I agree. Definitely check out this thread. Coderguy does a super great job with all the 'need to know facts' about each unit. I think entry level and your budget range. 3 main projectors you should consider. Epson 8350, BenQ W1100, and Mitsubishi HC4000.
The Epson is thrown in there mainly for its popularity, very good entry level pick for most, and most importantly for its lens shift. It's a decent projector for the price you pay. The one warning is that there is quite a bit of unregulated QC it seems. Not speaking from personal experience but from a lot of user complaints. Good news is, if you decide to adopt they'll come with 2 year warranty.
BenQ W1100 is the brightest, most pop, most well rounded in my opinion. Has onboard speakers for those who want the option of portability and bringing it over to a friends house, etc. The long zoom is they finally added. The 4x color wheel was also added to this version, RBE will be less likely. Although for the extremely sensitive I'd warn you to seek out a DLP just in case. Colors are great on this unit, but as coderguy mentioned, to some out of the box would need more calibration to get 'ideal' output. This projectors are also one of the sharpest out of all the others. The main downside is that it does only carry 1 year warranty. But you can also get this for the least $$$, some got them when it had a promotion. You could spend more on a better audio system with the savings if you get the W1100.
The Mitsubishi HC4000 is a very good candidate as well. It is within your budget and would be a great pick if you want to swing towards your upper limit. It comes with 2 year warranty with is a super + compared to the BenQ. And has better blacks than the BenQ. Although the BenQ will throw sharper and brighter POP.