Two Projectors Down

Most home theater owners would consider keeping two projectors installed at the same time overkill. However, doing so has allowed me to feel pretty confident that even if something went wrong with one, I’d have a backup at the ready until I could get the other fixed. Of course, that doesn’t work so out so well if both projectors decide to die in quick succession, which just happened to me. I’m dead in the water here.

Why did I ever have two projectors in the first place? I use them for different purposes. My venerable JVC DLA-RS40 (purchased back in 2011) still puts out a hell of a nice picture despite being a little long in the tooth. I keep that as my reference projector for watching and reviewing Blu-rays. Unfortunately, the RS40 pretty much sucks at 3D, suffering severe crosstalk artifacts that get worse as the lamp ages. It’s also always been a finnicky device that occasionally locks up when switching HDMI sources and won’t respond to any commands or power down without hard-unplugging it.

In 2013, I purchased a Sharp XV-Z30000 DLP projector as part of a closeout deal from Woot. DLP is the only display technology immune to 3D crosstalk, and it greatly improved my 3D viewing experience. I also soon found myself using the Z30000 for general TV watching in order to preserve lamp hours on the JVC and reduce the likelihood of HDMI lockups. The Sharp’s picture quality isn’t quite as good as JVC’s, but it’s perfectly fine for TV. Over time, I put a lot more hours on the Sharp than on the JVC. I kept the two projectors installed in my home theater one on top of the other – the JVC mounted to the ceiling and the Sharp on a shelf below it, as you can see in this photo from a few years ago.

Cinema Zyberdiso Projectors

Both of these projectors have given me issues at various times. As I wrote in a post last year, the Sharp Z30000 had a repeated problem with overheating and premature shutdowns due to an intermittent fan error. I debated at the time whether to have it serviced, but the problem seemed to go away on its own after I replaced the lamp. I made it almost another year without incident until the projector suddenly gave up the ghost a few months ago and would not power back on no matter what I tried. I shipped it to Mendtronix for servicing and it’s been there for a while. Last week, a company rep informed me that they couldn’t obtain a replacement part from Sharp (which no longer makes home theater projectors) and will be returning the unit to me unfixed.

As disappointing as that news was, I at least still had my reference projector working. That took over TV watching duties while the Sharp was out of service, and because it’s the better of my two projectors anyway, I’ve been biding my time while deciding what to do about the Sharp.

The JVC has not had a sterling track record either, sadly. In fact, the RS40 is a notorious model for premature lamp failure, usually preceded by flickering in the image for a time until the lamp cuts out entirely. My first lamp died on me after just 507 hours of use out of a rated 3,000. I thought I had solved that problem and the HDMI lockups last year, after I was informed about a design defect involving an IR receiver chip that was installed backwards. Ever since fixing that, I had no more flickering or lockup problems, and everything seemed to be great with the RS40… until this week.

On Monday night, I powered on the projector to watch some TV. While it was warming up, I turned my attention to something else for a few minutes. When I turned back, the projector was off. I felt my heart drop in my chest. That simply shouldn’t happen. I tried to turn it back on. Nothing happened. I unplugged it, waited a few minutes, and tried again. Nothing. Several more attempts all failed.

The front panel has three warning lights, and the one labeled “Lamp” is blinking. Naturally, my first assumption was that another lamp died early. That’s troubling, but I remained hopeful that I could get the projector working again by ordering a replacement lamp. Before doing that, however, I checked the RS40 owner’s thread at AVSForum and found a few other people who’d experienced the same problem. The news wasn’t good. The pattern that the light is blinking indicates not just a lamp issue, but a failure of the projector’s ballast component. I called JVC the next morning and confirmed. Something inside the projector is broken, and it’s beyond my abilities to fix this one myself. It needs professional servicing.

Dammit. The timing of all this is terrible.

At the moment, I am down two projectors, one of which may not be fixable at all. I have to decide soon whether to try to get the RS40 repaired, or to scrap it and buy a new model. Honestly, it’s probably about time I upgraded to a newer projector anyway. Now is just not a great time financially for me to do so (not that there’s ever a good time). A friend has gotten me a lead on a reasonable deal for a 2018 JVC, but with the CEDIA conference literally happening next week, I kind of want to see what the company announces for next year. I’d kick myself if I bought a 2018 model today only to learn that some huge improvement (like native 4k pixel panels) is happening in January. On the other hand, I don’t think I can make it months without any working projector. I need something in here ASAP!

This is quite an unfortunate predicament.


  1. We (the HDD readers) can do a fundraiser/Kickstarter/Patreon ‘BUY A PROJECTOR FOR JOSH’-thingee? After all, with over 8 years of free blog entertainment, we do owe you something.

  2. Al

    Josh, did you decide to buy the Denon X8500H, after reviewing it? If so, I imagine that makes it even more difficult to afford a new projector, right now?

    I don’t think you need to worry about native 4K pixel panels in 2019 (at least not at anything remotely resembling affordable). Everything that I’ve read states that native 4K pixel panels are still going to only be available in ultra expensive models or really crappy affordable models.

        • Josh Zyber

          There is a pretty standard industry accommodation discount when a reviewer requests to purchase an item they’ve reviewed, but it’s not free by any stretch.

          • Csm101

            Would those industry perks work for the projector makers? What are your thoughts on laser projectors? I’ve read a few articles and found them enticing. Maybe you could request a model for review.

          • Josh Zyber

            I’m intrigued by some of the new laser projectors. I would love a projector with a light source that never dims. However, it seems to me that the technology isn’t quite there yet for home theater. Most of the laser projectors that have been released so far are either outrageously expensive or have serious performance drawbacks.

            Given that CEDIA is next week, I want to see what gets announced for 2019. Best case scenario: the upcoming models are only incremental improvements, but great deals become available on 2018 models as retailers move to clear out their stock.

  3. Tom Spall

    If you have some extra cash, the Epson UB5040 is nice machine. Of course it’s not a true 4K projector but it has a lot of great features, such as lens memory and 3D looks great.

      • njscorpio

        I’m glad I’m not the only one, I clock in about an hour per night during the week (no tv tuner, so I watch single shows a at a time, like on Hulu), and then maybe 6 – 8 hours over the course of the weekend.

  4. David

    Damn, sorry to hear that brotha! I say get one on the cheap to hold you over while you save for a legit one. I am using a 1080p Epson 2045, that I got for 500 bucks; that has good 3d and decent picture quality. I am waiting for 4k projectors to hit that sweet 1500 mark. Honestly if the above mentioned poster were to do a go fund me for ya, I would donate brotha. I trust your reviews and you give me free content to look at daily. Seems like the least we could do for you.

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