Author Topic: Epson Pro Cinema 1080UB: Best in class?  (Read 1474 times)

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Epson Pro Cinema 1080UB: Best in class?
« on: January 18, 2008, 12:20:20 »
OK! CES is over, and Iím back to the ďgrind.Ē In this case, the grind is primarily finishing up the HC-1080UB projector review. Iím going to keep this somewhat short (for me), and with the review scheduled to publish Friday night - 11/18/08, I donít want to give away the whole story here. However! Iíve been getting pounded by emails, all saying - when will the review be out, so I can decide between the Epson and this projector or that one.

First of all, this Epson is an outstanding projector. The last time I was this enthused about a projector was almost certainly the JVC DLA-RS1, almost a year ago. Prior to that, (and despite itís limitations as a low cost 720p projector), the Panasonic PT-AX100U, some 15 months ago. Since those two, Iíve been impressed by a number of projectors, including the newer JVC RS2, but in cases like that, Iím seeing a new model which improves a bit over a predecessor. Not so with the Home Cinema 1080UB, and its sibling, the Pro Cinema 1080UB. These two (my comments on the Pro, are based on the Home version projector), are a major step up over their predecessors. Theyíve crossed the threshold to enthusiast class projectors, that will appeal to purists.

Let me put it this way. With the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB, the long standing advantage of black level performance (the ďHoly GrailĒ for many hard core enthusiasts and ďpuristsĒ), by DLP projectors has just ended. The Epson Home Cinema 1080UB, not only matches the black level performance of most of the 1080p DLPís, but exceeds it. Simply put, the better the black levels, the darker the areas that are supposed to be black, and near black. No fixed pixel projector (everything but CRT), can actually ďproduceĒ black, the best they can do are very, very, dark grays, and that varies a lot.

All my usual review image photos have been taken, and this evening Iíll be doing analysis and comparing those images with those of the competition to really nail down how good the black level and shadow detail performance of the Home and Pro Cinema 1080UBís are, compared to DLP, other LCD, and even the LCoS projectors. As of right now, it is an LCoS projector (liquid crystal on silicon - a reflective - rather than transmissive, variation of LCD technology), that offers the best black levels, and the champ is the JVC DLA-RS2. FYI: JVC calls their LCoS D-iLA, Sony calls theirs SXRD. After the RS2, next best seems to be the RS1, with the Sony VW60 close behind. Next, and possibly better than the two Sony projectorss (almost certainly the equal or better than the VW50 Pearl), comes the Epson, and that means I think it is at least the equal of the best known single chip 1080 DLP projectors as well! Thatís pretty sensational for a projector that is selling for under $2800 (US$) (Home Cinema version) right out of the gate! (more on the Pro version below). And thatís saying a lot.

If that isnít enough, the Epson is bright. In best mode, Theatre Black 1, it puts out about 450 lumens, and even after ďtamingĒ dynamic a little to maintain the brightest image, while improving the color balance, it managed over 1500 lumens in Dynamic mode. The difference in brightness between the Epson, and my RS1, this past weekend for football viewing, had me just loving the Epsonís extra lumens. Switching to movie watching, when I viewed Casino Royale segments first on one, then on the other, I could barely tell the differences in black levels and shadow details (but yes the JVC had the advantage). OK, beyond that, the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB looks and cooks like the older Home Cinema 1080, with almost no changes. It does support 1080/24fps while I seem to recall, the older model didnít. Thatís a real plus as well.

I donít think the Epson will support an anamorphic lens, but still checking on that. And that brings me to the Pro Cinema 1080UB. The key differences are:

-Black case instead of pearl white
-Higher price point ($3999 with spare lamp and mount), vs $2999 less $200 rebate, for the HC1080UB
-Different Presets, i.e. Silverscreen instead of Theater Black1Ö (smoke and mirrors?)
-ISF Certified. (Better color out of the box - that was the case last year, I havenít seen a new ďProĒ)
-Two extra modes for ISF Day, Night
-A 3rd year warranty!

The Pro is sold by local CEDIA type installing dealers, the kind that will also calibrate your projector to your room and other gear, while the Home version is available from select online resellers and some ďbig box housesĒ. I hate to say it, but if someone swapped out my RS1, even with itís minor advantages, and replaced it with a ďUBĒ, youíld hardly hear a complaint out of me. Iím that impressed!