Contrast. The Canon SX80 is rated at a full on/off contrast of 900:1. For readers used to seeing ratings on home theater projectors of 10,000:1 and up, this may seem rather modest. However, though the SX80 does not have the highest contrast in the marketplace, it is not as bad as the specs would suggest. We measured ANSI contrast on the SX80 at a very respectable 244:1, which is about the same readings we are getting on LCD home theater projectors, and is in fact higher than the 209:1 reading we got on the JVC DLA-RS2.
Once we ignore the specs and look at the pictures, we get a different impression. Overall, graphics and photographic images appear bright and dynamic, with sufficient range from black to white to give them plenty of snap. Black levels are not as deep as they are on most home theater models, but they are deep enough to look fully black as compared to dark gray. In a room with ambient light, the overall brightness of the image is the leading factor in producing the vibrancy of the image. Meanwhile, differences between projectors in their respective black levels become moot since the room light determines how black the blacks are actually perceived. So the SX80 will compete extremely well against higher contrast, but lower light output projectors if you have a large screen and some ambient light present.
Weak onboard audio. If you plan on using audio in your presentations and you are thinking about using the SX80's onboard system, you might want to think again. The single one-watt speaker is thin and tinny, lacking anything remotely close to a bass frequency. Now, to be fair, no projector in this class has great onboard audio. But there are competing SXGA+ products that do have more substantial onboard audio than this one. If audio is an important part of your presentation mix and you really need room-filling sound, either plan to use a separate audio system or choose a different projector.
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