Budget video projector roundup

May 18, 2004

Optoma-H30Entry level projectors garner the majority of my attention because they fit my budget. It’s not that I wouldn’t take a 13k DLP if someone offered it, there’s just no real likelihood of me buying one anytime soon. Unfortunately, the features I really want aren’t typically available for under $4500. So for the time being, sub $2500 DLPs are my object O’ desire. I’ve done a little research into some of the top performers in this range.

All right, you’re shopping for a budget projector. Where do you begin? Start with your needs not your wants, sounds simple enough right? How big of a screen does it need to fill? Where will it be installed? Go for higher lumens and contrast in rooms where ambient light is an issue. What source material will you watch on it?

At the sub 2k price point, there are a few favorites and some new entries into the market. The Infocus X1/X2 at $999, is likely one of the all time favorites with budget projector enthusiasts. Building on the X1/X2, the ScreenPlay 4800 ($1,299 retail) with SVGA 800×600 resolution, 2000:1 contrast ratio, 1100 ansi lumens, and has a DCDi by Faroudja capable of projecting an image size of up to 12 feet. If a 480p capable DLP is what you’re after, you’d be hard pressed to find a better projector in this price range.

The Optoma H30 ($1,399 retail) is SVGA 800×600 native with 800 lumens and a 2000:1 contrast ratio. The H30 has a native aspect ratio of 4:3. These specifications prove that numbers alone don’t make a projector. I’ve seen the H30 first hand and they are great looking projectors.

From the H30, the next projector I want to discuss is the BenQ PB6200 ($1,795 retail). XGA 1024×768 with 1700 lumens and 2000:1 contrast ratio, the 6200 has a native aspect ratio of 4:3 which honestly presents a problem. With much of today’s content 16:9 or alike, the 6200 can display 16:9 content but at a slight loss of resolution. One step down in BenQ’s line up is the PB6100 (native SVGA), very similar to the PB6200 but with a little less resolution and brightness.

Another close competitor to the BenQ PB6200 is the InFocus Screenplay 4805 not yet released, first look here earlier this month.

Lastly for this round the Sanyo PLV-Z2 ($ 2,995 retail but can be found lower than $2500) with native 16:9 and 1280×720 resolution, rated at 800 lumens, and 1300:1 contrast ratio is a real performer. The Z2 won a Highly Recommended from Projector Central with comments like “sets a new benchmark” and “never before has this image quality been available at such a low price”. The Z2 is defiantly worth a look.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Reviews