Epson Home Cinema 8350 Projector - Physical Tour
10/04/2010 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 8350 Projector - Appearance
The Epson 8350 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 got some curves, but basically it's a bit boxy. You aren't likely to find one of these in the Museum of Modern Art in 30 years, despite two toning, and grillwork. Still, there's nothing offensive, it's just a projector, not a work of art. Two years ago, the older 1080 UB models 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.
The local dealer only version of the 8350 - the Pro Cinema 9350, 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 8350 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), I'm not a fan of the rocker type four way around the enter button, but, its functional. 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!
No surprises here, everything is the same as on last year's Epson projectors, in precisely the same places.
The Home Cinema 8350 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 8350 also has a second infra-red (IR) sensor on the back of the projector.
Home Cinema 8350 Menus
The first, nice thing about the Epson menus, is that all the main menus are visible, while you are looking at any of the first level of sub-menus. On the right, you can see the Image menu, and to the left of the Image Menu choices you can see all the other key menus: Image, Signal, Settings, Memory, Info and Reset. The menu is partially translucent, which is always nice. Even when I put these translucent menus in front of a very "busy" scene, they remained easily readable (some menus that are even more translucent can get tough to read at times.)
The Picture menu first gives you a choice of color presets, including Dynamic - the brightest - Living Room, almost as bright, slightly better color, then Natural, Cinema, and x.v.Color.
Also found on the Image menu is a Skin Tone control. Best skin tones seem to be with settings of 3 or 4.
The Advanced sub-menu in the Image menu, offers all the control any "tweaker" would want.
The three options here, are a Gamma menu, which lets you select from 5 preset gamma's including the "ideal" 2.2 gamma.
You can also create your own gamma curve, essentially the equivalent to an audio equalizer, but it lets you control the relative brightness separately of the darkest, more moderate and brightest areas, with a total of 9 separate brightness bands.
For adjusting white balance (grayscale calibration), the RGB sub-menu gives you lots of control, with separate bias and offset for each of Red, Green, and Blue.
The even more sophisticated RGBCMY submenu allows you to control the color balance individually for the three primary (red, green, and blue), and secondary (cyan, magenta, and yellow). A moment to explain. Using the RGB menu, you can adjust the projector to as close as possible to the ideal 6500K temperature for movie watching. Even if you get that perfect, it doesn't guaranty that individual colors are right on the money. For example Red, could still look a little to orangish (which means it has some yellow content), and so on. With this control, you can adjust the individual colors, and even their intensity (saturation).To do this properly you need some good equipment, or an artist's eye and understanding of color.
The Signal menu controls aspect ratio, Noise reduction, Overscan control (Output Scaling) and noise reduction.
Speaking of color temperatures, the Absolute Color Temp control offers a slide bar so you can move the color temp up or down by increments of 500K (Kelvin)
Moving to the Settings Menu, from here you have a lot of control of the hardware, including a Sleep mode, password protection (Child Lock), control of the Trigger for raising and lowering properly equipped, motorized screens. You can also set the projector for front projection, rear, ceiling mount or tabletop.
The Info Menu (not shown, tells you about the signal source, lamp hours, etc. There are no controls on that menu.
Epson Home Cinema 8350 Remote Control
I'm very pleased with this Epson remote. It's rather familiar, it's the same one as Epson has been using for several projectors we've reviewed the last 2+ years.
One of the best things about the Epson remote control is that 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. Believe it or not, over half the projectors I review can't handle that much of a distance with a bounce off of screen or wall, forcing me to point the remote behind me. Thank you Epson.
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 itself.
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 8350 Lens Throw
Epson's 2.1:1 zoom ratio is the same as the older Home Cinema 6100 and the 6500UB. That's a little more than most LCD and LCoS projectors, and a lot more than the under $5000 DLP projectors. The Epson's zoom range is 2.1:1 - a lot more than most projectors and even those closest, with 2:1 zooms can't quite match it, so it can be placed closer than just about any other projector, and it can be placed further away (slightly) as well.
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 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 8350 does not support an anamorphic lens. Epson reserves that feature for the more expensive Pro Cinema 9350, and the Home Cinema 8700UB. The Home Cinema 8700UB has only one anamorphic mode. That means a sled is needed to move the lens in and out of the light path. There's also the Pro Cinema 9700UB, which does not need a sled to work with the anamorphic lens, as it has a "squeeze" anamorphic mode, saving the hefty cost of a motorized sled.