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Topic: Time to replace my Sanyo-Z4
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Joined: May 11, 2006
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My last bulb is dying off in my 8-year old Sanyo Z4. It's a 720p LCD projector I have ceiling mounted in my home theater room. I use it in equal parts for TV, movies, and gaming.

After looking around at what's out there now, I should mention I don't need 3D capabilities, would like a 12v trigger in and out, and definitely need 1080p. I don't want anything to do with a DLP setup.

Sadly, it seems that LED-lit LCD panels don't yet exist (but LED-lit DLP does? WTH?) so I'm not sure if it's better to wait, or consider the options lit by a traditional bulb...

I guess the Panasonic PT-AR100U fits my budget and needs, and I really would like something that fares better in ambient light than my Z4 does. (It washes out all the time. Partly because of the bulb, partly because of the lumens I'd wager)

I was considering the flagship Panasonic 8000, but I don't need nor can use 3D (it causes migranes for me), and the other things like motorized zoom and focus don't mean much to me. I am a bit picky on video quality, but is the difference in quality between those two projectors worth hundreds of dollars?

I'm also reading that at one time the AR100U was significantly cheaper than it's current $1299 street price. Should I expect to see this on discount during the holidays? I really would prefer to be paying $1000 or less, if possible.

Is it safe to assume that almost anything out there is going to be better in picture quality than my 8-year old Sanyo?

Thanks in advance, I've been out of the loop for so long I feel some advice here would help a lot.
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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The Z4 was Sanyo's top of the line projector when it was released. You likely paid for that quality. With that in mind, when you pay half as much for a projector with higher resolution, you shouldn't expect it to be worlds better in other areas such as lens quality, or video processing, or perhaps black levels.

That's where equivalent models, such as the AE8000, better yet, the Epson 5030 come into play.

I think the AR100 and the Epson 8345 are both very respectable models. Neither are going to deliver as good of an image as the BenQ W1070 which costs a bit less than those models.

As well, the Sony HW40ES apparently can be had for under $1,900 and could arguably be called the best projector under $3,000 right now.

3D capability is irrelevant. All new projectors include 3D, so much like cruise control on a car... If it is a standard feature, you use it or you don't use it, but having it doesn't impact the cost. It's standard. This is true on almost every TV out there as well.

Anyway, while at $1,000 I would get the W1070, you have made it clear that you have some issue with DLP, so while there are newer models like the Epson 3020, 2030, and 3000, the Epson 8345 still is one of the most respected models out there and has a price which fits your budget. The AR100 from Panasonic is a solid contender, but I would choose the Epson over the Panasonic at this point as Panasonic really hasn't made any updates to their projectors in several years now.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Joined: Nov 19, 2004
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We have a Panasonic PT-AR100U, and found it to be satisfactory. One minor quibble. Our machine "times out" around 2000 hours of lamp time, and leads one to presume that the bulb needs replacing. Only after realizing that the lamp timer could be reset without replacing the bulb, did we save ourselves a lot of expense and grief. After the second bulb died, we replaced it with the original, and off it ran for thousands of hours more.
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Joined: May 11, 2006
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Interesting feedback.

I don't have a problem with LCD "screen door" like I do with DLP rainbows, and I've had very consistent, poor experiences with DLP technology in the past. That's why I refuse to buy a DLP projector, regardless of how great it performs.

I'm not completely sold on a Panasonic, it just seemed to fit everything I needed on paper. But I've heard people complain that the FI is crap on this unit... and the stories about LCD panel problems are worrisome as well. But If I wanted to pay over $2k I would be in a different demographic.

The Sanyo Z4 had similar issues with bulb life, and I reset one of the timers on a bulb before and it ran straight to 3500+ hours without any fade. I treat bulb life timers like the water filter alarm in my fridge. A guideline, not a rule.

What's the closest comparable LCD projector to the AR100U?
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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The Epson 8345 and the AR100U are cousin models. Good throw distance and lens shift, but an older design.

The newer model Epsons - The 2000/2030, 3020, and 3000 are their newer models. The 3000 is the only one with lens shift, the 2000/2030 models are their cheap entry level units without lens shift, but with 3D, and with extremely low cost factory original lamps ($100 a pop instead of $200+).

The 3000 is their newest model. It has lens shift, 3D, and lower priced lamps as well. On paper, while it doesn't have the lens shift range of the 8345, it does have newer features and has pretty solid 3D capabilities with those cheaper lamps.

If you have issues with DLP rainbows that take away from watching and you've used 4x+ color wheel projectors, then I would steer clear of DLP as well.

The W1070 seems to be turning out to be one of the most reliable projectors ever released. There just aren't any serious problems which are being regularly reported after over 2 years on the market. That speaks a lot to the quality of what may be the most popular entry level projector ever. As well, people are reporting lamp times regularly hitting 4,000 hours or more.

I try to avoid suggesting projectors which I know regularly have maintenance issues.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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