InFocus SP8602

Let's face it, when you break it down to pure numbers, televisions can't even hold a candle to a quality home theater projector. A 60" LCD TV costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $6000 whereas you can get a full 1080p projector for only $1000, oh and the screen size will be more than twice as big too. So, a sixth the price and twice the size is twelve times greater value! Right?

Well, I guess consumer opinion is a little more complex than that but there really is nothing like having your own theater in your house. I can't even describe what it's like to play a first-person shooter on a screen as big as 150"; you literally feel like it's you.

I'm going to introduce you to three of today's most talked about home theater projectors and pit them against each other in a battle to the death. First, we're going to take a look at the beautiful SP8602 from InFocus, followed by an amazing achievement from Optoma called the HD20, and finishing it all off with Panasonic's PT-AE3000U.

You see something as beautiful as the InFocus SP8602 (pictured above) and you know that there has to be something equally impressive on the inside. InFocus just doesn't disappoint when it comes to producing a professional high end projector. The SP8602 puts out 1080P at 1300 lumens with a contrast ratio of 30,000:1. Those are some big numbers. Combine those with a price tag of around $5,000 and you've got yourself one of the best projectors available for purchase today. I know that you're thinking that the price tag is a little high but the exact same projector statistically from two years ago sold for four times that price. It just goes to show you how much cheaper the technology has gotten in the past couple years.


Next is my favorite little surprise of this year in home theater projectors. Although it may be the ugliest of the bunch, the Optoma HD20's stats are almost as impressive as the SP8602 but for only a fifth the price. The HD in HD20 most definitely does stand for high definition and for only $1,000 you won't find anything else that does what the HD20 can. The projector outputs natively at 1920x1080, which results in full 1080p resolution. It certainly isn't dark either; Optoma rates the light coming out of the lens at 1,700 lumens, 400 more than the InFocus model. Measurements on light are often not very accurate as different instruments can be used to beef up ratings but this is a very bright and crisp projector.


Finally, we have the Panasonic PT-AE3000U and the only thing I can really say I hate about it is its name. I mean nine digits for a model number? Come on Panasonic get your naming schemes together. Other than that minor flaw, this little sucker pumps out 1080p at 1,600 lumens with a 60,000:1 contrast ratio. For only $3,500 you're getting yourself a fantastic projector with all the options from a trusted brand.

So which one do you pick? Well, a lot of the picture is personal preference; it really depends on what you want to see. The LCD's used in these projectors are probably all made in the same factory so you really have to ask who would make the better lenses. Lenses are damned expensive because of the precision required to cut the glass and this is probably where the price difference comes in.

For my money, the $1,000 Optoma is worth it in every way. You can see boogers in football players noses and it costs a fifth of what a TV does. I really can't tell the difference between this and the InFocus unless they're playing right next to each other and your friends won't either. If you're just starting out in the world of projectors but don't want to sacrifice quality, this is yours. The other two are the next steps up in HD home theater projection. I will let you take those at your will.

Website: Theater Projector