Projectors typically require a lot of space, but ones with short-throw lenses can achieve that huge projected image without needing quite as much distance between the projector and the screen.
The Viewsonic PJD7828HDL is one of the cheapest short-throw projectors with full-HD resolution available, and its image quality is very impressive for the money. It also comes with a couple of unusual conveniences like a "hidden" HDMI input perfect for wireless dongles (and streaming sticks) and a cable management cover to improve its looks.
Its main competition among projectors I've reviewed recently is the Optoma HD142X ($550). The two have very similar image quality that's good enough to please the most persnickety of viewers, to the extent that it's tough to justify a better performer like the BenQ HT2050 ($800). While I liked the Optoma a bit better than the Viewsonic overall, the two were close enough to earn the same picture quality score.
The Optoma and most other projectors in this price range require more room to get huge, however, so if space is tight and you want to maximize that screen size, go with the Viewsonic.
- Native resolution: 1080p
- Lumens spec: 3,200
- Zoom: Manual (1.3x)
- Lens shift: No
- 3D-compatible: Yes
- Lamp life (Normal mode): 4,000 hours
- Replacement lamp cost: $220
The Viewsonic's lumens rating is legit; this thing measured brighter than any home theater projector I've tested this year, which makes it a better choice than many projectors if you have some ambient light in the room. Of course, for best results you should turn off as many lights as possible.
The Viewsonic has a relatively short-throw lens, so it can sit closer to the screen than some other projectors to get an image of the same size. To fill my 120-inch test screen, for example, it could be as close as about 10 feet, compared with 13 feet for the Optoma. The 1:1 ratio holds at closer distances too; at just 7 feet from the screen the Viewsonic's image was about 7 feet (84 inches) diagonal. Have you checked the prices on 80-inch TVs recently?
If you want to use 3D with the Viewsonic you'll need to buy 3D glasses. The projector uses DLP Link, which should be compatible with numerous third-party glasses (starting at $25 each on Amazon) or Viewsonic's own like the PGD-350 ($50 each).
The lamp will burn out faster and cost more to replace than the Optoma, judging by the two projectors' specifications using their brightest default ("Normal") settings. Both units, as usual, have modes that dim the bulb and extend that lifespan.
Connectivity and convenience
- HDMI inputs: 2
- AV input: 2 (composite and S-video)
- PC input: Analog RGB
- USB port: 1
- MHL: Yes
- Remote: Not backlit
- Built-in speaker: Yes
The Viewsonic stands apart in this category, with a full complement of analog jacks and a "hidden" HDMI port behind a hatch on top. I actually prefer both HDMI ports to be on the back for easier connection, like they are on the Optoma, because using the second doesn't require running a wire around to the front of the projector.
The idea of the second port is to "discreetly stream multimedia content from an optional wireless dongle," and even includes a Micro-USB cable for power. The dongle costs $160, however, so you'll probably want to use another device. Both a Roku Streaming Stick and an Amazon Fire TV Stick fit fine, and even pass audio via the Viewsonic's audio output so you don't have to suffer listening to the built-in speaker. The HDMI port is compatible with MHL as well.