anyway, to try and help the OP, I did the best I could to manage a side-by-side comparison.
obviously, it's important to note that based on camera settings I could make either the projector or the plasma look 'better' as there is a large discrepancy in brightness between the two. in some cases I tried to take a shot of each, one when the projector looked right, and one when the tv looked right. on a side note, doing this has really shown me how badly I need to calibrate the colors on my f8500. I have it set to warm1 right now because warm2 looks VERY green. clearly warm1 is too blue. so please keep that in mind as well. both have been calibrated today for brightness and contrast and represent the best I could do with test patterns.
in practice, my eyes do adjust to both displays, and I don't find the plasma is 'too bright' or the projector 'too dim' after a couple mins of being in the room. what you can see from the pics is how both provide similar shadow detail, similar contrast, and similar clarity/sharpness
the x35 is on top, and the f8500 is on the bottom. I switched from my grey screen to white screen for viewing actual content, the grey screen really only looks dim when compared to something brighter(it's quite obvious in the white clipping pic though)
black clipping test pattern. REALLY hard to get both to look the way I see them in real life. the projector is obviously blacker in real life. I had a real problem trying to get the 17-25 bars to show up on the projector screen without completely washing out the plasma:
white clipping pattern. Again it was hard to get both to look good. this shows how dim the grey screen looks when compared to something much brighter though. honestly, without anything 'whiter' to compare to, it still looks really bright and white to me. but I didn't want the screen to affect comparions, so I used my white screen for the remainder of the shots:
this is a shot from Jack the Giant Slayer. first shot where the projector looks right, second one the plasma looks right. obviously my colors are way off on one of these displays
couple shots from Oblivion. again first shot shows the projector, second one the plasma.
I actually don't remember the name of this movie, the clip was on my demo disc and I thought it presented a good challenge for ANSI contrast with the bright foreground and dark background. again two shots to try and compensate for differences in brightness:
so all in all, between MY projector and plasma, I think they offer similar picture quality(albeit at different brightness levels). though I should note, I do have my projector iris at -15 as with the larger screen a super bright image is a bit overwhelming to me. the f8500s cell light is set to 10. the things the plasma does better, like ansi contrast, aren't huge difference either. see the last demo pic for evidence of that. so in my opinion, if you can get your room dark enough, it's entirely possible for a projector to match the overall quality of a plasma, and it's possible to do that at similar prices too(my x35 was 150bux more, before tax, than the f8500. due to buying it online, the x35 was actually a couple hundred CHEAPER after taxes)
I know comparison shots like this are largely useless(unless you really trust the poster) since so much can be manipulated, but hopefully it helps, and if nothing else pictures are at least fun to look at