, I think you're gonna need to buy 1 or 2 and try em. I was in the same boat as you at one point and hearing other's opinions just wasn't as good as seeing these projectors with my own eyes. Buy what your gut is telling you to buy and see how it goes. Just get is from somewhere with a good return policy. That or see if you have some local dealers with showrooms. I'll give you my best effort attempt to summarize multiple projectors that I have seen:
Great sharpness and color. Pretty good HDR handling. Black levels are respectable but not great. Contrast sucks without the dynamic iris or lamp dimming SmartEco mode. The iris works well though and dark scenes are acceptable. HDR mode auto engages when HDR content is detected which makes life easier. It's a dim projector though and that really limits it's flexibility. Not for ambient light or big screens.
Skip it. It's too dim and it's HDR tone mapping ain't as great as some claim.
Very bright, the 3LCD tech for colors makes bright colorful images just explode. But, this isn't a common occurrence in many normal movies. Would be great for cartoons. It lacks in color depth compared to the HT3550. Contrast is really good for under $2k and since it is so bright while maintaining a decent black level, it can be matched with a grey screen to improve the black levels even further. HDR handling is ok. The HDR brightness slider is nicer than BenQs but it doesn't auto-switch to preset color modes for HDR. But, does have 10 user presets for those modes. Great remote, albeit large. It has some focus uniformity issues which can be apparent when using a lot of lens shift. Some really notice it, others aren't bothered/don't notice it. I didn't have an issue with it. High power mode is LOUD. It also bleeds some light outside the projected area. Only an issue if you have a true edgeless screen like I do.
This is my pick for the best all-rounder. Can handle ambient light, has decent color, decent lag times, good contrast, good ergonomics, very flexible install, bulbs aren't expensive, and black levels can be really respectable with a grey screen.
This throws the best image under $2k IMO. Brighter than the HT3550 but equal color depth. Black levels are better than the 3800 and it is sharper than it as well. Really good contrast, probably best under $2k. No light border around the image and no bleeding either. Motorized lens is awesome for installation and scope screens if you do that. Bright enough to handle some ambient light as well. It has HDR issues though, no brightness slider like the 3800/5050 and also no auto-switching to a color mode for HDR, like the other Epson's. For me, this meant using 2 color presets for HDR content measured at 1000 and 4000 nits. Each preset required me to make a custom gamma curve for it's best performance which is tedious and many won't do it. Wide color gamut filter reduces brightness by a lot. Now the biggest hang up is that it has a HDMI 1.4 jack and no HDMI 2.0. This can cause issues with some streaming services on some streaming platforms. An Apple TV4k alleviates it smoothly though. The other issue is gaming. No 4K 60hs HDR gaming and I think the Xbox won't even output 4K to it. Don't hold me to that last bit though. Also, its large.
It has its reputation for a reason. Contrast is king and it has the best native contrast under $3k. 5,000:1. Most other DLPs are in the 600:1 to 1200:1 range. The other Epson's are in the 1700:1 - 2500:1 range. So it's a big jump. Great color and sharpness for being only half 4K. Super bright and
usable. Great remote. All the motorized goodies the 4010 has. It also has a manual iris that you can close down to improve contrast (also reduces light output). It isn't without its issues though. Wide color gamut filter reduces brightness by a lot. My dynamic iris is a bit noisy and that seems to be the case for some, but not all users. High power mode is unusable due to noise if you are close to the projector. Still no auto-switching color modes for HDR. Its static tone mapping isn't as good as BenQs. We're at $3k in 2021 and there's no dynamic tone mapping
. It's large.
Projectors I haven't used first hand:
Trades the HT3550's better black levels and colors for brightness. Get's a bit better contrast due to it being brighter. Probably could be used with a grey screen to compensate for the raised black levels. Copy over the other pros/cons from the HT3550
has a recent review that covers this one really well. Looks like a great gaming alternative to the TK850 but if you don't need the gaming aspects then the TK850 is the better choice.
I really wish I could see this one. It has double the native contrast the HT3550 has without being brighter so the black levels are better. It's also sharper due to its lens. Color is great and it has good placement flexibility. Ergonomics are going to be similar to the HT3550 so you get auto HDR mode switching which is nice. Not bright though, so no ambient light and no giant screen.
The new kid on the block. I've seen reports saying it's amazing and others saying it is buggy and it's dynamic tone mapping isn't all that. Users are still looking into MadVR as a better tone mapping option. This made me sad because I thought it would scratch that itch like the JVC Frame Adapt tone mapping did for a lot of users. Anyway, due to it's lasers, manual iris, and brightness it has really good contrast for a DLP. P3 color without a filter. I'd probably pick this as the best living room/multipurpose room projector $3k and under. If you have a completely dark and light controlled room then get the 5050. It can show speckle depending on the screen you are using, a lot of ALR screens have issues. People are printing lens mods to block the light from hitting the ceiling.
Why no Optoma's?
In all my research I saw the question "my Optoma ____ is dying, what other projector should I buy?" more than for any other brand. I've also seen some reports of some seriously bad customer service exchanges compared a high percentage of positive ones by other brands. I have also heard they don't hand out test machines to the more influencer types and instead just to the bigger review sites. Makes me wonder why. Oh, and they lied about the UHD50X's gaming abilities. Lastly, they have a 1-year warranty on most projectors vs Epson's 2 and BenQ's 3.
Why no ViewSonics?
Just no experience and they don't get as much chatter.