MSRP Price range: $7,000 and up
Sanyo PLV-WF10. The WF10 is the Hummer of home theater projectors--a big muscular machine with a big picture--not suitable for small rooms and small screens. Fan noise must be managed with external sound damping. Extremely low street prices relative to the MSRP. Overall excellent value.
MSRP Price range: $4,000 to $7,000
BenQ PE8700. An excellent price-performer among projectors using the HD2+ DLP chip, available at exceptionally low street prices. The native 1280x720 resolution and DVI input make the DVDO iScan HD processont an excellent companion piece for optimum performance.
NEC HT1100. Never mind its native 4:3 format, it is great for home theater due to the anamorphic lens that comes with it transforms it into a 16:9 unit. 4:3 material can be displayed either in the center of a 16:9 screen or in very large screen native 4:3 format. Though it will throw images 150" or larger, for best results keep image size to 100" diagonal (16:9) or less.
Toshiba MT800, also marketed as the InFocus Screenplay 7205. A powerhouse home theater projector--excellent light output, contrast, and superb overall image quality with both standard and high definition sources. Can be used with some ambient light in the room, especially in high lamp mode, but best used in a dark viewing area.
MSRP Price range: $3,000 to $4,000
InFocus Screenplay 5700. Featuring the new Matterhorn 1024x576 DLP chip from TI, this native 16:9 projector is the most exciting video projector yet produced by InFocus. Excellent color dynamics, and optimally precalibrated at the factory, this projector performs at its peak right out of the box.
Sony VPL-HS51. Another outstanding product from Sony. This unit produces more contrast from LCD than any other product we've seen. It is an impressive overall performer.
Price range: $2,000 to $3,000
Mitsubishi XD450U With street prices at their current level, the XD450U represents excellent performance at this budget range. The sealed light engine eliminates the need to worry about changing or cleaning air filters. The unique 5000-hour lamp life cuts cost of ownership. Overall an outstanding value in this price range.
Panasonic PT-AE700U The 2.0x zoom range, lens shift, and front exhaust make this unit ideal for shelf mounting on a rear wall. This one is as easy to install as they come. Excellent contrast and high resolution HDTV performance for a very attractive price.
Sanyo PLV-Z3 A major overhaul of the popular PLV-Z2, the Z3 produces great contrast, black levels, and color saturation, particularly when used in low lumen Theater Black mode. For best results this unit should be used in Theater Black mode used in a dark viewing room on a screen of about 90" diagonal. Excellent image quality for the money.
Price range: $1,500 to $2,000
Sanyo PLV-Z2. One of the strongest price-performing home theater projectors to hit the market in a long time. Excellent image quality, excellent price, excellent value. See the review for tips on screens and installation procedures.
Panasonic PT-L500, also marketed as the PT-AE500U. A strong head-to-head competitor with the Sanyo PLV-Z2 and a step up from the lower resolution PT-L300U. See the shoot-out review for detailed comparison between the L500 and the Z2.
Price range: Under $1,500
BenQ PE5120. Native 16:9 format with 854x480 resolution. Excellent entry level unit, easy to use, easy to set up, delivers great picture for the money. See review.
Mitsubishi HC3 Colorview. A bright new 1/4 HD resolution machine for those who want great image quality at entry level prices, and who want to leave the lights on in the viewing room. Color performance is outstanding. See review for details on ideal set up and usage.
Optoma H31. Native 16:9 widescreen format in 854x480 resolution, with a 4x speed color wheel that is rare in this price class. Outstanding color balance and saturation, an elegant image overall. See review.
Optoma H30. Native SVGA resolution DLP projector with a 4x speed color wheel. The new H31 is a clear step up in widescreen performance, but as long as the H30 is available at discounted prices it remains a great value. See review.
Epson Powerlite Home 10. Epson's first entry-level projector offers widescreen features and performance for a great price. Good flexibility for setting up the unit in a variety of room configurations. (see review).