Projector upgrade advice - just HD or pseudo-4K?

mdskids

Standard Member
Have decided that it is time to upgrade my old Hitachi PJ-TX300 projector - it has served me very well for the last 12 odd years. (It still gives a pretty decent viewing experience despite only being 720p)

My main reason for upgrading now is a desire for better blacks - not necessarily blacker blacks, but more detail in dark areas - currently these are very washed out. This is partly due to the fact that years ago the auto-iris on my projector started making awful grinding noises when it changed, so I had to just switch it off.

The room I have my projector is has cream walls (sorry - it's going to have to stay that way) but pretty good blackout - the screen is in front of (and mostly covers) the only window in the room, which also has wooden shutters. Current projector is ceiling mounted and approx 3m from screen. Current screen is 80" ('Hitachi' branded manual pull-down - came free with the projector) , but would also like to upgrade my screen to 100".

I only really watch films/series - no gaming or sports, and virtually all viewing is in the evenings. It's mostly me using the projector, but sometimes the kids use it too. Before I bought my current projector, I viewed a friend's DLP projector, and could see flashes of rainbow when watching a B&W film & ended up with a slight headache - could have been a coincidence, but it was enough to persuade me to go down the non-DLP route. Most of my watching these days is streaming (on a Roku 4K Streaming Stick+) with the occasional blu-ray. I do have a fairly large collection of DVDs but now rarely watch them. Having spent all that money on DVDs I have no desire to spend another small fortune upgrading my physical media collection, and certainly have no plans to get a 4K bluray player.

My budget for a new projector is only about £1000 (+a bit more for the new screen).

My main dilemma is this - should I be going for a new 'low end' pixel shifting '4K capable' (specifically the Epson EH-TW7000, or I might be able to stretch to a used/refurbed 7100) or would I be better off getting a used 'last gen' HD projector that should give me better black performance (sometime like an Epson 7200 or 9200, a Sony hw45es or hw65es or one of the a JVC DLA series). I'll already be getting a jump in picture resolution going from 720p to 1080p (although balanced a little by having a bigger screen) - would I get much more benefit from going to pseudo-4K given that I'll only be getting 4K content through streaming, or is it worth it to benefit from HDR? Should I be going for future-proofing (given that I'm likely to keep this projector for another 10 years or so) or am I going to be happier with slightly older but more refined technology that may even give my old DVDs a bit of a new upscaled lease of life?

The other issue is my sound system - I currently have an entry level Onkyo AV reciever which is not 4K capable, so I'd also need to upgrade this (or maybe buy a splitter to extract the audio from the 4K signal?). I've had no real desire to upgrade my audio system as the majority of my listening is using headphones so as not to disturb the kids at night.

Finally, I'm not against buying 2nd hand, but it would be nice to get the benefit of a decent (6 year) guarantee by buying new.

Any advice would be most appreciated - may thanks for your help!
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Hi

In your situation I would advise you to go for an Epson 7400 - you can find one for a bit above £1300, which is a bit above your budget, but will allow you access to the 4K streams on the platforms like Apple, Netflix and Amazon, and these streams are much better than the HD streams. Plus as you don’t want to upgrade all your physical discs again (totally understandable) you’ll find some amazing bargains and terrific quality on ITunes (also available as an app on your roku). The upscaling 4K facilities of this projector is not strictly speaking 4K, but so close as to be worthy of describing it as such. Certainly better than standard 1080p.

Have a look into that model and see what you think. Epson do good warranties and aftercare support.

If you’re happy to go second hand, you could indeed get a TW9300 for that sort of money (with better black levels and HDR compatibility), or a used 7300 nearer to your 1,000 budget.

Good luck!

PS I’m the same on DLP, it always gives me a headache (even the six speed units).
 

noob0101

Active Member
Do not get a TW7400. It's got an 10GB HDMI and some streaming services require 60Hz for 4K HDR. This unit can only do 24/30Hz (in 4K HDR).

For streaming 4K HDR a 4K projector is worth it, but for upscaling DVDs no.

The TW7000 has very poor contrast/blacks.

With a limited budget you'll have to choose, 4K or good blacks.

In the 1080p space the Sony's, especially the HW65 will have good blacks. So will JVC. 9000 series from Epson will have less good blacks, but better than the 7000 series.


Black level will be affected by wall reflections:


So maybe a curtain system.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Do not get a TW7400. It's got an 10GB HDMI and some streaming services require 60Hz for 4K HDR. This unit can only do 24/30Hz (in 4K HDR).

For streaming 4K HDR a 4K projector is worth it, but for upscaling DVDs no.

The TW7000 has very poor contrast/blacks.

With a limited budget you'll have to choose, 4K or good blacks.

In the 1080p space the Sony's, especially the HW65 will have good blacks. So will JVC. 9000 series from Epson will have less good blacks, but better than the 7000 series.


Black level will be affected by wall reflections:
So maybe a curtain system.

But he can get a 7400 and use 24p HDR for the 4K streaming services can’t he, I think? That would work - the Roku has frame rate switching, as does the Apple TV. Loads of the Netflix / Amazon Prime shows in 4K / HDR run at 24fps. And the 7300 and 7400 will play 4K / 60fps in SDR I think. Also, in a light lounge the epson 7300 or 7400 will be OK as presumably he doesn’t want to do lots of room treatment.

A JVC, even an old model, will be way over the proposed budget, not to mention the incredibly high bulb replacement costs. I agree that the Sony HW65 will do good black levels and is a good projector, but I’d be a bit wary of the gamma shift issue and I think it’s quite an overpriced projector now for what it offers. For example, Ultra HD discs and the 4K streaming services wouldn’t be compatible with it. I would probably argue that its black levels aren’t better than the Epson 9000 series also. I do agree it’s worth consideration though if you could get one for less than £1000, but make sure you get a fairly good guarantee.
 
Last edited:

noob0101

Active Member
But he can get a 7400 and use 24p HDR for the 4K streaming services can’t he, I think? That would work - the Roku has frame rate switching, as does the Apple TV. Loads of the Netflix / Amazon Prime shows in 4K / HDR run at 24fps. And the 7300 and 7400 will play 4K / 60fps in SDR I think. Also, in a light lounge the epson 7300 or 7400 will be OK as presumably he doesn’t want to do lots of room treatment.

A JVC, even an old model, will be way over the proposed budget, not to mention the incredibly high bulb replacement costs. I agree that the Sony HW65 will do good black levels and is a good projector, but I’d be a bit wary of the gamma shift issue and I think it’s quite an overpriced projector now for what it offers. For example, Ultra HD discs and the 4K streaming services wouldn’t be compatible with it. I would probably argue that its black levels aren’t better than the Epson 9000 series also. I do agree it’s worth consideration though if you could get one for less than £1000, but make sure you get a fairly good guarantee.

It doesn't matter what the video fps is if the streaming service/box requires 60Hz. The bandwidth limitation is and will be a serious problem.

4K SDR? The main attraction of HDR is the grading on HDR video, resolution and color gamut are after. In any case the other properties that make the picture look good still apply.

Also there are many options with good/ok blacks for that budget, nothing is perfect. A projector with good black level will make a difference even in an untreated room, especially in low adl scenes. It will not be full potential, but still better than a 7000 series.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
if you want just 1080p, go for old projector like JVC x3 or sony hw40/45es. (2nd hand, e.g. on the members market cough cough im selling one)
the cheaper 1080p PJs are really bad new contrast wise compared to old ones imo.

if u got money and want 4k-faux, epson 9400.

if ur in 2 minds, never a bad idea to wait it out and spend less money on a second hand, old premium, 1080p projector and then upgrade 2021 when we will likely see a 4k HDR projector in a more reasonable price range.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
It doesn't matter what the video fps is if the streaming service/box requires 60Hz. The bandwidth limitation is and will be a serious problem.

4K SDR? The main attraction of HDR is the grading on HDR video, resolution and color gamut are after. In any case the other properties that make the picture look good still apply.

Also there are many options with good/ok blacks for that budget, nothing is perfect. A projector with good black level will make a difference even in an untreated room, especially in low adl scenes. It will not be full potential, but still better than a 7000 series.

But if he’s got a newer Roku or Apple TV then it absolutely does matter, as they can change refresh rate on relevant content to 24p.

To be fair, 4K SDR is an incredibly relevant image on a projector, as with the right player you can still get WCG. And it is a very big advantage that the 7300/7400 will play 4K streams from amazon, Netflix etc even if it is Rec709 SDR 4K. The bit rates are much higher than the 1080p streams, which on a large screen is an important plus.

I dare say you’re right on the black level stuff, but short of making the room it’s intended for as unfriendly to a normal setup / domestic situation as possible - who wants a retractable curtain added? - the black level can’t be optimum. Hence my recommendation for one of the Epsons.

Each to their own though - good luck to the OP, I’m sure you’ll find something that looks great within the budget.
 
Last edited:

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Hi mate, I was recently in a similar situation to yourself.

If you, try and get a second hand 1080p projector which was top in its class a few years ago.

I suggest the JVC X30 or Sony HW40/45/55 ES. The X30 has really bad input lag though for gaming. However its black levels are very good.

The reason for this is the 1080p and 4k projectors made now within the 0-£1500 price point actually aren't as good image quality wise (specifically blacks and contrast) than the older more premium projectors. They also have better image processing, a more cinematic picture, in the Sony's case better motion, and they will also ontop of all that, end up being cheaper. Therefore you can devote more of your budget to other stuff.

Projectors are lagging behind TVs. We should see more affordable 4k/HDR projectors in the next 24 months but at this present time, its difficult to reccomend spending money on them in your price budget. Especially with HDM 2.1 around the corner.

If you can stretch to £3k, then the wonderful Epson 9400 becomes available.

However by the sounds of it, you'd be better off pumping your money into sound and a good quality screen, rather than just the projector!

Sorry for my poor spelling mistake response before, was being lazy.

If I were you, given the fact you have cream walls, use your money to either:
1. Buy an ALR screen (wait for them to come up for sale on the classifields)
2. Treat your room with black curtains and paint.

They will give you MUCH better image quality (perceived contrast and black level wise) than a projector 3x or 4x your budget. Also the screen will outlast the lifespan of your projector's relevancy.

If interested, I have one for sale and can give you some images, videos of it all in action and you can come to your own conclusion ;)
 

mdskids

Standard Member
Thank you all so much for your input - sorry, I've been busy all day and just got back on to check - I'm going to have to read through all the excellent info and get my head around what's most important to me as far as image goes.

My gut feeling is telling me contrast is more important to me than resolution - with my current 720p projector I've never sat there thinking 'those pixels are a bit big' but I certainly have thought to myself 'what the hell in going on in this dark scene'. But as has been pointed out, there are other ways of achieving better black detail and a super-high contrast projector would be a waste of money with my current room. Also, since my budget is limited, I'm potentially going to get better value from a used 1080p machine at a time when many people are upgrading to 4K now that tech has become more affordable.

I'm not in a great rush - the reason I posted this question is because I'm a pretty obsessive ditherer when it comes to buying new stuff, so I'm really in the early stages of making a choice. It could be that I look out for a decent used 1080p projector, and then (as long as it lasts) at my normal upgrade rate I'll be back on the forum again in 10 years asking whether I should make do with an old native 4K machine, or go with 8K :)

In terms of buying second-hand, other than the classified forum here and ebay, any other suggestions for places to buy?

Thanks again for your help
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Thank you all so much for your input - sorry, I've been busy all day and just got back on to check - I'm going to have to read through all the excellent info and get my head around what's most important to me as far as image goes.

My gut feeling is telling me contrast is more important to me than resolution - with my current 720p projector I've never sat there thinking 'those pixels are a bit big' but I certainly have thought to myself 'what the hell in going on in this dark scene'. But as has been pointed out, there are other ways of achieving better black detail and a super-high contrast projector would be a waste of money with my current room. Also, since my budget is limited, I'm potentially going to get better value from a used 1080p machine at a time when many people are upgrading to 4K now that tech has become more affordable.

I'm not in a great rush - the reason I posted this question is because I'm a pretty obsessive ditherer when it comes to buying new stuff, so I'm really in the early stages of making a choice. It could be that I look out for a decent used 1080p projector, and then (as long as it lasts) at my normal upgrade rate I'll be back on the forum again in 10 years asking whether I should make do with an old native 4K machine, or go with 8K :)

In terms of buying second-hand, other than the classified forum here and ebay, any other suggestions for places to buy?

Thanks again for your help


eBay or classifields is best with classifields being better just from a safety perspective, lack of scamming, availability to ask for pictures and generally knowing its come from a loving home rather than someone who has abused the device or maybe doesn't even know a thing about it.

You're very right in that you're going to notice a drop off in contrast before sharpness.

I'm personally a big fan of projection and i think if you're trying to get into 1080p, its possibley the best value for money period to get into it. 4K HDR in projector land won't be available for under £3k for a long time and the quicker you get into projection, the quicker you can build a solid foundation in the screen/speaker/avr department to make future purchases far more seemless.

big panels wise, 77''+ (TVs) the only one which sticks out to me is the 85'' Sony panels and the 77'' LG OLEDs which are all astronomical in price compared to a 1080p PJ of good quality and won't offer the immersion factor.
 

mdskids

Standard Member
Do not get a TW7400. It's got an 10GB HDMI and some streaming services require 60Hz for 4K HDR. This unit can only do 24/30Hz (in 4K HDR).

For streaming 4K HDR a 4K projector is worth it, but for upscaling DVDs no.

The TW7000 has very poor contrast/blacks.

With a limited budget you'll have to choose, 4K or good blacks.

In the 1080p space the Sony's, especially the HW65 will have good blacks. So will JVC. 9000 series from Epson will have less good blacks, but better than the 7000 series.


Black level will be affected by wall reflections:


So maybe a curtain system.


On a bit of a tangent, those curtains have got me thinking, noob0101. My projector screen in not permanently in place - mainly because it would get in the way of opening the shutters of the window it covers. I've made brackets so I can easily stick up my manual pull-down screen when I need it - it's a 2 minute job, and I've just used to going it so don't really see it as much of an inconvenience. So there's no reason why I couldn't also be putting up some matt black fabric 'drapes' at the same time - eyelets in the corners, four small hooks on wall/ceiling for fixing points. That would give me some blackout for the first 2m or so on either side of the screen. It certainly won't be pretty, but it'll only be up temporarily, and at minimal cost. Wadya think?
 

noob0101

Active Member
On a bit of a tangent, those curtains have got me thinking, noob0101. My projector screen in not permanently in place - mainly because it would get in the way of opening the shutters of the window it covers. I've made brackets so I can easily stick up my manual pull-down screen when I need it - it's a 2 minute job, and I've just used to going it so don't really see it as much of an inconvenience. So there's no reason why I couldn't also be putting up some matt black fabric 'drapes' at the same time - eyelets in the corners, four small hooks on wall/ceiling for fixing points. That would give me some blackout for the first 2m or so on either side of the screen. It certainly won't be pretty, but it'll only be up temporarily, and at minimal cost. Wadya think?

As shown in the video, it would help with black level. Here is the system for that setup:
 

mdskids

Standard Member
Just thought I'd come back with a little update.

Having pretty much convinced myself that an older 1080p projector would suit me fine, I saw a good deal on ebay for a barely used Epson EH-TW7100 (<50 hours use) and decided it was worth it for the 'future proof' aspect and the remaining 18 months warranty.

After some hassle (long story...) getting my new screen and ceiling mount, I'm now finally set up and running.

I'm generally very pleased with the picture I'm getting - a massive step up from my old 720p machine, but there are a handful of issues I'm not totally happy with. I need to do a bit more fiddling and testing but will probably start another thread with some questions before I decide whether to contact Epson to see about sending it back for testing.
 

mdskids

Standard Member
One thing I forgot to explain - another reason I went for this projector is that it also provides a solution to my ageing non-4K AV receiver problem. Because the projector can send audio over bluetooth, I bought an inexpensive little bluetooth receiver with an optical output which I've connected to my AV receiver. So my Roku stick is connected directly into the hmdi input on the projector but the audio is being beamed to the receiver. I know it's only stereo rather than surround (I can add Pro Logic 2 if I want, but most of my listening is with headphones) but it seemed like a better solution than running a analogue signal along a ~10m cable from the projector down to the receiver. Any non-4K sources can still go through the receiver in the normal way and into HMDI input 2 of the projector.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Maverick UK Premiere IMAX Review + Top Gun, Tom Cruise, Tony Scott and 4K + Movie/TV News
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom