Originally Posted by cbc8000
Btw, based on my hours of researching on projectors, the only things I was able to comprehend were that the Benq W1080ST has DLP tech and 1080p vs Epson's TW550 has 3LCD and 720p. Not even sure if these two models are comparable.
I had a quick look at a Benq w1080st review, and except for price, the two projectors really have quite different strengths and weaknesses.
At an entry level price point like this, you are going to get compromises somewhere, so it's just a matter of deciding what's important to you and what's not.
The main differentiating advantage of the Benq w1080st over much of its competition at this price is its extreme short throw projection capability (the "st" in the model name). This makes it very useful for people who might otherwise have trouble find a suitable spot to locate a projector in a smaller room, for example.
Placement of whatever projector you are going to get is a hugely important practical detail for many situations, so I'd look into this closely for whatever projectors you are considering. I went to some lengths to satisfy myself that the Epson EH-TW550 would work where I was intending to put it (on a coffee table about 8-9' from the screen, to project an a full size image onto an 80" wide screen). I was relieved to find that was all fine, and calculations lined up with reality. Phew! That would have made the purchase an instant return if that hadn't worked out.
After that, I was looking at 3LCD vs DLP. Personally, I decided to rule out any DLP projectors, particularly at the lower price points, because of the RBE (rainbow effect) and potentially greater noise. So that pretty much narrowed the field down to either an Epson or Panasonic for me.
Before deciding to go with the Epson EH-TW550/750HD, I was intending to go with the more expensive EH-TW3600/8350 model, but finally decided in favor of the cheaper EH-TW550/750HD instead, primarily for the lower total cost of ownership. Replacement bulbs are much cheaper, for whatever reason, and the initial outlay is lower too, of course.
The advantages the EH-TW3600/8350 has over the lower priced EH-TW550/750HD I decided weren't important to me. The difference between half HD and full HD resolution is not a big deal at all for me sitting at the the distance of 10-13' from 80" screen, for example. Color fidelity is much more important to me in a projector than a higher resolution past 720p. The higher contrast ratio offered by the more expensive unit was also unimportant, as my living room would always have a degree of ambient light even when all the lights are turned off in the evening. Anything more than the 5000:1 spec of the EH-TW550 would be pointless in my situation, at least from what I've read.
Finally, the EH-TW550 had 3D, which although probably I wouldn't use much for movies, I thought might be fun for gaming. The EH-TW550 also had a low lag gaming mode, so it was clearly aimed at the gaming market as well as the traditional home cinema market. So on balance, I decided the EH-TW550 would get the nod.
I've only had one afternoon to play with it so far, so I can't give anything like a comprehensive review. But so far, my impressions are positive. For movies on ordinary DVD, the picture looks great using HDMI input. I tried the analog inputs just to see what the difference in quality was like, and it was very noticeable. Frankly, I wouldn't consider using the SVGA or component inputs for movie watching.
Color/contrast was good, I particular liked the "dynamic" mode setting for movies. Very good and natural skin tones, realistic colors, vibrant but not unnatural or oversaturated at all. There's some further fiddling about with various settings available to further fine tune and calibrate, but I've just had a quick look at the "out of the box" settings. I may not bother fiddling with them further, as it already looks pretty good to me.
Noise level on ECO mode was acceptable. The brightness in ECO mode makes me think I'm unlikely ever to want to to put the projector into the increased brightness of normal mode. Given how bright this thing is, even a Super-ECO reduction mode might have been a good idea. I'm actually a bit concerned it may be too bright for comfortable for living room movie watching in the evening with the lights out -- we shall see.
Haven't tried out the 3D glasses yet.
Set-up was fine, but a little more fiddly than our last projector, which although older, had vertical and horizontal lens shifting, which made set-up a snap. With the EH-TW550, you've got to angle the projector using the height adjustable front leg, which is clunky by comparison. Oh well. Price points and compromises. Once set-up, it's all fine, so I guess I'll get used to it. The EH-TW550/750HD does have auto vertical keystone adjustment though, which works perfectly AFAICT, so can't complain there.
Anyway, so far so good, overall. The built-in 2W monaural speaker sounds dreadful, as you would expect, so bad in fact that I really don't know why they bothered including it. It would have been more flexible if they had provided audio output connectors on the back panel of the projector as well. As it is, only audio inputs, unfortunately. And given the only audio output is going to be the built-in speaker, not much point for those, IMHO.