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

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. BenQ W6000

View a more in-depth comparison of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. BenQ W6000 in our Home Projector Comparison Report 2010.

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sharp XV-Z15000

The Sharp XV-Z15000, like the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is less expensive than the Epson. In this case, though, the Sharp is a DLP projector. OK, the Epson wins the placement flexibility contest without effort, wth a longer range zoom, plus lens shift. The Sharp has very limited zoom range, and no lens shift.

The Sharp, interestingly, isn’t quite as sharp, overall, as the Epson. The Sharp, when reviewed, appeared to have optics that aren’t quite as good as most, in that if you focused on the center of the screen, the sides and corners would be a little softer than with most other projectors. Don’t get me wrong, at the point you focus on, the Sharp, is very, well, sharp. It’s just that overall, the image will be a little softer. (Be sure to focus about 1/3 out from the center of the scree, with the Sharp.)

The Sharp has truly excellent color and skin tones. It has that DLP look and feel. I have to give a slight advantage to the Sharp over the Epson 8500UB, as far as color handling. The Epson is very good, the XV-Z15000 projector is just a little better. Not so much in color accuracy, but perhaps because of that DLP look of richness, that seems to be the reason a serious number of folks prefer DLP over the more flexible, and often feature laden LCD projectors.

When the Sharp was reviewed, I was very impressed with black level performance. It uses a dynamic iris, and is definitely what I define as an “ultra-high” contrast projector. No, its black level performance can’t match the 8500UB, or last year’s 6500UB, but is pretty comparable to, for example, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, and probably very close to last year’s Panasonic PT-AE3000. In other words, the Sharp does produce very nice black levels, blacker than almost all projectors at or below its price, but that black level performance, while in the same class as the Epson, is closer to the “bottom of the class” while the Epson is at the top (for under $4000 projectors).

Brightness is no contest. While the Sharp is very average over all, the Epson, is brighter. Post calibration, the Epson beats the Sharp in “best mode” 499 lumens vs. 355 lumens. In “brightest” mode, the Epson again is just plain brighter 1309 vs. 1099. That makes the Sharp not quite as able to handle large screen sizes. The Sharp was best at about 100 inch diagonal or less, in “best” mode, and can be pushed to 110″, but unless you have the right screen, and the room is a dark one (walls, ceilings, etc.) 110″ diagonal may be too much to tackle. In “brightest” mode, the Sharp is fine, and will do a really nice job on sports and general TV viewing with some ambient light, on the larger sizes of screens that match the projector (again, about 100″ or a little larger). The Epson will, for example, do just about as well when comparing bright modes, on a screen 10 percent larger. That means for sports, the Sharp will look great on a 100 inch diagonal screen. When it comes to the dynamic iris, the Epson has two modes, the Sharp, one. The XV-Z15000′s iris action is a bit more visible than some, including, typically, the Epson, but overall, it’s a pretty good one.

The Sharp makes an excellent lower priced 1080p projector with excellent color and impressive black level performance, that will appeal greatly to those sold on the DLP look and feel. It is one of those “a pleasure to watch” projectors. The Epson has the muscle, the better warranty, a lot more features, placement flexibility, and so on, but the Sharp’s picture quality in general is every bit the match for the Epson, even though the Epson is definitely a bit better in terms of blacker blacks.

If you are a DLP (in terms of color, “look and feel” guy), this choice is going to be a really tough one! If you are about gadgets, and power, the Epson is the way to go. Both put a really good image on the screen.

Home Cinema 8500UB vs. JVC DLA-RS10 and DLA-RS15

Well, I haven’t seen any of the new JVC’s up close. All are supposed to have slightly better blacks than last year’s models. As a result, I can’t speak precisely about the new DLA-RS15, but I can about the RS10.

The RS10 delivers great blacks, and does so, without using a dynamic iris. That’s a real advantage. No compression of the dynamics of the image on medium to darker scenes, unlike projectors using dynamic irises. No iris action to be detected, and perhaps occasionally be noticeable.

While the Epson color is very good, the JVC has a slightly more natural look and feel. True, we’re quibbling here, but, that’s often what one does, when comparing a very good projector to another, more expensive one.

Inherently both projectors normally qualify as average sharpness, and about the same. I do like the Epson Super-Resolution, though, and when engaged, does make the Epson look a touch sharper than the JVC RS10. It will put that slight extra sparkle in an actor’s eye.

Brightness in this case, is very different. In “best” mode, the JVC easily bests the Epson, with over 750 lumens to the Epson’s 500. The RS10 can handle my 128″ screen in “best” mode, something the Epson just can’t do. In “brightest” mode, however, the JVC only gets a small increase in the 900 lumen range, while the Epson is about 50% brighter. As I own the similarly bright RS20, I can attest, that on my 128″ screen, if I want a nice amount of ambient light when folks are over for football, the JVC’s come up a little short, while the Epson has no problem. (That’s why, back in February, I had pulled down my RS20 from my high shelf and put an Epson up there for my Superbowl party).

Both have excellent placement flexibility no advantage there at all, although the Epson does have a touch more lens shift, the JVC has plenty.

Both have 2 year warranties, but the Epson’s includes their typically overnight replacement program.

The Epson has the bells and whistles. There’s no CFI on the JVC. For standard frame interpolation, the JVC goes to 48fps on 24fps movies, the Epson to 96fps. And the Epson just has more dynamic type features, such as Super-Resolution, Contrast Enhancement, etc.

The JVC is going to sell for about $2000 more.

Is it worth it? For those into best picture quality, I have to say yes, without reservation. For people buying a projector, pretty much for movies only, and aren’t worried about brightest mode performance, then definitely.

In fact, the thing that makes the choice difficult, is the more expensive RS20. The RS20, and forthcoming RS25, is essentially, picture wise, where all RS10 folks would like to be. Similar, but better, and better blacks. That means a person not on a tight budget may find themselves deciding not so much between the RS10 and the Epson 8500UB, but between the Epson and the RS20. Hey, if you can afford the extra $2000 (roughly) for the RS10, why not still another couple thousand for the even better RS20?

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