Big Screens, Small Prices

A new crop of entry-level projectors makes big-screen 1080p more affordable than ever.

There’s been a lot of fuss over the rapid drop in price of big-screen flat panels, but that ain’t nothing compared with the free-falling MSRPs you’ll find over in the 1080p projection realm. Two years ago, the going rate for one of the first 1080p projectors was about $10,000. Last year, we saw a number of high-quality offerings around the $5,000 mark. This year, companies like Optoma, Sanyo, and Mitsubishi have released 1080p projectors priced under $4,000. These entry-level models feature a nice complement of advanced image-adjustment options and all of the desired video inputs: HDMI 1.3, PC, and component video. But the important question is, how does their performance measure up with pricier competition? You’ll have to read on to find out.

In keeping with the entry-level theme, I also requested one of Elite Screens’ new Home2 Series projection screens: a 16:9, 75-inch-diagonal, motorized screen that costs just $869. Without a doubt, building an HT projection system has become easier and more economical than ever before. So, while everyone else is gushing about that 65-inch LCD HDTV whose price just fell to $8,000, you can quietly go about the business of building a truly big-screen home theater system for less than five grand.