Projector comparisons


So my wife recently noted that our 65” Panny plasma is too small, and if I wanted I could look for a projector.  I keep up with most things in home theater and am trying to find a site that lays out a comparison of various projectors including discontinued ones. I see the merits in typically going used as a few years old top of line projector now costs what the entry level model does, with typically a better lens and more features. However I’m not 100% clear on how important HDR and other things are relatively speaking for my first projector.  We do a fair amount of Netflix and amazon and typically I purchased Blu-ray if cheap or I want the movie and have an oppo 205 to play them. The room for watching has no windows. I’ve been looking at some of the discontinued Sony models like 385 and the 1100 which sold for 28k. Looking for suggestions on how to work through this and any good websites that lay out features and comparisons to make ruling things in and out simple. Let’s say budget will be 4-7k. 
Thanks!
esthlos13
Hi - was that supposed to link to a useful site?  If yes it did not work.   Thanks!
My information is about 10 years old and I've been out of the market for a long time, but I did a real close analysis back then.  The two big players were JVC and Sony.  DLP was made by several manufacturers, but had problems because of the spinning color wheel.  I did not have enough budget to get a true 3-element DLP. 

The JVC D-ILA technology had excellent black levels, but after viewing several options, the JVC just did not have images that "jumped".  Color was good, but image was just dull in comparison to the Sony.

The Sony had excellent color and images jumped out at you and were very exciting.  So I went with Sony SXRD technology.  If I had to do it again, I would probably go with Sony again (like your 385).  But I don't know what has developed in the last 10 years.

This is a good site to get detailed reviews:

https://www.projectorreviews.com/sony/sony-vpl-vw385es-true-4k-home-theater-projector-review/

Here's another one that has specs:

https://www.projectorcentral.com/Sony-VPL-VW665ES.htm

The Sony 695 might be an option as well.
@esthlos13 Projector People is an online retailer of projectors and accessories. You can find them by using a search engine.

In my experience JVC's projectors provide superior image quality, and I've also heard good things about Sony in previous years. So my recommendation for brands is aligned with auxinput. JVC's projectors also have auto-calibration software although it can be fairly confusing and tricky to use at least on the older models.

I also recommend getting an HDR 4K (probably with shifted faux-4K, considering your target parameters) projector with that supports 18Gbps HDMI connections. Some faux-4K projectors only support 14Gbps HDMI connections (e.g. some Epson) which is going to create problems for you. In addition to the increased pixel detail, HDR provides more realistic colors. You won't get the same maximum brightness from a projector that you can from a regular TV, so the brightness part of the HDR will be less of a benefit. Some people prefer to convert 4K HDR sources to 4K SDR because of that.
Video projection is like a whole other system. Light control, being able to darken the room, and the screen, are almost equally important. The most important factor in video is contrast. Most people with plasma are used to watching with a lot of room light. But there's a reason every movie theater is dark. And red. With a big screen the light off the screen itself reflects back onto the screen washing out the picture. Even the background color affects your perception of screen colors. There's a reason my room is painted a fairly dark neutral gray. And the screen is a Grayhawk, same brightness and color but much less washout. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 Also the wire you use matters just as much as with speaker cables. The difference with a really good video cable is like going from 1080i to 4k.  

There's really no point in buying used. You will figure out after some years the bulb thing. Just buy new. By which I mean new new, not last years model new. And don't waste money. There's a ton of people throwing $5k to $50k and more, and you have to strain and get technical to see any difference from the $2500 model. There's more difference by far to be had from the cable, screen and room that anything you can get for any amount of money if those aren't all optimized.

That's why I say projector people. They know projection. 

You married well. 
I have 65" Sony (Android TV).  Black levels and contrast are exceptional.  I know that Sony makes 85" TVs (less than $4k).  20 years ago I had Samsung DLP.  Color wheel made noises and bulb was expensive to replace.  AFAIK all movie theaters use DLP but it is 3 digital mirror systems (no color wheel).  Technology likely improved, but i wouldn't like moving elements in my TV/projector.
thanks for the feedback.  The reason I'm thinking used is that practically speaking I'll only be able to use it so much, and I tend to consider "cost per use" when purchasing anything (or at least most things), thus something like a high end watch, when value over time, actually works out well in this approach.   I'm okay with not having the latest and greatest (though I do prefer) and though I love my Panasonic VT60, I'm sure even a several year old projector will be a completely different experience based on size of picture alone, and I can deal with some minor imperfections.  I notice the higher end Sony's have, according to the reviews, much better lenses and auto features, but don't know enough about this space to be able to adequately balance out those features vs. HDR/HLG, etc.  My room shape may change at some point as well, so a projector that affords setup flexibility is important. I'm also looking for HDBaseT compatibility as the run from equipment rack to proposed projecter site is tricky and will involve a long run of cable. My marantz AV8802A does not support that, but I believe there are devices that can be inserted at both ends.  There's a lot to consider! however I'm not on any fixed timeline so will continue the research. 
@esthlos13 you could also consider a long HDMI cable that uses active transmission (chips at the send and receive connectors), as an alternative to HDBaseT.

What is your budget? Does the 4K to 7K include the screen? Does your room have complete light control? What size and type of screen are you considering? How far from the screen will you sit? These are some of the considerations that influence your decision. AVSFORUM has an active Display Devices section including over $3,000 and under $3000 projector forums.

As a few have mentioned, JVC and Sony are generally the manufacturers considered for a quality Home Theater Projector.

Sony just announced a couple new projectors so you may find some used options for owners that like to upgrade often. I wouldn't go back more than one generation for used and would want native 4K support.

JVC hasn’t released anything new for a couple years but are still favored by a lot of users. I have owned JVC projectors and currently use an RS-JVC 500. It can play 4K and HDR content but is not native 4K as the current RS3000/NX9 - JVC RS2000/NX7/N7 - JVC RS1000/NX5/N5 models are. If I was to upgrade I would go with the JVC RS2000/NX7/N7. I also have a Lumagen Pro processor that adds a lot of cost but can really dial in a calibration and has excellent Dynamic Tone Mapping.

For longer HDMI cable runs consider RUIPRO Fiber Optic HDMI Cable, Supports HDMI2.0b,4K60HZ, 18Gbps Bandwidth, HDR10, Dolby Vision (various lengths from 6m to 30m).


I'm now on my 7th projector since getting into home theater in the early 90's. In the mid-90's, I was feeling flush from an investment that paid off and bought a Vidikron Vision One and Snell&Wilcox video processor - total investment about $100K, plus the cost of a fancy screen. At the time, this was the best of the best. (Fortunately, I was able to see the system at a reasonable price to the person that bought that house from me a few years later).

The Epson 5050UB projector I bought recently for under $3K delivers significantly better performance - MUCH brighter, better resolution, better shadow detail, no convergence problems, lower audible noise, much better uniformity across the screen.

Projector technology is changing as fast as flat screen TV technology. If I was you, I'd invest in a really good screen, since this will last you over multiple generations of projectors. A quality fixed-frame screen will run you between $1500 and $3000. If you want retractable or electric masking, the cost will go up a fair amount. Don't skimp on the quality of the screen. 

I'd recommend against getting a used projector. Not only is the technology changing fast, but you have to worry about compatibility with new content and equipment, and they don't last forever. You'll almost certainly need to replace the bulb in order to get full performance, and will probably have to have it thoroughly cleaned to eliminate the dust that accumulates inside. And you probably won't have any warranty. Given the projector quality you can get for the money these days, it just doesn't seem worth it. For under $3K, you can get a stunningly good projector.