Epson Home Cinema 6100 - Review Summary
A summary of the Epson Home Cinema 6100 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
1/6/2009 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector - The Bottom Line
If you are shopping for a lower cost 1080p projector, the Epson Home Cinema 6100 is an excellent choice. First, there are only a couple of 1080p projectors that cost less, and only the Sanyo PLV-Z700 is more than a "few dollars" less. While the Home Cinema 6100 is pretty basic in terms of features, beyond its superb placement flexibility, it is a solid performer in every category. It is the brightest of the 3LCD projectors in both "best" and "brightest" modes. Better still, you can crank out about twice the lumens of "best" mode - TheaterBlack 1 - by calibrating and using the LivingRoom mode. In its brightest mode - Dynamic - there isn't anything (in a dedicated home theater projector) brighter without spending more than twice the money.
This is Epson's entry level 1080p projector. If you are craving superior black level performance, Epson, and others have more expensive projectors for your consideration, and only one of those - the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 sells within $500 of the Epson's price (and isn't as bright...). To move up to the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, you are looking at about $800 more, a significant jump relative to the 6100's under $2000 price.
Essentially, if you are considering the Epson Home Cinema 6100, your short list of other projectors to consider would include the other low cost 3LCD projectors - the Sanyo PLV-Z700 and the Mitsubishi HC5500. There are competing DLP projectors as well, such as the Optoma HD806 and HD80, and also the BenQ W5000.
Now, if you are an enthusiast, or just aren't worried about spending a little more, then, in addition to those mentioned above, you can consider the "ultra high contrast" projectors. Those projectors promise significantly blacker blacks, and some offer other features such as frame interpolation, and higher frame rates. We consider the black level improvement of those projectors to be significant. On the other hand, the frame interpolation/high frame rate feature is more of a mixed bag, which will appeal to some, but others won't care about. Our biggest objection to this feature is that on some projectors offering it, the image gets a bit jerky on occasion (including the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB). There is also the issue of a slightly different look and feel to the projected image with a projector having frame interpolation engaged, which many argue isn't as film-like as without. That feature also risks not faithfully reproducing the "director's intent".
Nonetheless, those ultra high contrast 3LCD projectors are competitors, most significantly three of them: The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 which is the closest in cost, but also the Panasonic PT-AE3000, and Epson's own Home Cinema 6500UB. In addition, there is the Mitsubishi HC7000 (sold only through local dealers) but it is close to twice the price.
None of the DLP projectors really qualify as ultra high contrast projectors, and as a group, their black levels are similar (or a little worse) than this Epson.
There is one relatively low cost LCoS projector that fits into the ultra high contrast grouping, and that's the Sony VPL-HW10, although price wise, it's still roughly 40-60% more expensive. Those Best in Class black level JVC projectors start at more than twice the price of the 6100, so they are not at all direct competitors. (They are competitors of the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and Pro Cinema 7500UB, however.)
Keep in mind, when comparing brightness to the DLP projectors, that the DLP's all place fairly close to the screen.
The Epson can be shelf mounted in the rear of your room, but with the lens near full telephoto, you will have less lumens than those we measure at the mid-point. If you ceiling mount the Epson and place it where a ceiling mounted DLP projector must be placed (close in), then the Home Cinema 6100 will be brighter still, than our published numbers.
Epson Home Cinema Bottom Line:
The Epson Home Cinema 6100 is not only a well thought out projector, but it is solid in every category: Placement flexibility, post calibration color accuracy, shadow detail. Black level performance is better than almost all of the similarly and lower priced projectors, with the exception of the BenQ W5000. The Epson 6100 has a pretty standard set of inputs, good menus, and respectable documentation. If it has a weakness, it is the audible noise, which is a little louder than average, but still quieter than just about any DLP competitor. You should also Epson's excellent support reputation, and a warranty that is better than almost all the competition.
All of these things combine to earn the Epson Home Cinema 6100 our Hot Product Award. These factors should also make this Epson a strong contender for a Best in Class Award (entry level 1080p projectors) in our upcoming annual 1080p Projector Comparison Report.
In a nutshell, the Epson 6100 projector doesn't seem to have any real weaknesses. It performs as intended. Our only serious recommendation is to do an end user calibration using one of the popular calibration discs, to get the most color accuracy. (Failing that, plug in our calibration numbers into your unit - it is a good place to start.)
If you are limited in funds, if you aren't into spending a significant amount more for the "last 5% of performance", if you just want a projector that works almost flawlessly, and produces a very bright image in either a dark, dedicated home theater, or a family room with modest ambient light, then the Home Cinema 6100 is likely a great choice for you. Definitely put this one on your short list.
Please note: For those of you looking to buy and have your system installed by a local dealer, you can also consider the more expensive Pro Cinema 7100. That model comes finished in black, instead of white, supports an anamorphic lens, and comes with third year of warranty.
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: Pros
- Very good color accuracy even before calibration, in best mode
- Slightly brighter than average in "best" mode
- One of the brightest home theater projectors in "brightest" mode
- Black levels very good, about as good as any projector that doesn't fit into the "ultra high contrast" (and more expensive) category
- Very good skin tones
- Dynamic image, with lots of "pop and wow" in almost any mode
- Two HDMI 1.3b compatible inputs
- Very sharp image
- Very good remote control
- Excellent placement flexibility with 2.1:1 zoom and lens shift
- Excellent menu layout
- Good color management controls
- Great lamp life - rated at 4000 hours whether in low or bright lamp modes
- 12 volt screen trigger
- One of the most affordable 1080p projectors
- Not a serious issue to report
- Excellent price/performance
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: Cons
- No internal support for an anamorphic lens (would require outboard processor, or purchasing the more expensive Pro Cinema 7100 version)
- Could be a little brighter in "best mode", for working with larger screens
- A pretty basic looking projector from a styling standpoint
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Black level performance is typical for lower cost 1080p projectors
- Selection of inputs
- Shadow detail performance
- Documentation (lacks in-depth explanations of some features - which is typical of most projector manuals)
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