Sinotec SJ86C LED Projector Review

I’ve had two of these devices in the last 2 years, and they make a bit of a story as you will see.

I bought the first Sinotec SJ86C in January 2019 at Game for around R3400. It looked very nice, had a cool black and white case and came loaded with great features and connectivity. The bulb life (rated at over 24000 hours) also stood out for me, as I hate things die on me and having to buy the same old appliances over and over again every five years or so. I like quality for my budget, and who doesn’t?

And what a nice machine this was – the picture was large and crystal clear! The remote and menu were easy to figure out and get accustomed to. We quickly grew used to enjoying our favorite movies and series on it. Unfortunately, there was trouble in the offing. It’s hard to believe just how much.

Let me just digress here for a moment, to mention that I’m not a complete noob when it comes to projectors. I’ve been using them at work for training purposes since 2003, and I’ve used a variety of different makes over the years. This however, was the first Sinotec unit I’d ever encountered.

The rear panel.

The manual came in basic English with very little actual useful information in there about using the projector. There was for instance, nothing at all about the fact that the unit had an air/dust filter at all, let alone that it might need to be checked from time to time. There was also nothing in the manual (or on the website) about duration of usage or cooling off periods, etc.

The first sign of trouble came 3 months later, when we noticed a slightly yellow spot in the left middle of the display – which at first was only visible when a white background was being displayed. In fact, at first we thought we were imagining it, so we put it out of our minds a while longer – after all, it wasn’t easily visible just then. Time went by, and by about month 6, the yellow spot had turned into an ugly brown patch – and it was spreading fast! Was the lens dirty? No – I cleaned it. Was it dirty inside the machine, we wondered? Well, I couldn’t open it due to the warranty and all.

It was while I had the device off its stand and on a table, that I noticed there appeared to be a sort of air filtration panel that slides out at the front. I took the panel out – and nearly fainted! The cloth filter was completely clogged up with dust and fibers! It looked like the inside of a vacuum cleaner bag!

Where the hell had all that dust come from? I had no idea! There was way too much dust and crap in there for it to have come from being in our lounge! Had we been given a demonstration unit? Or had it been an item returned by another customer mixed up with new stock? Who the hell knows?

Anyway, I gave it a thorough cleaning – but alas, to no avail! The brown patch did not go away – and it appeared to be spreading daily – the entire left center half of the display was marred by it!

A repair workshop wrote the thing off – the film on the internal LCD panel had discolored due to overheating – and while it still worked, this rendered half the image unwatchable! The solution was to replace the panel, but I waited almost three more months for them to get back to me with news that they couldn’t source parts for the thing in South Africa!

By now it was about a year since we’d bought the previous one – January 2020 – and it was too late to return it to Game under warranty. Fortunately I’d put this unit on my household contents insurance, and was able to claim for the loss. In the meantime – perhaps out of temporary insanity – and desperation of having something to watch movies on, I went back to Game and bought… you guessed it… another one.

Another… exact… same… model…Sinotec SJ86C.

In fairness, it was because I had an account at Game – and for some weird reason, the Sinotec SJ86C was still the only make and model projector available. “It must be a good one,” I thought. “No, there’ve been no comebacks or problems with this model” the salesman reassured me. “Yeah, right.” I think, looking back.

This one, while still the same model and appearance, seemed to be a bit different internally than the previous one. For one thing, the fan didn’t run for five minutes after turning the thing off. The fan went off almost as soon as the machine turned off. It seemed quicker and smoother. Perhaps Sinotec had made some improvements on the model in the meantime? Sadly, no, as we were to discover – at least not of the important stuff.

We checked the dust filter immediately at unpacking – it was perfectly clean! Thereafter my wife Kay and I acted like a pair of paranoiacs, checking the damn air filter of the new unit once a day, and then once a week, and then once every two weeks. It stayed clean. No yellowing at all.

We settled back for trouble-free enjoyment of our movies and series. Unfortunately, it was not to last. In March – just almost another 3 months into the new unit, a yellow spot made its appearance on the screen! It was a tragic wake-up call!

By now South Africa was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and getting to Game at the Bridge , would be something close to impossible, and so we resolved to take it in to Game as soon as it was possible. In the meantime, we nursed the projector by watching for hour-long periods, then turning it off at coffee breaks for about half an hour each time.

This unfortunately didn’t even slow down the spread of the yellow patch! This second machine had never had a blocked air filter at all – so what was it’s problem? In all the time I’d worked with media projectors – where I left them running for practically an entire work day in a teaching classroom environment, I’d never seen anything at all like this!

I didn’t care – I’d had enough!

In mid-July 2020 things had settled down some COVID-wise, and so I stuffed the thing back into its box and took it to Game’s customer service counter. They sent it away for evaluation, which they said should take 20 days. I waited for Game to get back to me – in the meantime doing all our movie watching on a laptop – until mid-August, 32 days after my previous visit, when I gave up waiting and went back to Game to find out what the hold-up was.

Their technicians must’ve reached the same conclusion about repairing it, because the customer service agent at the counter offered me a replacement unit. We checked our options – and all they had available was… you guessed it – still the Sinotec SJ86C!

My wife and I looked at each other meaningfully first.
“Oh hell no!” we chorused.

To cut a long story short, Game refunded me – and we’re still watching everything on a laptop screen. It’s honestly not as bad as – well, not watching anything at all.

My final verdict on the worth of the Sinotec SJ86C is this: It’s a lovely projector with great features – but if you want something that will last you more than three months before the LCD panel packs up, don’t bother! In fact, just don’t bother at all. If that’s all they sell at Game, rather buy elsewhere – BUT DO NOT BUY A SINOTEC SJ86C PROJECTOR!

The bulb may be rated at 24000+ hours – more than 5 years of continuous watching – but it’s not the bulb that’s the flaw in these things, it’s the internal LCD panel that burns from the heat of the bulb – and it does so long before the lifespan of the bulb even gets started! Obviously the bulb burns too hot – or the fans (there are 3 of them) aren’t effective!

This device – or to be more accurate – these devices, lasted 3 months of normal use before the fault became apparent. This is not just a fluke, not some wild coincidence – this is TWO supposedly identical units that demonstrated the same fault over the same time period – which tells me Sinotec doesn’t test their products properly.

People buy these things – as I did, twice – lured by the lower price and the expectation that well, “the bulb is rated at around 24000 hours” so it’s worth it – only to have the thing fail a few months in. It happened to me twice out of two cases – it’s a fair bet that it will happen to anyone who buys one of these models too. Be warned.

Again; DO NOT BUY A SINOTEC SJ86C PROJECTOR! 

To close; salespeople these days, it also has to be said, can tell one even less about the products they’re selling than the broken-English manuals that come with their goods. The ones at Game – in my humble opinion – would fit right in at a used-car lot: they might not have a clue about which appliance on their floor is better than the other, they can’t tell you anything more about it than what’s printed on the box, they will probably lie to you about not receiving any complaints about that particular product before – and everything on the floor is low-mileage and was driven exclusively to church by a little old lady on Sundays.

After a whole year and a half of this fiasco, you cannot convince me our two projectors were the only two Sinotecs purchased at that branch of Game that had problems – and the salesmen either lied when asked about comebacks on that model, or kept it to themselves.

This is why I do all my own research before buying. And I never trust an appliance salesman.

Sadly there was not a single bad review of the SJ86C I could find online before I bought the first one (well there IS now!). Feel free to share it.

#Sinotec #SJ86C #Review #bewarned #LCD #bulblife


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