I once owned a PJ-853. It was plenty bright enough but your right, there's nothing great about them. Reliable though. Since then I have been through all sorts of projectors. The main questions are what would you be using the unit for? How much ambient light are dealing with. Are you looking for a home theater projector? What's your budget? LCD or DLP?
My present unit is an Optoma H27. 850 lumens, 4x color wheel, 16:9 widescreen dmd chip, 4000:1 contrast ratio. It is the best 480p projector I have ever used and images you get with it via component are amazing. Better than plasma, better than what you see on the screen in a movie theater. Costco is selling it with a 92" pulldown screen right now for $699. When I purchased mine just 7 months ago I paid $1200 without the screen.
Another highly recomended model is the new Infocus IN72. It is considered brighter and though it has a contrast ratio of 2000:1 it has the same darkchip2 dmd chip that the H27 does and the experts say the contrast is nearly as good as that of the H27. Prices start at below $1000.
For higher resolution 720p units take a look at the Optoma HD72, Infocus IN76, Sanyo Z4, Panasonic AE900U, mitsubishi HC3000. All of these are very popular projectors and prices are under $1700 for all of them except the IN76 I think.
[Edited by Natja-ss-1334 on Jul 29, 2006 at 4:10 AM]
Experienced with Yamaha Dpx-830sl, Mitsubishi HC1500, Infocus SP7210, Optoma HD80, Optoma H78DC3, Optoma H27,Optoma H31, BenQ 6100,Infocus 4805, and many others.