Trying to decide between these two projectors, please help! - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: Which projector should I choose? BenQ LW61ST vs Optoma ZW212ST
BenQ LW61ST 1 16.67%
Optoma ZW212ST 0 0%
Laser/LED bulb life is overrated, go traditional! 2 33.33%
I know for a fact what you're looking for is soon to be released! 0 0%
1,000 lumens is enough, get the LG PF85U 0 0%
Word to your momma! 3 50.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 5 Old 07-26-2014, 01:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Trying to decide between these two projectors, please help!

Hello hello! First time posting here and I was hoping I could get some advice. My 50" Samsung HL-R5078 has gotten to the point to where I do not want to pay to repair it again, and I wanted to take that step to becoming a first time projector owner. I feel like I've researched all that the internet has to offer and thought it was time to ask folks with more experience in the field.

The two projectors that I've been stuck between are the Benq LW61ST and the Optoma ZW212ST. My wife and I recently moved and we have a room with a big wall which I think will provide the perfect space for our first home theater. The room does have one large window, however even with the blinds up the window faces a wooded backyard that manages to keep the room fairly dim even on the brightest of days.

My wife's biggest concern was for the potential for people to walk in front of the projector, so I had narrowed my search to mostly short throw projectors. One of my biggest wanted features was for a laser and/or LED light source, mostly because I desire newer technology and less down the road costs for bulb replacements.

As far as my seating is concerned, the closest couch would put someone about 9 feet away, and furthest away would be about 15 feet. My goal screen size is between 80-90 inches. At 85" diagonal I seem to get 89 foot-lamberts from the Benq and 111 fL from the Optoma, but I have no clue how good this is, if this is the right thing to be looking at, or what. Also both of these projectors are 720p native resolution and not 1080p that it seems most people are looking for, but if I'm reading the charts, for my seating distance and desired screen size does it matter?

So why am I torn between these two? Both projectors were released in 2012 and I'm a little hung up on the lack of updated models. But similary priced more recent stuff seems to A) not be as bright B) not be as high resolution or C) not be short throw. The LG PF85U for example looks like a great projector for my needs, however it is not short throw and is only rated at 1,000 lumens. The Projector Central throw distance calculator gives me only 23 fL and has to be over twice the distance to reach that 85" screen size.

They both seem to offer excelent contrast ratios and both have what I think will be adequte lumens. But the Benq is rated at only 10,000 hours bulb life while the Optoma gives me that sweet spot 20,000 hours, however I've seen the Benq for sale between $1,000-1,200 while the Optoma ranks in between $1,600-1,700. I'm budgeted and not only do I like the look of the Benq better, the money saved would make a big difference towards screen and audio upgrades. However my wife has started watching more and more of the HGTV channel, and kids plus WiiU equals alot of on time.

I've read some reviews but there are not many. I've watched some YouTube videos but there are not many.
  • Anyone seen or used either of these and know if there's a strong arguement for or against one over the other?
  • Also nobody is perfect, have I missed one?
  • Or is there a bright HD laser/led short throw that's due to market soon?
Thank you for being here, and thank you for your help!
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-26-2014, 07:56 AM
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If someone walks in front of the screen and blocks the beam, it's only for a second or two AND someone passing by with a short-throw projector may not block the beam but will still be between you and the screen and blocking it just like someone walking in front of the TV. I wouldn't limit yourself to short-throw for this reason, it's a huge limit for a fairly trivial reason that the short-throw won't always fix anyway.

Manufacturer listed contrast is a lie outside of the medical industry and the real-life measured contrast of all those DLP projectors you listed will be visually the same..VERY similar.
To a lesser degree, brightness specs are somewhat policed (unlike contrast, where chaos rules) but brightness numbers are still easy to fudge to a pretty large degree. Don't expect any lamp-based projector to be brighter than 1400lumens in a decent looking setting, and expect a non-RGB DLP (any rated 2500-3500lumens) to only give around 600-750lumens..ironically it's the 1000-2000lumen-rated ones that will be brighter in accurate settings.

Likewise, no matter what they claim, you won't find an LED or laser/LED-hybrid that puts out much over 500lumens in any decent looking mode. Also, full-LED models tend to be more stable than the don't be fooled by the exaggerated brightness claims.

In a dark room (all projectors look fairly poor in a lit room), you're aiming for about 14fL from that calculator..basically everything will be fine for a 85" screen. 500lumens is usually good enough for most people up to 100". Going bigger than 100" can have some people looking for more than 500lumens and different folks prefer different brightness levels. Movie theaters aim for 14fL. Most theater 3D films are around 2fL-3.5fL and aren't set to look good at such low brightness so it's a common complaint, but many are very happy as low as 10fL.

That 10,000hour lamp-rating isn't a real use scenario, the actual use life will be closer to 4000-6000hrs for both of them. If you used it for 4hours every day, it should still last about 3years before needing a new lamp. Toss $8 in a jar each month if you use it a ton.

If you want an affordable lampless projector, that LG pf85 or upcoming pf87 is the best there is if you can get past the non-short-throw. Otherwise, look for a 1080 native resolution DLP rated for 1000-2000lumens by a reputable brand like Benq or Optoma. If you can't find that within your price-range, either lower native resolution to 720/wxga OR raise claimed brightness up to 2500lumens. I'd lean towards the lumen raise if you watch a lot of bluray.
Almost every LCD projector under $2000 has significantly worse black-level than even the poorest DLP, so stick with DLP unless someone is particularly RBE-sensitive which is pretty rare.

Last edited by Ftoast; 07-26-2014 at 08:29 AM.
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-26-2014, 08:46 AM
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The bulb thing has been blown way out of proportion. How much tv do you watch?
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-26-2014, 03:50 PM
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That Benq looks like it came and went. It shows that it is already discontinued. The Optima looks about out of stock everywhere too and looks to be EOL. I am still new at projectors but I too was dead set on LED/laser but I think it is just still too new and as mentioned, they are still pretty weak as far as Lumens are concerned. Right away, I would say look at a traditional projector that is 1080p. You may not see a huge difference but it seems to be the norm anyways. I am still trying to decide myself but at under $800, the Benq1070 seems like a no brainer..... 1080p, 2000 lumens, 6 color wheel, 3-d. I was an early adopter of the rear projection lcds and I hated buying bulbs but I think the replacements are guaranteed for like 500 hours or 6 months which isn't bad. Unless you are just leaving it on for background amusement, that's quite a while. I've read quite a few less than stellar reviews on the LG led projectors. Maybe someday that route would be the way to go but I'd rather do something tried and true. Just my 8 cents
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-26-2014, 07:56 PM
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BlakeStonefeather, you might find this professional comparison review of the BenQ W1070 and LG PF85U of interest. It's a great comparison of the currently best available standard lamp projector under $1,800 against the currently best available LED projector under $1,800. I think it illustrates that there are good but different reasons for favoring each one.

I just spent $300 on a new lamp for my projector, and it will probably be the last projector lamp I will ever buy. While I was really pleased at how the new lamp brought the old projector back to life, I had forgotten how quickly a new lamp starts losing lumens. After a couple hundred hours I can already see the lamp slowly starting to fade. I expect it to last about 3,000 hours like the first one. But I know I'll be increasingly unhappy with the brightness as it ages.

So in a couple of years I'll be in the market for a 1080P LED projector that's the closest thing to the performance of the W1070 today. I don't need and don't want to pay for things like a TV tuner and wireless capability that the PF85U offers. I just want a basic 1080P LED projector with great color and contrast performance like the W1070 offers today in a standard lamp configuration. I think that will be a viable option in a couple of years.
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