My local film society is using a still-working-fine Sanyo PLV-70 projector (1366x768, WXGA) and an also-still-working-fine Oppo 971H DVD player. We project onto a zero-gain 130" wide (155 diagonal) screen from about 21'. We normally have about 40 people in attendance. We use a community center room that gets reasonably dark, but we have about 6-7 windows with white blinds, so dedicated HT it's not. The picture works, but as you can imagine there's no pop.
We don't show 3D and really only use the projector 40-50 hours a year. I'm really just looking to see how I can upgrade the picture viewing experience and whether I can do that at a lean price point. I've been reading reviews for sub-$1000 projectors that have the throw distance I need, including the Optoma HD131x, HD25LV and HD25e. They sound like they'd all work.
Will they? Can you help me understand what I'll gain by switching to one of these new, inexpensive units? At the same time, the old Sanyo is a workhorse that is quiet and reliable. It's nice to have the auto focus feature, for example, but really not necessary. What is necessary is picture quality and reasonably quiet operation, along with the ability to bump up to Blu Ray (along with a new DVD player). Frankly, I don't know why these lower priced units won't meet these requirements nearly as well as a $3k unit - but, that's what I'm hoping y'all can help me understand.
One last question: With my limited play time and performance requirements, will I get better bang for my buck and make a smarter decision to look at used and/or refurbished models and if so, which ones do you recommend?