Recommended Home Theater Projectors
The Sanyo PLC-XP18N is essentially the same projector as the PLC-XP21N except that it does not have Micro Lens Array (MLA). The primary technical objective of MLA is to boost light transmission through the LCD panels. In the case of the XP21N, the presence of MLA boosts the ANSI lumen rating to 2500. On the XP18N, the ANSI lumen rating is 2000.
As discussed elsewhere, MLA has the happy side-effect of reducing the visibility of pixels. So on the large majority of XGA resolution LCD machines that do not have MLA (like the XP18N), pixels tend to be more visible than the discriminating home theater videophile would like. It is the pixelation on the XP18N that causes us to place it in the "Recommended" category rather than "Highly Recommended."
Other than the issue of visible pixels, the PLC-XP18N is an ideal solution for home theater, incorporating all of the benefits of the PLC-XP21N noted in the write-up on that machine. Of particular note is the 700:1 contrast rating which is a momentous breakthrough for LCD technology. And the 2000 lumen output of the XP18N is ample for any home theater needs.
As with the XP21N, we recommend using the Stewart Grayhawk screen with the XP18N if you can fit it into your budget. If you can't, you should try to avoid anything more than a unity gain screen with this projector. If you must, a 1.3 gain will work, but don't think about anything hotter than that.
The XP18N currently sells at street prices under $6,000. You may want to get prices on both this unit and the XP21N from Sanyo dealers on this site, and then decide whether reduced pixelation is worth the price differential. If you don't mind the subtle but noticeable screendoor effect one gets from standard XGA LCDs, the XP18N is the clear choice. If you want the best image possible with the least pixelation, and you are willing to pay a premium for the best, the XP21N is it.