Hard to believe that the first 1080p home theater projectors just started shipping last fall – less than seven months ago.

The 1080p craze started over two years ago, when the Big Screen TV manufacturers started touting 1080p for the largest and sharpest viewing experience. 1080p, however really comes into it’s own, with home theater projectors! They fill huge screens that dwarf “big screen TVs”. Most projector owners choose screens between 92″ and 133″ diagonal! The result is a true “theater” experience.

Even crazier, is the pricing! Less than a year ago, as a few manufacturers were just announcing their first 1080p projectors for the fall, the talk was $10,000, maybe a little bit less. Boy was everyone wrong.

Today, 1080p projectors start at under $3000.

Sure, Optoma’s HD81, the first to ship, came out at $7999 MSRP, but it was only a couple weeks later that Mitsubishi launched their HC5000 at $4495! Panasonic went even further, shipping their PT-AE1000U, as the least expensive 1080p projector, with a selling price of $3999, and almost immediately, a mail-in rebate offer, lowering the street price to around $3500. (Shown here: JVC – DLA-RS1)

Well it’s almost summer now, and things are looking better and better for consumers.

Epson rolled out the first $2999 selling price projector, and its seems like only minutes later, Panasonic upped their mail in rebate to $1000, to match the Epson’s just under $3000 street price.

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And while we are talking price, BenQ’s W10000 came out at $6995 and has been selling for well below that amount, and they introduced an even less expensive version, the W9000.

Sony, with their impressive VW50 Pearl, launched at $4995, and is widely discounted, and JVC, originally showing their “Best In Class” RS1 with a suggested retail of $6995, had dropped that to $6295 before the first RS1 shipped. Lastly, Optoma, finding themselves to be at the top of the price range slashed their HD81 from $7999 to only $4299, and added a $300 rebate to bring it down under $4000!

By my count, there are now about 10 significant under $10,000 1080p projectors, with over half street prices from under $3000 to $4995!

Not surprisingly, the unexpected low prices of 1080p projectors is killing the sales of the higher end 720p LCD, and single chip DLP, home theater projectors. That of course, considering the reasonable prices for 1080p projectors, is no surprise.

Which one is right for you?

Not an easy question. We conducted in-depth reviews on seven of these 1080p projectors, and our reviews also commented on two more – both variations of the seven!

And we think we have figured out which one is the best for you.

What you need to do, though, is determine what factors are important to you, as these projectors vary a great deal in brightness, placement flexibility, warranty, and perhaps most importantly – image quality and price. Our full review will assist you with this.

To help you, we consider the 1080p based on price and performance. Of course those prices will change (drop) over the upcoming months, but we think we have provided enough information for you to “choose wisely”.

In each review we look at strengths and weaknesses, and what type of room environment, watching habits (are you primarily movies, or do you plan on lots of TV/HDTV, including sports, and what about video gaming) and other factors will affect your choice (can you fully darken your room, and do you want to)?

To take it even further, we created 11 direct comparison articles as part of our complete 1080p comparison review. 10 are head to head comparisons, and the eleventh, a three way comparison.

There’s too little space to get into details here, but the comparison review can be found at: http://www.projectorreviews.com/Best1080pProjectors042007/index.php

Some highlights:

Best of the Best: JVC’s DLA-RS1. This projector is a cut above the other sub-$10,000 competition. The image quality is absolutely stunning, the image bright, the placement flexibility outstanding, and the black levels – considered to be the “holy grail” of home theater performance, far superior to the competition.

Down at the low end of the price range, things are tougher to sort out. Movie purists, may prefer the Optoma HD81, despite its limited placement flexibility. It offers a very “film-like” image, and is one of the brightest.

Panasonic’s PT-AE1000U, is, in our opinion, the most film-like of the LCD powered 1080p projectors, and is feature laden, but not as bright as most of the field, so, a great choice for those not looking to use one of the larger screen sizes (over 106″ diagonal).

For those with limited budget, but craving the larger screens, it’s hard to go wrong with the Epson Home Cinema 1080p, by far the brightest of the lower cost machines.

But the other two more expensive under $5000 projectors, the Sony VW50 “Pearl” and the Mitsubishi HC5000 each have their strengths. The Sony’s image quality is perhaps the closest to the JVC RS1, but offers a soft image (still very sharp compared to anything with 720p resolution, and is barely average in brightness. The Mitsubishi HC5000, is similarly bright, but offers the sharpest image of them all, and is, as an added bonus, the quietest of the projectors.

In a separate comparison article, that looks at the best home theater projectors at all resolutions, from entry level to 1080p, and priced from $500 to $10,000, we give out our Best in Class, Runner-up, and Special Interest Awards. To access our Hottest Home Theater Projectors article click here: http://www.projectorreviews.com/bestprojectors/index.asp

OK, now you have a taste. Indulge yourself in our full reviews and head-to-head comparisons, and you should be on the right track to find the one that will make your dreams come true! -art