New $999 1080p Projectors Compared

BenQ W1000

Just about all of the new and exciting home theater projectors have already hit the shelves here at ProjectorPeople.com. In fact, unlike distributors of Eggo Waffles, we should be well stocked for the holiday season for the most popular projectors. However, the $999 1080p home theater projectors have kept buyers in waiting, as some models shipped more quickly and in greater supply than others.

So, naturally, one question we keep hearing is, “Which of the new $999 1080p projectors is the best?” So, we thought we’d talk about some of the differences between our top three $999 1080p models (BenQ W1000, Optoma HD20, and Vivitek H1080FD) to help folks sort out which might be the best choice for them.

Similar, But Not the Same

Optoma HD20

We should probably start by mentioning that these are all very similar projectors. The same basic technology (DLP chip) is used in each of the three. If you saw an image each of them individually for a half hour, then were sent out of the room, came back in and saw all three together (with the chassis covered), I’d bet a dollar that you wouldn’t able to tell which image belonged to which. And you’d probably think they all looked pretty darn good. However, there are some differences in features. And although all of these entry-level projectors are light on features, some of the differences may matter to you. Check out our quick comparison chart below.

Comparison Chart : New $999 1080p Home Theater Projectors


Projector BenQ W1000 Optoma HD20 Vivitek H1080FD
Resolution HD (1920 x 1080) HD (1920 x 1080) HD (1920 x 1080)
Panel/Chip DLP DLP DLP
Brightness 1800 lumens 1700 lumens 1800 lumens
Contrast 2700:1 4000:1 5000:1
Video Inputs HDMI (x2), Component (RCAx1), Composite (RCAx1), S-Video (x1), VGA (x1), USB Type B (x1), RS-232 (x1), Analog Audio (x1), Stereo Mini-Jack (x1 in and 1 out) HDMI (x2), Component (RCAx1), Composite (RCAx1), 12v Screen Trigger (x1), VGA (x1) HDMI (x2), Component (RCAx1), Composite (RCAx1), S-Video (x1), 12v Screen Trigger (x1), VGA (x1), RS-232 (x1)
120 Hz No No No
Throw Distance 1.59 – 1.9 1.5 – 1.8 2 – 2.4
Weight 7.5 lbs. 6.4 lbs. 5.7 lbs.
Built-in Speakers 3W mono n/a 5W mono
Warranty 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 2 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp
Street Price $999* $999* $999*
In Stock? Week of Thanksgiving In stock at time of publication* In stock at time of publication*  
Full specs BenQ W1000 Optoma HD20 Vivitek H1080FD
We Have Video Not yet High-end comparison video Official Vivitek guy talks video

* For current prices and availability please check the ProjectorPeople.com website.

And Now a Break Down…

So, now you see some of the key specs. And if you want more, you can see a complete comparison chart here. But let’s discuss the potential differences between these very similar projectors.

Brightness

1800 or 1700 lumens. What’s the difference? Not much! But at least you can tell your friends who bought the Optoma HD20 that you have 100 more lumens in your living room. And if you bought the Optoma HD20, you can tell your friends that bought the BenQ W1000 or Vivitek H1080FD that Optoma is just more careful and conservative. And if you haven’t bought any of them yet, then don’t worry about the brightness. It’s not a significant differentiator here.

Contrast

Vivitek H1080FD

Contrast might actually be visibly different between these units, but having not seen them all in person head-to-head, we can only really say, they all actually look almost better than they spec. DLP, the technology used in each of the three projectors, has always had nice contrasty look. The blacks look very deep, and the colors are full and rich, even on a 2700:1 DLP projector.

Now if you’re comparing a projector with a 200,000:1 contrast ratio to a 5000:1 model, what you’d see is a difference in detail. The beauty is in the gradients, grays and color accuracy. And make no mistake, there is a significant difference between the two. But from 2700:1 to 5000:1 in two projectors the same technology, any difference you see initially can probably be ‘tweaked’ away. So mark this one as another spec not to worry too much about.

Speaker

Built-in speakers are not terribly common on home theater projectors, but it is an admittedly handy feature to have. There’s nothing like just plugging in a DVD player to your projector and having a 100-inch screen pop up in front of you. Add to that the instant gratification of sound to go with it. This is likely to be a popular feature for traveling presenters, who want to have an instant movie theater on the road. Of course, most home theater enthusiasts will hook up some speakers. Unless they are insane.

Throw Distance

There isn’t a huge difference between the three projectors, but the Vivitek H1080FD does specify a longer throw distance, which might be handy in some cases. Essentially that just means you can mount/place the projector a little bit further back and make a smaller image. There isn’t much zoom on these and if you have a specific place you need to place the projector, call a Projector Expert to make sure that you can get the screen size you want from the location you want to place the projector.

Connectivity

All three units have two (2) HDMI inputs, which is what most folks will want to use. But there are connections that are available on some and not others. S-video, VGA, and 12v screen trigger are all included on the BenQ W1000, as well as a specified support for 1900×1200 computer signals (the others may do this also, since they have a VGA connection, but it is not quoted on their spec sheets). The Optoma seems to have the sparsest connectivity options, but it has what most will need. So, if you want to hook up something that’s not HDMI, make sure your $999 projector choice has that function.

Other Stuff?

Our customers are very good at letting us know if we missed something in a review. Please leave a comment below if you have something to add! And we will make updates if there are surprises – or stuff we didn’t think about – with any of the models here.

Optoma HD20 Projectors Now in Stock!

Optoma HD20 Now in Stock

We recently received a shipment of Optoma HD20 projectors. We’re blogging this just to let you know since we’ve had some folks that were surprised to know we had it in stock already.

If you aren’t familiar with the Optoma HD20, it’s one of a few new $999 1080p home theater projectors available this year. It’s been very popular because it uses DLP technology, and offers true HD1080p for super cheap. And since it’s a projector, you can also have a very big image (as big as 300-inches in a space with controlled lighting) in a portable box.

[ Click here for the most current inventory status and pricing information : Optoma HD20 ]

$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
    ($2599*)
    Optoma HD20
    ($999)
    Vivitek H1080FD
    ($999)
    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
    ($2599*)
    Optoma HD20
    ($999)
    Vivitek H1080FD
    ($999)
    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.