Saturday, March 17, 2007

Digital Projector Buying Guide

I just updated the Digital projector buying guide with some new 1080p models. Here it is.

These are the projectors you want to and where to buy them. Please also read my post on what to look for in a new projector.

720p Projectors

  • $720 Mitsubishi HC1500 is sharper and much brighter than the PH530. If you want DLP and need a very bright projector for some daytime viewing, this is your best choice. Recent price drop from $900 makes this a great deal (use code "AFL5" after you add it to your cart). Review

  • $800 Sharp DT-510 A recent price drop makes this the projector to buy under $1000 if you don't need lens shift of an LCD. The HC1500 is brigher, however, if you have some ambient light.

  • $800 Benq W500 is a 720p LCD with lens shift. If $800 is your budget and you want lens shift, this is the way to go. What sets this projector apart is it's internal Silicon Optix HQV scalar/deinterlacer. It will upscale 480i to 720p incredibly well. This projector also accepts 1080p/24hz which is the native signal of HD-DVD and Blue-ray. It will then downscale to 720p. 24hz is the speed at which the film is captured by the camera so the image will be very smooth in a panning scene with a lot of camera motion. Review Scroll to post 90.

  • $1025 Panasonic AX200 Perfect LCD for those who see rainbows with DLP. It's also the brightest projector under $2000 and comes with Panasonic's smoothscreen technology which eliminates screen door. Review and another.

  • $1089 If you want a 720p LCD projector Visual Apex has one great deal. The initial price is $1189, but there is a $100 mail in rebate which brings the cost down to $1089. Then they throw in a free dust cover and a free second bulb worth $350. If you factor in the cost of the bulb and the cover, you end up paying $750 for the projector. Why get this over the DLP alternatives? Large 2x zoom, lens shift, and no rainbows for people who see them. Review.

1080p Projectors

  • 1080p Comparison Test This is a very comprehensive comparison test of most 1080p projectors on the market. Make sure to check out the comparison reviews on the last page

  • $1850 The Epson Home Cinema 1080 will give you better contrast and brightness than the z2000, but not nearly as good contrast as the much more expensive 1080UB. Like at 1080p LCDs has a 2x zoom and verticle and horizontal lens shift for easy set up.

  • $2100 Mistubishi HC5500. This LCD has better blacks than the non "UB" Epson 1080, but is not quite as bright. It is also very sharp. It has a high end HQV processor for upscaling and deinterlacing which is great for SD-DVDs. Probably not quite as much "pop" as the Benq, but a bigger zoom and horizontal lens shift make it more flexible.

  • $2100 The Benq W5000 is the best bang for the buck under 3k. It ties for the best image quality and brightness under 3k, but is less flexible in terms of zoom and lens shift than it's LCD/LCOS competitors (it does have some verticle lens shift thought). It originally had some image noise problems which have been fixed with updated firmware.

  • $2600 The Panasonic AE-2000u is a much improved update to last year's AE-1000u. Has smoothscreen technology for those few who are bothered by screendoor effect with other 1080p projectors. Review

  • $2650 Sony VW40. The only LCOS projector under 3k. Rates minutely behind the 1080UB, but it really comes down to personal preference. A top pick.

  • $2700 The Epson 1080P UB. Brighter and much better contrast than the non-UB model. This is the projector to beat in the price range. Make sure convergence is checked by the store you buy from. Very close to the JVC-RS1 in perfermance at a much lower cost.

  • $3400 Mitsubishi HC6000 A super sharp LCD with very good contrast. Much improved over the HC5000. Reviews here and here

  • $3650 Sony VW60 comes very close to the JVC RS1 in performance and costs $800 less.

  • $4400 The JVC RS1x has it all. You can spend a lot more for a lesser projector 1080p, very bright, very sharp, beautiful color, very high contrast and lens shift. If you have the cash, this is THE projector to get. It is based on LCOS technology which is an advanced form of LCD.

  • $4800 Benq 20000 is very close in picture quality to the RS2 but has some digital noise which may bother some viewers. Review.

  • $6000 JVC RS2 improves on the excellent black levels of the RS1 to get as close to CRT as any projector under $10k.

Misfire Check!

So there the results of our first hunt. Do you think I misfired? Check for yourself. If you want to read reviews, Projector Central, Projector reviews, Audioholics, and Cine4home are my favorite review sites. For projector message boards try here for beginners and here for a more advanced discussion.

Next up will be a discussion of what to look for when buying a digital projector.

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