Epson Home Cinema 8500UB - Competitors
How does the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
10/29/2009 - Art Feierman
This section compares the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB home theater projector to the competition. You will find our impressions of this Epson projector as it stacks up to seven other competing projectors we have reviewed. Read them all, or jump to anyone from the index above. Image below: Epson (L), BenQ W6000 (R)
Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500UB
Too easy: The answer is, the 8500UB is better. It just seems to have improved at most things. Nothing earthshattering, but it all adds up rather nicely.
First, the things that didn't change - that is, are the same: "Best" mode brightness, no support for an anamporphic lens, same physical properties, - case, lens, layout, also the warranty.
The differences include "brightest" mode brightness. The newer Epson simply wasn't as bright as last year's. Now maybe that's in part because this is an early sample, we'll know when we get a full production projector in, and remeasure.
In exchange for the brightness, though, the colors are much better, the older 6500UB had a very greenish Dynamic mode. We sacrificed a couple hundred lumens to get respectable color. With the new 8500UB, the color was already better than what we corrected the old 6500UB for. I'll call that a fair trade-off, since once we adjusted both they were very close in brightness (but the 6500UB still had a slight advantage, the 8500UB an definite advantage in color accuracy.
I happen to like the new Super-Resolution feature, which I've been constantly running on sports, and usually with movies. That's a plus. I think most people will find some use for it.
The CFI is definitely, further improved. There is very little "live digital video look" (LDVL) to movies now. I only infrequently notice it when I'm enjoying a movie. (Yes, I can always tell if CFI is on, if I'm trying to observe it.) I always have it on now for sports (I did as well with the 6500UB after the firmware upgrade).
Both old and new still need work on the CFI when using it with 24fps movies coming across 60fps HDTV.
The black levels are slightly better, but, slightly can definitely be significant on the right types of scenes.
When I watched the two side by side, it comes down to this. They looked so similar, but, the 8500UB just looked better at doing it. And the darker the scene, the more it shined. Someone asked whether the 8500UB was worth a few hundred more, relative to any closeout of the 6500UB. My response was, essentially, it's an easy decision. Unlike comparing truly different projectors, this is clearcut. You will get a better picture, from better blacks, a slightly crisper image from Super-Resolution, better CFI for those using it, etc. I'd say, if the bucks are there, spend the difference. If the money's tight, well, they may be different, but they are definitely high performance projectors, you can't go wrong with the 6500UB either.
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. HC6800, HC7000
Bad news, in that I still haven't received an HC6800 as of this writing. No comment, other than to say that the HC6800 isn't going to have black level performance in the 8500UB's league. I'm looking forward to reviewing it soon.
The HC7000 as I recall is a classy, smaller screen projector. I believe last year, it was second only to the 6500UB in black level performance. It's an elegant projector with a sharper image than the Epson, and was considered by me to have slightly more film-like skin tones than the older Epson. Since I find the 8500UB slightly better in that regard, the Mitsubishi HC7000 and Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB projectors are probably about on par in terms of color accuracy and skin tones in particular.
Whether you are into movies, or want to crank it up, the Mitsubishi is no match for the Epson when it comes to lumens. The Mitsubishi is a projector typically for screen sizes 100 inches or smaller. Even 110 inch diagonal would be pushing it, if you don't go with a screen with a bit of gain. The Mitsubishi clocked in at 278 lumens in "best" and 536 in "brightest". By comparison the Epson is 499 and 1309 lumens. Wow!
I say, though that the Mitsubishi is elegant. It's a quality picture. It is perhaps the quietest projector on the market and it has power zoom and focus. I really did like it, although it's not a projector for me. I like bright, and big screens.
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000
Once again, the Epson wins the war of lumens. The Sanyo is a bit below average in "best" mode, and average in "brightest". The Creative Cinema mode of the Sanyo is the one we recommend, and it did 373 lumens to the Epson's 499 in "best" mode and 1036 lumens to the Epson's 1309 in "brightest" mode.
The Sanyo did not track color as accurately as the Epson, with only a single control for each color when calibrating grayscale for 6500UB. The Epson wins when it comes to the more accurate colors.
The Epson definitely wins in black levels. The Sanyo I considered to be an "ultra-high contrast" projector, like the Epson, but while the Epson was the best in this regard in the mid-price class, the Sanyo was the least of the "ultra-high contrast" projectors, in terms of blacks. Still, a lot better than any of the non "ultra-high's".
The Sanyo's CFI is more basic than the Epson's, it works with less types of source material. It does a good job, where it can be used.
Sanyo's advantages lie primarily in the significanly lower price, and a three year warranty. I prefer the Epson warranty for its replacement program, but the 3rd year is a real plus. I would expect the Sanyo to be roughly $500 less than the Epson. That makes it a viable alternative for less money, for those that are sticking to slightly smaller screens.
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. BenQ W6000
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sharp XV-Z15000
The Sharp XV-Z15000, like the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is less expensive than the Epson. In this case, though, the Sharp is a DLP projector. OK, the Epson wins the placement flexibility contest without effort, wth a longer range zoom, plus lens shift. The Sharp has very limited zoom range, and no lens shift.
The Sharp, interestingly, isn't quite as sharp, overall, as the Epson. The Sharp, when reviewed, appeared to have optics that aren't quite as good as most, in that if you focused on the center of the screen, the sides and corners would be a little softer than with most other projectors. Don't get me wrong, at the point you focus on, the Sharp, is very, well, sharp. It's just that overall, the image will be a little softer. (Be sure to focus about 1/3 out from the center of the scree, with the Sharp.)
The Sharp has truly excellent color and skin tones. It has that DLP look and feel. I have to give a slight advantage to the Sharp over the Epson 8500UB, as far as color handling. The Epson is very good, the XV-Z15000 projector is just a little better. Not so much in color accuracy, but perhaps because of that DLP look of richness, that seems to be the reason a serious number of folks prefer DLP over the more flexible, and often feature laden LCD projectors.
When the Sharp was reviewed, I was very impressed with black level performance. It uses a dynamic iris, and is definitely what I define as an "ultra-high" contrast projector. No, its black level performance can't match the 8500UB, or last year's 6500UB, but is pretty comparable to, for example, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, and probably very close to last year's Panasonic PT-AE3000. In other words, the Sharp does produce very nice black levels, blacker than almost all projectors at or below its price, but that black level performance, while in the same class as the Epson, is closer to the "bottom of the class" while the Epson is at the top (for under $4000 projectors).
Brightness is no contest. While the Sharp is very average over all, the Epson, is brighter. Post calibration, the Epson beats the Sharp in "best mode" 499 lumens vs. 355 lumens. In "brightest" mode, the Epson again is just plain brighter 1309 vs. 1099. That makes the Sharp not quite as able to handle large screen sizes. The Sharp was best at about 100 inch diagonal or less, in "best" mode, and can be pushed to 110", but unless you have the right screen, and the room is a dark one (walls, ceilings, etc.) 110" diagonal may be too much to tackle. In "brightest" mode, the Sharp is fine, and will do a really nice job on sports and general TV viewing with some ambient light, on the larger sizes of screens that match the projector (again, about 100" or a little larger). The Epson will, for example, do just about as well when comparing bright modes, on a screen 10 percent larger. That means for sports, the Sharp will look great on a 100 inch diagonal screen.
When it comes to the dynamic iris, the Epson has two modes, the Sharp, one. The XV-Z15000's iris action is a bit more visible than some, including, typically, the Epson, but overall, it's a pretty good one.
The Sharp makes an excellent lower priced 1080p projector with excellent color and impressive black level performance, that will appeal greatly to those sold on the DLP look and feel. It is one of those "a pleasure to watch" projectors. The Epson has the muscle, the better warranty, a lot more features, placement flexibility, and so on, but the Sharp's picture quality in general is every bit the match for the Epson, even though the Epson is definitely a bit better in terms of blacker blacks.
If you are a DLP (in terms of color, "look and feel" guy), this choice is going to be a really tough one! If you are about gadgets, and power, the Epson is the way to go. Both put a really good image on the screen.
Home Cinema 8500UB vs. JVC DLA-RS10 and DLA-RS15
Well, I haven't seen any of the new JVC's up close. All are supposed to have slightly better blacks than last year's models. As a result, I can't speak precisely about the new DLA-RS15, but I can about the RS10.
The RS10 delivers great blacks, and does so, without using a dynamic iris. That's a real advantage. No compression of the dynamics of the image on medium to darker scenes, unlike projectors using dynamic irises. No iris action to be detected, and perhaps occasionally be noticeable.
While the Epson color is very good, the JVC has a slightly more natural look and feel. True, we're quibbling here, but, that's often what one does, when comparing a very good projector to another, more expensive one.
Inherently both projectors normally qualify as average sharpness, and about the same. I do like the Epson Super-Resolution, though, and when engaged, does make the Epson look a touch sharper than the JVC RS10. It will put that slight extra sparkle in an actor's eye.
Brightness in this case, is very different. In "best" mode, the JVC easily bests the Epson, with over 750 lumens to the Epson's 500. The RS10 can handle my 128" screen in "best" mode, something the Epson just can't do. In "brightest" mode, however, the JVC only gets a small increase in the 900 lumen range, while the Epson is about 50% brighter. As I own the similarly bright RS20, I can attest, that on my 128" screen, if I want a nice amount of ambient light when folks are over for football, the JVC's come up a little short, while the Epson has no problem. (That's why, back in February, I had pulled down my RS20 from my high shelf and put an Epson up there for my Superbowl party).
Both have excellent placement flexibility no advantage there at all, although the Epson does have a touch more lens shift, the JVC has plenty.
Both have 2 year warranties, but the Epson's includes their typically overnight replacement program.
The Epson has the bells and whistles. There's no CFI on the JVC. For standard frame interpolation, the JVC goes to 48fps on 24fps movies, the Epson to 96fps. And the Epson just has more dynamic type features, such as Super-Resolution, Contrast Enhancement, etc.
The JVC is going to sell for about $2000 more.
Is it worth it? For those into best picture quality, I have to say yes, without reservation. For people buying a projector, pretty much for movies only, and aren't worried about brightest mode performance, then definitely.
In fact, the thing that makes the choice difficult, is the more expensive RS20. The RS20, and forthcoming RS25, is essentially, picture wise, where all RS10 folks would like to be. Similar, but better, and better blacks. That means a person not on a tight budget may find themselves deciding not so much between the RS10 and the Epson 8500UB, but between the Epson and the RS20. Hey, if you can afford the extra $2000 (roughly) for the RS10, why not still another couple thousand for the even better RS20?
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Sony VPL-HW15
It really is a shame. I reviewed the Sony HW10 last year and really liked it. The same is true this year for the VPL-HW15 projector. While I do recognize some real advantages to the Sony, over the Epson, here's a case where, for me, I strongly favor the Epson. I favor it, probably, though, more than it deserves.
The Sony provides a more elegant image. It has controls that enthusiasts and purists really will like. It's LCoS (Sony calls theirs SXRD), so pixels are completely invisible at any normal distance, rather than just below the radar. And, the Sony is particularly film-like. It's also a nicely styled projector, with a little more class - more like the JVC projectors, and some other more expensive models.
Where the Epson shines though, first of all, is in "brightest" mode. No comparison. The most lumens we could measure out of any mode that looked good was only 664 for the Sony, compared to 1309 for the Epson! That's HUGE!
"Best" mode, however, the two are very similar, with a very small advantage to the Sony - 536 lumens compared to 499 (that's only 7%, not enough to fight over, especially since the Epson's lamp likely will last about twice as long, and therefore after a few hundred hours be at least as bright as the Sony).
Both projectors use dynamic irises, and have excellent black levels. We compared the Sony to the older 6500UB, and the Epson had a slight advantage, so the new Home Cinema 8500UB should have a little more advantage, but still not a really large difference.
Placement flexibiliy favors the Epson. The Sony has a mid-range zoom, 1.6:1, compared to the 8500UB projector's 2.1:1. Where that difference may be critical is for those who wish to shelf mount. The overall range of the Sony is short, for example, for a 100" screen (a very good size for the Sony), the furthest back the projector could be placed would be 16 ft 4 inches. That may not be far enough in many rooms. The Epson, by comparsion can be placed as far back (same 100" screen) as 21 feet.
The Epson projector has a slightly more dynamic look - that "pop and wow" factor. The Sony is more subtle. In that regard, the Sony, is more like the JVC RS10 in picture, but the Epson is more fun. I don't know, if I didn't own an RS20, and was buying just one projector (I have two theaters), I might like the Sony better, but, I do really like the extra horsepower, features, and black levels of the Epson. If no where else, the Epson pulls away from the Sony on those really dark scenes I so like.
Pricewise, they are very similar, so any price difference is not likely to be a deciding factor.
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE4000
Ahh, wouldn't you like to know. OK, the PT-AE4000 is arriving 8 days from the time I'm writing this. Don't expect me to update this, however. The comparison between the Home Cinema 8500UB and the PT-AE4000 will appear in the Panasonic PT-AE4000's review and competitor's page.
And, because this is the "hot matchup" again, this year, days after the Panasonic review is published, I'll have a long head to head comparison article as well, complete with a lot of side by side images.
Relative to the older Panasonic, the PT-AE3000, this Epson has it whooped in brightness (the new PT-AE4000 gets a boost in "best" mode brightness, though still, supposedly a step down from the Epson). The Epson also has a very real advantage in black levels. Though both are "ultra-high contrast" projectors, the Epson is a step up. Both new projectors have better blacks than last year. Although I can't comment from first hand experience, the Panasonic has improved its blacks, perhaps more than Epson has, but the word out there, is that when it comes to dark scenes, the Epson still is the best anywhere near its price.
Old and new Panasonic projectors can emulate an anamorphic lens, which the Epson cannot (or support an anamorphic lens). Both have CFI. The older Epson's CFI was not as good as the PT-AE3000's but the 8500UB's as been siginficantly improved, and comparing the Epson CFI to the new Panasonic's should prove interesting.
The Panasonic has power zoom and focus, the Epson is manual. The Panasonic comes with a one year warranty, and a mail-in registration card that provides a second year. Note, the Panasonic warranty and extension together specify 2 years or 2000 hours, whichever comes first. Heavy users may use up their warranty late in the first year, and many will not make it to the end of two years. Epson handily wins the warranty battle with 2 years, no such restriction, and overnight replacement.
The Panasonic projectors always seem to cost $400 - $500 less than the Epson. There is a trade-off, though, beyond features and performance. Epson's lamp is rated 4000 hours at full power, the Panasonic only 2000 hours. This can save moderate to heavy users about $100 or more a year. At 20 hours a week, the Panasonic needs a $400 lamp every 2 years, the Epson needs a $300 lamp every 4. You can do the math. Still, for folks on a tight budget, the Panasonic is still hundreds less, up front.
Hang in there for the PT-AE4000 review for the "bottom line" on these two projectors.