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Home Theater Projector Shootout
Eight 1080p Projectors under $1500

Bill Livolsi, June 10, 2011

Optoma HD20

The HD20 is the "distinguished gentleman" of this shootout, having been released back in 2009. Fortunately, age has not dulled its prowess. At $899, the HD20 is the original sub-$1000 1080p projector, and it set the standard by which all others would be judged. By combining excellent image quality with a no-frills package, the HD20 is able to bring a high-quality image into the home for very little money.

Pro:

  • Best contrast under $1K
  • Best color under $1K
  • Low noise
  • Natural image

Con:

  • Light output
  • ImageAI

The major advantages of the HD20 are its contrast, default color calibration, relative lack of digital noise, and natural image. While it is rated at only 4,000:1 on/off contrast, the HD20 makes almost any scene look like it's ready to jump off of the screen, proving once again that specifications never tell the whole story. The HD20's has more three-dimensionality than any other projector in the sub-$1000 category, and indeed it even gives the more expensive models a run for their money. Color needs very little adjustment out of the box, and some users will opt to run with the default settings as they are already very good. The HD20's picture has little digital noise, even in standard definition. These three factors combined give the HD20 a natural picture that is unmatched in the sub-$1000 price range.

The HD20 falls short of the competition in lumen output, producing about 620 lumens in its cinema mode and roughly 950 lumens at its brightest. While this is plenty of light for classic home theater, the other sub-$1000 models are brighter and tend to be more flexible for viewing in some ambient light.

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Mitsubishi HC4000
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Viewsonic Pro8200
Review Contents: Introduction Acer H7531D BenQ W1100 BenQ W1200
  Epson Home Cinema 8350 Mitsubishi HC4000 Optoma HD20 Viewsonic Pro8200
  Vivitek H1081
Comments (14) Post a Comment
Desmond Posted Jun 11, 2011 12:44 AM PST
I was more interested how the W1100 compete with the HD20 for watching movies cuz the W1100 has a rebate going on and it sells for $999 right now
Sam Posted Jun 11, 2011 1:07 AM PST
Nice comparison review. I was wondering how these projectors compare to the Sanyo Z700/800 1080p machine? have things really moved on that much in terms of black levels etc in this entry level segment? or would the Sanyo still put up a decent fight?
Brian Posted Jun 13, 2011 6:48 AM PST
My thoughts confirmed.

The Mitsubishi HC4000 will be the replacement for my HC1500 in my dedicated, light controlled theater. I think there would have to be a remarkable step up in performance to a better projector, for me to spend more than the Mitsu's $1100-$1200 street price. Which I don't think will be the case.

Thanks for the shootout guys. You are an invaluable resource.
Frank Posted Jun 13, 2011 9:34 AM PST
Thanks a lot for this shootout. I was looking foward to it. Just two questions that were not answered.

Is the fan noise noticeable on any of those models? I want to replace an ageing InFocus that is as loud as a lawnmower and since my room is a litle small, I can't really hide the sound made by the projector.

Same thing with the heat output. I had to install AC to counter the heat from the projector and the computer, something I won't be able to do in the new room.

Thanks
patrick lilienthal Posted Jun 13, 2011 7:16 PM PST
I used to have a Panasonic AE2000 a few years back and love it, I'm now wondering how these current sub $1500 projectors compare? P.S. I'm currently looking at the Panny Ae4000 and Epson 8700UB but don't really know how significant this $2000 group is vs. sub $1500 group?
Jim Posted Jun 14, 2011 7:58 PM PST
How about that HD20, spotting those boys several years, a few bills, and still hanging on?
Chris Posted Jun 15, 2011 8:20 AM PST
Wonder what the failure rate is on the BenQ and Optoma models compared to the Mits and Epson? Not much value if the projector looks great today, but is in the shop tomorrow...
Dave Posted Jun 15, 2011 11:14 AM PST
Some have complained about the Epson with purple crush developing and one reviewer noted a blue crush in dark scene corners. So I am wary. Have not heard any problems about Mits. Shocker is original review here of Mits put up against $2000 Epson and wins in picture quality. Epson has better features and wins in dark scenes due to UB and free bulb til mid 2012 but still effectively $500 more. Course Mits is bare bones.
LUV Projector Central Posted Jun 17, 2011 12:31 PM PST
I wonder how far apart the HC4000 and AE4000 are on black level. I'm looking to upgrade from my AE900 (5,200 hours, 3 lamp changes, 6 cleanings and replaced the auto-iris once) and going DLP would be fine if the black level is better than the 900, otherwise it’s going to be the AE at $800.00 higher expense. Does anyone have experience with the HC against the AE4000 or the Epson 8700UB auto-irises on rolling credits against a black screen for instance?
David Gibbs Posted Jun 18, 2011 8:16 PM PST
Interested in the comments that are largely questions. Are these answered anywhere or are they rhetorical with no expectation of replies?
serwei Posted Jun 19, 2011 8:24 PM PST
Any rough gauge where infocus will place here? I understand they are priced out :p but so far my limited experience with a few infocus DLPs vs benq w10000 or canon's xeed or casio's is that infocus requires the least tweaking...
Ajay Posted Dec 7, 2011 3:04 AM PST
Which one is better BenQ W1100 or Optoma HD20 for a home theatre use?

What is the best deal going on at the moment in Australia ?
Matt Posted Feb 21, 2012 9:35 PM PST
Thanks for the review, I currently have a Elite Tension Electric 135"Diag. 16:9 Screen.

My question is that what projector would be best?

I am debating on Mitsubishi HC4000 vs Benq W1100.

Thanks in Adv.
Dee Posted Jun 17, 2012 8:32 AM PST
After reading the shortcut info. I think I am leaning towards Epsom power lite 8360. However can not find where the throw ratio is. I need 20 feet th screen. Anyone know if this will work My second choice is Mitsubishi hc4000 but it appears it is darker. I like the ability to watch in bit of ambient light. Ben q don't like the issue with the features. Please suggestions

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