Projector Buying Guide 2014
We aren’t done spending your money yet. And we’re still loving every minute of it. This one hits really close to home; ever since we’ve made the move to front projection home theaters, we just sit around drooling over what our next projector might be. If you haven’t jumped into the front projector yet, maybe 2015 will be your year. And you can start it with a wonderful Merry Christmas to yourself. We each pick two projectors and one ultimate projector for those who may have more disposable income to play with.
I wanted to have at least one projector that won’t break the bank and still provide a decent picture. The HD26 is that projector. Its very bright (3200 lumens), supports 3D, and has an MHL compatible HDMI input. The HD26 uses DLP technology which produces vivid colors and deep blacks. This is a budget projector so there is no lens shift or zoom capability. Keep that in mind if you are thinking about the HD26 as your entry into front projection world.
My second projector won’t exactly break the bank either mainly due to it being a 2012 model. Paying $1,900 for a projector of this caliber is actually a great buy. The first time we saw this line was at CES in 2009 and that year’s version was over $5,000. We were impressed by the picture quality and colors. It was in a dark room where most projectors really shine (get what I did there) so you would expect it. But if you have a room with some ambient light you should be fine too as this unit has 2,400 lumens. There is a lot of shadow detail and contrast with this unit. Placement of the 8000U is made a little easier because it has horizontal and vertical lens shift as well as 2X zoom. Originally priced at $3,500 you’ll want to grab this while there is still stock!
This is the projector Braden would buy if his existing projector went up in smoke. Epson is excellent in dark rooms, but their PowerLite models are light cannons that do very well in somewhat brighter environments where ambient light is difficult to control. It isn’t a cheap projector, but if you’re going to go through the steps of mounting and installing it, and hanging a screen, you should considering getting something that might stretch your budget a little. It’ll be worth it. And when you compare it with how much a 100” or 120: TV would cost, if you could even fit it in the door, you’re still saving a lot of money.
It has 2400 lumens of color brightness and 2400 lumens of white brightness. Deep black levels with a contrast ratio up to 600,000:1. Horizontal and vertical lens shift and a 2.1x zoom ratio gives you flexibility in difficult installation environments. It is THX certified, so it’ll look like it’s supposed to – but like any projector, you may need to get it professionally calibrated to get the most out of it. Plus, two pairs of RF 3D glasses are included, so you’re always ready for exciting 3D experiences.
Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema LS10000 (MSRP $7999)
This may be the most exciting projector on my list. Why? Lasers. Yep, Lasers. The LS10000 has Epson’s new reflective laser technology they unveiled at CEDIA. The technology allows the projector to get an absolute black contrast ratio on full-black scenes, they say, without using an iris. It will accept a 4K input, but doesn’t really have a 4k resolutions. But it uses a pixel-shift technique, similar to JVC, to simulate Ultra HD resolution. One of the biggest advantages to using lasers instead of a bulb is the total cost of ownership. This projector is more like a television with a 30,000 hour life expectancy instead of the much short life you get out of a standard projector lamp. Another interesting differentiator is that it doesn’t require a warm-up period when you turn it on. It’s ready to go when you are. But at only 1500 lumens it isn’t the same standard Epson light cannon we’re used to.
Honorable mention / for a little bit of variety:
It felt weird only picking Epson projectors, so I wanted to throw out one more option to add a little variety. This model from Sony is the same price as the Epson 5030, but a different technology for those with different tastes. It isn’t quite as bright, and probably loses out to the Epson in overall bang for the buck, but you can be sure it’ll have excellent black levels, color, and clarity and the overall film quality of the image is stellar.
If you’re going to go ultimate, you’re going to have to go 4k. For most of us, it’s tough to justify spending that much money on a projector. So if you’re going to do it, you should at least get something you know will last a while. Buying the Ultra High Def projector now gets you a little more runway for the future. Sony makes amazing home theater projectors. Ever since the days of their early SXRD projectors like the Pearl VPL-VW50 in 2006/7, we’ve been huge fans of their projectors. They don’t tend to be the most affordable, but they are excellent units.
This model is native 4k resolution, no tricks or gimmicks to simulate 4k. It also does 1080p to 4k upscaling for you. 200,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio for deep black levels and contrast. And it supports HDMI 2.0 for 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second. There’s no mention of HDCP 2.2, so that may kill the whole future-proof argument. But if you’ve got it to spend, you won’t be disappointed with the 600ES.
Yes I picked a 4K projector for my ultimate present. And yes my criticisms of upscaled overly compressed 1080p are not only still valid but are magnified even more. So why then do I recommend a 4K projector? Simple! Its a PROJECTOR and the majority of viewing should be Blu-ray. And this projector will make Blu-ray look amazing. No its not true 4K either but the e-shift technology does a great job of creating pixels in between pixels and gets you a 3840×2160 projected image. And yes, that’s not full 4K either. But it still looks better than any 1080p image with everything else being equal. We saw the gen two version of this technology at CES a couple of years ago and were blown away by how good it looked. The reviews on the third gen all say its even better now. A big advancement for e-shift3 is that it will accept native 4K inputs. Previous JVCs would only upscale 1080p. Its THX certified and ISF C3 Licensed installers can really dial it in. There are three D-ILA devices (LCOS) which will produce plasma like pictures at a fraction of the cost of a 150 inch plasma. The price, $12,000, may seem like a lot of money, but inch for inch, you won’t be able to beat it anywhere.
Posted by The HT Guys, December 12, 2014 2:20 AM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.