1080p Projector Rodeo To Pick or Not to Pick
Like I said before, this isn't really a Face Off. The JVC is $1,800, or 40 percent, more expensive than the Mitsubishi. That said, the JVC is just eminently watchable, and, if money weren't a factor, it would be my pick. It isn't remotely accurate, but sometimes that's OK. The image it creates is addictive. The Sony and the Mitsubishi are better-suited head-to-head competitors. The Mitsubishi's processing and detail are clearly (get it, a pun) better, but the Sony has a better contrast ratio, black level, and color points (if you calibrate it). Is the Sony $500 better than the Mitsubishi? It all depends on how big a deal $500 is to you. If that's a lot of money, then the HC5000 is a great projector for the money. For a bit more money, the Sony is a bit better.
Really, though, the difference between all three projectors is surprisingly minimal. You would do right with any of them. So, go do it. You'll never go back to your old TV again. —GM
In this roundup, a winner was almost too close to call. . .almost. The Mitsubishi rendered the cleanest, most detailed image with both SD and HD DVD sources, and its colors were pleasingly natural. Unfortunately, it noticeably crushed black detail in our dark demo scenes, which pushed it to the back of the pack.
In terms of its image quality, the JVC is simply an easy projector to like, thanks to its contrast ratio and color. The black level, black detail, and outstanding overall contrast ratio created the richest, most three-dimensional image. The color points aren't accurate, but they're oversaturated in correct proportion to one another, so the end result is a vivid color palette that still seems correct. Detail was good, but the picture was a bit noisier than the others. And I felt this projector did the poorest job upconverting standard-def DVDs.
The Sony was the best all-around performer, offering good blacks and black detail, the best light output, and the most accurate color points and color temperature. The image was clean but a little softer than the others. This is a versatile projector with ample adjustments to fine-tune the picture to your taste.
In the end, my decision was swayed more by ergonomics and price than by picture quality. With high-quality sources, the JVC renders a beautiful image, but it's also the biggest, loudest, most expensive projector, and it spills light around the screen. The Sony is the quietest, most versatile projector, which would make it a better choice for a living-room home theater setup like mine.—AM
This roundup was different from the previous ones I've been a part of, and not because of the fact that it was a projector roundup and the last few have been LCDs or rear-projection TVs. This roundup was an exercise in the importance of extraneous auditory noise. That's not to say that fan noise trumped picture quality, but it raised the question of how much picture quality you'd be willing to sacrifice for a quiet viewing environment.
All of the projectors are at least pretty good—which should be expected at these prices. The Mitsubishi had above-average detail and colors, but it crushed blacks. In movies like V for Vendetta and Batman Begins, there's so much interesting detail in the dark areas that are completely lost with this projector. That left me with the JVC and the Sony.
The JVC is beautifully addictive with vibrant colors, excellent detail, and a great black level. The more I watched it, the more I liked it. The Sony had great detail in blacks and nice-looking colors, but it was noticeably softer than the JVC. It also emitted a slight odor. So JVC in a landslide, right? Not quite.
The JVC was downright loud, easily overpowering the other projectors and disc players with its fan noise. Not only that, but light spilled out from the casing. I'd expect more in build quality for the price, like at least being able to keep the light contained. This made the race extremely close. While the audio enthusiast in me hates to say it, that picture is too pretty to give up.—JH