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Editor's Choice Awards

On occasion we give Editor's Choice Awards to projectors that are exceptional performers or terrific values in today's market...

There are many fine home theater projectors on the market today, but three are worthy of special attention: the Epson Home Cinema 5010, the Panasonic AE7000, and the Optoma HD33.

In the $2500 to $3000 price range it is impossible to make a call between the Epson 5010 and Panasonic AE7000. They are both outstanding projectors at this price, and represent the state of the art in price/performance. Neither one is perfect, and they each have attributes the other lacks. Since we don't know which of these attributes would be most important to you, we cannot say which is the best.

For me, the 5010 and the AE7000 are the go-to projectors for my own personal home theater viewing. I prefer the smooth, natural image quality of the AE7000 as compared to the 5010. One could say it looks more analog. The AE7000 has a subtle advantage in this regard in HD material, and a more obvious advantage with SD. But the 5010 is a beautiful projector in its own right, and you need to see them side by side to discern the differences. The AE7000 also has an advantage over the 5010 in 3D clarity, with a bit more pristine and artifact-free 3D image.

However, the Epson 5010 has an obvious advantage in black level over the AE7000. In particular, for material with a lot of dark scenes, film noir classics, horror films, etc., the 5010 is clearly the stronger of the two projectors. When viewing dark material I gladly forego the incremental smoothness of the AE7000 for the extra black level performance. When viewing the 5010 on its own without having the AE7000 to compare it to, the picture is dynamic and beautiful, and when viewing HD material one is not aware of anything lacking in the picture's smoothness.

At a lower price point, around $1500 is the terrific Optoma HD33. There is simply nothing wrong at all with the 3D performance on this machine, and if you're looking for excellent 3D at a low price (and a lot of people are), the HD33 delivers. The HD33 does not have the dynamic range of the AE7000 or 5010, but at its price you get exceptional value for the money.

We are happy to assign the Editor's Choice Awards to these three fine projectors.

In other new, we were planning to post a review of the Sharp Z30000. But we are not confident that the test sample we have is representative of the product's potential. It is showing more noise than we are used to seeing in Sharp products. So we are returning the test sample and requesting a replacement. If all goes according to the latest plan, the Sony VPL-VW95ES will be here next week, and that will be the next home theater review.

IF you happen to be interested in cameras as well as projectors, the new CAMERAS button in the top navigation bar will take you to our new camera site, 2 Camera Guys. Over there we are selling camera test units at prices substantially below Amazon prices to our readers. If you are interested in picking up a camera cheap, see this list of camera deals.

Evan Powell

Comments (4) Post a Comment
herweel Posted Mar 17, 2012 8:13 PM PST
as per your last reviews,I was expecting the Mitsubishi - HC7800D to be top candidate?
chilipepper Posted Mar 19, 2012 10:21 AM PST
I thought the Mitsubishi HC4000 would have gotten the nod over the Optoma HD33 for best projector under $1500 based on your earlier shootout from 2010. Is it just for the 3D capabilities or is the HD33 better on 2D material as well? 3D ranks about a 1.5 out of 10 on my "gotta have it" scale for my light controlled theater, so I was leaning towards the Mitsubishi for my upgrade to 1080P.
Darryl Lowe Posted Aug 30, 2012 5:45 PM PST
Hi Evan,

Several months back or so, I thought I remember reading this commentary by you on Editor's Choice Awards; however my recollection is that you had much more favorable things to say about the Epson and that you and your daughter agreed the Epson was better. You have the Epson for your personal viewing. Did you change the article at some point? Also, I couldn't help but notice that Bill Livolsi seems to be doing most of the reviews now. Are you retiring from the reviews?

Cheers, Darryl
Brian Swiger Posted Sep 11, 2012 7:20 PM PST
First off, thanks for your time and efforts in reviewing and writing the articles. Input lag is important, as you now note in recent reviews, in gaming on a projector and I am struggling to find a latest-model projector with low input lag for gaming (as well as movie viewing), as the 5010 seems to be high (81ms on average) versus the older, 8350 at 18ms. I really want a 2012 model projector, yet am seeing input lag increasing in newer models. Am I being crazy or are the latest projectors NOT good for gaming as well as movie viewing. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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