Viewsonic PX800HD review: powerhouse projector

If you want a giant screen without giving up a lot of space, check out the Viewsonic PX800HD

I've slowly acquired new pieces of furniture after moving last summer. It started with just a bed and desk, but when I got my own place I bought a basic futon, a few tables and my first projector, the Optoma GT1080Darbee . But as I filled my living room out more with proper couches and other decorations, having my projector just sitting in the middle of the room made it all feel cramped. I also didn't love having all my cables out in the open for everyone to see. Because of this — and my desire to move into an even smaller space later this year — I was drawn to ultra short-throw projectors, which don't require as much space away from the screen.

One inexpensive — relatively speaking — model that caught my eye is the subject of today's review, the Viewsonic PX800HD. While this retails for $1,300, I was able to find a refurbished model for just north of $800.

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Category Features
Format Ultra Short-throw
Max resolution 1080p
Throw ratio .23
Aspect Ratio 16:9, 4:3; auto-detect
HDMI inputs 3
Other video inputs 2 VGA, 1 Component
Audio outputs 1, 3.5mm
Remote control Yes, Infrared
Connectivity N/A
Operating system N/A
See at Amazon $1,300

What is the Viewsonic PX800HD?

The Viewsonic PX800HD is an ultra short-throw projector that is aimed at anyone looking for a giant screen in a small space. It has a low input lag, making it ideal for console gamers. It also has a secret compartment (more on that later) where you can stow a streaming stick. It outputs at up to 1080p/60Hz, and has a peak brightness of 2000 lumens, which is just dim enough to make me close my blinds when I want to game.

What ports are on the Viewsonic PX800HD?

The Viewsonic PX800HD has some older ports, as well as a couple options. You get three HDMI ports, two VGA ports and a component setup for older consoles and DVD players. There are two 3.5mm audio-in ports to match up with the VGA connections, and a single 3.5mm audio-out for your sound bar. Finally, there's a miniUSB port for firmware updates. (As in, the older, fatter little USB port. Not micro.)

What's good about the Viewsonic PX800HD?

This hidden space for a streaming stick is brilliant.

This hidden space for a streaming stick is brilliant.

I was a bit confused when I first read the projector featured three HDMI inputs, since the pictures clearly only show two on the back. This led me to discover the most brilliant thing I've seen in consumer electronics in a long time: this projector has a little hatch that comes off with two screws, where you'll find the third HDMI port and a built-in microUSB power cable. Plug in the streaming stick, close the hatch, and now your projector is "smart." And if your streaming stick ever dies, it's only a ~$50 replacement instead of a $2,000 replacement that a smart TV would entail.

Being an ultra short-throw projector means you get a gigantic image from not too far away; I have a 160-inch image from just three feet from my wall. This and the hidden compartment for streaming sticks makes the projector very mobile as well: I regularly move the projector into my bedroom for some intense bedside Netflix.

This highlights another great thing about this projector: it looks great against a bare wall. At least, it does with the shade of paint my apartment complex uses. Since buying the projector, I've taken my proper projector screen down and sold it off. It's that good. The colors were also perfectly calibrated out of the box, though that could be because I purchased a refurb unit.

What's just OK about the Viewsonic PX800HD?

The built-in speakers get loud, but also get distorted a bit easier than I'd like. Speakers need space, and Viewsonic's working against the laws of physics with these. I'm glad they're included, since it makes moving the projector around a breeze. But if you're going to have the projetor in one place for a long time, invest in some proper speakers or a soundbar.

What's bad about the Viewsonic PX800HD?

The only downside to this projector is the peak brightness; 2000 lumens is more than enough for a dark room or nighttime use, but if you try to use it in the daytime with the shades open you're going to be struggling. Fortunately, pulling the blinds closed is all I need to make it look good again.

Should you buy the Viewsonic PX800HD?

Maybe. I love this projector, but my personal feelings are based on the fact that I got so much of a discount. I haven't seen this projector get that cheap again since I bought it, and at $1,300 there may be some competition. Xiaomi's Mi Laser projector is rumored to launch in the U.S. soon for about $1800. That extra $500 gets you smart connectivity (supposedly Android TV when it comes to the States), much better built-in speakers, and a 5000-lumen laser sensor instead of a 2000-lumen lamp.

If you need a projector right now and want something that can be put right next to your wall, this is a great option if you can find it cheaper than the $1,300 it usually goes for. If you can wait a few months for either a price drop or better competition, that's not a bad idea either.