PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Al Griffin  |  Jun 28, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright picture with powerful contrast
Detailed Ultra HD image
Maintenance-free laser light engine
Minus
Some loss of highlight detail with HDR
Requires calibration for best performance
Limited wide color gamut display

THE VERDICT
The Acer VL7860’s detailed picture and impressive contrast elevate it above the entry-level 4K DLP projector pack. In this case, 4K for 4K is a good deal.

With DLP projectors capable of displaying 4K Ultra HD signals now selling for $1,500 or even less, they present an affordable alternative to higher-cost 4K LCOS models from Sony and JVC. Even longtime LCOS stalwart JVC has jumped in on the game, with the company recently announcing its first DLP projector, a $2,500 4K-capable model.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 16, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,995

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive blacks
Wide color gamut
Crisp, natural detail
Minus
Not native 4K
No automated lens cover

THE VERDICT
We’d like to see JVC offer a true 4K design, rather than a pixel-shifted one, at a consumer-friendly price. But you’ll forget about all of that after your first two minutes viewing this outstanding projector—with either a 2K or a 4K source.

True native 4K projectors (those that deliver full UHD resolution to the screen with no reliance on pixel-shifting) are thin on the ground when it comes to prices that most home theater fans are likely to consider. As I write this, only Sony offers one model for as little as $5,000, the VPL-VW285ES.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 03, 2018  |  3 comments

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’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’s also an 88-inch version in the works.

Kris Deering  |  Mar 13, 2018  |  5 comments
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—and yet, here we are.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 30, 2018  |  4 comments
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’s beam.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 29, 2017  |  3 comments

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—where the chips display all 8.3 million individual pixels (3840 x 2160) in each frame simultaneously—is still rare in an affordable consumer projector. Currently, the entry price is $5,000, for Sony’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 & Vision.)

Tom Norton  |  Dec 21, 2017  |  5 comments
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…
Tom Norton  |  Dec 21, 2017  |  3 comments

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 — those with imaging chips featuring a minimum of 3840 x 2160 pixels without relying on any pixel-shifting tricks — 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).

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 12, 2017  |  3 comments

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’s wider, deeper color and high dynamic range, and it’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.

Kris Deering  |  Dec 07, 2017  |  1 comments
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 — just 10 years, in fact — 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.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 15, 2017  |  1 comments
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’s website, and you’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’ Digital Light Processing technology. And along with its sister model, the UHD60, it’s one of the cheapest.

Al Griffin  |  Sep 13, 2017  |  2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $25,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp 4K image
Projects 120-inch picture from 10-inch distance
Can be used in average room-lighting conditions
Minus
Below-average picture uniformity
So-so contrast
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Sony’s ultra-short-throw projector can dazzle for daytime viewing and fulfills its promise as a big-screen panel TV alternative, but dark-room home theater enthusiasts may be less impressed.

When it comes to setting up a home theater, the main goal should be to get the largest image that your space and budget will allow. In many cases, that’s going to mean hanging a projector from a ceiling mount at the back of the room and attaching a screen to the wall up front. Next come the light dimmers and blackout shades—both necessities if you want to get the best picture possible from your projection rig.

Al Griffin  |  Jun 22, 2017  |  1 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.

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