Projectors are obviously one of the costlier items in a home theater; as such it should come as no surprise to learn a healthy market for used projectors exists. All sorts of projectors can be found used, LCD, DLP, CRT etc. etc. There are of course a few things to consider before investing in a used home theater projector.
First off understand that projectors are more volatile (not the exact word I was looking for but close enough) than direct-view displays, the main reason is heat. Projectors have quite a bit more work to do than direct-view’s starting with not having the luxury of projecting light into a sealed cabinet. Add to that, the screen is in many cases two to three times the size of the average direct-view display and it’s easy to see how projectors are more prone to failure.
I say this not to discourage anyone from buying a projector (we love ours) but to draw attention to the importance of a warranty with a projector. Once you buy used (with minor exception) you’re on your own. This is where it gets tricky, paying 10% off retail for a year-old projector clearly isn’t worth the associated risk, paying less than half the retail for a two-year-old projector on the other hand may well be.
In other words, if buying used is the only way to go then by all means don’t let that stop you. However, understand that service issues happen and happen more often with projectors than LCD’s and plasmas. Don’t pay an arm and a leg for this privilege. Also, the only other real areas of concern are smokers and lamps; avoid buying a projector from a smoker if possible (nothing personal, smoke colors optics). Secondly, assume the lamp in every used projector is seconds away from failing. If the lamp lasts for several more months treat it as a surprise and if not, you’re prepared ahead of time.