For beginners the entry level BenQ's like the HT1070a or HT2050a are excellent choices. The only time I would recommend going for a higher end projector is if your setting up a truly dedicated space with dark painted ceiling and walls with full ambient light control. The Sony HW45es is the best 1080p projector on the market but does sell for close to twice the BenQ 2050a. The Epson 3100/3700 (the 3500 is long discontinued and vastly improved in the newer models) is a light cannon and highly recommended for fighting some ambient light and also has great placement flexibility and only a few $100 more then the BenQ. The Epson 4000/4010 will accept a 4K/HDR source but is only 1/2 4K (1080p shiffted 2x) costs about the same as the Sony, has contrast a little better then the 3100 with power lens memory. The 5040 is at the top of your budget and has the the same features of the 4000 with much higher contrast would be my recommended projector for a dedicated space.
"Smart enough to know better, to old to care" ------ Dedicated Bat Cave Home Theater, JVC RS49U/Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector, 110" 16:9 Jamestown screen with variable power masking for CIW 2.50:1 to 16:9, Marantz 7009 with 7.1.4 Atmos with Ohm mains,3 DIY Subs (2 15" (1 ported, 1 sealed and a 12" 4th order bandpass), 1 DIY butt kicker, Custom Built HTPC, 18TB DroboFS NAS