I've been very fortunate to live in a very high tech area (SF Bay Area) where items like projectors are almost considered trash, ripe for people like me to re-use like a phoenix and transform my backyard into a outdoor drive-in showcase.
And in the process I've been able to educate myself in what projectors work and does not, but more importantly the price one should be willing to pay for the centerpiece of ANY outdoor movie theater setup!
While the are those who use reel to reel for outdoor use, my focus is based on units that accept video inputs, ie dvd or computer.
For starters, forget adbout msrp for projectors more than 1yr old, Once you buy used, your research is based on lamp availabilty and prices and your assumed usage of the projector, ie will it only be for outdoors or indoors as well?
Lets look for projectors...
Ebay is always your universal marketplace. The only problems I have with using that is the fact that pictures don't always show the status of the projector, how it is handled during the shipping process (was the box used in good condition? Did the shipper drop the projector at any point in transit?), and finally the crazy shipping costs. Yeah, it might be a good deal, but the box they used to it in has to be bigger (for padding) and of course, the seller will at times jack up the shipping price to make up his profit margin.
Craigslist.org is my unabashed favorite. I will always find projectors, sometimes on a weekly basis, that I know I can afford. What have I found on craigslist, you might ask? I have found working SVGA projectors with 700hrs left on the lamp for $10.00, (4) XGA 2200 lumen pjs for $30 each, a SVGA projector that was initially priced at $25, but then reduced for free, etc..
Your local college (state or universities the best bet)or school will also at times be phasing out old projectors for new ones, so again there is another resource to explore. While newspaper you might get lucky, the first two are always consistently better for finding a pj.
If the seller tells you the msrp is 2k, 5k, even 12k when new, forget it. You can ALWAYS buy a NEW/REFURBISHED projector for under (at time way under) $500
with comparable if not better specs than the old projector. The point is not that you shouldn't buy old just because new is better, but what you should expect when buying old.
So if you find anything that is around $250-300, it must (a) be able to handle hdtv/anamorphic and (b) lamp life is stated around min 2000/3000hrs. How will you know, use this website and use the SEARCH Feature to find the projector in questionhttp://www.projectorcentral.com/home.cfm
As to older projectors (5yrs and older) , typically new lamps for them are very expensive- at least $450 or more. Again, there are a couple of resources to fall on, the key being that the old burned out lamp is still in place and not thrown away.
To charge someone to it insteadhttp://www.jopprugroup.com/
There are others but these are two I know of.
As to pricing of these projectors, if they are charging the price point at or greater than the $500 mentioned above, forget the deal and move on. They don't want you to lowball them, they want the uninformed sucker to buy it now and regret later. Typically, them should all be $200 or less, with the emphasis on LESS!
I'll have more to talk about in the future but lets start with this for now.