This is a valuable thread. After wrestling with the range of sub $2k projectors, I settled on the Epson 400. It should arrive Thursday.
Just to help anyone else who is struggling with their decision making...I had narrowed down to the Sanyo Z5, the Mitsubishi HD1000, Panasonic AX100 and the Epson 400. My top priorities were price and flexibility.
As far as price...it would probably be more precise to say perceived value. I wanted the least compromise at the lowest price.
As far as flexibility goes...while I do have a decent light controlled setup in the family room, I wanted something that could readily move from room to room and throw an enjoyable image I also wanted it to readily adapt to any changes I might make in my theater setup.
My evaluation came down to:
Sanyo Z5 -- reasonably flexible as far as location, but my sense is that its lower light output would suffer the most in adverse locations. Sanyo's service reputation is not the best either. Epson actually worked out slightly cheaper.
Mitsubishi HD1000 -- I really struggled with this unit. The fantastic price and good light output for adverse set ups were big advantages, especially the price! But it also had the least placement flexibility. This was the one I wanted to buy, but in the end, I felt that the larger fixed offset was going to be too much of a pain. My actual theater set up is small, about 10x12 with 7'6" ceiling. The Mits would work, but really locked me into one configuration.
Panasonic AX100 -- this system fell short mainly on price, although had this unit and the Epson had the same price tag, the decision might have been tougher. The Panasonic thread has an undercurrent of concern running through it that worried me. I have a fair number of Panasonic products around the house; some have been durable, others not so. In the end, I didn't get the sense that it delivered enough for the price difference.
Epson Home Theater 400 -- this unit came in second lowest in price, but of course, it is 50% more expensive than the Mits. It has great placement flexibility and from the reading I have done, it seems to have pretty good light output; perhaps not as much as the Mits and Panasonic, but good. I trust Epson-- the few products I've had have lasted forever. This is probably a dumb apples and oranges comparison, but I fondly remember my MX-80 printer that was still working twenty years later when it moved on via a yard sale. Overall, this seemed to be the unit with the best mix of what I was looking for.
Oh, and $20 for next day delivery from Epson! I may have struggled with this decision for several weeks, but once I pull the trigger I want instant gratification. I'll post about the unboxing and first light later this week.
Now I'm off to the screen threads...