A great-value 1080p projector with good image quality. It's also very cheap to run, but for only a little more, Epson's EH-TW2900 is a serious rival.
1,920×1,080 resolution, 2,000 ANSI lumens, 122x333x265mm, 3.9kg
It’s easy to get excited about a product because of its specifications and price and, having seen the Pro8200’s credentials, we could hardly wait for it to arrive in our labs. For well under £900, this home cinema projector breaks new ground for the features you can expect on a tighter budget.
We’ve seen cheaper 1080p projectors, namely Optoma’s HD200x, but ViewSonic’s Pro8200 blows that out of the water – on paper at least. Beyond the 1,920×1,080 resolution is a native 2,000:1 contrast ratio, and a brightness of 2,000 lumens. The HD200x has a rather paltry contrast ratio of 350:1, and 1,500 lumens.
We wouldn’t call the Pro8200 a looker, although it’s stylish enough. The lens is on the right, and has manual focus and zoom adjustments. The lack of lens shift could be a pain if you’d prefer to install it off-centre, although lens shift is virtually unheard of with single-chip DLP projectors. The 1.5x zoom isn’t the biggest we’ve seen and means you’ll get only a 1m image with a 1.2m throw distance.
We mention this as the Pro8200 projects its image higher than the average projector, so placing it on a coffee table is about the right height to avoid the image appearing too high on your wall or screen. There’s auto keystone, but anyone that cares about image quality will want to project square-on to their screen. Your only other option is to mount it on your ceiling: if you do, you’ll probably appreciate the 12V trigger for an electric screen. If you don’t, you’ll appreciate the bundled carry case to protect the Pro8200 when you’re not using it.
We were impressed how quickly the projector warmed up, and how quiet the fan was in standard mode. The £120 lamp is claimed to last for 4,000 hours in this mode, which equates to just 3p per hour. In economy mode, you should get an extra 2,000 hours, or 2p per hour.
Most people will use one or both of the HDMI 1.3 inputs (there’s no 3D support, sadly), rather than the twin VGA inputs. A VGA output is unlikely to be much use for home users, nor the serial port. The USB port is for firmware upgrades, rather than playing back video or photos.
There are a variety of image presets, including Brightest, Theatre and Dark Room. The latter proved the best for watching movies with the lights off, but we were pleased to see two user presets, which even have dedicated buttons on the well-designed remote control. Quality settings are comprehensive enough for those who like to tweak: there are individual red, green and blue levels, plus saturation, gamma, hue and sharpness controls.
In fact, the only setting missing is motion smoothing. In general, movies look fine, but we did notice juddering which wasn’t simply caused by their 24fps frame rate. Essentially, if you want to watch fast-moving sports, this isn’t the ideal choice.
Image quality is great for the price: the image is sharp, details look crisp, and contrast is more than acceptable. You can adjust the contrast and saturation to your own personal taste, whether that’s natural-looking skin tones or ultra-vibrant colours. The only problem we saw on our test unit was a slight dark patch on the left-hand side, although this was only noticeable in our test patterns.
As this is a DLP projector, we inevitably saw the rainbow effect in high-contrast scenes, and it’s worth trying to arrange a viewing if you don’t know if you’re susceptible to this annoying side-effect. However, if you’re not, or you tend to avoid film noir, this is a great projector for the money. We expect the price to drop in a month or so, which will make it even better value, but don’t overlook Epson’s LCD-based EH-TW2900 which has also dropped in price recently, making it little more than the Pro8200 currently. Since this has lens shift (both horizontal and vertical) and has no potential for the rainbow effect, the extra cost could well be worth it if you need to mount your projector off-centre and can’t live with DLP.
|Lamp brightness||2,000 ANSI lumens|
|Lamp life in economy mode||6,000|
|Max compressed resolution||1,920×1,080|
|Other aspect ratios||4:3|
|Max diagonal at 7ft||66in|
|Throw ratio||1.4:1 to 2.14:1|
|Projection distance||0.9m to 10m|
|Lens shift horizontal||N/A|
|Lens shift vertical||N/A|
|Sound inputs||2×3.5mm, phono, 3.5mm mic|
|Others inputs/outputs||USB port, RS232, DC 12V trigger|
|Noise (in normal use)||31dB(A)|
|Internal speakers||yes (10W stereo)|
|Extras||remote, cables (power, HDMI, VGA), carry case, lens cap|
|Remote special features||Function button, colour modes, test patterns, two user modes|
|Power consumption standby||0W|
|Power consumption on||300W|
|Lamp cost (inc VAT)||£122|
|Lamp cost per hour of use||£0.03|
|Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)||£0.02|