Epson Home Cinema 8100 Projector Review

Epson Home Cinema 8100 Sharpness

The overall sharpness of the Epson Home and Pro Cinema projectors is generally on the sharper side of average. Most single chip DLP projectors will look a tad sharper (though not all). This is primarily due to the Epson being a 3 chip, or 3 panel projector, which means the panels need to be aligned, and are never perfect. That’s not a problem for single chip DLPs although it is a comparable problem for the expensive 3 chip DLP’s which have the same issues as the Epson would, relating to convergence.

The pre-production projector sent me has more misconvergence than I would expect on a production unit, with almost a full pixel shift. Even so, the pixel shift was not visible at normal seating distances.

No doubt, however, it is taking a slight toll on perceived sharpness. Nonetheless, the Home Cinema 8100 is still typical in sharpness. A little extra sharpness would be nice, especially on all digital content like HDTV sports and high quality HDTV programming like Discovery-HD. For movie viewing, however, film adds its own softness to the content, so the slight differences between sharpness of two projectors is mostly overlooked on movies.

Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: Home Cinema 8100, Optoma HD20, BenQ W6000, and Sharp XV-Z15000. I haven’t seen any projector under $3000 projector do better than the BenQ when it comes to trying to read the type on the on screen menus in this scene, but the Epson Home Cinema 8100 still looks really good, and there really isn’t any small type readable on the BenQ, that can’t be read on the Epson Home Cinema 8100.

Sharpness - comparison

Cinema 8100
BenQ
Cinema 8100.
Cinema 8100.

Epson Home Cinema 8100: Bottom Line Sharpness

The Home Cinema 8100 offers typical sharpness for a 1080p projector. While you will find sharper projectors out there, most are more expensive.

Although single chip DLP technology has an inherent advantage, many of the lower cost DLP projectors, due to other reasons, aren’t as sharp as they could be, making for a pretty level playing field. For example, consider these three DLP projectors: The Mitsubishi HC3800 (a direct competitor) is slightly, but visibly sharper, but that’s not true for the low cost Optoma HD20. The more expensive Sharp XV-Z15000 is about the same overall sharpness. The Sharp, can focus a touch sharper, at the focus point, but doesn’t hold the sharpness as well as you move away from that point to the sides and corners. By that point, the Epson is slightly sharper.

Not to worry. Some sports fans may be willing to pay more for a little extra sharpness, but they will be hard pressed to find any similarly priced projector that’s sharper, and can claim to be even close to being as bright as the Epson when comparing bright modes. One thing I am pretty certain of – extra brightness is a big “feature” for sports fans.

Light Leakage

The whole Home Cinema and Pro Cinema series Epson projectors are very clean when it comes to light leakage. There is neither any noticeable light leaking out of the vents, nor is there any detectable light around the image, that is visible during any viewing, including very dark scenes. Bottom line: No issue at all.

Image Noise

Epson seems to contract out for its image processing (as do most projector manufacturers). I believe the Home Cinema 8100 is using Silicon Optix processing (I know they use Silicon Optix Reon-VXfor the 8500UB.) Bottom line, the processing in the 8100 seems certainly clean enough. I noticed no issues worthy of reporting. (I should mention, that I do use the Silicon Optix test disc for evaluating.)

Audible Noise

The Home Cinema 8100 is moderately quiet. It claims 22 db in low power, and, relative to that, is probably about 27 db at full power. That’s a good bit quieter than many home theater projectors (a lot of the DLP projectors are in the 30 – 33 db range at full power). In other words, the Epson is typically quieter at full power, than many DLP’s running at low power.

Certainly there’s no comparison between the Epson and its closest competitor, the Mitsubishi HC3800, which is definitely noisier. The lower cost Optoma HD20 is noisier still.

As is usual, there is a faint rumbling sound to the Epson dynamic iris. I barely ever spot it, and I recommend to users, if they find it noticeable, that they may be able to damp that by putting a small amount of insulator between projector feet and shelf, or projector bottom and ceiling mount, in case the shelf or mount are amplifying the sound. Most people however, won’t need to bother, but for those particularly noise adverse, it’s a suggestion. At least one end user reported back that this adivce helped them out.

Most 3LCD projectors in competition are actually slightly quieter, than the Epson (all’s fair, the Epson’s are typically brighter), but, the Epson audible noise should be fine for the vast majority. Also, some of the 3LCD projectors that are quieter, are also significantly less bright, allowing the Epson to run in low power and still be just as bright or brighter. In low power mode, the Epson should be as quiet as most other projectors running at full power (Mitsubishi HC6800 and HC7000 being obvious exceptions, and both are a lot more money).

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