Projector Roundup 2011 Q1

For my own comparison notes, I got an "Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 720" for $1000 back in May 2009 (according to ProjectorCentral.com it’s already discontinued, I’m not surprised, this is a rapidly evolving technology segment)… so our specs are: 720p, 1600 Lumens, 10,000 contrast, 3000 hour bulb, 2 yr warranty. The Epson Home Cinema’s seem to be hanging strong in the top 10 most popular slots over the last few years. The Epson 8350 seems to be their latest best in the $1000 range ($1200 street 14 Feb 2011) 1080p, 2000 lumens, 50,000 contrast, 4000 hr bulb, 2 yr warranty. Reviewers seem to indicate the Epson 8700 UB ("ultra black") is well worth the extra bux ($2100 current street) 1080p, 1600 Lumens (1800+ according to review), 200,000 contrast, 4000 hr bulb, 2yr warranty. The comparison to long standing champ "Panasonic PT-AE4000U" at the end of this review is interesting: One thing to really look for is the *free bulb* (~$300 value) & other mail in rebate specials that vendors use to drive attention for higher end models, especially for the first year or so. I was kicking myself because I had just missed the window of opportunity for these rebates on mine by the time I was ready to buy. I feel like a free bulb takes a lot of the worry out of these suckers… they say about 3yrs a bulb for average use… 3 yrs is just long enough that you’re going to loathe buying a new bulb vs a whole new projector technology. 6 yrs is great peace of mind. The 8700UB just came out in Oct.2010 and apparently the free bulb offer goes to March *2012* and there’s also a $100 mail in rebate that goes through March *2011*