip model that delivers the best-looking, brightest picture at the lowest price. Over the past few months, I’ve reported on two such projectors, the ViewSonic LightStream Pro7827HD ($890, Sound & Vision, September) and the InFocus ScreenPlay SP1080 ($549, see review at soundandvision.com). Next up: Optoma’s HD142X ($579), another affordable model aimed at the casual home theater fan and gamer.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 12, 2016  |  0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good value
Decent overall performance
Capable of high brightness
Minus
Brightness limits color accuracy
So-so contrast

THE VERDICT
While it’s not without compromises, the SP1080 delivers good overall home theater image quality for its very low price.

A home theater projector is designed for permanent installation in a light-controlled environment. A mini projector is meant for giving business presentations or toting to a vacation home. What is the line that separates the two categories? Until recently, it was price: A typical home theater model started at around $1,000 and shot up from there. But the InFocus ScreenPlay SP1080 seems intended to blur that line: It’s priced at a mere $549, or the same amount you’d pay for a high-quality mini projector. Consequently, home theater projection has now become almost absurdly cheap. But is this new InFocus any good? Let’s take a look.

Al Griffin  |  Sep 02, 2016  |  1 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  |  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.

Rob Sabin  |  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  |  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  |  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  |  May 05, 2016  |  1 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  |  Apr 28, 2016  |  1 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.

Kris Deering  |  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?

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