In the table on page 10 we’ve listed all of the test results and specifications of the projectors we’ve tested as well as prices, supplied accessories and connectors available on the projectors. The one projector that consistently performed admirably was InFocus’ ScreenPlay 4800. With more than sufficient lumen output with little variance across the screen, excellent contrast, low noise levels and excellent video playback the InFocus ScreenPlay 4800 is awarded the Hardware Analysis Best Product award. For video playback the ScreenPlay 4800 uses Faroudja’s DCDi chipset which greatly enhances video playback quality and clearly sets it apart from the video processing used in the other two projectors. It is actually amazing that InFocus is able to use such a high-end chipset, normally only found in the top-of-the-bill DVD players with progressive scan video output, in an entry-level projector.
The Sanyo PLV-Z1 certainly is a good projector too, with an excellent contrast ratio, especially for a LCD projector. Unfortunately it has the least lumen output of all projectors tested and we found the manual zoom somewhat lacking. For comparison, the InFocus ScreenPlay 4800 had no problem throwing an image fitting the projection screen from any distance between 1.5 and 5 meters by using the manual zoom. Unfortunately we could not make the image from the Sanyo PLV-Z1 fit the projection screen if we moved the projector back more than 2 meters, it would simply be too large. This means that you’ll have to mount the Sanyo PLV-Z1 a whole lot closer to the screen than the InFocus ScreenPlay 4800 which means it is a lot less flexible to setup. The Dell 2100/2200MP is a nice all-round projector for everyday use which doesn’t really impress but is priced right for the image quality you’re getting. We found that one of its biggest shortcomings was the lack of a manual zoom, which again significantly limits the placement of the projector.
Overall we were pleasantly surprised by the image quality of all three projectors, in a darkened room video playback was very similar to what you experience in a real movie theatre. If you’re serious about setting up a home theatre and don’t have the budget to spend $5000 on a projector we can certainly recommend looking at either the InFocus ScreenPlay 4800 or the Sanyo PLV-Z1. On several occasions we had a hard time distinguishing between our reference InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 and either the InFocus or the Sanyo, which goes to show that both these projectors have a very high price/performance ratio. Just keep in mind that you’ll also need a good quality projection screen to make optimum use of the projector and if you’re looking to recreate a true movie theatre experience it can’t hurt to invest in a quality DVD player, a good multichannel amplifier and some good loudspeakers.
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