Using “Business” Projectors in the Home

Which Type of Projector to Buy?

Thanks to several new excellent performing 16:9 dedicated (HT) Home Theater projectors, the need for people to buy a business projector for their home to keep costs down is vanishing.

Low cost projectors like two of our award winners, the BenQ 5120 and the Mitsubishi HC-3, really provide superior home theater, for prices not much more than business projectors.

So, when should you consider a “crossover” business projector for home theater viewing? Here are a few possible situations.

  1. Absolute lowest price. The least expensive dedicated home theater projectors will cost you around $999 (as of this writing). You can save about $200 – $300 with an entry level business projector. There are some decent choices out there, like Epson’s S1+ projector or perhaps better, BenQ’s PB6100, another dlp multimedia projector.
  2. You prefer DLP projectors for its almost invisible pixels. There just aren’t any dedicated 16:9 HT DLP’s under $2000, that aren’t low res, (in fact you’re looking at over $3000 for the least expensive 1280×720 DLP projector). You can get an entry level XGA resolution DLP projector from around $1300.
  3. You need the projector for business use. That’s the best reason for a crossover projector. You can focus on getting a great business solution, that also does good HT. Note, most home theater projectors are not built for portability, in fact most are over 10 pounds. A notable exception; the Panasonic AE700U an affordable LCD home theater projector (selling for around $2200, as of this writing, and weighing less than 8 pounds.
  4. You need a brighter projector. With a few very expensive exceptions, all HT projectors produce 1200 lumens or less, and most are 700 to 1000. For the same price as the 1000 lumen Epson Home-10, you can get a “crossover” projector with 1500 to 1800 lumens, and for $1500 – $1999 you can get DLP projectors with 2200 – 2500 lumens, you can choose from an array of 2000 lumen “crossover” projectors. Sports fans might choose to go “crossover” projector to have more lights on, but in the long haul, the future is 16:9 HDTV and movies, and while 4:3 projectors can do it, they aren’t fully utilized in wide format.

For the reason’s above, last year’s most popular “crossover” projector, NEC’s LT240K, which offers 2000 lumens, no longer has a big home theater following. Quite simply, higher resolution, less expensive and true 16:9 home theater projectors, like Sanyo Z3 projector, or Panasonic’s AE700U home theater projector, for most, will be far better choices. That’s not so say that the dedicated home theater projectors are, in every way, better, however, overall they do provide a much better home theater experience.
So this year, you can probably find a true home theater projector to light up your screen, in your price range. Good shopping!

When a Business Projector (at home) is Better

Now that cost differences are not significant, the big difference is in brightness. As mentioned, virtually all home theater projectors are designed to operate in really dark rooms (500 – 1200 lumens). This works fine for movie watchers, but, some folks want to watch sports with friends, or do some gaming, and don’t want to be in a almost pitch black room!

Keep in mind, a 2000 or even 3000 lumen projector is much brighter than a 1000 lumen model, but the difference is not “night and day”. In fact, if you have a fairly bright room, the dark scenes will be washed out even with the much brighter projector. Still, for sports, the extra “horsepower”, will allow some reasonable lighting.

Be warned! If you are looking for that extra brightness, coming from a business projector, remember that business DLP projectors are not well known for color accuracy. In fact most perform poorly on reds and yellows, when at full power. Kick one of those business DLP into video mode, and voila’, excellent color, but the brightness drops way down. My point: Don’t expect a significant increase in brightness when watching video if you go from a 1000 lumen HT projector to a 2000 lumen DLP business projector. For the extra “horsepower” you are looking for, you’ll do better with LCD, where colors are accurate – at full power.

To illustrate, in one of our reviews (NEC LT170), to get the accurate color you would demand for watching, the projector’s output dropped over 50%, turning a 1500 lumen model into a 705 lumen model by the time it looked great.

If you want brighter in your home, you’ll need lots of lumens, and probably LCD technology in your “home” business projector.

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Epson PowerLite 1985WU Projector Review

The Epson Powerlite 1985WU is one of a new breed of affordable high brightness projectors suitable for medium and larger venues.  100″ screens even in bright rooms handled well.


There used to be a time, not very long ago, when if you needed  say 4000 lumens (twice what was typically used in auditoriums a decade or so ago), you spent a small fortune on a projector that was not only bright but loaded with features, including very expensive interchangeable lenses (and lens shift), that many people who needed the brightness did not require.  In fact, typically a long or short throw lens for one of those projectors still costs more than this new Epson projector.

That’s the point of the Powerlite 1985WU, which is the flagship of Epson’s 1900 series, and highest resolution projector at 1920×1200 – WUXGA!  If maximum placement flexibility isn’t a requirement, this projector may be just right.  It still has advanced networking and an impressive list of capabilities.


OK, enough about all the different models in the series.  Here’s a list of the key major features of the Powerlite 1985WU beyond the usual brightness and resolution already mentioned:

  • Wide range Zoom lens:
  • WiDi, and Miracast (see Special Features section), screen mirroring
  • MHL on HDMI for streaming from MHL compatible devices
  • Split Screen (two sources)
  • Auto Fit let’s the projector resize the image to fit your screen
  • DICOM simulation for observing medical films such as X-rays, CAT scans, etc., meeting training level display requirements
  • Wireless and advanced Wired networking, including remote monitoring, push notifications…
  • Moderator and PC Free – connect with up t0 50 devices, display up to 4 simultaneously for real collaboration
  • 2 year warranty with two years of rapid replacement program

MiraCast and MHL

Epson not only offers MHL on one of its two HDMI inputs, but goes a step further and offers Miracast built in to its wireless capabilities.  Let’s talk Miracast first.

Miracast is first, a certification process for peer to peer wireless.  If a projector (as a display device) has Miracast, it can display what the source screen displays.  It does this wirelessly from devices that also support Miracast.  Note that Miracast supports only certain protocols, so it doesn’t work with all or most peer-to-peer solutions out there.  But, in most cases, two Miracast devices should work together.

There are resolution limits.  Officially Miracast will stream up to 1080p (1920×1080) just a little less than the maximum native resolution of this projector at 1920×1200.  Miracast also supports audio up to 5.1.

Think this way.  We’re used to communicating wirelessly in many cases over a local WiFi network.  MHL is an example of that.  Take an MHL source – such as some of the Android tablets, and they can, using your home wifi, talk to, a display that supports MHL, such as this Epson Powerlite 1985WU projector.

WiFi and Other Networking, Moderator

If it wasn’t obvious from the above, the Powerlite 1985WU, has Wifi built in.  The Wifi capabilities are complemented by the 1985WU also having hard wired networking as well.  Epson offers several software solutions, including the latest version of Easy MP, which has been around for years, supporting networking with lots of control and features.

The 1985 can track a large number of computers on a network, and display up to four selected computers displays at once over the local network.

This allows, for example, four student’s computers screens to be displayed simultaneously on the Epson projector.  The teacher could then replace those with other computer’s displays.

Zoom Lens Ratio

As commented earlier, this Epson is a very bright projector.  Many competitors including Epson’s G series, have many similar features, but also offer a choice of lenses.  Unfortunately, projectors with lens options tend to be a lot more expensive than those without, all else being about equal. The Powerlite 1985WU has a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens.  That’s as much or more zoom range than most fixed install, and large portables offer.  It allows for sufficient placement range for most environments such as classrooms, conference rooms, training rooms, etc.  But it may not have the needed operating range for a church, or small auditorium, and some other large rooms (including some university classrooms) if the projector cannot be placed relatively close to the screen.  For example, if you need to place the projector 30 feet back from a 100″ screen, that’s just not going to work.

PC Free Presenting

The Powerlite 1985WU offers basic PC Free presenting by way of an onboard media player.  The 1985WU supports image files and PDF, but is not as extensive as some, as it does not support Microsoft Office formats.   Of course you can convert Powerpoint type presentations to a series of JPGs, and many other “documents” into PDFs to use the media player. That said, this is a projector that can work wired or wirelessly with smart devices, do screen mirroring, etc.  So, while you may not be able to pop in a word document off of a USB thumb drive, your options likely include viewing it wirelessly from your computer, or tablet of phone, or in some cases, via wire.

So, if you need to buy one or more you can buy at

BenQ TH670 1080p Projector Review

BenQ TH670 is an inexpensive, crossover 1080p projector for home and office. The banner at the top of BenQ’s TH670 webpage reads “Home Entertainment Projector,” and some features–notably full 3D support and a fast lag time for gaming–aren’t of much interest for office use. But the model name shows up on both the Home Theater and Business lists on BenQ’s website, and the projector can do a credible job in either role.

The 1080p resolution and 3000 lumen rating are appropriate for presentations with fine detail in a mid-size conference room and for HD video that can stand up to ambient light in a family room. More important is that the TH670 delivers suitable image quality for both applications, which isn’t true for much of the competition. Most DLP models are tweaked to show fewer rainbow artifacts for either data images or video, for example, depending on what the model is meant for. The TH670 shows very few of these artifacts with either kind of image.

Picture Quality

Color Preset Modes. The TH670 offers four customizable color modes: Bright, Vivid, Cinema, and Game. In addition, there are two User modes, which you can rename, so you don’t have to remember which one is meant for what.

As a practical matter, for business presentations and other data images, Vivid, Cinema, and Game modes all deliver well-saturated, suitably eye-catching color. For video and photos, Bright mode has an obvious green bias, as is typical for the brightest modes in many projectors. Color in the other three modes is more than acceptable overall, but a bit short of excellent.

In a direct comparison with the calibrated projector we use as a reference, it’s easy to see that the TH670’s colors are a little dull and dark in all modes. Without side-by-side images, however, colors look obviously dark only in Bright mode. Whether you’ll notice the issue in other modes will depend on how well-trained an eye you have. However, a minor loss of color fidelity is forgivable for such an inexpensive projector. Color balance is excellent in all modes, with neutral grays at all levels from black to white.

BenQ TH670 Home Theater Projector

Data Presentations. Not all 1080p projectors hold detail equally well. The TH670 does swimmingly on this score. White text on black, for example, was easily readable at 6 points in my tests and black text on white was easily readable at 5 points. It also does an excellent job of resisting pixel jitter and moire patterns on images that tend to bring both out. Results can vary depending on your graphics card, but in my tests, the image was as rock solid with a VGA connection as with HDMI.

2D Video. Handling detail well is an obvious benefit for HD video too. In addition, the test unit did a good job of avoiding posterization and holding shadow detail, even on our most demanding test clips. I saw some noise, but less that with many models in higher price ranges and only in scenes that tend to cause it. Contrast ratio is a bit low, but it’s obvious only in theater dark lighting. With ambient light in a family room, the benefits of a higher contrast ratio tend to get washed out in any case.

I ran into one odd behavior when I was connected to a Blu-ray player as opposed to a PC or FiOS. Every time I started playing a DVD or Blu-ray disc, the TH670 switched to Bright mode, forcing me to reset it to the mode I wanted. BenQ insists this is by design, but it’s hard to understand why, considering that all of the other modes offer better color quality. In any case, if you want to use one of the other modes, you’ll have to switch to it every time you start a movie.

3D video offers essentially the same quality as 2D in most ways, but with only one color preset. It also does well on those aspects of image quality specific to 3D. I didn’t see any crosstalk and saw just a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts in the most demanding clips.

Rainbow artifacts are a minor issue at worst for the TH670. With data images, the only time I saw any was with one test image that’s designed to make them show. With video, I saw some with clips that tend to bring them out, but less often than with many home entertainment projectors. Anyone who sees these artifacts easily will see them with the TH670, but infrequently enough with most material that it’s unlikely to be annoying. The potential exception is with black-and-white input, where they show more often.

Key Features

Zoom. The 1.2x zoom offers some flexibility for how far you can position the projector from the screen for a given size image.

Small and lightweight. The TH670 measures 5.4″ by 12.9″ by 9.2″ (HWD), and it weighs only 6.6 pounds, making it small and light enough to carry with you or set it up quickly as needed if you don’t have a place to install it permanently. The optional carrying case is $39.

Useful audio. The built-in 10-watt mono speaker offers usable sound quality and enough volume to fill a typical family room or medium-size conference room.

Full HD 3D. The TH670 offers full HD 3D compatibility, and automatically switches to and from 3D mode as needed. The 3D works with DLP-Link glasses only.

Good Lag time. The 33.1 ms lag time in Game and Bright modes is at least a match for the vast majority of projectors and faster than most.

Security. The menu offers password protection. There’s also a Kensington lock slot on the back and a security bar along the left side.

Warranty. The price includes a one-year warranty for parts and labor and a 90-day warranty for the lamp.

BenQ Th670 Panel

BenQ TH670 Rear Connection Panel

Brightness. Using Normal lamp mode, we measured the sample unit that BenQ provided for testing at 93% of its 3,000-lumen rating for its Bright color preset and at 38% to 53% of its rating with its other presets. With Economic lamp mode, the measured brightness dropped by about 20% for each preset mode.

With the zoom lens at its widest angle setting (the shortest throw for the image size), we measured the ANSI Lumens for Normal and Economic lamp settings as follows:

BenQ TH670 ANSI Lumens


Normal Lamp
Eco Mode

In addition, there’s a SmartEco mode that BenQ says works much like an auto iris, making dark scenes darker. However it changes brightness by lowering lamp power, which conserves energy and lengthens lamp life.

Zoom Lens Effect. With only a 1.2x zoom, the zoom setting has little effect on brightness.

Brightness uniformity. The TH670’s measured brightness uniformity is remarkably low, at only 50%, making variations easy to see with a solid white image. With the test unit on a table in front of the screen, the bottom of the image was brighter than the top, and the center vertical section brighter than the left or right sides. However, the brightest and least bright areas are far enough apart, and the change is gradual enough going across the screen, that the variation isn’t much of an issue. Break up the field of view with any image–whether graphics, text, video, or a photo–and the difference is hard to see even if you look for it.

Color brightness. We measured the color brightness for the TH670’s Bright mode at 20% of its white brightness–a big enough difference to explain why colors are noticeably dark in that mode. With the three other presets, the color brightness is closer to white brightness, at 37% for Vivid mode, 44% for Game mode, and 60% for Cinema mode, which is consistent with Cinema mode offering the best color quality. The low level of color brightness compared with white brightness in all modes means full color images won’t be as bright as you would expect from the 3000-lumen rating.

Rainbow artifacts show often enough that anyone who sees them easily will notice them, but infrequently enough that few people will consider them a problem, with the possible exception of black and white video, which tends to show the artifacts more often.

Fan noise. Rated at only 31 dB in Normal mode, this projector has a steady whooshing quality that I don’t find distracting. It’s also quiet enough that I wouldn’t notice it from even three feet away unless I listened for it. If noise is one of your pet peeves, however, you’ll probably want to sit farther away. In Economic mode, the rating is an even quieter 29 dB, but I couldn’t hear much of a difference.

BenQ TH670

BenQ recommends the High Altitude mode for a 1500 to 3,000 meter (4921 to 9843 foot) altitude. As with most projectors, the noise level isn’t rated. However, it’s easily noticeable from 20′ away, with sound quality that’s more of a hair-dryer hum than a whoosh. Here again, there’s almost no difference between Normal and Economic modes. If I were using the TH670 in high altitude mode, I wouldn’t want to sit much closer than 20′. If you’re sensitive to fan noise, you won’t want to sit even that close.

Input lag. Measured by the Bodnar meter, lag ranges from 33.1 ms in Game mode to 33.9 ms in Cinema mode with default settings. Turning off Brilliant Color raises the time to a still low 35.2 ms in all modes.

Lamp life. The lamp is rated at 4,000 hours in Normal mode, 6000 hours in Economic mode, and up to 10,000 hours in SmartEco mode. Keep in mind that the 10,000 hour rating is based on best-case assumptions, so it isn’t likely you’ll see that long a lamp life in real-world use.

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Acer H5370BD 3D Home Video Projector

The Acer H5370BD is a new 720p projector for home theater and living room use.

This low-priced home video projector doesn’t pack a lot of features, but it does produce a solid, enjoyable image at a bargain-basement price. It is quite possibly the ideal first projector for someone new to the big screen experience, as its price is lower than even many televisions. While its 720p resolution means it is not a true full-HD experience, it has great picture quality for the money, and from a pure bang-for-the-buck perspective it’s difficult to pass up.

The Viewing Experience

The H5370BD is small, portable, and very bright, with a modest onboard speaker and no appreciable upward throw angle. That combination of features makes it a good candidate for table placement. It would also fit well in a ceiling mount, especially paired with a small extension tube, but ceiling mounts add expense to what is otherwise a very affordable projector.

Firing up the H5370BD for the first time, the projector produces an intensely bright image in the default Standard mode. However, the other preprogrammed image modes give the H5370BD a lot of flexibility when it comes to light output, and decreasing lumens for home theater use is easy. While Standard mode is a good choice for a living room’s ambient light, the projector’s Movie mode is particularly well suited to dark theater use — doubly so if BrilliantColor is turned off. That’s not a small accomplishment for a projector that costs half as much as some other inexpensive home theater projectors.

The H5370BD is a 3D projector, capable of displaying 3D content from HDMI 1.4 compatible sources such as Blu-ray discs and satellite/cable set-top boxes. It is not “full HD 3D” because the projector itself has a native chip resolution of 1280×720 rather than 1920×1080. That said, it is the least expensive way to get HDMI 1.4 3D projection into the home so far. The H5370BD uses DLP Link, so 3D glasses are inexpensive and widely available. And while the H5370BD doesn’t produce cutting-edge 3D, it does make an expensive technology much more affordable.

Key Features

Great 2D picture. A projector as inexpensive as the H5370BD has no right to look as good as it does. The 2D picture from this tiny projector is bright and sharp, with good shadow detail, solid black level, and well-saturated color. With BrilliantColor disabled, the picture has excellent balance and realism for home theater, while the brighter modes use BrilliantColor to boost light output for projection in ambient light situations. All in all, it’s a great picture, especially for the price.

3D capable. The H5370BD breaks another price barrier for 3D, and may be the least expensive 3D projector available at this time. HDMI 1.4 3D signals from Blu-ray players, cable boxes, or satellite receivers are decoded and displayed using DLP Link technology, which requires no infrared emitter and uses widely-available, inexpensive DLP Link glasses.

Long lamp life. Long-life lamps are becoming more common these days, and the old 2,000-hour standard lamp life is on its way out. The H5370BD promises 5,000 hours of operation at full power or 6,000 hours of operation in Eco-mode, which is a very long time indeed. If you watch one two-hour movie per day every day with the lamp at full power, it would be six years before you’d have to buy a new lamp.

Onboard sound. A two-watt speaker provides onboard sound for the H5370BD. This makes the projector functional as a portable product for home entertainment. While the speaker is relatively small and low-powered, having any sound is better than no sound at all. The onboard speaker has a tinny character common in small speakers, but does not suffer significant degradation unless volume is pushed beyond 75% of maximum.

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Review Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector

  • PROS

    Suitably bright for a small to midsize room. Native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution. 1.6X zoom. Near-excellent quality for data images. Better-than-typical video for a data projector.

  • CONS

    No 3D support.


    The Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector delivers high quality for data images, with enough brightness for a small to midsize conference room or classroom.

The Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector delivers all the right features to make it worth a close look. Key points on the checklist include a 3,200-lumen brightness rating, a 1.6X zoom lens, and a long lamp life to help keep running costs down. Finally, it had near-excellent quality for data images in our tests and better video quality than most data projectors. That’s easily enough to make it our Editors’ Choice WXGA (1,280-by-800) projector for a small to midsize conference room or classroom.

At first glance, the 955WH seems almost identical to the Epson PowerLite 955W WXGA 3LCD Projector that it’s replacing in Epson’s line. However, it offers a number of small improvements, including a minor boost in brightness, newly added Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support, and a longer claimed lamp life at up to 10,000 hours in Eco mode.


Like the Epson 955W and the NEC NP-M311W, the 955WH is built around a three-chip WXGA LCD engine. That gives it the advantage of being guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts (flashes of red, green, and blue) that are always a concern with DLP-based projectors. It also ensures that it delivers the same color brightness as white brightness, which isn’t true for most DLP projectors, and which can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What it Is, Why it Matters.)

The key disadvantage that grows from having an LCD engine is that, as with most LCD data projectors, the 955WH doesn’t offer the 3D support that you’ll find most DLP models, Our top choice for a moderately priced short-throw WXGA projector for a small to midsize room. However, this won’t matter unless you need to show 3D material, which simply isn’t necessary for most data-projector use.

Setup and Brightness

The 955WH measures 3.5 by 11.6 by 10.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 6 pounds 6 ounces, which makes it light enough to carry with you. However, most projectors in this size and weight class wind up permanently installed or on a cart.

Setup is typical, with manual controls for the focus and 1.6X zoom. Image inputs on the back panel include two HDMI ports for computers or video sources, two VGA ports for computers or component video, and both composite video and S-Video ports. In addition, there’s a USB Type B port for direct USB display, a LAN port for sending images and audio, as well as for controlling the projector over a network, and a USB Type A port for reading files directly from a USB memory key or for connecting an optional ($99) Wi-Fi dongle. One of the HDMI ports also supports MHL.

According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations, the 955WH’s rating makes it easily bright enough for a small to midsize room. Assuming a 1.0-gain screen, 3,200 lumens would be suitable for a 215- to 292-inch (diagonal) image in theater-dark lighting. With moderate ambient light, it would be bright enough for a 140-inch image. If it is too bright for the ambient light level at the image size you need, you can use one of the projectors’ lower-brightness preset modes, its Eco mode, or both.

Image Quality, Lamp Life, and Audio

Image quality for the 955WH is near-excellent for data images. The only issue worth mention that I saw with our standard suite of DisplayMate tests was a minor problem with color balance. In most of the predefined modes, the brightest gray levels show a slight tint relative to darker levels. This is only obvious with gray-scale images, however, and there are also modes that offer suitably neutral grays all the way from black to white. Colors in all modes are vibrant, eye-catching, and well saturated.

More important for most data images is that the 955WH maintains crisp detail across the entire screen. In my tests, for example, white text on black was crisp and readable at sizes as small as 9 points, and black text on white was highly readable even at 6 points.

Video quality is limited by the native 1,280-by-800 resolution, which translates to a maximum video resolution of 720p HD without scaling the image. Within that context, however, the quality is much better than is typical for a data projector. Contrast is a little low, which means you won’t mistake the image for something you’d expect from a home-theater projector, but the video is good enough to be watchable even for long sessions.

The 16-watt speaker offers good sound quality and enough volume to fill a midsize room. There’s also a stereo audio output you can use for an external sound system.

One important extra is a promised low running cost, with both a longer-than-usual lamp life, rated at 5,000 hours in Normal mode or 10,000 hours in Eco mode, and a far-lower-than-usual replacement cost, at $79. Another plus is a split-screen feature, which lets you see images from any two sources at once. You can toggle to and from split-screen mode with a single button press on the remote. You can also change sources on either side as needed, as well as choose between making the two images of equal size, or making either one larger than the other.


If you need 3D support, be sure to look at the Acer S1385WHne. If you don’t need 3D, however, the Epson 955W, the NEC M311W, and the Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector are all worth considering, with similar levels of brightness, data image quality, and video quality. However, the 955WH is the only one of the three that offers MHL support, its audio quality is a bit better than the NEC model delivers, and it also offers the lowest running cost of the three. That trifecta puts it a step out in front, and makes it our Editors’ Choice.

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