Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB Projector Review

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This section compares the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB home theater projector to the competition. You will find our impressions of this Epson projector as it stacks up to seven other competing projectors we have reviewed. Read them all, or jump to anyone from the index above. Image below: Epson (L), BenQ W6000 (R)

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Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500UB

Too easy: The answer is, the 8500UB is better. It just seems to have improved at most things. Nothing earthshattering, but it all adds up rather nicely.

First, the things that didn’t change – that is, are the same: “Best” mode brightness, no support for an anamporphic lens, same physical properties, – case, lens, layout, also the warranty.

The differences include “brightest” mode brightness. The newer Epson simply wasn’t as bright as last year’s. Now maybe that’s in part because this is an early sample, we’ll know when we get a full production projector in, and remeasure.

In exchange for the brightness, though, the colors are much better, the older 6500UB had a very greenish Dynamic mode. We sacrificed a couple hundred lumens to get respectable color. With the new 8500UB, the color was already better than what we corrected the old 6500UB for. I’ll call that a fair trade-off, since once we adjusted both they were very close in brightness (but the 6500UB still had a slight advantage, the 8500UB an definite advantage in color accuracy.

I happen to like the new Super-Resolution feature, which I’ve been constantly running on sports, and usually with movies. That’s a plus. I think most people will find some use for it.

The CFI is definitely, further improved. There is very little “live digital video look” (LDVL) to movies now. I only infrequently notice it when I’m enjoying a movie. (Yes, I can always tell if CFI is on, if I’m trying to observe it.) I always have it on now for sports (I did as well with the 6500UB after the firmware upgrade).

Both old and new still need work on the CFI when using it with 24fps movies coming across 60fps HDTV.

The black levels are slightly better, but, slightly can definitely be significant on the right types of scenes.

When I watched the two side by side, it comes down to this. They looked so similar, but, the 8500UB just looked better at doing it. And the darker the scene, the more it shined. Someone asked whether the 8500UB was worth a few hundred more, relative to any closeout of the 6500UB. My response was, essentially, it’s an easy decision. Unlike comparing truly different projectors, this is clearcut. You will get a better picture, from better blacks, a slightly crisper image from Super-Resolution, better CFI for those using it, etc. I’d say, if the bucks are there, spend the difference. If the money’s tight, well, they may be different, but they are definitely high performance projectors, you can’t go wrong with the 6500UB either.

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. HC6800, HC7000

Bad news, in that I still haven’t received an HC6800 as of this writing. No comment, other than to say that the HC6800 isn’t going to have black level performance in the 8500UB’s league. I’m looking forward to reviewing it soon.

The HC7000 as I recall is a classy, smaller screen projector. I believe last year, it was second only to the 6500UB in black level performance. It’s an elegant projector with a sharper image than the Epson, and was considered by me to have slightly more film-like skin tones than the older Epson. Since I find the 8500UB slightly better in that regard, the Mitsubishi HC7000 and Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB projectors are probably about on par in terms of color accuracy and skin tones in particular.

Whether you are into movies, or want to crank it up, the Mitsubishi is no match for the Epson when it comes to lumens. The Mitsubishi is a projector typically for screen sizes 100 inches or smaller. Even 110 inch diagonal would be pushing it, if you don’t go with a screen with a bit of gain. The Mitsubishi clocked in at 278 lumens in “best” and 536 in “brightest”. By comparison the Epson is 499 and 1309 lumens. Wow!

I say, though that the Mitsubishi is elegant. It’s a quality picture. It is perhaps the quietest projector on the market and it has power zoom and focus. I really did like it, although it’s not a projector for me. I like bright, and big screens.

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000

View a more in-depth comparison of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000 in our Home Projector Comparison Report 2010.

Once again, the Epson wins the war of lumens. The Sanyo is a bit below average in “best” mode, and average in “brightest”. The Creative Cinema mode of the Sanyo is the one we recommend, and it did 373 lumens to the Epson’s 499 in “best” mode and 1036 lumens to the Epson’s 1309 in “brightest” mode.

The Sanyo did not track color as accurately as the Epson, with only a single control for each color when calibrating grayscale for 6500UB. The Epson wins when it comes to the more accurate colors.

The Epson definitely wins in black levels. The Sanyo I considered to be an “ultra-high contrast” projector, like the Epson, but while the Epson was the best in this regard in the mid-price class, the Sanyo was the least of the “ultra-high contrast” projectors, in terms of blacks. Still, a lot better than any of the non “ultra-high’s”.

The Sanyo’s CFI is more basic than the Epson’s, it works with less types of source material. It does a good job, where it can be used.

Sanyo’s advantages lie primarily in the significanly lower price, and a three year warranty. I prefer the Epson warranty for its replacement program, but the 3rd year is a real plus. I would expect the Sanyo to be roughly $500 less than the Epson. That makes it a viable alternative for less money, for those that are sticking to slightly smaller screens.

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