Epson Home Cinema 6500UB Projector Review

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000

he Epson has the advantage in brightness, both in best and brightest modes, however, the PLV-Z3000′s brightest mode is still well above average, and has the muscle for the usual sports viewing with some ambient light. Both are sharp.

The Sanyo PLV-Z3000′s Frame Interpolation works better than the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, and while it seems all such technology has some minor jerkiness, due to trouble processing all the movement, the Sanyo is very good compared to the Epson which tends to have obvious jerkiness on a regular basis.

The Sanyo calibration lacking two separate adjustments for the primary colors when calibrating grayscale, isn’t as precise as the Epson’s and we never quite could get rid of a slight “gold-yellow” cast to movies. The operative term, though is slight. The Sanyo doesn’t look quite as perfect in terms of color accuracy, but is acceptable.

Sanyo offers a three year warranty with fast turn-around, compared to Epson’s two years with overnight replacement.

Black levels are a significant difference between these two projectors. The Sanyo, with its 65,000:1 claimed contrast ratio should have put it squarely in the same league as the Epson, but it comes up short. While the Epson is the best of, say, the under $4000 projectors in terms of black levels, the Sanyo has the least impressive black levels of the “ultra high contrast” projectors. To put it in perspective though, the Sanyo is still better than any of the non “ultra high contrast” projectors in terms of black levels, and comes very close to the Panasonic PT-AE3000, for example. On side by side viewing, the Epson projected dark scenes with blacker blacks and a more impressive, dynamic looking image.

While in general, (frame interpolation not-withstanding), the Epson comes out on top, don’t forget that the Epson costs about 1/3 more than the Sanyo, and price is a great equalizer. Budget, and your specific requirements will allow you to make an intelligent choice between these two projectors

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 6100

This is easy – standard vs ultra high contrast. The Home Cinema 6100 sells for under $2000 in the US, roughly at 2/3 the price of the Epson. The brightness is almost identical. The 6500UB, of course wins in black levels, the big difference between these two. Of course, the 6500UB also has frame interpolation, but, considering its implementation, based on our sample unit, many people will not use it for anything but sports viewing.

If you just want a classic 1080p projector with good black level performance, and a great price, go with the 6100. If you are an enthusiast, in persuit of the best possible image, and that usually means black level performance is a big consideration, then scrape up the extra dollars, because if you settle for the 6100, even if it fully pleases you, you are likely to spend a lot of time agonizing whether you should have dug deeper for the top of the line Epson.

Home Cinema 6500UB vs. InFocus IN83

Ahh, two excellent projectors, yet so different. The InFocus IN83 has stunningly natural and accurate color fidelity, and film-like picture quality. The Epson can’t match the overall color accuracy, notably the skin tones, not that the Epson isn’t very good. It’s just that the IN83 is superb in this regard. As to film-like, the Epson isn’t quite there, instead, its picture tends to be more dynamic looking which I refer to as pop and wow. A purist might jump at the IN83 for the above, but the InFocus IN83 is no match for the Epson 6500UB when it comes to black level performance, despite the InFocus using the Darkchip4, the “top of the line” DLP chip for home theater. As I pointed out in the IN83 review, the projector would have been even better still, if they had a dynamic iris, to improve the black levels.

When it comes to brightness, the IN83 is one of those light canons – it produces more than 1000 lumens in its best mode (with fixed iris partially open), allowing it to work with bigger screens than the 6500UB can handle. The IN83 does movie night on my 128 inch diagonal Firehawk G3 screen, without breaking a sweat, whereas, anything over 110 inch diagonal with the Epson is a stretch.

Both projectors are very bright in brightest mode, and can handle a fair amount of ambient light on large screens for sports and other HDTV/TV viewing.

The InFocus is more expensive, and as a classic DLP projector has no lens shift and a zoom lens with only a 1.2:1 range, for limited placement flexibility. It is definitely a ceiling mount projector, not practical to be shelf mounted.

If only the IN83 had improved black levels, then it would be the solid choice, but without that, the Epson is a competive projector for less money. There are plenty of trade-offs between these two. Both are excellent projectors but with different strengths and weaknesses.

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000

As expected, this is the comparison most people are waiting for. And what an interesting comparison it is. Here’s my take on how they stack up:

First, the Epson is about $300 more in the US. We realize that readers in other parts of the world sometimes pay a lot more for the Panasonic, and others pay even less, compared to the Epson. You’ll have to take the pricing where you are into consideration.

Black levels: The Panasonic is really very good, and the middle of the pack of the ultra high contrast projectors. It comes very close to the older 1080 UB, and almost as close to the slightly improved 6500UB. Overall, the Panasonic and Epson are close enough that the Epson’s advantage is not a dramatic advantage, although it is definitely enough to sway many enthusiasts (including me).

Here are a few side by side images for considering black level performance. The Epson is on the left, the Panasonic on the right. While the Panasonic is extremely good at black levels, the Epson is better

6500UB_vsPT-AE3000_5thelement_starship_large
6500UB_vsPT-AE3000_bond_train_large
6500UB_vsPT-AE3000_DarkKnight_trio_night_large

Brightness: The Epson is a notch brighter in both best, and brightest modes (especially brightest mode), and this will help handle a size larger screen. If you are a big sports fan, or plan to watch a lot of general HDTV/TV, the Epson’s much brighter brightest mode is a big plus.

Pluses for the Panasonic include a much better working Frame Interpolation scheme, the motorized zoom and focus, plus lens memory, which allows the PT-AE3000 to essentially emulate having an anamorphic lens, so that you can use a 2.35:1 screen, and watch Cinemascope movies (most movies) without the letterboxing at top and bottom of the screen.

The overall image of the Panasonic is a little less dynamic, and and a touch more film-like than the 6500UB, and the Panasonic has a very slight advantage in revealing dark shadow details.

Overall, the Panasonic has better color accuracy out of the box (one of the best), and is an excellent overall projector at an excellent price.

The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, by comparison, is a little rough around the edges, with the frame interpolation, a slightly harder image, but more sizzle – pop and wow, but definitely needs a basic calibration to really perform, while the Panasonic can get by without (still recommended).

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