Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Complete, Projector Based Home Theater System Review

Ensemble HD 1080 Lens Throw and Lens Shift

Lot’s of range on the best in class, 2.1:1 zoom lens. As noted on the first page, measured from the front of the lens, the projector can be as close as 9.8 feet and as far back as 20.9 feet from the screen!

When you consider the size of the projector, in its cradle, approximately 16 inches to the nose of the lens barrel, from the back), and add that to the minimum distance of 9.8 feet, you end up with approximately 11 feet, 4 inches, to the rear. The screen of course will be a few inches out from the wall, so lets say you will need your room to be at a minimum, just over 11.5 feet. Sorry, you won’t get it to work in one of those 9×10 feet 3rd or 4th bedrooms, just not quite enough depth.

By the same token, if you want to set up a mount from the rear wall, your maximum room depth becomes about 22 feet.

All considered, the projector should work in the vast majority of rooms, and a tape measure will tell you for sure!

Lens shift is excellent. If you have really high ceilings – say 12, 15 or more, or high sloped ceilings to ceiling mount you will still need the assembly to hang down from a pole, like many projector installations. Because of the great range, though, the top of the projector cradle can be ceiling mounted, with any extension, on ceilings as high as 10 or 11 feet, with no issue. (Of course the height you choose to place the screen will factor into that. I’ve got the screen mounted to the wall, just below the ceiling, and with a 9 foot ceiling height, I still have a good amount of vertical lens shift available.

The logic involved in the paragraph above: In my installation, the center of the lens is two and a half inches below the bottom of the screen housing, and therefore just less than ten inches above the top of the screen surface when the screen is fully down. Since the projector has almost 23″ inches “above the line” of lens shift, for a 100″ diagonal screen, I could still be ceiling flush on a 10 foot ceiling, and if I had a taller room, and mounted the screen higher as well, no problem. However, there is a limit of how high up you want your screen. You can also still wall mount the screen below the projector, but adjust the drop of the screen to show less than the full foot of black drop material that is normally above the screen surface. That buys still another foot, making 11 foot ceilings fine! Again, with an extension you can do rooms with taller ceilings

The Epson also has horizontal lens shift. using it more than the smallest amounts (to correct for slightly off center mounting), reduces the amount of vertical lens shift. In the case of my installation, Because of wall mounted cabinets near where the projector was to be mounted, I requested that they mount it off center, intentionally, and correct with the horizontal lens shift. In my case, to give you an idea, with the lens almost flush with the top of the screen (2.5 inches below) I was still able to mount the projector/cradle with the lens about 4 inches off center, and still have lens shift to spare.

Ensemble HD 1080 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility

A classic 3LCD projector. At normal seating distances, you will likely only ever see pixel structure on things like closing movie credits, and maybe some of the signage used in to display scores when watching sports, and similar things. I do not consider there to be a screen door effect issue, with this system. Since the projector is not a DLP projector, there is no spinning color wheel, and therefore Rainbow Effect does not exist.

Ensemble HD 1080 Projector Brightness

Overall, in “best” mode, the Epson is very typical in terms of brightness, but is brighter than all but a few projectors when comparing “brightest” modes. To keep things simple, in best mode, Theater Black 1, after calibration, brightness was just over 12 foot-lamberts for the provided 100″ diagonal screen size. 12 foot-lamberts is the standard for movie theater brightness at your favorite cineplex, so the Epson is right on the money, for your darkened theater. Other modes give you more brightness if you prefer, a slight compromise in color accuracy.

In brightest mode, though, the projector has plenty of lumens to cut through a moderate amount of ambient light, that you probably prefer, for viewing things like sports and general TV/HDTV viewing!

For those who want more understanding, regarding the technical side of the brightness aspect of the Epson, read on, but if you are the typical family that Epson is targeting, suffice to say, brightness is just what you are looking for. Good brightness for best movie viewing, and brightness to spare, in the brighter modes, for dealing with ambient light!

Every calibrator does things a bit differently, and Mike who just did the Epson projector for me, while I watched him (since I wasn’t going to have him unmount it to take to his place). He tends to get slightly lower numbers post calibration than I do, the way he does things. Still, his numbers show good brightness in best – Theater Black 1 mode, and the Epson is still extremely bright in best mode, compared to most projectors even though there are a few that significantly out power the Epson.

With the lamp on full power, as most will use it, I suspect, and the zoom lens a little closer than the midway point, just over 1/3 back from its closest, here are the numbers for each of the Color modes. In addition I have included the measured color temperature of white (ideal for movies is 6500K):

Numbers for each of the Color modes
Theater Black 1 358 lumens @ 6656
Theater Black 2 240 lumens @ 6611
Dynamic 1422 lumens @ 6954
Living Room 617 lumens @ 6673
Natural 617 lumens @ 6673

For “best” mode, the Epson’s default 358 lumens in Theater Black one is really just about average for the lower priced (under $4000) home theater projectors.

For “brightest” mode, the 1422 lumens makes the Epson Home Cinema 1080 projector significantly brighter than most under $10,000 home theater projectors, but, as mentioned there are a few much brighter models out there (all more expensive).

To give you an idea about the relative difference between the brightness of different modes, here are three images – taken with the same camera exposure, to show you the brightness differences. So that the brightest mode isn’t overly blown out, obviously the darker modes look dark. Of course at the correct exposure for each, they would all appear equally bright in the photos. (So, don’t try to make any judgements about color from these images.)

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Brightness of different modes Slideshow

Brightness of different modes

Theater Black 1 Mode

Brightness of different modes

Living Room Mode

Brightness of different modes

Dynamic Mode

As you can see, there is a substantial, real difference in brightness, especially between Theatre Black 1, and Dynamic

More importantly, here are the brightness measurements, post calibration, for the four modes that we calibrated:

Header Content
Theater Black 1 349 lumens
Living Room 610 lumens
Dynamic (Mike’s settings) 1157 lumens
Dynamic (Art’s settings) 1303 lumens or about 13% brighter than Mikes

The Epson has a low lamp power mode as well, which extends lamp life to 3000 hours. This will cost you approximately 24 percent of brightness. I found it to be a little dark for my taste, in best mode, but many will find it just fine when in Living Room or Dynamic modes. Remember, over time, the lamp will dim, so even those who find low lamp power to be fine, will likely switch to high power as the lamp approaches about 2/3 to 3/4 of its rated usage.

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