If you just aren't satisfied with a 50-inch plasma or 52-inch LCD, a front projector can provide a much larger image (like 100 inches), and increasingly projectors are sporting more home theater-friendly features. You can find a growing number offering full 1080p HD resolutions, for instance, and now LCD-based projectors are beginning to provide the latest must-have feature for LCD HDTVs: 120Hz refresh rates.
This week, Sony is starting to ship the VPL-VW100 projector with its Motionflow 120Hz technology, though at $14,999.99, it's way out of the league of most consumers. But Sanyo has just announced the PLV-Z3000 (pictured below), which not only offers 120Hz refresh rates, but also will be priced at a much more reasonable $3,295 when it become available in December.
For those you aren't up on HD jargon, most older LCD TVs and current lower-priced models have 60Hz refresh rates, which can lead to judder with film-based video playback and also motion blur when displaying video with fast-moving action. By doubling the refresh rate to 120Hz, these problems can be reduced, improving the perceived smoothness of video playback. (Read this for more detailed information on 120Hz's effects on viewing.) You can now find new LCD HDTVs with the 120Hz feature for around $1,500, but Sanyo is the low-price leader when it comes to 120Hz LCD projectors. The PLV-Z3000 features a three-chip LCD solution like the VPL-VW100, and includes a pair of HDMI 1.3 inputs for Deep Color increased color depths.
I belatedly realized that I didn't offer front projectors as an option in the recent poll on the type of HDTV your primary set is. Here's your chance to let us know if you're using one instead of a TV for your home theater viewing. Tell us about your experience with projectors in our Talkback section.