Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector Review

Home Cinema 8700UB vs. JVC DLA-RS15 and DLA-HD250

JVC’s RS15 is going away, to be replaced, in a sense, by two projectors. The new RS40 is brighter, and well over twice the price of the 8700UB (and offers 3D), but the new HD250 is more of a direct replacement. In fact, the JVC DLA-RS250, at $2995 (or was it $2999), seems to be extremely similar to the just replaced RS15. While its contrast ratio is a little lower than the RS15, it too should have awesome blacks with no dynamic iris. Overall, it should be at least a match for the Epson 8700UB at blacks.

I’m still waiting for a DLA-HD250 to review – JVC says something like: “Sorry, the demand is so high, we can’t afford to set aside review units.” That said, as noted, it really does seem to be only a slightly reworked RS15, for 1/3 less in price.

The JVC HD250 should prove to be brighter in best mode, than the Epson, not as bright in brightest, and it comes in the same case as the older RS15. The new RS40, RS50, and RS60 come in a bigger form factor.

There’s nothing quite like having excellent blacks without needing a dynamic iris.

The Epson will still have more features, including dynamic ones, and a better warranty, but in theory, the HD250 is a step up projector, that most should favor, if they don’t need the extra lumens the Epson can offer in Dynamic mode.

All considered, some 8700UB people will now spring for the HD250, whereas last year, those same folk would not have had the budget to spend twice for the RS15, compared to the older 8500UB.

Keep in mind, though, that Epson has a direct competitor for the HD250, and that’s the new Home Cinema 21000, which will sell for about the same price or just slightly higher.

In that sense, the JVC HD250 and the Home Cinema 21000 are both more expensive projectors that will likely cannibalize some of the 8700UB’s market share, by being what we expect to be slightly better projectors for about an extra $1000.

JVC lamps are a sore point with me. Assuming the HD250 still has a 2000 hour rating in either full or eco mode, and a high lamp replacement cost, the HD250 will have a cost of operation far, far, higher than the Epson. (It will go through four $400+ lamps (including the installed one) before you need to buy a single $299 lamp for the Epson (4000 hours, and a free spare lamp offer).

Translation: Over several years, the JVC will still cost more than double the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB, so factor that into your budget.

As to the RS40, when it ships… Nice, and bright, (and 3D) so I’m really excited, but it’s just not a competitor, although we will compare it (and the HD250) to the Epson 21000 when we review them.

 

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB vs. Sony VPL-HW15

Sony’s VPL-HW15 will shortly be replaced, but we don’t have a whole lot of info on the new model. Ultimately the contest is very similar to last year’s.

The Sony provides a bit more elegant image, though this year’s Epson has closed the gap somewhat. The VPL-HW15 has controls that enthusiasts and purists really will like. It’s LCoS (Sony calls theirs SXRD), so pixels are completely invisible at any normal distance, rather than just below the radar. And, the Sony is particularly film-like. It’s also a nicely styled projector, with a little more class – more like the JVC projectors, and some other more expensive models.

Where the Epson shines though, first of all, is in “brightest” mode. No comparison. The most lumens we could measure out of any mode that looked good was only 664 for the Sony, compared to just over 1200 for the Epson! That’s HUGE!

“Best” mode, however, the two are very similar, with a very small advantage to the Sony – 536 lumens compared to 503 (that’s only 6%, not enough to fight over, especially since the Epson’s lamp likely will last about twice as long, and therefore after a few hundred hours it will be at least as bright as the Sony).

Both projectors use dynamic irises, and have excellent black levels. The VW15 relies on a dynamic iris for blacks, as does the Epson. The older Epson

Placement flexibiliy favors the Epson. The Sony has a mid-range zoom, 1.6:1, compared to the 8700UB projector’s 2.1:1. Where that difference may be critical is for those who wish to shelf mount. The overall range of the Sony is short, for example, for a 100″ screen (a very good size for the Sony), the furthest back the projector could be placed would be 16 ft 4 inches. That may not be far enough in many rooms, for rear shelf mounting. The Epson, by comparsion can be placed as far back (same 100″ screen) as 21 feet.

The Epson projector definitely has a slightly more dynamic look – that “pop and wow” factor. The Sony is more subtle. In that regard, the Sony, is more like the JVC RS10 in picture, but the Epson is more fun. I don’t know, if I didn’t own an RS20, and was buying just one projector (I have two theaters), I might like the Sony better, but, I do really like the extra horsepower, features, and black levels of the Epson. The Epson pulls away from the Sony on those really dark scenes I so like.

Pricewise, the Sony will be a few hundred more, and the Epson has the better warranty, and much longer lamp life, which should make the overall cost of ownership of the Sony a lot more than for the Epson.

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