Posted on November 1, 2010 Art Feierman
Epson had a challenge in bringing out its fourth generation UB projector (“Ultra-Black”). What improvements could be made to a stable, top performing projector in its class, that would make the Home Cinema 8700UB able to maintain, or even gain ground over the competition? As it turns out, the Home Cinema 8700UB in terms of performance, isn’t greatly improved, but it is a better projector. The best example of a subtle, yet effective change, might be the Epson’s THX mode. Last year, with the older 8500UB, the THX mode locked users out of a lot of controls. We would have to start with a mode like Theater Black 1, and calibrate from there, whereas THX mode definitely looked a bit better to begin with.
This time, you can start calibrating the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB projector from the THX mode, and tweak or calibrate, and that’s a plus. The THX mode, I should note, is excellent in terms of color. Most impressive. Speaking of impressive, the Home Cinema 8500UB – last year’s model, received our Best In Class award, for home theater projectors between $2000 and $3500. That’s our highest award for a Home Theater projector (we give out one in each of three price classes.) This year, the Home Cinema 8700UB is improved, and less expensive.
In the next pages, we’ll try to tell you how much difference there really is, how the Epson 8700UB performs, and whether the competition should be nervous.
The $2199 Home Cinema 8700UB has some siblings that should be mentioned. There is the more expensive Pro Cinema 9700UB ($3099). It comes finished in black, has a third year warranty, and more sophisticated anamorphic lens support. Other than those points, the two are pretty much identical. Note that the Pro’s are sold by authorized local installing dealers, while the Home Cinema series is sold by authorized online dealers and some “big box” houses. On the lower end of the Epson 1080p lineup, for only $1299, comes the Home Cinema 8350. It is a slightly brighter projector but not a match for this Epson projector for movie watching. That’s due to the Epson 8700UB’s excellent black level performance, which will be discussed later in depth.
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