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Zenith 1200

The Best/Worst CRT Projectors List

 

 



One of the most common questions we receive is: "Is projector X better than projector Y"?  While this question is very difficult to answer without knowing the requirements of the individual, the list below is an attempt to rank the most popular CRT projectors that are still in use in home theaters around the world.

How to use this list (and some caveats):

  • The list is split into three major groups: Entry-Level, Intermediate, and High Performance CRT projectors. Two projectors in the same major group should be considered similar in performance.
     
  • The major groups are further split into sub-groups. Projectors in the same sub-group should be considered as nearly identical in performance.  The weight you as an individual place on specific items (i.e. size, fan noise, colour filtering, brightness, availability of parts, etc.) will be far more important than the sub-group rankings that are listed here. In fact, personal choices could easily slide a projector up or down 5-10 notches if you're particularly fussy about something!

As with any purchase decision, it is important to weigh in your own personal requirements against the specifications of a projector before purchasing. DO NOT pick one projector over another simply because it is positioned a couple of notches higher on this list! Do your homework, find out what's best for your needs!

All of the projectors listed below are recent and capable enough for use in a home theater environment for displaying DVD, Cable/Satellite TV, and in most cases HDTV and Blu-ray. We purposely did not list some very old (pre-1985) units that you may come across for free at garage sales, online auctions, etc. Best to leave those projectors where you found them. :)

For more information on any of these units, click on the model name.

Model

CRT Size
/ LC
Peak
Lumens
Max
Resolution
HDTV resolutions supported Bandwidth
(MHz)

EM
Focus

Entry-Level CRT Projectors  (GOOD)

Sony VPH-1020, 1030, 104x 7" 450-700 480i - 10-15 -
Zenith PRO 851 / Runco 750 HT 7" 650 480i - 10 -
Electrohome ECP-2000 7" 725 540p 1080i 30 -
Sony VPH-1031 7" 500 540p 1080i 30 -
Barco Data 600 7" 600 1024x768 1080i 30 -
Barco Data 500 7" 600 1024x768 720p, 1080i 50 -
Electrohome ECP-3000, 3100 7" 600 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 50 -
Electrohome ECP-3500 7" 725 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 60 -
Electrohome ECP-4000, 4100 7" 600 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 65 -
Electrohome ECP-4500 7" 725 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 70 -
Ampro 2000 7" 725 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 70 -
Zenith PRO 900x 7" LC 800 1024x768 720p, 1080i 37.5 -
Sony VPH-1251 8" 650 1024x768 720p, 1080i 40 -
Sony VPH-1252 8" 700 1280x960 720p, 1080i 40 -
Sony VPH-1270 8" 650 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 40 -
Barco Data 701 7" 750 1024x768 720p, 1080i 45 -
Barco Data 701s 7" 1000 1024x768 720p, 1080i 45 -
Barco Data 800 8" 825 1024x768 720p, 1080i 50 -
Barco Graphics 800 8" 825 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p* 60 -
Barco Data 801, 801s 8" 900 1024x768 720p, 1080i 75 -
Barco Graphics 801, 801s 8" 900 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p* 75 -
Sony VPH-1271 8" 650 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p* 75 -
Sony VPH-1272 8" 700 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p* 85 -
Sony D50 7" 800 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 -
Dwin 500 7" 1100 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 Y
Dwin 700 7" 1100 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 -
Barco 708 7" 1000 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 -
Barco Cine 7 7" 1000 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 -

Intermediate Level CRT Projectors  (BETTER)

Ampro 4000 9" LC 1000-1200 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 70 -
NEC 6PG / Runco 900 8" 800 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 70 Y
NEC 9PG 8" 800 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 70 Y
NEC 6PG Plus / Runco 900A 8" 850 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 75 Y
NEC 9PG Plus 8" 850 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 75 Y
Barco Data 808 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 75 Y
Barco Data 808s 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 75 Y
Barco Graphics 808 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 75 Y
NEC 6PG Xtra / Runco 950, 980 8" 1000 1280x1024 720p, 1080i 80 Y
NEC 9PG Xtra / Runco 980 Ultra 8" 1000 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 100 Y
Ampro 3400, 3600 8" 1000 1600x1280 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 100 Y
Electrohome Marquee 8000, 8110 8" 1000 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 100 Y
Barco Graphics 808s 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Barco Graphics 1208 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
NEC XG (non LC) 8" 1100 1600x1200+ 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 110-150 Y
Electrohome Marquee 8500 8" 1200 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 100 Y
Barco Graphics 1208s/2 8" 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Barco Cine 8 8" 1100 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Electrohome Marquee 8500LC 8" LC 1200 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 100 Y
Barco Graphics 1200 9" LC 1230 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Sony 1292 9" LC 700+ 2000x1600 720p, 1080i, 1080p 125 Y
Ampro 4200 9" LC 1000 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 100 Y

High Performance CRT Projectors  (BEST)

Ampro 4600 9" LC 1200 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 100 Y
Electrohome Marquee 9000 9" LC 1200 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 120 Y
Barco 1209 / Barco 1209/2 9" LC 1250 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 120 Y
NEC 10PG / Runco 990 9" LC 1000+ 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p 70 Y
NEC XG (LC) 8" LC 1100 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120-150 Y
Sony G70 8" LC 1200 1700x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Barco Cine 8 Onyx / Zenith Pro 1200x 8" LC 1250 1600x1200 720p, 1080i, 1080p** 120 Y
Barco 1209s 9" LC 1250 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 120 Y
Marquee 9500LC 9" LC 1300 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 120 Y
Marquee 9500LC Ultra 9" LC 1300 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 130+ Y
Sony G90 9" LC 1300 2500x2000 720p, 1080i, 1080p 135 Y
Barco Cine 9 / Reality 909 9" LC 1200 3200x2560 720p, 1080i, 1080p 180 Y




Glossary of Terms (click on term for in-depth information)

CRT Size/LC: Although manufacturers measurements will vary, these measurements are the agreed upon measurements by most enthusiasts. Actual raster corner to corner measurements will vary based on the installation. LC is noted for tubes that are liquid-coupled (as opposed to air-coupled). LC'ed tubes offer greater contrast and less halo'ing.

Peak Lumens: Lumens relate to the amount of energy (light) that's coming from the CRT.  It describes the potential of the projector, but little of the actual brightness you will get on screen.  The brightness depends on many factors.  The most important being the screen size and material as well as ambient light conditions.

Max resolution: This is the maximum resolution that the projector can accept (and sync to) as an input signal. Important: While the projector may be able accept the signal, it may not be able to fully resolve the information on screen without overlapping of scan lines resulting in a softening of the picture. That is, the manufacturer resolution specifications do not necessarily reflect real world resolving capability.

HDTV resolutions supported: The maximum HDTV resolution that the projector will display.
* These projectors are able to display a 1080p signal but the resulting image will definitely be too soft or smeared to be usable.  It is best to use 720p or 1080i on these projectors (1080i is preferred, especially if the content is Blu-ray or broadcast HD).

** These projectors are able to display a 1080p signal, but some users may prefer 1080i instead as it will be a bit sharper. It is best to try both and see which you prefer.

As mentioned previously, manufacturer specifications do not necessarily reflect real world resolving capability.

Bandwidth:  A projector's bandwidth must be high enough to display a signal without smearing or softening the image.  The higher the resolution you want to display, the higher the bandwidth you require in order to properly resolve the information displayed. For example for a projector to line double standard NTSC signals (480i at 15.75khz horizontal) from DVD, VCR or cable/Satellite to 480p, requires 31.5 Khz of horizontal scan rate and enough bandwidth to handle twice the picture information. HDTV at 1080i requires a horizontal rate of 33.75 Khz and 50 Mhz bandwidth.  720p requires a horizontal rate of 45 Khz with 50 Mhz bandwidth.

Electromagnetic Focus: A feature on newer projectors where you not only have the ability to focus corners and center, but additional electronic controls for fine focus of the beam spot throughout various areas of the image producing a sharper image. Older projectors use Electrostatic Focus.
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