Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $10,000 AT A GLANCE Plus Bright picture with excellent uniformity Crisp detail with 4K sources Powerful built-in audio system Minus So-so contrast ratio Occasional banding artifacts No extended color gamut coverage THE VERDICT Hisense&rsquo;s Laser TV strikes a good balance between performance and price for a 4K-res ultra-short-throw projector-and-screen package. Hisense has been slowly making headway in the U.S. TV market over the past few years, mostly through its lineup of affordable big-screen LCD sets. Another product that the company has teased at trade shows, and is now actively selling, is Laser TV, a flat-screen alternative that consists of an ultra-short-throw (UST) laser-driven DLP projector paired with a 100-inch screen. While other companies including Sony and Epson offer their own UST solutions, Hisense seems especially bullish on the category: At last CES, the company announced a second Laser TV offering that incorporates a dual-laser DLP light engine and comes with a 150-inch screen, and there&rsquo;s also an 88-inch version in the works.
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $25,000 AT A GLANCE Plus True 4K (4096 x 2160) SXRD panels HDR support, including HLG Laser light engine Minus Middling dynamic contrast Limited HDR adjustments THE VERDICT With the new VPL-VW885ES, Sony has added a premium laser model to its consumer projector line, but even at $25,000, it comes with some compromises. These days, if you want a true native 4K projector (no pixel-shifting required) that doesn't have a Sony badge on it, you'll have to spend $35,000 and up for the privilege. Meanwhile, Sony now has four different models below that mark, starting at $5,000. Since the debut of the VPL-VW1000ES (in 2011!), we've been waiting for other manufacturers to join the native 4K fray&mdash;and yet, here we are.
Epson Home Cinema LS100 Performance Features Ergonomics Value Elite Screens Aeon CLR Performance Setup Value PRICE $3,000 (Epson), $799 (Elite) AT A GLANCE Plus Bright picture Compact form factor Can be used in average room-lighting conditions Minus Below-average picture contrast Some center-to-edge brightness dropoff Mediocre remote control THE VERDICT This combination of Epson projector and Elite screen represents a great value for those seeking a daylight-friendly, ultra-large-screen viewing option. Ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to regular front-projection systems. The reason is that, unlike regular projectors, which require careful lighting control to perform their best, UST models can operate in well-lit environments. They beam light upwards and are designed to be mounted only a few inches away from the screen, an arrangement permitting clean installations that not only are free of ceiling mounts or long wiring runs but also avoid the problem of onscreen shadows when someone traverses a projector&rsquo;s beam.
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $2,200 AT A GLANCE Plus Good resolution in HD and UHD Impressive HDR Low price Minus Contrast and black level could be better Manual HDR/SDR switching THE VERDICT The Epson 4000 offers an effective combination of HDR and SDR projection at a price that seemed impossible a year ago. Native 4K imaging&mdash;where the chips display all 8.3 million individual pixels (3840 x 2160) in each frame simultaneously&mdash;is still rare in an affordable consumer projector. Currently, the entry price is $5,000, for Sony&rsquo;s new VPL-VW285ES. But last year, Epson introduced two 3LCD models that use pixel shifting to achieve an apparent resolution close to 4K. The less expensive of the two was the PowerLite Home Cinema 5040UB, still selling, as I write this, for around $2,700. (Its virtual twin, the Pro Cinema 6040UB, was reviewed in the October 2016 Sound &amp; Vision.)
Since the Sony VPL-VW285ES I recently reviewed was still on hand while I was reviewing the JVC DLA-X790R, a brief comparison was impossible to resist. The results were quite interesting…
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $6,000 AT A GLANCE Plus Standard-setting blacks Impressive HDR Solid color and resolution Minus Complex setup menus Some black crush THE VERDICT It may not have true native 4K imaging chips, but the JVC DLA-X790R shouldn’t be overlooked by those upgrading a projection system or looking for their first projector. It’s a knockout. One of the key features of the Ultra HD format is 4K resolution. But to date, the catalog of true native 4K home theater projectors &mdash; those with imaging chips featuring a minimum of 3840 x 2160 pixels without relying on any pixel-shifting tricks &mdash; is pretty thin. JVC has the laser-lit DLA-RS4500K at $35,000, and Sony has its own premium models above $10,000. But if you're looking for something priced more affordably, you’re currently limited to Sony’s new VPL-VW285ES ($5,000) and VPL-VW385ES ($8,000).
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $5,000 AT A GLANCE Plus Native 4K Superb resolution and color Impressive HDR Minus No dynamic iris No lens memories THE VERDICT The Sony VPL-VW285ES brings true native 4K resolution down to a price more viewers can aspire to. Add a generous helping of UHD&rsquo;s wider, deeper color and high dynamic range, and it&rsquo;s hard to resist. Ultra HD with true native 4K resolution on its imaging chips has been, so far, difficult to do at a cost most consumers can accept. New DLP-driven 4K projectors that utilize pixel-shifting, which delivers the full UHD pixel count in successive half-frames of diagonally shifted pixels, have recently come on the market at prices as low as $2,000. But native 4K projectors that can put all 8 million pixels in a UHD frame on the screen simultaneously have been pricey, with the cheapest to date coming in around $8,000.
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $8,999 AT A GLANCE Plus Great optics Accurate color adjustments via CMS Long-life LED light engine Minus Lack of key features Disappointing contrast performance No HDR support THE VERDICT The BenQ HT9050 has DLP’s latest 4K chip design, but its poor contrast and lack of key features result in an uninspiring package that can't compete with other projectors at or near this price point. It wasn’t long ago &mdash; just 10 years, in fact &mdash; that the home projection market was all about DLP. It dominated nearly every price point and was always at the cutting edge of features. But eventually, things changed. Texas Instruments stagnated on DLP development. Meanwhile, new technologies like LCOS emerged, taking onscreen performance to an entirely new level, particularly for native black level and contrast. DLP has stuck around, but it's often found on the budget side of the market, with entry-level home/business designs, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, with cost-no-object three-chip designs.
A week ago, if you had asked me if I could love a $550 portable speaker, I would have laughed you out of my listening room. Yet here I am, just days later, completely smitten with the Oslo speaker from Vifa, a Danish speaker manufacturer. It’s uniquely stylish, massively overbuilt, and the sound is amazing. I am in love with the Oslo.
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $2,500 AT A GLANCE Plus Superb resolution in HD and UHD Effective HDR for a projector Affordable price Minus Poor contrast and black level HDR color banding THE VERDICT If pure picture quality with 1080p standard dynamic range will dominate your viewing there are better options out there at this price and lower. But none of them will do what the Optoma can: accept a 4K input, provide a reasonable facsimile of high dynamic range, and offer picture detail challenged only by native 4K projectors costing many times its price. Optoma has been in the projector business for years. Go to the company&rsquo;s website, and you&rsquo;ll see a bewildering array of models. But the UHD65 is one of the first models to make use of a new 4K DMD (Digital Micromirror Device), the core of Texas Instruments&rsquo; Digital Light Processing technology. And along with its sister model, the UHD60, it&rsquo;s one of the cheapest.