Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, Pro Cinema 9500UB - Physical Tour
10/22/2009 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Physical Appearance
The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB (above) is a mid-sized, rectangular projector with slightly rounded corners. It comes in a white finish with white end caps. The Pro Cinema 9500UB (right) is physically identical looking, but for the charcoal gray finish, and dark gray endcaps. Most of the images on this site are of the 8500UB (actually a 6500UB), as it's very difficult to get good photos of what is an essentially black projector. Overall, they are fairly typical looking projectors despite some minor styling touches. While the newest Epson UB projectors are physically larger than the original Home Cinema 1080 UB, they are physically still a size smaller, than say the Panasonic PT-AE4000, and smaller still compared to larger projectors like the JVCs and Sonys.
If you are facing the front of the Home Cinema 8500UB, you will find that the lens is offset to the right. The 2.1:1 zoom lens is manual, and extends partially from the projector case. Focus and Zoom are accomplished by rotating the trim rings on the lens. To the right, below the lens, is the infra-red sensor, and to the left, is the front air exhaust.
Moving to the top, behind the lens barrel, are dials for vertical and horizontal lens shift. Just forward of the back center are two indicator lamps, the Power button (once for on, twice for off) and a Source button. The lamp door is also on top, so that you will not have to unmount a ceiling mounted projector to change the long life lamp. Behind the Power and Source buttons, wrapping around to the rear, is a second infra-red sensor, providing excellent coverage.
The rest of the control panel is found on the right side (looking from the front).
The inputs and outputs are located on the back, as is an intake filter (that can be cleaned/changed).
There are two screw thead adjustable feet in the front of the 8500UB.
As mentioned above, the Power and Source buttons are located on the top by the back. The rest of the control panel is on the right side, near the back.
Closest to the front of the buttons is a large Menu button. To its right, the four arrow keys on a rocker (square configuration, with a center Enter button), and finally closest to the back, the Escape button.
The Home Cinema 8500UB 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.
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Menus
Epson has been using the same basic menu look and feel for many years now. I guess it figures into the idea of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Pressing the Menu button brings up the main menu, with its six main menus. The first one - Image - will appear to the right, while the names of all six main menus are listed vertically on the left. Scroll down to see the contents of each menu.
In the Image menu, the first item is the Color mode, which gives a choice of the seven preset modes. The names are different between the Home and Pro versions of the projectors. For example:
9500UB Mode same as 8500UB mode:
Vivid is Dynamic
Cinema Day is LivingRoom
THX is the old Natural
Cinema Night - is Theater Black, HD is Theater Black 1 (our old "best" mode)
Silver screen is Theater Black 2 (for black and white moves)
x.v.color is x.v.color.
Control of the usual Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, etc. are on the Image menu, along with Dynamic iris on/settings, and lamp brightness. There's also an Advanced menu with color management controls, and features like dynamic contrast enhancement and Super-resolution.
The Signal menu is most noteworthy for the CFI and Frame interpolation controls. You can set frame interpolation to simple interpolation: 4:4. You must turn that off to engage Epson's creative frame interpolation (CFI), which is improved over last year's implementation (yes, better than even the firmware upgrade).
The Settings menu has a host of feature controls including high altitude mode, projector orientation, sleep mode, child lock features, 12 volt trigger control, and in the Display submenu (of the Settings menu), menu positioning and look, background, and startup screen controls.
The Memory menu, offers up the ability to save, load or rename the 9 User savable memory areas.
Again, a really good menu setup. Easy to navigate, and I really like having lamp brightness on the main Image menu (although I'd also like to see the frame interpolation controls there too).
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Remote Control
The remote control for the Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB remains identical to last year's.
This remote is very good in terms of functionality. Buttons are well organized, large buttons, with plenty of spacing. the backlight is orange, and reasonably bright.
The remote shown on the right is technically for the 8500UB or other Home series. The Pro series, including the Pro Cinema 9500UB, comes with a black remote, but the buttons are all the same, as is the functionality.
If I have one complaint, it is that the backlight button is at the very top right, I prefer it lower - in the middle, or towards the bottom, as that is where you'll be pressing most of the buttons on this remote. Most projector remotes do put it lower.
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, Aspect ratio, and Sharpness. There's also a test pattern button and one to blank the screen.
I would have liked one of the buttons to provide direct access to the frame interpolation controls. Too bad, that would have been more useful than the test pattern button, which obviously is rarely used.
Home Cinema 8500UB Lens Throw
Epson's 2.1:1 zoom ratio is the same as the older UB projectors including the 6500UB, and the 7500 UB. The Fujinon lens has a little more range than most LCD and LCoS projectors offer, and a lot more than any of the under $5000 DLP projectors.
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.
Home Cinema 8500UB Lens Shift
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 situation. I can't think of any projector under $5000 that can match both the zoom and lens shift flexibility of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB.
The Home Cinema Epson projectors, including the Home Cinema 8500UB, do not support using an anamorphic lens. Should one want to go that route, they will need an outboard processor such as the DVDO Edge, which we recently reviewed eariler this year. If you are considering going anamorphic, forget the Home Cinema 8500UB. Your ticket to success will be the the Pro Cinema 9500UB instead. It has internal support for an anamorphic lens. The additional cost for the Pro Cinema 9500UB is definitely a good bit less than the least expensive outboard processor, and you also get an extra year warranty with the Pro.
For those of you not familiar with anamorphic lenses, they are expensive, but let you watch Cinemascope ratio movies (most) without the letterboxing, with a 2.35:1 shaped screen. Because of the hefty cost of a lens and motorized sled (more than this projector), very few people make this investment, at least with under $3000 projectors.