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Best Projectors under $1000
November 13, 2014,
The InFocus IN8606HD is a bit of an odd duck. It has some high-end features, like a 12-volt trigger, a 1.5:1 zoom lens, ISFccc calibration compatibility, and a VESA 3D sync port. But it suffers due to a calibrated mode that isn't as bright as its competitors and locked image presets. The specific features of the IN8606HD can make it an appealing choice for some folks, but it has some weaknesses that keep it from taking the top prize in any single category.
These are some of the things we like about the IN8606HD:
Picture quality. The IN8606HD's Movie mode produces a balanced image and well-saturated colors. Movie mode has good shadow detail and respectable black levels after you make some adjustments, but doing so will shift you into User mode, which we'll talk about more below.
Flexible brightness. In its brightest mode, the IN8606HD measured over 1830 lumens, which is enough for rooms with some ambient light. But in Movie mode, output drops to a more modest 703 lumens, which is better for small screens in darkened rooms.
Great zoom range. The projector has a 1.5:1 zoom lens, better than any of its competitors. This gives you more flexibility to place the projector where you want it, not where it demands. So if you want a 100" diagonal image, you can put the IN8606HD anywhere between 10' and 15' from the screen. In comparison, the BenQ HT1075's range is a more limited 8 to 10 feet.
12V trigger. Normally only found on more expensive models, a 12-volt trigger can be used to actuate a powered screen, masking system, anamorphic lens, or even room lighting. Lots of theater accessories use a 12V trigger, and the IN8606HD is the only way you'll get one on a projector under $1,000.
With so many theater-driven features, like a VESA port and ISF modes, you'd expect the IN8606HD to perform well in a theater. But the ISF modes are only accessible to calibration professionals, which adds cost. You can calibrate the projector yourself, but you can't change any of the named image modes; all of your settings are applied to the projector's single User mode instead. The 1.5:1 lens adds flexibility, but the projector has a long throw overall, making it more difficult to install in smaller rooms. Low lumen output in Cinema mode is further reduced by using the telephoto end of the zoom lens (21% reduction) or Eco mode (24% reduction) so the final image can be very dim by modern standards. That's great if you want a small 80" to 100" screen, but not so great if you want to watch 3D movies or use the projector in a room with ambient light.
Buy the BenQ HT1075 online here:
Buy the Epson Home Cinema 2030 online here:
Buy the InFocus IN8606HD online here:
Buy the Optoma HD26 online here:
Buy the ViewSonic PJD7820HD online here:
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