Originally Posted by two-rocks
The 720P hype comes from 720P owners. For all practical purposes, 720 will be gone by next year. The market is determining this - with all displays.
First of all, the other parts of your post (saying that you'd take motorized focus over contrast and that room light plays no role in contrast) simply shows that convenience outweighs picture quality for you, so you're lucky in that it will be easier for you to find a cheap machine that makes you happy.
However, 720p "hype" does not come from just 720p owners; in fact I do not have ANY HD display, and this topic was discussed long before most people did either.
There are plenty of studies (and threads posted here) that demostrate, given an average distance from the screen (and a reasonable screen size), most people cannot tell 720 from 1080.
Beyond this, people have actually been tricked into thinking the 720 picture WAS the 1080 image, because the 720 projector was sharper, had better optics and contrast.
So while some people think 1080 is the most important factor, it has been proven over and over again that 720 BEATS 1080 in picture quality when the 720 projector is a better projector.
For $1500, you can get a cheap 1080, but for that same $1500 you can get a REALLY GOOD 720 that will most likely give you a better picture.
All this being said, 1080s will dominate very soon and high quality, lower cost units will be available; but right now, I think the Epson 1080UB for 3 grand is the best, low-cost choice.
If you MUST have cheaper, I'd say go with a great 720 or just wait another year.
Of course, I'm one of the vocal few who cares more about image quality than resolution, so I'm used to ranting while no one is listening!