Possible to get a good home theater projector for under $500?

Charliesboy

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I'm looking to get a decently bright projector to replace our TV but not I'm looking to spend a fortune. Any there any good projectors out there that anyone can recommend coming in under $500?

A big must is being able to use the projector with a streaming device -- we have an Amazon Fire Stick.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Maybe check out the BenQ TH670? Can be had for a slight bit under $500 at Amazon right now.

http://www.projectorcentral.com/benq-th670-projector-review.htm

One caveat is it only has 1 HDMI input since you want to use it w/ an Amazon Fire Stick. No idea what other under-$500 projector would have multiple HDMI inputs though.

And of course, although it has a built-in speaker, it's pretty weak (and mono only), so separate/external audio would be highly recommended (as usual for projectors). Something to remember since you're replacing a regular TV (which probably has better built-in speakers... even if nothing special nor comparable to any halfway decent external audio setup)...

_Man_
 

Charliesboy

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Thank for the reply _Man_

I have thought about the need to purchase some good speakers to use in tandem with the projector but we have some that can work.

Was perusing around Projector Central and came across a brand called AAXA. It seems as though their M5 model could be a contender at its price point on Amazon at the moment. I did see a video as well where it was able to get hooked up to a Fire Stick but I'll have to check it out to be sure it's any good.

It may just be worth it to purchase an Epson on their Clearance Center as well though. SO many options to weigh!
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Took a quick look at that AAXA M5, and you should note that it's only a WXGA projector w/ 1280x800 res (in 16x10 ratio), so it's basically 720p, not 1080p. Also, looks like it won't be as bright as the BenQ, which will matter if you plan to do some of your viewings w/ some bit of ambient light and/or want to project a large image (that requires longer throw distance). And the M5 doesn't offer any optical lens zoom at all (for more flexibility in setup)... though it's designed for shorter throw distance than the BenQ (and seems very portable), which might be what you want if you just plan to put it on a coffee table or similar (in front of viewers).

IF you haven't tried already, you should also check Projector Central's projection calculator to make sure your choice of projector works w/ your desired throw distance for desired image size:

http://www.projectorcentral.com/AAXA-M5-projection-calculator-pro.htm

http://www.projectorcentral.com/BenQ-TH670-projection-calculator-pro.htm

Do also realize that if you intend to put the projector behind and/or between viewers w/out ceiling mount, you'll need to ensure the projected image doesn't get blocked by viewers and any other obstacles.

Also worthy of note is the M5 is driven by (long lasting) LED light instead of bulb that needs periodic replacement (and consumes more power), which will save you some $$$, especially if you plan to use it a lot (like a regular TV set that might see 6-10 hours/day of usage)... although BenQ claims pretty long bulb life (in eco mode, which is probably recommended) for the TH670. Using LED light probably means no color wheel, so far less likelihood of noticeable, undesirable rainbow effect/artifact (and maybe slight bit greater durability since that's one less moving part inside)...

But despite some of these probable advantages of the M5 (which are mostly 2ndary concerns), they will come at the cost of disadvantages in core areas like (native) resolution and ability to project a big image (though it might be big enough for you). And it's not clear how good color reproduction and other aspects of image quality are w/ the M5 -- Projector Central doesn't have an actual review for it.

_Man_
 

Charliesboy

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Thanks a lot for your time and advice!

I checked out the throw ratio calculator and I don't think the M5 will be an issue at all. I would like something smaller that takes up less room and the portability factor really stood out on that, especially since it even comes with a carrying case. It would be fun to use to liven up a party at a friends house or something.

I'll have to do a little more thinking and research to determine if it'll be the one I ultimately decide to go with and I do wish Projector Central did have a review for it -- definitely would've helped since they're the ultimate experts! Seeing that it's on Top Ten Reviews and such is pretty interesting.
 

pixelBell

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Took a quick look at that AAXA M5, and you should note that it's only a WXGA projector w/ 1280x800 res (in 16x10 ratio), so it's basically 720p, not 1080p. Also, looks like it won't be as bright as the BenQ, which will matter if you plan to do some of your viewings w/ some bit of ambient light and/or want to project a large image (that requires longer throw distance). And the M5 doesn't offer any optical lens zoom at all (for more flexibility in setup)... though it's designed for shorter throw distance than the BenQ (and seems very portable), which might be what you want if you just plan to put it on a coffee table or similar (in front of viewers).

IF you haven't tried already, you should also check Projector Central's projection calculator to make sure your choice of projector works w/ your desired throw distance for desired image size:

http://www.projectorcentral.com/AAXA-M5-projection-calculator-pro.htm

http://www.projectorcentral.com/BenQ-TH670-projection-calculator-pro.htm

Do also realize that if you intend to put the projector behind and/or between viewers w/out ceiling mount, you'll need to ensure the projected image doesn't get blocked by viewers and any other obstacles.

Also worthy of note is the M5 is driven by (long lasting) LED light instead of bulb that needs periodic replacement (and consumes more power), which will save you some $$$, especially if you plan to use it a lot (like a regular TV set that might see 6-10 hours/day of usage)... although BenQ claims pretty long bulb life (in eco mode, which is probably recommended) for the TH670. Using LED light probably means no color wheel, so far less likelihood of noticeable, undesirable rainbow effect/artifact (and maybe slight bit greater durability since that's one less moving part inside)...

But despite some of these probable advantages of the M5 (which are mostly 2ndary concerns), they will come at the cost of disadvantages in core areas like (native) resolution and ability to project a big image (though it might be big enough for you). And it's not clear how good color reproduction and other aspects of image quality are w/ the M5 -- Projector Central doesn't have an actual review for it.

_Man_
Hi ManW,

I am also looking for a projector. A lot of people are recommending BenQ or Epson. But I need to always carry the projector with me since I have to travel for presentation. Most of the BenQ/Epson models are too big to carry. AAXA M5 seems to have a decent size. I am wondering how the resolution affects business uses, e.g., slides and excel. Any suggestion of other models? Thanks.

Found this comparison video on Youtube

Bell
 

Charliesboy

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I actually ended up find a refurbished Optoma ML750 at an awesome price so I went for it! Especially since it seemed pretty similar to the M5 in terms of specs.

So far I'm loving the size and the brightness is good as long as the room is dark!
 

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ManW_TheUncool

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Hi ManW,

I am also looking for a projector. A lot of people are recommending BenQ or Epson. But I need to always carry the projector with me since I have to travel for presentation. Most of the BenQ/Epson models are too big to carry. AAXA M5 seems to have a decent size. I am wondering how the resolution affects business uses, e.g., slides and excel. Any suggestion of other models? Thanks.

Found this comparison video on Youtube
Bell
I would think that WXGA (1280x800) res should work fine for business presentation -- it's probably a somewhat better aspect ratio than regular 16x9 widescreen for that kind of usage... and you probably don't need as high res for such even though higher might be better in the long run.

The BenQ compared in that video is also the same WXGA res though.

You might find these projectors satisfying enough for watching an occasional movie, etc., but if you actually want a (budget conscious) quality HT setup, I would recommend choosing something that's designed more for that purpose instead and only plan on lugging it outside your HT room sparingly.

Maybe start w/ one of these WXGA ones if you have the portable business need and then eventually get a better one for HT purposes later...

_Man_
 
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pixelBell

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I would think that WXGA (1280x800) res should work fine for business presentation -- it's probably a somewhat better aspect ratio than regular 16x9 widescreen for that kind of usage... and you probably don't need as high res for such even though higher might be better in the long run.

The BenQ compared in that video is also the same WXGA res though.

You might find these projectors satisfying enough for watching an occasional movie, etc., but if you actually want a (budget conscious) quality HT setup, I would recommend choosing something that's designed more for that purpose instead and only plan on lugging it outside your HT room sparingly.

Maybe start w/ one of these WXGA ones if you have the portable business need and then eventually get a better one for HT purposes later...

_Man_
Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion! Yeah WXGA works fine! (I ended up the AAXA M5 since it's more cost efficient for me) Just hope it can stand my frequent travel. I easily break stuff.
 

pixelBell

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I actually ended up find a refurbished Optoma ML750 at an awesome price so I went for it! Especially since it seemed pretty similar to the M5 in terms of specs.

So far I'm loving the size and the brightness is good as long as the room is dark!
Hi Charlies,

I checked this Optoma ML750, too. It's a really tiny one, which would be good for my travel. The only problem that bothered me was the charger - this model doesn't have built-in battery. But I hope it works well for you.

Another interesting discovery: we can use chromecast on the projector to mirror a mobile phone. (I am currently exploring all use cases for my projector, lol) Hope this you can benefit from it, too!

 

Charliesboy

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Hi Charlies,

I checked this Optoma ML750, too. It's a really tiny one, which would be good for my travel. The only problem that bothered me was the charger - this model doesn't have built-in battery. But I hope it works well for you.

Another interesting discovery: we can use chromecast on the projector to mirror a mobile phone. (I am currently exploring all use cases for my projector, lol) Hope this you can benefit from it, too!

Hi,

Thanks for sharing. Though I don't own an S8, I tried an S7, and it worked with my Optoma. I probably will not use this feature a lot since I prefer casting. But good to know it. Thanks.
 

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