Epson Home Cinema 8100 Projector - Physical Tour
10/04/2009 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 8100 Projector - Appearance
The Epson is a smaller projector, but not particularly so. It may be full size smaller than larger projectors like the Sonys, JVCs and larger BenQ and InFocus models, but it's fairly large compared to the very smallest, like the Optoma HD20. All considered, it's a larger, small projector. It is finished in a shiny off-white casing with silverish side panels and lens trim.
It's boxy looking! No awards here for styling, despite two toning, and grillwork, yet nothing offensive, beyond its general plainness. Last year Epson switched to this form factor, from the old 1080 UB models which were a bit smaller, and possessed some real styling. Oh well. Most of us only care how a projector looks with it turned on, and the lights turned down.
I should note, that the "other" version of the 8100 - the Pro 9100, comes finished in black, not white.
OK, the lens is mounted to the right side (if looking at the front of the projector), with a large vent on the left side. The lens protrudes out about 2 inches from the case. (When figuring out placement distances, one normally measures from the front of the lens.) There's an infra-red sensor in the front for the remote (and another in the top back). Below the front, are two screw thread adjustable feet. The control panel is located on the side with flush buttons (I much prefer control panels to be located on the top, where they are almost always accessable, if needed). Still, that's not a real issue.
To focus the lens, and adjust the zoom, simply rotate the appropriate rings on the lens. To control the lens shift, there are two dials on the top of the projector near the lens. It's that easy.
The well equipped input panel is located on the rear.
Home Cinema 8100 Control Panel
While I'm not a fan of side control panels (Epson, Sony), because I tend to use control panels a lot while testing, for most folks it really won't matter much, since they will rely on the remote control.
One thing though, I refer to it as being on the side, but I should point out that the power button and source switch are located on the top of the projector. The control panel functions are rather typical.
Closest to the front of the buttons is a large Menu button. To its right, the four arrow keys on a rocker (diamond configuration, with a center Enter button), and finally closest to the back, is the Escape key which takes you back up a level in the menus.
It's that simple, should you misplace your remote!
Again, no surprises here, everything is the same as on last year's Epson projectors, in excactly the same places.
The Home Cinema 8100 has a fairly typical selection of inputs and outputs. There are (from the left) two HDMI (1.3b) inputs, a component video input (3 color colded RCA jacks), the basic S-Video and composite video inputs, and an analog computer input (standard HD15 connector), which can double as a second component video input.
There is an RS-232 serial port for controlling the projector from a computer or room control sytem. Additionally, this Epson projector has one 12 volt screen trigger. As mentioned elsewhere, the Home Cinema 8100 also has a second infra-red (IR) sensor on the back of the projector.
Home Cinema 8100 Menus
Epson Home Cinema 8100 Remote Control
I'm very pleased with this Epson remote, as reported when I reviewed it as part of last year's Home Cinema 6100 and 6500UB reviews. Buttons are well organized, large buttons, with plenty of spacing. the backlight is orange, and reasonably bright.
Better still, the range of the remote is very good. In my larger home theater, this remote has no problem bouncing off the screen to work, which is about a 26 foot range. Half the remotes I get to play with don't have the range at all, and half of what's left, has to be more critically pointed to get a "good bounce" and a first time success.
From the top: On the left side is a large round power button, and to its right, a small button for turning on the backlight. Next comes three rows of two buttons, one for each of the six sources. Below them, are the menu controls the four arrow keys in a circular layout, with an Enter button in the center. Above to the left and right are the Default and the Escape buttons. Directly below the arrow keys a large Menu button, all by itsself.
That takes you to the bottom four rows of two buttons provide direct access to popular menus including user Memory, color controls, Gamma, Color Mode, Aspec ratio, and Sharpness. There's also a test pattern button and one to blank the screen. Which they made the only darker button, I guess, to make its function obvious.
Epson Home Cinema 8100 Lens Throw
Epson's 2.1:1 zoom ratio is the same as the older Home Cinema 8100 and the 6100. That's a little more than most LCD and LCoS projectors, and a lot more than the under $5000 DLP projectors. There are few projectors that can be placed any closer to a given sized screen, or placed as far back. From a placement flexibility standpoint, the Fujinon lens Epson's been using in this series for 3 years, is unmatched.
For filling a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the projector - measured from the front of the lens to the screen - can be as close as 9.8 feet or as far back as 20.9 feet. You can easily calculate distances for other screen sizes, by starting with those numbers.
This Epson has plenty of lens shift too! For that same 100 inch screen, the Epson can be placed, (normal or inverted), anywhere from 22.7 inches above the top of the screen surface, all the way down to 22.7 inches below the bottom of the screen surface. That is measured from the center of the lens. There is also a good amount of horizontal lens shift. Using horizontal lens shift will partially limit the range of the vertical lens shift (and vice versa).
The combination of the wide range zoom lens, and excellent lens shift, makes ceiling mounting, or shelf mounting practical, in almost any room situattion.
The Epson Home Cinema 8100 does not support an anamorphic lens. Epson reserves that feature for the more expensive Pro Cinema 9100, in fact, other than cosmetics and price, that's the only real performance difference.