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

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Highlights

  • A great large screen home theater system that is affordable
  • Sold as a complete system that can be installed in, well, less than one day
  • Very impressive picture quality
  • Plenty of sound for the loudest movies, and good quality sound that impresses when listening to music (there’s nothing like a good music video)
  • Blends nicely into a room, the equipment doesn’t dominate – esthetically designed for “wife approval”
  • Well thought out, with lots of add-on capability if needed
  • Excellent price performance
  • Uses “last year’s” model Epson projector, but still a solid performer
  • Overall installed cost less than a 60″ plasma system with inferior sound, and few frills
  • Just too much fun!

Overview

I do believe that the two new Ensemble HD systems from Epson have the potential to completely change the dynamics of home theater purchases.

Finally, an easy way (budget allowing), to convert a room and install a home theater projector based complete system.

(Note, image above, provided by Epson, Olympic image on the screen, from our review photo shoot, added by Projector Reviews. -art)

After the Highlights list, I need to provide a quick “look” at the home theater market up until this new product. After that, this overview will get into all the aspects of what the Epson Ensemble HD 1080 (and Ensemble HD 720) consist of!

The Ensemble HD 1080 easily earns our Hot Product Award, but somehow that just doesn’t seem to be enough. As a result, a new award category has been created, and the Ensemble HD 1080 is the first to win it: Congratuations: The Epson Ensemble HD1080 receives our highest award: Outstanding Product! – 2008

Now the only way to properly review the Ensemble HD, I figured, would be to install one in our house, since the concept of a complete, easy to install system is key to the concept. As I already have one awesome system, my wife and I decided that we could put a second one in our home office. (Smart move!). That was the plan, and it came off as hassle free as we had anticipated! Note: Epson was good enough to provide both the Epson Ensemble HD 1080 for the room, and to cover the cost of the installation as well. (Hard to argue with that!)

The Dynamics of Owning a Home Theater Projector System

For the first time, a high quality large screen projection system – with sound to match – can be installed in people’s homes, stress free in less than a day!

We’re talking projector, 100 inch diagonal screen, a full 5.1 surround sound system, with sub-woofer, DVD player and AM/FM tuner, complete with almost all of the trimmings. (You’ll likely still want to have your cable or satellite hooked up, and sooner or later, a Blu-ray player – I recommend sooner!) A home theater system like this makes the average sized LCDTV look so small that it all belongs in the kitchen!

Projector-based home theater systems are a tiny portion of the home theater market, with sales in the hundreds of thousands in the US each year, compared to tens of millions of LCDTV and plasmas sold.

Most people who have thought about a projector-based home theater system in their home, find the prospect of actually buying one to be too daunting. As a result, by my estimate, most people who have a room set up with a projector for some first class home theater, fit into three categories:

  1. Home Theater enthusiasts, hobbyists, or whatever you like to call them, including DIY types (do it yourself) – they simply can’t live without
  2. Folks with a healthy checkbook – who will locate a local dealer, work with them to determine what level of system, and a few choices, but leave all the work to the dealer.
    1. Further, these people are typically not intimidated with home projects that can take weeks, or months, as long as it’s completed on time, on budget, and performs as expected (or better).
  3. All-in-one Projectors – these aren’t full home theater systems, but a portable projector with some built in speakers, and maybe a DVD player, but are really entry level products – pick one up, plug it in, and shine it on a wall – great in the kids room. These are, overall, far inferior compared to what we are talking about here, and very low cost

What’s missing from this list is most of the other 5 Billion plus people on the planet.

Most people go out and buy from their favorite toy store – Best Buy, Circuit City, and appliance stores that sell plasmas and LCDTVs. They then do the most basic setup in their homes. Over half of these people will just have their Plasma or LCDTV on a stand or table top, and not bother with wall mounting. Most will not even add to the typically anemic built in speakers inside the LCDTV or Plasma, thus losing the great room filling sound available on HDTV, TV, and DVDs of all types.

Basically people want to keep things simple, and with a serious home theater system at any budget level, there are many important choices to be made. That’s enough to intimidate the vast majority of people, whether they want a system for $3000 (or less), $100,000 or more, or anywhere in between.

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