Shootout: Three 1080p Front Projectors

Photo Gallery

The TV world might be looking flat these days, but home theater sophisticates know that the real action is happening in the front projector realm - 1080p front projectors, to be exact. Prices for 1080p models - which can display the full picture detail packed into any HD broadcast or disc - have dipped dramatically, with several new offerings selling for well under $5,000. We've been on top of the 1080p front-pro scene with recent reviews of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) models from JVC and Sony, and DLP (Digital Light Processing) models from Optoma and Sim2. Now, add to this bunch Panasonic's PT-AE1000U ($4,000) and Epson's PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 ($5,000), the first 1080p LCD models to cross our threshold. Joining them is Sharp's XV-Z20000 ($10,000), a single-chip DLP at the top of that company's line.

For this test, I placed each projector on a low table 13 feet from an 87-inch-wide Stewart FireHawk screen in a neutral gray room that has blackout drapes to seal out window light - a more typical home theater setting than a windowless room. With these conditions in mind, the FireHawk screen was chosen specifically for its ability to minimize the effects of reflected ambient light. Sources included an HD signal generator and DVDs, HD DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs. For full technical measurements, see the Test Bench.