Excuse the long post...
Well count me in. After deliberating for a long time I finally decided on the HC4000.
What sold me were:
+ Exceptional "word of mouth" all over the place for PQ, here and on various other HT websites
+ DLP, which is a personal preference of mine over LCD for front projection
+ Supposedly really good OTB but also has robust CMS
+ Long lasting bulb
I almost went elsewhere because of some annoying weaknesses:
- Inflexible placement options
- Not great blacks
- Only 1 HDMI port? Come on...
- I'm not overly prone to seeing RBE but my existing projector is so dim now I'm not sure it's representative anymore. I don't know yet if the rest of my family may be...
However after all that, I couldn't really find the same bang for the buck in other projectors. I restricted myself to the mostly popular and/or well regarded projectors here on the forums and the popular review sites. I don't have unlimited time to search after all. The biggest competitors were:
JVC HD250, which would have given me placement flexibility, no RBE to worry about, a step up in picture quality, LCoS blacks w/o DI, but also costs 2x as much and although I'm not a videophile it sure seems strange that there's no CMS in a projector that spendy. Also isn't readily available although AVS has a good price and seems to be able to get them.
Epson 8350/8700, which also would have given me placement flexibility, better blacks, but also potentially convergence problems and I'm also not sold on DI yet which is probably unfair since I haven't seen a recent implementation in person. The biggest deal for me though was the now infamous premature bulb failure. I was really close to going with the 8350 after I had convinced myself I just couldn't use the Mits in my room, but I just can't knowingly purchase something with known, commonly occuring QC problems, no matter how good their customer service is. I don't want to sit on pins and needles waiting for failure or dimming or blotching and have to deal with replacements.
Benq W1100/W1200, which are cheaper but the consensus seemed to be that PQ suffers for it over the Mits. They're also new enough that I would have liked a little more history, although honestly at their price point it's pretty low risk.
So we'll see, hopefully I'll have it in hand by the weekend. An amusing anecdote for anyone patient enough to read this far:
My current PJ is an NEC 150LT bought wayyyy back in '02 (anyone remember the $1800 dell.com deal?). First gen DLP, only 1024x768 although I do have an ISCO II to make it 16:9. I have a dedicated room but it's nothing special although it is a fully light controlled, dark wall cave. I've hardly used it in the last 4-5 years, an odd movie every 6 months or so maybe. It's watchable, and to be honest some content still looks OK to me but some just looks bad. I bought an Eye-one meter to try and calibrate it, both to practice in anticipation of a new projector, and also just to have something to tinker with. Sometimes I worry that my HT hobby is more about the tinkering than the watching so I figured if I could scratch my tinker-itch maybe I could save some money.
I also was trying to set my expectations, like if I could get something sort of close with my old PJ maybe upgrading isn't worth it. Anyway, the recommended brightness for a light controlled room is something like 15 ftL, I was getting... 2. The PJ refused to put out any more light and the contrast control stopped doing anything before it even got to the default mid-point level. That pretty much decided it for me.