I spent months wrestling with this issue and have come to the conclusion to simply wait. I was offered an amazing discount on the Sony, during the sale period, but the vertical shift just wasn't enough for my home theater. The second row of seats is on a riser, which would have put the Sony 6' 2" off the floor. Even though I could have put it behind the back row, the loss of light would have negated much of the benefits (projectorcentral calculator had it dropping to 12 ftL).
The Epson 5030 is a non-starter because of the color. I don't want a white projector hanging off a black ceiling in front of the viewers. Moving it behind the seats creates the same brightness issue as the Sony. Which left me looking at the 6030. The extra lamp and warranty was nice, but for $2,750 (almost twice the price I was offered the Sony HW40ES), the extra money just didn't seem worth the benefits.
So I'm waiting patiently for the 6030 to drop $1k or the next Sony to increase its vertical shift.
Somehow, no matter its problems, the Optoma HD81 is still chugging. And I really hate a lot of things about that projector (loud, connectivity issues, poor contrast, no 3D), but it is 10 years old now.
Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?