Welcome to our latest annual Editor’s Choice awards. The awards celebrate the best products of the year. They are the items we think stand head and shoulders above the rest. The criteria for being eligible are simple. It must be a product that has been reviewed by AVForums in the last 12 months and it must currently be available as part of the official product range from a manufacturer and not discontinued before the end of 2020.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone and that has impacted on our ability to secure review products for some categories. However, we have covered a number of projectors this year and our awards winners are below.
Best LCD Projector - Epson EH-TW9400
The Epson EH-TW9400 is the company’s latest flagship lamp-based HDR projector, and boasts all the features we have come to expect from its home cinema line-up. As a result there’s motorised lens controls, a lens memory, and even a motorised lens cover – all unusual at the price point.
As with all of Epson’s projectors, it isn’t a native 4K projector, and instead uses three Full HD LCD panels with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. However, it can accept a 4K Ultra HD signal, and apply processing to produce a higher resolution image that approximates 3840 x 2160.
Overall, the performance is fantastic, and with SDR content the images are bright, detailed and very natural. The TW9400 is equally as impressive with HDR content, producing pictures that benefit from the format’s wider colour gamut and extended dynamic range. A projector will never look as good as a TV, but the TW9400 does an excellent job with HDR at this price point.
Best DLP Projector - BenQ W5700
The BenQ W5700 is part of the CinePrime series of single-chip DLP projectors from the manufacturer which use the latest 0.47” DMD chip from Texas Instruments. This uses a quadruple flash (pixel shift) that tricks the eye into seeing an 8.3 million pixel image on the screen. By using this technique, it can give you a pseudo 4K image onscreen and at a significantly lower cost than a native 4K chip.
The W5700 is designed to be used in dimly lit cinema rooms and as such it is aimed more at home cinema use than other 4K DLP projectors at this price point. It comes with a host of image quality features and boasts pre-calibration from the factory, with a printed sheet in the box telling you what the results are.
Watching SDR and HDR content in the best settings on the BenQ is a very good experience with some of the best SDR accuracy we have seen from a single-chip DLP projector. It is not the brightest unit out there and it is designed for dim rooms and home cinema use, so is not suited to ambient light or normal living rooms with white ceilings and walls. As such, HDR can look a little dull and DLP cannot reach the full DCI-P3 gamut, but the BenQ is a value based projector that delivers the goods for those looking for great motion and excellent SDR colour accuracy.
Best Ultra Short Throw Projector - Samsung LSP9T
The Samsung LSP9T (The Premiere) represents the company's first foray into projectors in a long time and, given its goals, can be considered a resounding success. An ultra-short-throw projector is something of a niche product, but its main goal is to deliver a big-screen image while taking up very little space at the front of your living room. In that sense it works perfectly, producing an image up to 130 inches from a discreet chassis with a maximum throw of only 23cm.
The Samsung is easy to setup and operate, has an intuitive remote control, and is quiet in operation. The input lag is a bit high at 55ms, but that shouldn't bother casual gamers. Crucially, the RGB laser light source not only delivers the convenience, consistency and long-life of a TV, but is also bright enough to be used in rooms with ambient light. It produces detailed and punchy big screen images with both SDR and HDR, and retains all the strengths of DLP, with excellent sharpness and motion handling. In addition, the colour space is huge, and the tone mapping is also highly effective.
Best Native 4K Projector - JVC DLA-N5
While the JVC DLA-N5 may well be the entry-level when it comes to native 4K, the performance on offer is excellent. It might not have the WCG filter of the N7 and NX9 but it still manages to produce some of the best HDR10 images we have seen from a projector at the price point.
The latest dynamic tone mapping update is a game-changer for JVC and elevates their machines above the competition for balanced, nuanced and effective HDR image quality. That alone is worth the entry price.
SDR as you would expect looks sublime with stunning image accuracy, detail and black levels. Yes, the black floor is ever so slightly raised compared to the outgoing X-series, but you would only notice this moving from one to the other, as we did. In all other respects, the JVC still has the best black levels of any currently available native 4K projector.
But it is with HDR where the frame adapt update and subsequent November 3.5 Firmware have really made this an absolutely spectacular entry level native 4K machine. HDR looks dynamic and bright with excellent highlight details and superb blacks with very good shadow detail retrieval. There is no question that the DLA-N5 gets our award for best Native projector of 2020.