$999 HD1080p compared to High End 1080P Home Theater Projectors

We need to start this article with a caveat. Typically we don’t do head-to-head video comparisons like we are doing here, for multiple reasons. For example, the camera used to shoot the demo may impact the image in a way that that does not match our experience in person. If the recording camera locks in on one image, it can make a brighter projector look dimmer than a dimmer projector, or it can give the appearance of improved contrast when it does not appear that way in person.

That said, we still wanted to provide video that would help users determine if the new 1080p true HD $999 projectors or the current best selling projectors are a better fit for their needs. So, below is an atypical video head-to-head comparison of the new Optoma HD20 projector and the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB projector which is meant to provide a broader overview of the two categories of home theater projection – new entry level DLP, and high end LCD.

Please Note : You will see some artifacts from the compression of the video that are not caused by either projector. Particularly when our narrator passes in front of the screen, or when the image is moving quickly. These artifcats were not present before compression. If you are interested in a higher quality version of this video, leave a comment below.

Quick Video Log

  • 0:08 – 1:50 : Product overviews / specification comparison
    Product manager Rodney Laney goes over the basics, from lumens and contrast to features of these two units.
  • 1:53 – 2:25 : Contrast comparison
    Note the more visible gray on the ‘black bars’ and in the space scene in the projector on the left. This is to be expected since the projector on the right has a significantly higher contrast ratio. The difference was a bit more obvious in person.
  • 2:30 – 3:30 : Zoom lenses compared
    No surprise here, there is very little zoom on the Optoma, and a nice 2x zoom on the Epson. Most of our high end projectors feature either manual, or power 2x zoom.
  • 3:32 – 4:20 : Lens shift demonstrated
    No surprise here either, there is no lens shift on the new entry level DLP projectors. This helps keep the chassis smaller and the cost down, but it also makes installation more challenging. If you plan to use your projector in multiple locations, lens shift and zoom can save a lot of frustration.
  • 4:20 – 5:01 : 60hz vs. 120hz
    The most dramatic difference between the two images was due to the video processing capabilities. The 120hz Epson simply out performs for video quality (as does the Panasonic PT-AE3000U and Sanyo PLV-Z3000). The video, upon close inspection, can pick up the difference in clarity. But in person it is dramatic. It is as if the actors are being filmed on stage. They appear to be live in front of you. It’s almost holideck-ish! Some also describe it as a 3-D quality.
  • So What’s the Word?

    Optoma HD20 Projector in actionIf you are looking to step up to 1080p home theater projector but have a limited budget, $999 will get you a true HD 1080p 300-inch image, with very good black levels, more portability, and a somewhat minimal feature set. If you are looking to upgrade to true HD with a crisp – almost stage like – image, more installation flexibility with 2x zoom and lens shift, then the high end LCD home theater projectors will be the way to go.

    High End LCD Home Theater Projectors
    * Prices may change, please click through for current pricing and rebates.

    New Entry Level DLP Projectors

    If you have more questions about the differences between these products, pricing questions, or any other projector related needs, leave a comment, send an email to webmaster(at)projectorpeople.com, or gives us a call at 1-888-248-0675. Thanks for reading!

    New $999 Projectors vs. Today’s Best Sellers

    [ This is a repost of our August 2009 Projector People Post Home Theater Newsletter ]

    Optoma HD20 Projector in action

    Newly announced $999 True HD 1080p projectors are the latest buzz in the projection world. These cheaper entry level 1080p projectors are stirring up questions. Most commonly, questions about their level of performance versus the current best selling 1080p projectors. We will do a more thorough investigation later, once we have all three models in stock to compare. We should have inventory on $999 models from BenQ, Optoma, and Vivitek in stock and ready to ship by the end of September. But here is a quick look at the new products to help answer a few questions we’ve heard floating about.

    [ Photo : Image from the Optoma HD20 in action. More photos here. ]

    Head to Head : Entry Level 1080p versus High End 1080p

    Our current best sellers – the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 – all come with advanced features the new $999 projectors don’t have (lens shift and zoom lensing to name two). There are also some serious spec advantages like significantly higher contrast ratio and 120hz frame rates in particular. So, here is a quick look at what we currently have to go on for our head-to-head comparison based on the published manufacturer specifications. To make things easier, let’s use the (first to ship) Optoma HD20 and the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB. You can compare more specs and up to three projectors using our projector comparison tool.

    Basic Specs Compared
    Projector Epson HC 6500 UB
    Optoma HD20
    Vivitek H1080FD
    Contrast 75000:1 4000:1 5000:1
    Technology 3LCD DLP single chip DLP single chip
    Brightness 1600 lumens 1700 lumens 1800 lumens
    Connectivity 2 HDMI, 1 component video, (S-video) 2 HDMI, 1 component video, (no S-video) 2 HDMI, 1 component video, (S-video)
    Weight 22 lbs. 6.4 lbs. 5.7 lbs.
    Advanced Features Compared
    Projector Epson HC 6500 UB
    Optoma HD20
    Vivitek H1080FD
    Lens shift Yes No No
    Zoom lens 2x zoom 1.2x n/a
    Frame Rate 120 Hz 60 Hz 60 Hz
    Warranty 2 year and 90 day lamp 1 year and 90 day lamp 1 year and 90 day lamp
    Lamp replacement cost $299 (subject to change) $249 (subject to change) n/a
    12v screen trigger Yes Yes Yes

    * The Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB is currently $2599 and includes a free replacement lamp with purchase.

    So, while there are distinct advantages to the higher end home cinema projectors, the new $999 units are a new breed of 1080p product that opens up true HD to a new level of affordability. All you need to do is determine which product fits your budget and will give you all you want for your investment.

    Expected Ship Dates for New $999 Projectors

    The dates may change, but here’s a the latest on when we expect to receive our first/next shipment* of three new sub-$1000 1080ps.

    * Dates subject to change, but this is our best currently available information on the new projectors.

    The Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, and Sanyo PLV-Z3000 are all currently in stock and ready to ship. Click to see all our HDTV 1080p projectors. Call for details!

    Shipping Updates on New $999 1080p Projectors

    BenQ W1000 is $999

    We’ve been getting lots of questions about when the new $999 projectors will be in stock here at ProjectorPeople.com. Here’s a very quick review of when we expect to receive our first/next shipment* of three new sub-$1000 1080ps from BenQ, Optoma, and Vivitek. (Updated October 5th, 2009)

    * Dates subject to change, but this is our best currently available information on the new projectors.

    You can check out our complete selection of 1080p Projectors here.

    How Much Projector Can You Get for $999 or Less?

    [ Repost of our Projector People Post Business Edition Tech Newsletter ]

    Sony Projector under $999

    If you’ve been shopping on auction sites for a low priced projector, it’s time to wise up. Right now you can get a new projector for the price of a replacement lamp or a dim old clunker on an eBay. But how do you know if you’re getting a deal with your low priced projector? Here’s what you need to know..

    Business Projectors Under $999

    So what are your options now for under $999? You can expect to find a wide range of options under $999 these days. Just to give you an idea of how far your money can go, here are a few of the specification ranges you can expect for your business projector dollar. You can also do your own product filtering using our Projector Finder tool. It will help you search by resolution, brightness, price, and a number of features.

    What You Get For $999 or Less

    • Brightness : 1000 – 3000 lumens
    • Weight : as light as 2.4 lbs. (typically in the 4-10 lbs. range)
    • Contrast : Up to 2000:1 (for business projectors, 10000:1 or less in Home Theater under $999)
    • Keystone Correction : Available on many models
    • Short Throw Lens : Available on select models
    • HDMI 1.3 connection : Not common
    • Component video : Available on many models
    • Widescreen Format : Available on many models

    So that’s a quick look at features to expect in a $999 projector today. If we haven’t covered something of specific interest to you, call a Projector Expert for more information. We have over 100 options in sub $1000 projectors. In fact, our projector options at $999 were so vast, we created a Projectors Under $699 page for the serious bargain seeker.

    Pico Projectors

    These are a category of projector that did not exist until a year ago. These tiny low-priced projectors lack the brightness of a true presentation projector, but they may be the direction of presentations future. They range around $200-$350 and they are small enough to fit in your pocket, though they will be a touch bulky in your tight pants. Here’s a list of pico projectors we sell.

    New Home Theater Projectors Under $999

    And if you haven’t heard the news yet, there are some true HD (1080p) home theater projectors coming soon. These new $999 home theater projectors make front projection a more affordable option for restaurants, sports bars, and other entertainment facilities. There is also an opportunity for those who have slipped behind after the digital transition to get up to date for less.

    Vintage Projector People Deals

    Just for fun, let’s take a look back at what a similar projector would have cost you a few years ago. We’ve run a number of stories about how much brighter, cheaper, and better projectors are now compared to “just a few years ago” so here are some examples for you. Each of these examples below were (I promise) competitively priced projectors at the time of the deal.

    October 1999

    • Proxima DP6810 [ XGA, 900 lumens, 200:1 contrast ]
    • $4,999.00

    April 2001

    • Sony VPL-VW10HT [ WXGA (1366 x 768), 1000 lumens, contrast not specified ]
    • $5,199.00 (We actually had a very long waiting list for this projector at this price!)

    June 2004

    • NEC LT170 [ XGA, 1500 lumens, 3.9 lbs. ]
    • $1,699.00

    January 2007

    • Panasonic PT-LB50U [ XGA, 2000 lumens, 400:1 contrast ]
    • $1,299.00

    August 2009

    The Good News

    Will projectors cost $300 in 2 years? Moore’s Law would indicate “yes”. But “maybe” is always a safer guess. The tiny pocket projectors on the market today are very cool, but they are not even close the brightness and performance of today’s presentation projectors. New laser projection technology, or improved DLP and LCoS pico systems may make pocket projectors the wave of the future. But we won’t know how much they will cost until they are fully developed. So, barring the sudden emergence of a new technology, low-priced LCD and DLP projectors really can’t get much cheaper. And if you’re in the market for a projector, your dollar is going farther than ever before. And that’s good news.

    As always, if you have more questions about our business and home theater projectors under $999, please contact a Projector Expert today!

    Rich Reviews : New Optoma HD20 $999 1080p HD Projector


    Scene from Wall-E on the new Optoma HD20 projector.

    One of our Projector Experts took the new Optoma HD20 home for a trial run. The setup was not fancy. Rich just used his existing home theater’s pulldown gray screen and played a few Blu Ray movies for the wife and kids. Below are a few photos he took to share with you and some thoughts from Rich on the performance of the new $999 HD projector.

    Rich says :

    I took home the HD20 last night for a test run. We watched the 5th Element on Blu-ray. Wow! This thing is crisp! Very Sharp. Colors look decent, flesh tones are nice. I found the Cinema setting with Graphic gamma setting the best black levels and color combination. With the lamp on econo mode it’s almost silent and the black levels improve.


    Good flesh tones on the Optoma HD20. You see freckles and subtle changes in skin color.


    More flesh tones. 🙂 But a nice rich black with some visible details on the neck.


    Red can sometimes be a problem for a DLP projector, but this is a natural red and pink. Also a lot of detail in color. BrilliantColor seems to work well on this projector.

    Rich says :

    The menu is very limited and I couldn’t find a way to save different presets. It’s not in the same league as the $2000-$3000 units. But for $999 it’s actually a great bang for the buck. Oh and you must get a Blu-ray player!

    Optoma HD20 Quick Specs

    Here are the manufacturer specifications for the HD20. It’s just the basics. Click here for more specs.

    Optoma HD20 projector

    • Resolution: HD (1920 x 1080)
    • Display Type: DLP
    • Brightness: 1700 lumens
    • Contrast: 4000:1
    • Warranty: 1 year
    • Lamp Life: 3000 hours

    The HD20 can produce an image of up to 300-inches and comes with a backlit IR remote control. It is one of the first true HD 1080p projectors to be released at a very aggressive $999 price point.

    Want Your Own Optoma HD20?

    You know we’ve got ’em. You can find more information about the new Optoma HD20 here, including the full specs, some pictures of the product, and manufacturers data sheet.


    Kung Fu Panda on the Optoma HD20