Posted on October 4, 2009 Art Feierman
The first thing to point out about Epson’s new Home Cinema 8100 which is due to start shipping in the US, in late October, is that it is what we call around here, an “evolutionary” model. The Home Cinema 8100 is, in most ways, essentially identical to the Home Cinema 6100 it is replacing. Certainly it is physically, virtually identical (are the side panels a slightly different color) to the older model.
While there are no major breakthroughs – new features, or significant new levels of performance, the Home Cinema 8100 has a couple of distinct advantages over the 6100.
First, of note, Epson announced a doubling of contrast from 18,000:1, to 36,000:1. This was not accomplished with new LCD panels, (Epson continues to use organic panels in the 8100 and 9100) but with an improved double layer iris. While this does over all sightly improve black level performance, the operative term is “slightly”. Still, the older model had some of the best black level performance on the market under $2000 this past year, so any improvement to an already very good performer in its price class, is a plus.
The other major advantage is a new lower price. The Home Cinema 8100 starts its life at $1599 MAP pricing, that’s $400 less than the 6100 when it launched – a 20% drop.
Epson sells its Home Cinema series, including the 8100 and 8500UB through a few select, authorized online dealers, some big box houses, and local dealers. Epson also sells the Pro Cinema 9100 and 9500UB, but strictly through authorized local installing dealers. The major differences between the 8100 and the “UB” (ultra-black), is the much better black levels of the UB, plus creative frame interpolation and a few other goodies. The two series (Home and Pro) are similar, with these basic differences:
The Home Cinema 8100 and 8500UB come with 2 year warranties, lack anamorphic lens support, sell for less, and come finished in white. The Pro Cinema 9100 and 9500UB, come finished in black, support an anamorphic lens, have a 3 year warranty and are ISF certified (with two additional, and lockable, savable memories). The Pro series usually sells for hundreds more, but come bundled with ceiling mount and spare lamp.
But, this is about the Home Cinema 8100, so let’s get started.
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