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Oh, yeah, contrast ratio makes a huge difference. The difference is obviously seen in how "black" black looks, and you can compare that to the dark edges of the projector screen that your watching on. What is not so obvious, but has a HUGE effect, only really noticed in side-by-side comparisons, is that higher contrast increases the perceived brightness and sharpness, because there is more "contrast" between darks and lights. Two otherwise identical projectors with different contrasts will be obviously noticeable side-by-side, probably not so much when viewed by themselves. But once you see it, you won't like the low-contrast stuff anymore, so don't spoil yourself unless you want to commit to high contrast displays, lol. Seeing all the detail in a black scene, individual hairs on a person's head with dark hair, variations in shadows.... it's all detail, which is perceived to your eyes as increased brightness and increased resolution. 50k contrast is about as low as I'd really like to go before it annoys me. I would go lower in the 35-35k range ONLY if price was drastically lower. Best bang for buck right now to get "the best" (relative term) is the Panasonic PT-AE8000, no question. Because it's like $1700. Best bang for your buck for casual viewing and ambient light is the Epson 2040. You don't know me, but I go through ALOT of projectors, and I'm a thorough tester, and I also have 4 accredited engineering degrees... I'm very practical, but also have high standards.