1080p Home Theater Projector Shootout in Video

P1020963

We have already blogged about our 1080p projector shootout and showed some of the photos from the day. Now we are ready with the corresponding video. The video is located on YouTube (and embedded below) and on Vimeo. The Vimeo video may be a little higher quality.

As we already discussed in our blog post a couple weeks ago, each of our six projectors displayed good video. Unlike shootouts three years ago or so, all of the projectors we demoed are bright enough, have good color, and display video with limited artifacts. And all but one of our tested models were designed specifically for the home theater market. We threw in the Optoma TX1080 because it’s a good crossover option for those who want a widescreen business projector that does good video.

So, without further ado, please feel free to check out the video. It’s not fancy, by any stretch, but it does give you a chance to see the models side-by-side. Below are some of the things that the camera may not show exactly as we saw them.

What the Camera Couldn’t See

We wanted to film all five (technically six) projectors at once, playing the same content, since that is one of the most frequent requests. But like with any comparison like this – there are some limitations to our professional video camera. that means some of the most noticeable differences between the units we saw in person are not apparent in the images you see.

Black Levels

The black levels were far superior on the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, and the Panasonic PT-AE3000U – with the overall ‘blackest blacks” nod going to Epson. The Sanyo PLV-Z700 showed the worst blacks in our test with out of the box settings.

120hz Superiority

The projectors with 120hz processing (again the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, and the Panasonic PT-AE3000U) looked incredible in person. They look good in the video, but even in scenes with just a little movement – like people walking through the metro station – the difference was remarkable and obvious. We hope to get some HD video that can capture the difference soon.

Brightness

The camera tends to adjust for brightness, finding a happy medium that makes all the images look their best. The good news here is that there was not much to report. All of the projectors looked about the same in terms of brightness although there are a few hundred lumens difference between some of them. In fairness to the brighter projectors, the images were relatively small since we had to get them all on the wall. If we made the images bigger, the brightness difference would have likely been more apparent.

Help Us Help You!

This is our first attempt at a shootout video, and we are still learning how to best provide you with the most useful content. One lesson we learned this time is that we need to use an HD camera. Yes, it does seem like the obvious choice. Yes we will do it next time. However, even with an HD camera we still have limited bandwidth on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. So, I think next time we will offer a higher resolution HD video feed for you to download at your leisure. We have also had requests to do some reviews with calibration settings. We are still considering this. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas! You can do so by replying to the newsletter email, or send your thoughts to webmaster@projectorpeople.com

  Vimeo Version
1080p Projector Shootout : Sanyo, Panasonic, Epson from Projector People on Vimeo.

[ some artifacts are visible from the Vimeo compression. Click here for larger version.

YouTube Version

Quick Reference Video Log

Projector order in video : Sanyo PLV-Z700, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, Epson Home Cinema 6100, and Optoma TX1080.

  • 0:00 – 3:05
    Product introductions. Our product manager mentions ‘black bars’ visible in person, but do not show up on the camera. Example of DLP “flicker” at 02:12 – 02:28 is visible on camera, but not visible to the naked eye for most viewers.

  • 03:06 – 04:11
    Discussion of black levels in each product (sales person obscures view of the Sanyo PLV-Z3000)

  • 04:12 – 04:59
    Example of 2X zoom on the Panasonic PT-AE3000U.

  • 05:01 – 06:15
    Lights on brightness check and brightness discussion.

  • 06:16 – 6:55
    Brief discussion of 120hz. Unfortunately the differences are not very visible here.

  • 07:00 – 07:37
    Color contrast mentioned

  • 07:42 – 8:30
    Nice action comparison. 120 hz mentioned again.

  • 08:33 – 08:55
    Close up of 120hz projector (Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB). You may notice the improved quality. In person, this image looked almost 3-D.

  • 09:00 – 10:00
    Final round up.

1080p Home Theater Projector Shootout

P1020963

We finally got a chance to do a shootout with our best selling 1080p projectors, including one we had yet to see in person, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000. The shootout was also filmed, and we will have that video for you soon available now. But, as a preview, we thought we’d also post some of the photos we took to get your gears greased.

Here are the products we included in the shootout :

Note : These are all 1080p native projectors. Brightness and contrast differ, and only three of them have the 120Hz processor (the Epson HC 6500 UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000). Check our projector comparison charts for head-to-head details of projector specs.

Big Dif?

While each of the images below may appear to favor one projector over another, in the actual shootout there was a consensus that there wasn’t a ‘bad’ projector in the bunch. Some – like the Epson 6500UB – had really nice black levels. Other projectors excelled in their processing ability. Still others featured particularly dynamic colors. Below we have some images and some of my personal commentary on what I saw. Others in the demo may have seen differently. I will share any of the other commentary I heard in my notes below the images.

1080p Projector Shootout

One of the limitations of this shootout is the image size. In order to fit them all on our wall at once, we kept the image a little smaller than most aim for in their home theater. We used 2 different HDMI distribution amplifiers to create our image, since our 1:8 HDMI couldn’t power all five on the main wall. We used one BluRay player showing the BluRay version of the movie Fifth Element. We used out-of-the-box settings for each projector, since few customers report taking the time to calibrate their image.

Comparing the (left to right) Sanyo PLV-Z700, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, and Epson Home Cinema 6100.

P1050051

[ click image for higher res photo on our Flickr page ]

The Sanyo PLV-Z700 (far left) and the Epson Home Cinema 6100 (far right) have lower contrast ratios than the three center home theater projectors. Notice how visible the “black bars” above and below the images are as a guide to determining the projectors ability to produce deep, rich blacks and colors.

P1050048

[ click image for higher res photo on our Flickr page ]

The three center projectors all feature 120Hz rates. The Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 absolutely blew away the lower priced projectors in high action scenes. Even in scenes with people walking in the movie Fifth Element the image looked almost 3-D on the center three projectors. The image was truly beautiful. Personally I never would have thought it made such a big difference, but after seeing them head-to-head, I am converted. Hopefully this will be visible on the video – which is coming soon.

Comparing the (left to right) Sanyo PLV-Z700, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, and Epson Home Cinema 6100.

P1050049

[ click image for higher res photo on our Flickr page ]

A good color comparison shot. All the projectors were set up using out of the box settings. There is still plenty of tweaking that could be done to improve color. But in our out of the box shootout there were some who preferred the color of the Sanyo, some the Panasonic, and some Epson. Viewers also sometimes reported liking the color better in one scene on one projector, and another on a different model. Personally, the color on the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 looks good to me in this photo, but in other scenes both the Panasonic and Epson shined.

P1050025

[ click image for higher res photo on our Flickr page ]

Here’s another good shot for color comparison. I like the Epson 6500 (second from right) in this image, but all of them look good. Other viewers liked the Panasonic AE3000. The two end projectors (Sanyo PLV-700 -left and Epson HC 6100 – right) both produced very good color too, even though they are a few hundred dollars less.

P1050013

[ click image for higher res photo on our Flickr page ]

With the lights on, they all look about the same. In fairness to the brighter models, however, these are fairly small images. If we blew up the image a few feet there would probably be a greater difference. In a dark room, the difference wouldn’t be particularly noticable.

Shootout, Round Up

So, in conclusion, all the projectors looked very good. If you bought one of them without seeing another directly next to it, the vast majority of viewers would be completely happy with the image on any of these models. However, if you are picky about your video, then you should invest in one of the 120Hz products. The difference is very noticeable in side by side comparison, and although you may not realize what’s making it happen, the image is going to look much crisper, and nearly three dimensional. It’s worth the extra cash if you have it.

[ see more images at Flickr ]

Video of our Shootout Now Online!

There are some artifacts are visible from the Vimeo embedding compression. But you can Click here for larger/less compressed version.


1080p Projector Shootout : Sanyo, Panasonic, Epson from Projector People on Vimeo.

[ some artifacts are visible from the Vimeo compression. Click here for larger version.

Sanyo PLV-Z700 Home Theater Projector

Sanyo PLV-Z700 projected image

I took the new Sanyo Z700 for a spin this weekend. At the current price point and $200 rebate it made this one a “must see” for the money.

First thoughts is wow it’s bright! Brighter than what you would think 1200 Lumens can look like. I could leave plenty of lights on and still have a great looking image. Also razor sharp! I watched some Blu-Ray movies, PS3 games, and some HD football and it looked like a 110″ Plasma on my wall!

Sanyo PLV-Z700 concert projection

Some other nice features are the lens shift that allowed me to dial in the image quickly. Also the Lens Cover snapping shut after it powers down. This helps keep dust off the lens and conceals the projector a little more. It’s smaller than some other 1080p projectors. Very quiet and practically silent in eco mode. If you need to think about the “look” and “sound” of the projector in your room then this might be the one. Good WAF on this one (Wife Acceptance Factor).

Sanyo PLV-Z700 projected football game

These pictures just don’t do it justice. Colors pop, Whites are crisp and Black levels are decent…but not the best I’ve seen. You need to spend about $1,000 more for the best black levels like the Panasonic AE3000 or Epson 1080UB. I think you could use a Calibration DVD to “tweak” the best out of this projector. HD material looked stunning even with lights on in the room. I caught myself even looking at some commercials in HD and those looked good, I normally fast forward the commercials on my DVR. I played a little PS3 and the game textures looked life like!

Projector image of PS3 Call of Duty

Bottom line is if you’re not a contrast junkie but like a Bright, Colorful, and Sharp 1080p image at a bargain then take a look at this Sanyo PLV-Z700.

People will think you spend $5,000 on this thing!

~ Review by Projector Expert Rich Morgan

Projected image of PS3 Game

New 1080p Projectors Compared

What’s the latest in 1080p high definition projection? Four new 1080p projectors show promise as the best selling HD projectors of tomorrow. Those are the Sanyo PLV-Z700, Optoma HD806, Epson Home Cinema 6100, and the Panasonic PT-AE3000U. We thought we would compare the initial specifications (they are often tweaked before their final release) for those of you just waiting to get your hands on the best new stuff coming out. Essentially we see higher contrast ratios, lower introductory prices, and more high performance features. Okay, let’s start with our chart.

New 1080p Projector Comparison Chart

[ Based on preliminary specs only. ]

  Epson Home Cinema 6100 Optoma HD806 Panasonic PT-AE3000U Sanyo PLV-Z700
Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Panel/Chip D7 LCD DLP 0.95″ DMD D7 LCD D6 LCD
Brightness 1800 2000 1600 1200
Contrast 18,000:1 8,000:1 60,000:1 10,000:1*
HDMI Inputs 2 2 3 2
HDMI Version 1.3a 1.3 1.3 1.3b**
Lens 2.1x Optical Zoom, Manual Focus 1.2x Manual Zoom and Focus 2x Optical Power Zoom/Focus 2x Manual Zoom
Lens shift H 50% & V 100%, manual None H 40% & V 100% H 50% & V 100%
Noise 22 dB 32 dB Not yet spec’d 21 dB
Warranty 2 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 3 yr. pj, 90-days lamp
Street Price $1999 MSRP $2599 MAP $3499 MSRP $1995 MSRP
Extras   optional anamorphic lens
DVI input too
2.35:1 w/o anamorphic lens  
Full specs Coming Soon Optoma HD806 full specs Coming Soon Sanyo PLV-Z700 full specs

* Expect Sanyo to post dramatic improvements to this spec before release date.
** We are trying to confirm this. Sanyo reports the HDMI 1.3b input on their projectors is the same dimension as 1.3a HDMI, but with more pins.

A Big Contrast

Contrast ratios are coming in around the 10,000 to 60,000:1 range. But as the numbers get higher, the specification seems to mean less and less. Back in the day when people wanted to bring their work projectors home on the weekends – with 400:1 contrast ratios – contrast ratios were a serious consideration. But the visible difference between 10,000:1 and 60,000:1 contrast is not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. That is not to say that it doesn’t mean something, at least, but a 10,000:1 projector looks MUCH better than a 400:1 contrast projector. But unless you can make your room nearly black, the difference between 60,000:1 and 10,000:1 is not nearly as noticeable.

More Sizzle for your Nickel

This year there seems to be an emergence of more high-performance HD options around the same prices as some of last year’s entry level products. That’s good news for buyer’s who have been planning to spend around $3,000 based on last year’s prices, since they will get more for their money this time. Here’s a link to a blurb on Gizmodo about the Panasonic PT-AE3000U, dropping prices, and the high quality of this new $3000 projectors.

New 1080p Projectors : Product Photos

These photos were not taken by a professional photographer, as you can clearly see. They were taken by a professional product manager with many years of experience in the audio visual industry, and no natural photographic talent. I would show his photo but he doesn’t photograph well either. 🙂


Panasonic PT-AE3000U

Panasonic PT-AE3000U and the AE2000U Upgrades


Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector

Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector


Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector with Panasonic developers

Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector and developers


Sanyo PLV-Z700 projector

Sanyo PLV-Z700 projector

New 1080p Sanyo PLV-Z700 Projector

What’s New in 1080p Projectors?

New 1080p Sanyo PLV-Z700 Projector

There is sure to be more to come next week at CEDIA, but Sanyo has announced a new product that is said to be an ‘entry level’ 1080p projector. What does entry-level mean? Typically it means that it will cost less, has a few less features, and may not have the latest and greatest chipset. So how does the PLV-Z700 spec up? Sanyo is reporting the following :

  • 1200 lumens of brightness
  • Built-in Full HD 1080p LCD panel (1920 x 1080 pixels)
  • “Wide-Area” lens shift (100 degrees vertical and 50 degrees horizontal)
  • 2X zoom for a 100-inch screen from 3-6 meters back
  • Electronic sliding shutter door (for lens protection)
  • Whisper quiet 21dB fan noise
  • 2 HDMI and component video inputs
  • Advanced color management (‘3d Color Management’ and ‘Advanced Image Mode’)
SanyoPLVZ700_rearpanel.jpg

MSRP has been announced at $1999, which means it should hit the streets at a very competitive price point. The new 1080p projector is expected to be released in October of this year.

We haven’t seen one in person yet, so we can’t comment on the picture quality. But rest assured we will fire one up as soon as we get the chance and share our thoughts with you.

[ see Sanyo’s website for more details ]