Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, 7500UB vs. JVC DLA-RS20, HD750
In this comparison, the winner of our mid-priced class Best In Class award - the Home Cinema 6500UB, as well as the almost identical Home Cinema 7500UB, go up against the Best In Class winner of the premium class - the JVC DLA-RS20 (and it's amost identical sibling, the JVC HD750).
This is a comparison for those seeking truly superior performance in a home theater projector, who must decide if the far more expensive JVC projectors are worth the difference to them.
March 09 - Art Feierman
Let's start by defining the differences between the two Epson projectors, then, the differences between the two JVC projectors. From there, we can move forward with how the Epson projectors fare, against the JVC projectors.
The differences between the two Epson projectors, their Home Cinema 6500UB, and the Pro Cinema 7500UB, are slight. Everything the Home Cinema 6500UB is capable of, the Pro Cinema 7500UB does as well, but the 7500UB has some extras.
Pro Cinema 7500UB projector - Extras and Differences
- Internal support for an anamorphic lens
- ISF certification, and two additional settings modes: ISF Day, ISF Night
- 3 year warranty, with overnight replacement vs. 2 years with overnight replacement
- Minor changes to the CMS (Color Management System)
That covers the extras.
- Pro Cinema 7500UB finished in black - 6500UB in white
- Each preset color mode has a different name (than on the 6500UB), but are fundamentally the same
- Pro Cinema 7500UB sold only through authorized local dealer network, which can provide installation
- Pro Cinema 7500UB is more expensive, but includes a ceiling mount and spare lamp - Still, the Pro nets out to a higher price than the Home version
JVC DLA-RS20 compared to JVC HD750
The only differences I am aware of are:
- DLA-RS20 is sold by the JVC Pro division, the HD750 by their Consumer division
- DLA-RS20 is slightly prettier - with gold trim, instead of silver on the HD750
- Different dealer networks - but both are designated to be "authorized local installing dealer only" distribution channels
Essentially, JVC is marketing these two essentially identical projectors through two different divisions, and except for the trim, have no other differences (despite having slightly different published specs - go figure.)
OK, with that out of the way, let's just say that technically, because of distribution methods, the 7500UB is the more direct competitor to either of the JVC projectors.
Still, both Epson projectors cost less than half of the JVC projectors. Are the JVC projectors worth the difference?
I have to weigh in on this one as pretty unbiased. Afterall, I recently purchased a JVC RS20 for my main theater. I have the very similar predecessor to the 6500UB - the Home Cinema 1080 UB, installed in my smaller theater as part of an upgraded Epson Ensemble HD home theater system.
To digress for a moment: The Ensemble HD 1080 received our Outstanding Product of 2008 award (our highest honor), and is discussed elsewhere in this Report, as well as having an extensive review on our site. Note, the Ensemble HD is designed as an "instant" home theater solution, complete with projector motorized screen (with all front speakers built in), cradle for the projector (with rear speakers built in), subwoofer, equipment rack, an AV receiver with DVD player, and a pre-programmed universal remote. It's designed to be fully installed in less than 5 hours.
Back to business. So as not to continuously have you read "Home Cinema 6500UB and Pro Cinema 7500UB" or JVC DLA-RS20 and JVC HD750, I will focus on the 6500UB and RS20 unless otherwise noted.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. JVC DLA-RS20 Projector Overview
Let's start off with how these two significantly different priced projectors are similar, then we'll get into the differences. The Home Cinema 6500UB currently has a street price of $2500 (after rebate), while the Pro Cinema 7500UB is officially $3500 but includes mount and spare lamp. Both JVC models have an official MSRP of $7495.
Both Epson and JVC projectors are about as flexible in terms of placement in the room, as you will find. Both have at least 2:1 zoom lenses, and extensive lens shift. Both have two year warranties (Epson, though has a replacement program for both years). Both companies are well known for excellent support. Both are exceptional in terms of black level performance, a key demand among those seeking best performance.
Both JVC and Epson projectors are three chip devices. Epson uses 3 of the most advanced LCD chips. (Epson designs and manufactures those LCD panels or "chips", and also sells them to all the other LCD projector manufacturers). JVC uses LCoS chips (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), so they are still "LC" but their chips are reflective, rather letting the light pass through (transmissive) like the traditional LCD panels. JVC designs and manufactures their LCoS chips which they refer to as D-iLA (Direct Digital Drive Image Light Amplifier) - talk about a mouthful... In our reviews we keep things simple by referring to them as 3LCD and LCoS.
The key differences are: The JVC projectors are definitely brighter than the Epson projectors when comparing best picture modes. When you want to use a brightest mode, for certain viewing, with some ambient light (especially HDTV/sports), the Epsons are almost twice as bright as the JVCs.
The Epsons have exceptional black level performance, but the JVC is the best in this regard. The Epson projectors have manual zoom and focus, while the JVCs are fully motorized.
I'll stop there, because everything will be covered in more depth below.
I've been starting off this section with a comment on the physical appearance of the projectors being compared. In this case, the JVC, well, is just a clean, elegant looking unit, with shiny piano finish, and tastefully added gold trim around the lens, and a thin line on the top and sides. It's hard to argue with the styling. (note, the JVC HD750's trim is silver not gold, so just as good looking, but perhaps not as classy).
The Epsons are boxier. They've made an attempt at styling, but I seriously doubt anyone will give them an award. The 7500UB comes in shiny black finish simillar to the JVCs, but the 6500UB is white with silver trim. The JVC projectors are definitely a size larger than the Epsons.
OK! With that out of the way, we can get into the more important, non-aesthetic differences.
Both brands projectors have their lenses offset from the center. While the JVC lens is recessed, (and hidden behind a motorized door, when the projector is off), the Epsons have a large lens barrel sticking out.
As mentioned above, the JVC has motorized focus, zoom, and lens shift, a nice touch that makes setting it up easier. The Epsons lens is completely manual.
The JVC has its control panel on the top, and it's nicely laid out. Epson puts theirs on the side (right side if viewing from the front). That's a minor difference but I prefer the JVC layout.
JVC has their input panel (cable connections) on the right side running from front to past half way back. The Epson panel is in the back. Some folks will favor the back location of the Epson. Most projectors have their input panels on the back. The disadvantage to that is that you need a little extra room behind the projector for cables to stick out. Others will favor the JVCs side solution, but that may depend on your room. If you enter the room from a projector's side, you'll prefer that the cables come out of the side you can't see. In my own setup, we enter the room facing the left side of the JVC, so I like the inputs on the right.
None of these projectors (if ceiling mounted) require that you unmount the projector to change the lamp - a very good thing!
Epson and JVC projectors are designed to work well, whether ceiling mounted, shelf mounted, or on a table top (unlikely as it is that people will put them on a table).
Both projectors have two infra-red sensors for their respective remote controls. The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and Pro Cinema 7500UB have a well laid out remote control with excellent range. One of my biggest complaints about the JVC DLA-RS20 and HD750 is that their remote control, while also nicely laid out, is underpowered, and has very short range. Getting a good bounce off of your screen to control the projector is a challenge (can you say "nuisance"?) My recommendation - buy a programmable remote, to replace JVC's provided one, and of course it can also control your other devices.
Both brands of projectors have identical selections of inputs. There are 2 HDMI inputs, fully HDMI 1.3 compatible with support for Deep Color, 24fps, CEC, etc. Both offer one component video input (3 RCA connectors), and an analog computer input that can be instead used as a second component video input. Both have a 12 volt screen trigger.
Top image: JVC DLA-RS20 cable connection area. Lower image: Epson connections
Bottom line: The JVC RS20 looks better than the Epson, and the motorized aspects of the lens are a nice convenience. The preference for where the cable connections are located will be a personal choice. The motorized lens cover keeps dust and cobwebs away from the lens. The weak performance of the JVC remote control, in terms of range, is a pain in the butt!
When it comes to placement, as stated above, both are extremely flexible. The differences are small, and not likely to matter to 98% of buyers. Basically, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB can be placed about one inch closer to a 100" screen, or about nine inches further back, but that's nothing considering that the JVC has a range of 10.2 feet for that sized screen, while the Epson has 11.1 feet.
In terms of lens shift, the two projectors are just a little more different, with the Epsons (for a 100 inch screen) being able to be mounted as high as 22.7 inches above the top of the screen surface (the best we've tested can do 24.5 inches). The JVC's 15 inches is still very generous, but if you have a high ceiling, (and 100 inch screen) that JVC projector will have to hang down an additional 7.7 inches. Hardly a deal breaker (especially since it is prettier)!
Both projectors have filters that require occasional maintanence.
Bottom line: Styling - JVC! Physical placement flexibility: Epson, but by the smallest of margins, Inputs - essentially identical. Size - if smaller is better (maybe in a small room), Epson advantage. Remote controls - all Epson advantage, Erogonomics: JVC (motorized lens functions).
One additional note: The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB does not have internal support for an anamorphic lens, the Pro Cinema 7500UB does. If you believe you will want to buy an anamorphic lens, now, or later, the choice between the two Epson projectors is simple, forget the 6500UB and buy the 7500UB. Since it costs, typically, at least $800 for an external processor to add that capability (units like the DVDO Edge), the 7500UB ends up costing less than a 6500UB with outboard processor.
Moving on to what those considering these projectors really care about - Picture Quality!
Comparing the Projector's Picture Quality
For the side-by-side images below, the Epson 6500UB is on the left, and the DLA-RS20 is on the right.
In my mind, there is no aspect of picture quality (keeping brightness out of the equation) where the Epson projectors can beat out the JVC projectors. That makes the real issue, "am I getting my money's worth when buying the much more expensive projector?" or "I realize the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB does a great job, but will I be truly happy, knowing that if I bought the JVC, I would have an even better viewing experience?"
The answers will be personal decisions, which will most strongly be determined by the level of perfection you demand, and the budget you have.
For both, out of the box performance could be improved. Forget for a moment that slight adjustments to controls like brightness, contrast and color saturation, are needed by virtually all projectors. Both projectors are off a bit on grayscale balance. Nothing bad, but we're talking about two projectors that are considered by folks who are really looking for best performance, and therefore, should be planning on maximizing the performance of either one. Still, the JVC has the better out of the box performance, one of the best seen in this review, while the Epson was, compared to the competition "very good", but so will improve even more from calibration.
I've got my JVC RS20 fully calibrated, and all I can say is "wow" when it comes to skin tones. (Remember, despite the accolades, I still find one projector in this report to be even better - however slightly - than the RS20, and that's the InFocus IN83.) Skin tones are gorgeous. I watched Pirates of the Carribean two nights ago for the first time since my RS20 was set up, and the first time in a while. The faces - any faces - light dark, tanned, pale, looked truly great, and natural. It looks just as good on Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight, and all the rest.
The Home Cinema 6500UB, by comparison, while still looking really good, isn't quite that good. With really good quality content, it comes very close. With movies that I don't consider to have great color to begin with the difference between the JVC and Epson increases. In such cases, skin tones tend to look a bit "hard". Bottom line: With both brand's projectors at their best, the JVC is definitely the winner in faithfully reproducing skin tones. The Epson will still do a really good job, but skin tones are not what it is the best at.
Black level performance:
As great as the Epson does black levels (definitely the best of any of the projectors in its class), better than most of the more expensive ones, the JVC is unmatched at any price. The Epson, on dark scenes without any significant bright areas produces stunning blacks, dark, inky, and so good that few would be disappointed. In mixed scenes, the Epson's dynamic iris can't close down as far, and black levels won't be as good. On bright scenes, well, the iris won't be in use, so black areas won't be as dark. Still, keep in mind that black level performance is by far, most critical on dark scenes. The eye is drawn to the brighter areas. Let's say you have a black helicoptor in front of a brightly lit building, the blacks on the Epson may not be that black, but you aren't likely to notice, or have anything to complain about.
On the other hand, once again - the JVC is the best there is (excluding CRT projectors and try to find one of those in the 21st century). Blacks are so close to black that the letterboxing on movies is dark enough that you don't even notice the bars (at least not with a good HC gray screen). This may be a solid win for the JVC, and a key reason you would spend the extra for the DLA-RS20, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I can only think of two other projectors in the report, regardless of price, besides the RS20, that can beat the Epson, and those two are the less expensive JVC RS10, and the Planar PD8150. The first being $5000 and the other, even more expensive than the JVC RS20. In other words, JVC - best, Epson - one of the next best choices.
In the image immediately below, you can see that the blacks on the Epson (left) are a bit brighter than the JVC on a black screen. If you saw the similar comparison in the IN83 vs RS20 comparison, you'll understand how good the Epson is for its price. Both the 6500UB and RS20 projectors were adjusted for brightness based on a bright scene. One of the drawbacks to dynamic irises, is that the companies set them to compromise the brightest areas slightly, so that the iris can do its thing. Otherwise, a single, tiny white area would require the iris to stay fully open. Doing this, ultimately results in some compression of the bright areas, if there is just a very small bright area. The result is a little less dynamic range. You can see the results of that in looking at the pause icon in the lower left. On bright scenes, they are the same brightness, but on a scene similar to this (mostly extremely dark with a very small white area), you can see that the JVC, while still providing slightly blacker blacks, will have "whiter whites" as well. The bottom line - a more dynamic looking image on dark scenes, while still having blacker blacks!
The next image, from The Dark Knight, is slightly overexposed. Click on it for a larger, even more overexposed version. You can clearly see the differences in this medium scene (there is sufficient bright light to prevent the Epson's dynamic iris from closing down significantly).
Still the Epson does a pretty impressive job, considering how excellent the almost 3x the price, JVC RS20 performs.
Neither projector fits into the "very best" performance levels in terms of revealing dark shadow detail. I have to say these two are extremely close, and a tie, overall.
Look to the enlarged image above, as well as this dusk/skyscraper/SWAT van image below.
Overall Look and Feel of the Picture:
The JVC is just excellent overall, in terms of look and feel. I've seen other projectors that demonstrate a little more pop and wow, but the JVC, with its lumens to spare, in best mode, should still be more impressive, simply because most "pop and wow" specialists, like the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB / Pro Cinema 7500UB, aren't as bright. As a result, in a typical environment, in best modes, the JVC and the Epson aren't that different in terms of the dynamic look to the image.
One more side-by-side, again, from The Dark Knight (Epson on the left):
Finally, three more images from each. Epson first:
JVC images start here:
I take it back! There is one area where the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB bests the JVC DLA-RS20: HDTV! That would be for viewing sports and general HDTV. Combine the Epson's dynamic look, and its still pretty good color accuracy, with tons of lumens in LivingRoom mode (or less accurate colors, but even more lumens in Dynamic mode) and the Epson is just more spectacular, and especially for sports viewing! The more controlled ambient light you want, the more the Epson outperforms the JVC, which has barely half the lumens in its brightest mode. Oh, the JVC will still have a more natural skin tone, but do you really care when watching an interception with 12 seconds left on the clock. I think not!
Bottom Line in terms of image quality:
The bottom line, in this case, is the same as the top line: The Epson just can't match the JVC RS20, in most areas. The two are comparable in sharpness, and in shadow detail, but the JVC consistently has a definite, though not great advantage in terms of skin tones, black levels, and overall look and feel. On the bright side for those on tighter budgets, the Epson 6500UB - and 7500UB - come up awfully close considering they both sell for less than half the price of the RS20. And, again, the Epsons will typically be the better choice for sports viewing.
Epson 6500UB, 7500UB vs. JVC RS20, HD750 Projector Performance
I've touched on this above. The Epson in "best" mode (TheaterBlack 1) measured a very healthy 491 lumens, definitely brighter than average. But, in "best" mode, it's no match for the JVC RS20's dazzling 775 measured lumens in its "best" mode.
When you need maximum lumens, the JVC, sadly really doesn't get noticeably brighter, as we measured it in Dynamic mode at 844 lumens (below average). By comparison, the Epson is a light canon. In LivingRoom mode, it cranks out 1215 lumens, almost 50% more than the JVC. Better still, when you are desparate for every last lumen, the Epson's Dynamic mode measured 1566 lumens, the brightest of all the projectors we tested (although we believe the Optoma HD8000-LV will easily beat the Epson, as it should produce more than 2000 lumens, based on its predecessor's performance).
So, a clear win for JVC in terms of "best" mode brightness, and an even bigger win for Epson for "brightest" mode brightness.
What about sharpness:
Both the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and the JVC DLA-RS20 fit into the average sharpness category. Both, in reality, have very good sharpness, but there are a few projectors (mostly DLP's) that we consider "sharper still" such as the InFocus projectors in this review. These two projectors are close enough to be considered tie in terms of sharpness.
Both projectors are quieter than the respective projectors they replaced, and both are roughly comparable. They are now, what I would call on the high side of average when run in the high power lamp modes. Those people who are the most noise adverse, might, that's MIGHT, have a problem with either of these at full power, and no one will be concerned about either when in low lamp mode.
The rest of us should be fine with the noise levels these produce. I would say both are 4-5 decibles quieter than the noisiest projectors (mostly DLP).
Let's call this a tie, even though the JVC is probably a db or two quieter overall.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, Pro Cinema 7500UB vs. DLA-RS20, HD750 - Special Features
Well, the JVC is pretty thin on special features. It will take a 24fps source, and do a 4:4 to it, to output at 96fps. The Epson can do that too.
The Epson, of course, has a full CFI (creative frame interpolation) suite, although the current version has problems with applying CFI to 24fps sources, so you are best served using it only with 60fps content, such as sports over HDTV, where it creatively takes the 60fps up to 120fps. I must note, that as of right now - mid-March, Epson is promising a much improved CFI implementation. While they can't pinpoint the date, it sure sounds like dealers will have them in stock, within the month. Epson has also said, to myself and others, that they will have a way for those who have already purchased their Epson, to get the CFI firmware update. Hopefully it will be by download, but if not, it sounds like Epson is prepared to pay to bring units back in, and upgrade them, then ship them back, or something similar.
Epson vs JVC - Bottom Line:
If you want the great value, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and Pro Cinema 7500UB are tough to beat. (Remember, if you are thinking anamorphic lens now, or in the future, go with the Pro Cinema 7500UB because of its internal support for those lenses).
On the other hand, if the JVC DLA-RS20 price tag isn't out of reach, and, if you already appreciate the value of great black level performance, and want the best there, plus stunning color performance, then, by all means you will get your money's worth with the even better JVC DLA-RS20. It really is that simple!
One last thought. There is a compromise. You may want to consider the JVC DLA-RS10. It's priced about half way between the Home Cinema 6500UB and the JVC RS20. True, it can't match the black levels of the RS20, but it still does slightly better blacks than the Epson. It also can't match the color accuracy of the RS20, but it comes close, and I would have to consider it, too, to be slightly better than the Epson in this regard. Again, ask yourself, whether you'll be second guessing your decision in a few months.
Truth is, any of these projectors performs well enough to be a "last projector" for even performance oriented folks. Best way I can put it together for you is this. I love my own RS20's performance, but, if I had to spend half as much, I would choose the Epson, and I could live pretty happily ever after. As I essentially have one of each, (well, the older Epson 1080 UB, and the RS20), I'm pretty confident about that "pretty happily ever after". The Epsons may not be quite as refined, but are an excellent solution, nonetheless. You'll just have to apply your situation to making the best choice for you.