Epson Home Cinema 6500UB Projector Review
Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
Not much surprise here. This Homc Cinema 6500UB is the 1080 UB’s replacement, and performs, basically, as an imporved 1080 UB. The overall image is a little sharper, enought to cout the 6500UB as a sharp 1080p projector, up from an average 1080p projector. It appears to be a bit brighter in best mode (and brightest), thanks to a higher wattage, and newer designed lamp. In addition, the new lamp, Epson rates at 4000 hours life, whether in Hight Brightness, or low power modes. With most projectors being only 2000 hours in full power mode, this reduces cost of ownership significantly with the new Epson.
Of course this Home Cinema 6500UB boasts better black levels, and it does deliver. Since the older UB was already best of the lower cost projectors, a big improvement was not expected, nor delivered. Still, nothing short of the much higher price of a JVC projector can beat the 6500UB, in terms of black levels. Like with sharpness, the 6500UB offers a modest improvement in black level performance.
Creative frame interpolation, and 4:4 provide higher frame rates, and a theoretically smoother image, however, we have noted some issues with the 6500UB. Still, these are “extra” features, relative to the 1080UB, and in many cases this allows the 6500UB to perform better (especially on sports). The extra depth, though, we see in most frame interpolation modes is a bit over the top. None-the-less, it is additional capabilities that the 1080 UB lacks, and if Epson sorts out the FI issues, well, then it makes for an even bigger improvement.
If one owned a 1080 UB, would I recommend upgrading to the 6500UB? In most cases no, as it is an incremental improvement. Further, with some 1080 UBs still around at dealers, is the 6500UB worth the roughly $700 difference? If the bucks are there, I’d say yes, but if the 6500UB is really stretching your budget to the limit, it would be hard to recommend to you, to spend the extra.
Warranties are the same. The older Epson is the smaller, and more esthetically designed projector. The older Epson is definitely noisier, with the Epson now very quiet in low lamp (and fan) mode, and average noise at full power, compared to average in low lamp, and one of the noisier projectors in full power. Not a huge difference, but those who really are bothered by audible noise, will find this improvement important.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Mitsubishi HC5500 HC6500 and HC7000
Let’s start with the HC5500 and HC6500, which have very similar black level performance. The Epson definitely offers a really significant improvement in this area. Since neither of the two less expensive Mitsubishi projectors does the high frame rate output, the Epson, even with it’s flaws in certain FI modes, offers performance those Mitsubishis can’t even
Brightness is a factor – these two Mitsubishi projectors are about the same brightness in “best” mode, as the Epson, but only offer about half the lumens (between 1000 and 1100 lumens) of the 6500 UB.
The HC5500 is about 2/3 the price of the Epson while the HC6500 which is primarily sold through big box retailers and local dealers, has a cost close enough to the Epson, that it comes up short of the Epson in price performance. All are sharp 1080p projectors. The HC5500 has much more limited placement flexibility with an only 1.2:1 zoom lens ratio, compared to the Epson’s 2.1:1. Even the HC6500, which has a 1.6:1, can’t get quite as close to the same sized screen (by less than a foot difference), but the Epson can sit a full four feet further back in telephoto position (with a 100 inch diagonal screen, making it a better fit for those looking to shelf mount in the rear. Some rooms will just be too deep to shelf mount the HC6500.
Overall, you have to figure the 6500 is a step up product, thanks primarily to the black level performance, the brightness and the frame interpolation.
That brings us to the Mitsubishi flagship projector, the HC7000. Like the Epson it offers high frame rates – 120fps, but uses simple frame duplication, not the Epson’s creative frame interpolation. The HC7000 performs this pretty much flawlessly, compared to the Epson which our initial unit shows issues in many FI modes. The Mitsubishi HC7000 wins in styling (big time), and is much quieter than the Epson (as are the less expensive Mitsubishis).
Black level performance of the HC7000 is very good (it, like the Epson is another of the “ultra high contrast” projectors. The Epson however, overall has a slight advantage. Still, they are close, much closer to each other than either is, compared to the less expensive Mitsubishis. Let’s say it would be hard to pick the Epson over the Mitsubishi simply because of the small black level difference. I’d say that they are “close enough” in this regard. The biggest advantage of the Epson over this rather refined Mitsubishi HC7000, is the price difference, which is primarily due to the different distribution. The HC7000, with its local only distribution prices out more like the Epson Pro Cinema 7500UB, which is, in most ways identical to the 6500UB, except for the onboard support for an anamorphic lens (which the Mitsubishis support, and the 6500UB does not).
The HC7000 is an excellent projector for movie watching, but not as bright, as noted. The real difference, though is when you want some lights on (Sports, HDTV), and there, the Epson is easily more than twice as bright.
So, from a pure picture quality standpoint, the HC7000 and the 6500UB are definitely direct competitors, but all those extra lumens will be a deciding factor for many, and that will favor the Epson.
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