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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Most all the projectors in that price range have enough lumens to deal with some ambient light, but the question is not answerable since it depends on the direction of the light, the exact intensity, the type of lighting, the painting of the room, the distance the light is from the screen. That is why we hate ambient light questions in here.
Generally speaking, if the frequent preferred experience is more geared towards when the ambient light is controlled, then you should be ok with just about any projector out there, maybe even a dimmer but better at movies projector like a B-Stock JVC (though that would run just a tad over $1,500 probably, but not too much more). The B-Stock JVC's are by far and way the best deals for movies in this price range. They come with the standard 2-year warranty. They do not have a torch mode though, so then I lean towards recommending a Benq w1070 instead (or maybe a Benq w1500 since I think it has Frame Interpolation which you might find useful for sports).
$1,500 is an awkward budget point because there really isn't that many choices between say $1200 and $1500, most of the choices are over $1500 or under $1100. You really have to push the budget well up over $2000 to over $2500 for a significant improvement in image quality over a $900 - $1,500 projector. It is more about feature-set than image quality until you get over $2000. The one exception being the B-Stock and used projectors, especially B-Stock JVC's which is the best deal IMO overall, but sounds a bit too borderline in your setup (meaning the JVC's lack of torch mode would make sports viewing in ambient light tougher).
Also the choice depends if you will be doing any lag-sensitive gaming.
A few projectors that can work:
B-Stock JVC RS-46 or B-Stock RS-45 (from AVS or Ebay's JVC official Refurb Store), they both have 2 year warranties, and B-stocks are mostly like new
Refurbished Epson 5010 (good but refurbs are riskier on Epsons than they are on a JVC, so probably not worth it)
Refurb or Used Benq w7000 (getting harder to find at this price point)
New:(in no particular order)
Benq w1070, w1080st, w1500
Optoma hd131xe, Optoma hd25, Optoma hd25-lv (all DLP's)
Viewsonic PJD7820hd DLP
Acer h6510bd DLP
Epson 2030 LCD
The Benq w1070 sounds like a good bet if you definitely want to keep it under $1,500. The Optomas are also a good bet if you want slightly better contrast in 3D.