Epson Home Cinema 6500UB - Competitors
How does the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
This section compares the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB home theater projector to the competition. Here you will find our impressions of the Epson projector as it stacks up to existing projectors we have reviewed, and a couple that are about to ship, and not yet reviewed.
Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
Not much surprise here. This Homc Cinema 6500UB is the 1080 UB's replacement, and performs, basically, as an imporved 1080 UB. The overall image is a little sharper, enought to cout the 6500UB as a sharp 1080p projector, up from an average 1080p projector. It appears to be a bit brighter in best mode (and brightest), thanks to a higher wattage, and newer designed lamp. In addition, the new lamp, Epson rates at 4000 hours life, whether in Hight Brightness, or low power modes. With most projectors being only 2000 hours in full power mode, this reduces cost of ownership significantly with the new Epson.
Of course this Home Cinema 6500UB boasts better black levels, and it does deliver. Since the older UB was already best of the lower cost projectors, a big improvement was not expected, nor delivered. Still, nothing short of the much higher price of a JVC projector can beat the 6500UB, in terms of black levels. Like with sharpness, the 6500UB offers a modest improvement in black level performance.
Creative frame interpolation, and 4:4 provide higher frame rates, and a theoretically smoother image, however, we have noted some issues with the 6500UB. Still, these are "extra" features, relative to the 1080UB, and in many cases this allows the 6500UB to perform better (especially on sports). The extra depth, though, we see in most frame interpolation modes is a bit over the top. None-the-less, it is additional capabilities that the 1080 UB lacks, and if Epson sorts out the FI issues, well, then it makes for an even bigger improvement.
If one owned a 1080 UB, would I recommend upgrading to the 6500UB? In most cases no, as it is an incremental improvement. Further, with some 1080 UBs still around at dealers, is the 6500UB worth the roughly $700 difference? If the bucks are there, I'd say yes, but if the 6500UB is really stretching your budget to the limit, it would be hard to recommend to you, to spend the extra.
Warranties are the same. The older Epson is the smaller, and more esthetically designed projector. The older Epson is definitely noisier, with the Epson now very quiet in low lamp (and fan) mode, and average noise at full power, compared to average in low lamp, and one of the noisier projectors in full power. Not a huge difference, but those who really are bothered by audible noise, will find this improvement important.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Mitsubishi HC5500 HC6500 and HC7000
Let's start with the HC5500 and HC6500, which have very similar black level performance. The Epson definitely offers a really significant improvement in this area. Since neither of the two less expensive Mitsubishi projectors does the high frame rate output, the Epson, even with it's flaws in certain FI modes, offers performance those Mitsubishis can't even
Brightness is a factor - these two Mitsubishi projectors are about the same brightness in "best" mode, as the Epson, but only offer about half the lumens (between 1000 and 1100 lumens) of the 6500 UB.
The HC5500 is about 2/3 the price of the Epson while the HC6500 which is primarily sold through big box retailers and local dealers, has a cost close enough to the Epson, that it comes up short of the Epson in price performance. All are sharp 1080p projectors. The HC5500 has much more limited placement flexibility with an only 1.2:1 zoom lens ratio, compared to the Epson's 2.1:1. Even the HC6500, which has a 1.6:1, can't get quite as close to the same sized screen (by less than a foot difference), but the Epson can sit a full four feet further back in telephoto position (with a 100 inch diagonal screen, making it a better fit for those looking to shelf mount in the rear. Some rooms will just be too deep to shelf mount the HC6500.
Overall, you have to figure the 6500 is a step up product, thanks primarily to the black level performance, the brightness and the frame interpolation.
That brings us to the Mitsubishi flagship projector, the HC7000. Like the Epson it offers high frame rates - 120fps, but uses simple frame duplication, not the Epson's creative frame interpolation. The HC7000 performs this pretty much flawlessly, compared to the Epson which our initial unit shows issues in many FI modes. The Mitsubishi HC7000 wins in styling (big time), and is much quieter than the Epson (as are the less expensive Mitsubishis).
Black level performance of the HC7000 is very good (it, like the Epson is another of the "ultra high contrast" projectors. The Epson however, overall has a slight advantage. Still, they are close, much closer to each other than either is, compared to the less expensive Mitsubishis. Let's say it would be hard to pick the Epson over the Mitsubishi simply because of the small black level difference. I'd say that they are "close enough" in this regard. The biggest advantage of the Epson over this rather refined Mitsubishi HC7000, is the price difference, which is primarily due to the different distribution. The HC7000, with its local only distribution prices out more like the Epson Pro Cinema 7500UB, which is, in most ways identical to the 6500UB, except for the onboard support for an anamorphic lens (which the Mitsubishis support, and the 6500UB does not).
The HC7000 is an excellent projector for movie watching, but not as bright, as noted. The real difference, though is when you want some lights on (Sports, HDTV), and there, the Epson is easily more than twice as bright.
So, from a pure picture quality standpoint, the HC7000 and the 6500UB are definitely direct competitors, but all those extra lumens will be a deciding factor for many, and that will favor the Epson.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700
As with the Mitsubishi HC5500 discussed immediately above, the Sanyo PLV-Z700 is really not a direct competitor. The reason for including it here, is to provide a little clarity for folks on a budget, who need to decide - to I spend the minimum amount for a 1080p projector, or raid the piggy bank for the 6500UB, which is definitely a better overall performer.
No comparison in black level performance, the Epson is a real step up. Brightness, same is pretty much true, with the Sanyo dynamic iris fully engaged is not much more than half the brightness of the Epson. However, fix the iris (further reduces black level performance), and it is, in Creative Cinema mode, about the same brightness as the Epson. Once again, Epson is king in "brightest mode" with it's approximate 2000 lumens in Dynamic mode effortlessly trumping the 1300 lumens we were able to measure for the PLV-Z700 in its brightest configuration.
In terms of sharpness, both are sharper than average, so any difference between them is so small as to be a non-issue.
Sanyo offers a three year warranty compared to the Epson's two years (but with replacement program).
Price is the other really big difference, with the Sanyo selling well under $2000 while the Epson is not far below $3000. Let's say the Sanyo is less than 2/3 the price, so, as I said above, the question between these two projectors is "should I spend the extra 50% for a "top of the line" 3LCD projector, compared to an entry level one. It's a good question that each of you with somewhat limited budgets, may need to consider.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. BenQ W5000, W20000
Ahh, I wish I still had the W20000 here so that I could do a side by side. Certainly neither BenQ has creative frame interpolation or high framerate output. Nor do either of them have a dynamic iris.
The big strengths, though, of the BenQ's are as follows: Like the Epson, a very sharp image, then there's the overall film-like character that DLP projectors are known for, a less visible pixel structure (though that really isn't a significant issue with 1080p resolution projectors), and brightness!
The BenQ W2000 is about a 100 lumens brighter than the Epson in "best mode" which with the BenQ, I define as also having Brilliant Color (a DLP feature) turned off. Brilliant Color adds punch but definitely moves this projector away from "flim-like". When you need maximum lumens, however, Brilliant Color is a very good thing, and really helps. With a measured 1730 lumens in brightest mode, with Brilliant color engaged, the BenQ is only slightly less bright than the Epson. Overall, therefore, brightness, is not likely to be a deciding factore between the W20000 and the Epson. Interestingly, the W5000 we meaured, was about the same brightness as the Epson in "best" modes but a little further short in brightnest modes (more like 1300 lumens).
For the most part, the primary differences between the two BenQs are different DLP chips and price. These days the W5000 is a lot less than the 6500UB. By comparison, the BenQ W20000 costs more than the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
Warranties: The W5000 comes with one year, the Epson, with two, and the W20000 with three.
I'm an old BenQ owner, their projectors are very sharp, and overall have an excellent picture quality. In a sense, the BenQs, particularly the W20000 is more of a "purist's" projector than the Epson is. Consider: 3LCD projectors use lots of gimmicks - to get their performance - relying on dynamic irises, frame interpolation, contrast enhancement, etc. Of course dynamic irises are appearing in many DLP projectors these days as well.
The BenQs are typical DLP projectors in that they have very limited zoom lenses (1.2:1), but they are also the exception in that both BenQ's offer lens shift, and their zooms are fairly long throw, compared to most DLP projectors. These two features combine to allow rear shelf mounting in many owners rooms. Either of these, for example would work on my rear shelf, which currently holds my JVC RS1. True, the percentage of rooms that would work in, isn't as great as the Epson with its pretty much best in class placement flexibility, but what matters is whether they work in your room, rather than being more or less flexible overall.
The W5000 with its step down processor is still an excellent projector, having picked up our Best in Class, Runner-up award back last January, and it did that competing in the price class above the old Epson 1080 UB. I have plenty of respect for both BenQs even if they lack some of the Epson's features.
The dramatic price drops have placed the W5000 well below the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB's cost, and apparently, the W20000 can now be found some places for not much more than the Epson. BenQ has a $3999 MAP price for the W20000, but it seems that many dealers are offering it significantly below that price, and in some cases close to the Epson's price!
The W20000, is one of those projectors I definitely can live with and recommend. It is a serious alternative to the Epson 6500UB. Since brightness between these two are close enough, it comes down to the type of picture quality you prefer; the BenQ's traditional "film-like" DLP based picture, or the more electronically enhanced, but still excellent picture of the Home Cinema 6500UB. For your further consideration: Had the W20000 come out sooner, due to those extra lumens I need in my large room, I would have seriously considered it as an alternative to my JVC, which really doesn't have near as many lumens in brightest mode, as I would like for my sports and regular TV/HDTV viewing.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000
The Epson has the advantage in brightness, both in best and brightest modes, however, the PLV-Z3000's brightest mode is still well above average, and has the muscle for the usual sports viewing with some ambient light. Both are sharp.
The Sanyo PLV-Z3000's Frame Interpolation works better than the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, and while it seems all such technology has some minor jerkiness, due to trouble processing all the movement, the Sanyo is very good compared to the Epson which tends to have obvious jerkiness on a regular basis.
The Sanyo calibration lacking two separate adjustments for the primary colors when calibrating grayscale, isn't as precise as the Epson's and we never quite could get rid of a slight "gold-yellow" cast to movies. The operative term, though is slight. The Sanyo doesn't look quite as perfect in terms of color accuracy, but is acceptable.
Sanyo offers a three year warranty with fast turn-around, compared to Epson's two years with overnight replacement.
Black levels are a significant difference between these two projectors. The Sanyo, with its 65,000:1 claimed contrast ratio should have put it squarely in the same league as the Epson, but it comes up short. While the Epson is the best of, say, the under $4000 projectors in terms of black levels, the Sanyo has the least impressive black levels of the "ultra high contrast" projectors. To put it in perspective though, the Sanyo is still better than any of the non "ultra high contrast" projectors in terms of black levels, and comes very close to the Panasonic PT-AE3000, for example. On side by side viewing, the Epson projected dark scenes with blacker blacks and a more impressive, dynamic looking image.
While in general, (frame interpolation not-withstanding), the Epson comes out on top, don't forget that the Epson costs about 1/3 more than the Sanyo, and price is a great equalizer. Budget, and your specific requirements will allow you to make an intelligent choice between these two projectors.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 6100
This is easy - standard vs ultra high contrast. The Home Cinema 6100 sells for under $2000 in the US, roughly at 2/3 the price of the Epson. The brightness is almost identical. The 6500UB, of course wins in black levels, the big difference between these two. Of course, the 6500UB also has frame interpolation, but, considering its implementation, based on our sample unit, many people will not use it for anything but sports viewing.
If you just want a classic 1080p projector with good black level performance, and a great price, go with the 6100. If you are an enthusiast, in persuit of the best possible image, and that usually means black level performance is a big consideration, then scrape up the extra dollars, because if you settle for the 6100, even if it fully pleases you, you are likely to spend a lot of time agonizing whether you should have dug deeper for the top of the line Epson.
Home Cinema 6500UB vs. InFocus IN83
Ahh, two excellent projectors, yet so different.
The InFocus IN83 has stunningly natural and accurate color fidelity, and film-like picture quality. The Epson can't match the overall color accuracy, notably the skin tones, not that the Epson isn't very good. It's just that the IN83 is superb in this regard. As to film-like, the Epson isn't quite there, instead, its picture tends to be more dynamic looking which I refer to as pop and wow.
A purist might jump at the IN83 for the above, but the InFocus IN83 is no match for the Epson 6500UB when it comes to black level performance, despite the InFocus using the Darkchip4, the "top of the line" DLP chip for home theater. As I pointed out in the IN83 review, the projector would have been even better still, if they had a dynamic iris, to improve the black levels.
When it comes to brightness, the IN83 is one of those light canons - it produces more than 1000 lumens in its best mode (with fixed iris partially open), allowing it to work with bigger screens than the 6500UB can handle. The IN83 does movie night on my 128 inch diagonal Firehawk G3 screen, without breaking a sweat, whereas, anything over 110 inch diagonal with the Epson is a stretch.
Both projectors are very bright in brightest mode, and can handle a fair amount of ambient light on large screens for sports and other HDTV/TV viewing.
The InFocus is more expensive, and as a classic DLP projector has no lens shift and a zoom lens with only a 1.2:1 range, for limited placement flexibility. It is definitely a ceiling mount projector, not practical to be shelf mounted.
If only the IN83 had improved black levels, then it would be the solid choice, but without that, the Epson is a competive projector for less money. There are plenty of trade-offs between these two. Both are excellent projectors but with different strengths and weaknesses.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000
As expected, this is the comparison most people are waiting for. And what an interesting comparison it is. Here's my take on how they stack up:
First, the Epson is about $300 more in the US. We realize that readers in other parts of the world sometimes pay a lot more for the Panasonic, and others pay even less, compared to the Epson. You'll have to take the pricing where you are into consideration.
Black levels: The Panasonic is really very good, and the middle of the pack of the ultra high contrast projectors. It comes very close to the older 1080 UB, and almost as close to the slightly improved 6500UB. Overall, the Panasonic and Epson are close enough that the Epson's advantage is not a dramatic advantage, although it is definitely enough to sway many enthusiasts (including me).
Here are a few side by side images for considering black level performance. The Epson is on the left, the Panasonic on the right. While the Panasonic is extremely good at black levels, the Epson is better:
Note, to get the brightness roughly comparable, both projectors are in "best" mode, but the Epson is running at low lamp power, the Panasonic is set to full (high) lamp power.
Brightness: The Epson is a notch brighter in both best, and brightest modes (especially brightest mode), and this will help handle a size larger screen. If you are a big sports fan, or plan to watch a lot of general HDTV/TV, the Epson's much brighter brightest mode is a big plus.
Pluses for the Panasonic include a much better working Frame Interpolation scheme, the motorized zoom and focus, plus lens memory, which allows the PT-AE3000 to essentially emulate having an anamorphic lens, so that you can use a 2.35:1 screen, and watch Cinemascope movies (most movies) without the letterboxing at top and bottom of the screen.
The overall image of the Panasonic is a little less dynamic, and and a touch more film-like than the 6500UB, and the Panasonic has a very slight advantage in revealing dark shadow details.
Overall, the Panasonic has better color accuracy out of the box (one of the best), and is an excellent overall projector at an excellent price.
The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, by comparison, is a little rough around the edges, with the frame interpolation, a slightly harder image, but more sizzle - pop and wow, but definitely needs a basic calibration to really perform, while the Panasonic can get by without (still recommended).
Some additional side by side images for your consideration:
Two great projectors, similar in many ways, but different in others. It's a tough choice. For those with smaller screens, the Panasonic may well be favored by most, but the larger your screen size, and desire to handle some ambient light for non-movie viewing the more the Epson is likely to be favored. I could live with either of these fine projectors (if only I had a slightly smaller screen), but my personal preference is for the Epson. Still, I imagine I'll be recommending the Panasonic to almost as many folks as I recommend the 6500UB to.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. JVC DLA-RS1 and RS2, RS10 and RS20
The JVC DLA-RS10 and RS20 haven't arrived yet, but they are similar to the current RS1 and RS2 projectors to give you an idea. The RS1, and the new RS10 are significantly more expensive, with the RS10 expected to sell in the $4000 - $5000 range, so figure about half again as expensive as the Epson. That's a big price difference, and will figure in to many peoples' decisions.
As I frequently mention, I own a DLA-RS1 (current version is the RS1x - which is almost identical, except for some additional color controls). I have run the RS1 side by side with the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB. This is how I see the differences:
The JVC DLA-RS1 has better black levels - JVC is simply the best in this regard. The only projector I've seen that can beat the RS1, is the RS2. As good as the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB is, the JVC is visibly better.
The JVC is also more film like. The Epson isn't quite as bright in best mode, and handles a 110" screen about as well as the JVC handles a 128 inch screen. The lumen difference isn't as much as that size difference, so I'll attribute the remaining difference to those blacker blacks of the JVC. On the other hand, the JVC is only slightly brighter in brightest mode, thus no match for dealing with ambient light. I sure wish my RS1 had the roughly double the lumens of the Epson, when I'm watching sports with some ambient light. The JVC RS2 is only average in best mode brightness, a step down from the RS1 and well below the Epson. The difference between the RS2 and the Epson in brightest mode is even more significant.
All of these JVC projectors, and the Epson, have great placement flexibility. The JVC's have a little less lens shift range, however, that slight difference is not likely to matter for the vast majority of potential owners.
The JVC RS1 and RS2 (and we presume the newer models as well) is a natural - very film like, and their color accuracy, extremely good. Sharpness of the Epson 6500UB is a bit better than the JVC RS1 and RS2, both of which are "average" for 1080p projectors.
The images below are from side by side viewing. In all cases, the Epson is on the left, the JVC RS1 on the right In all cases, the RS1 is slightly brighter:
The next image is the same as the one above, but more overexposed for a better idea of black level performance:
That brings us to the RS10 and RS20. The RS10 likely will have a slight improvement over the RS1 in black levels, but don't expect much. The RS20 is the more significant new model, as it should match or beat the RS2 in black levels, but is also reported to be significantly brighter, similar (although perhaps not as bright) to the RS1, and much brighter than the RS2. There are other items relating to the new models that I won't comment on, until I've had a chance to review them (hopefully both over the next four to five weeks).
Overall, I consider the JVC projectors to be superior, but also cost a lot more. The Epson may be my choice if the JVC's were too expensive, but for those not concerned about the price difference, in general, I recommend the JVCs.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sony VPL-HW10
3LCD vs. LCoS! the Sony VPL-HW10 is the least expensive, current model LCoS home theater projector. (Sony calls their LCoS technology SXRD). The Sony VPL-HW10 is the replacement for the successful VPL-VW40.
The Home Cinema 6500UB has an advantage in black level performance, despite both projectors using a dynamic iris for improved black level performance. It seems the Epson can do blacker blacks on very dark scenes (when most needed). In the more mixed dark and bright scenes, the two projectors seem pretty comparable.
In the images below, the first an all black frame, the second with a logo, you can see the unevenness in the background color (and brightness) in both projectors. Remember these are early units, and further, on these really long time exposures, the colors tend to be exaggerated. The 6500UB is on the left, the Sony on the right. The Epson definitely has the edge on these two images. Look at the night scenes from The Dark Knight, and the differences in black level performance are still there.
The Epson projector also has a modest placement flexibility advantage, thanks to a 2.1:1 zoom ratio compared to the Sony projector's 1.6:1. The Epson, for a 100 inch screen, can be placed just a little bit closer (less than one foot difference), but it can be placed about five feet further from the screen. Both projectors offer vertical and horizontal lens shift, but again, the Epson has a slight advantage, allowing for it to be placed up to about one foot higher than the Sony for that same 100 inch screen. The practical difference is that for a significant number of potential owners, the Sony likely will not work on a rear shelf, as it cannot be placed as far back from the screen. By comparison, the Epson should work shelf mounted in the vast majority of rooms.
Brightness is another defining difference. While both projectors are similar in brightness, in best mode, the Sony has about 20% more lumens after calibration, than the 6500UB. That allows it to tackle a larger screen (that 20% is roughly the equivalent of going to a 120" screen for the Sony, compared to a 110" screen for the Epson projector.
Things reverse, though, for brightest mode, where the Epson's roughly 2000 lumens is double that of the Sony. That let's the Epson handle a fair amount of ambient light for things like sports viewing, on the screen size you choose for movie watching (let's say our recommended 110" diagonal maximum). The Sony though, if you go its maximum for movies, say 120" diagonal, it will not be able to handle any more than the minimum of ambient light. In fairness, the HW10 is about the same brightness as my JVC RS1, which does an adequate job with low ambient light levels for sports viewing on my 128" Firehawk G3 screen - a high contrast gray surface that rejects a good amount of my room's side ambient light. In other words, you can go beyond the 120 inches with the right room and screen.
Next: Film-like performance vs. pop and wow. The Epson is a pop and wow projector. It's scenes have a great, dynamic look. By comparison, the Sony image is a touch muted, but many would describe that as more film-like. Both are really very good, though, so a bit of personal preference comes into play. Here are a couple of general images to compare the look and feel of the scenes. Note, because the Sony is a little brighter, these where shot with the Epson lamp at full power, and the Sony at low power. This left the Epson just a touch brighter, a smaller difference than with the two both on full power lamp mode. Also of note, The Epson has a bit more depth to its image (and that is without using Frame Interpolation):
On this next image (which I labeled popwow), consider the significant differences in the look. This is supposed to be a sunny scene. The Epson delivers on that, the Sony looks more "cloudy day".
Ok, you get the idea!
Sharpness - pretty much the same. I might give the Epson a slight advantage, but I really think any slight difference in appearance is due to the slightly more dynamic look of the Epson, than a real difference in sharpness.
Shadow detail: Very close, the edge to the Epson. Neither are superb at shadow detail, but both are very competent. Consider though, it seems some of the best projectors at shadow detail are those with mediocre black levels.
Warranty: Both have two years, but Epson provides an overnight replacement program.
Lamp life - at full power, the Epson is rated at twice the lamp life of the Sony. That can save $400 - $1000+ over a few years of use.
That folks, is it - two very excellent projectors, reasonably priced. My personal choice here, is similar to what I wrote about the old Sony VW40 vs. the 1080 UB: Both have very good black levels, but come up short of the more expensive JVC. If I had to give up my JVC, I'd go with the Epson because of the slightly more dynamic look. Consider that better blacks often provide that extra dynamic look. The Sony is more like a compromised JVC, while the Epson is something else, it stands out as a bit different. Still not as good as the JVC. And, while more different than better, than the Sony, it offers a different look and feel to the projected image, with more wow factor. I like that. My JVC, thanks to superior performance, also has more pop and wow than the Sony. So, last year, I picked the Epson over the Sony, and looks like this time around, too.