Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector - Performance
10/4/2010 - Art Feierman
In this section we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Brightness
The numbers below were recorded by Mike before and after calibration. They were taken with the original pre-production 8700UB projector. We normally anticipate that full production projectors will be a bit brighter. Since the original work with that first projector, Epson sent us a full production 8700UB. True to expectations, it measured brighter. With the projectors set up, side by side, the newer projector produced approximately 9.4% brighter than the first. I did not remeasure all the modes. Since I presume that the newer projector is more typical in terms of lumen performance, each of the original measurements has been increased by the 9.4%, for your convenience. The original numbers are in ().
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic= 1203 (1100) @ 7472
Living Room= 1079 (986) @ 8148
THX= 503 (460) @ 6898
Theatre= 454 (415) @ 7852
Theatre Black 1= 465 (425) @ 6558
Theatre Black 2= 414 (379) @ 5261
x.v. Color= 472 (431) @ 6512
NOTE: While both Theatre Black 1 and x.v. Color modes both have a good color temp number at 100 IRE, they are both too red in the grayscale balance. THX mode is the “Best mode”, and this year can be fully calibrated, which could not be done with the older Epson 8500UB THX mode.
Uncalibrated, THX mode measured 460 lumens on the pre-production unit, and should therefore compute to 503 lumens on the production 8700UB.
In brightest mode - Dynamic mode, the production 8700UB measured 1203 lumens.
Low lamp will drop the brightness of the projector by approximately 22.5% (from 460 lumens down to 357 lumens on the pre-production model)
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):
Zoom out: 1256
Zoom in: 837
The impact of the numbers above show that there is significant impact to where you mount, in terms of distance from your screen. If you are going large screen, a closer mount will give you more lumens, but there are other trade-offs. Also figure most lenses aren't at their best at their absolute extremes.
Color Temp over IRE Range (Pre calibration – Best mode): THX
30 IRE 6753K
50 IRE 6718K
80 IRE 6682K
100 IRE 6898K
That's a good set of numbers - pre-calibration! The target is 6500K. The slightly higher numbers indicates a just slightly cool image (a bit more blues than reds). This is a slight shift, and further corrects with calibration. Note how consistent the color temp is, across the IRE range. (Note, below 20 IRE the color temp gets warm, so both our 8700UB projectors here exhibit a bit of red in the blackest blacks, which is visible in some of the longer exposure images in this review.
Post calibration, the pre-production projector clocked in with 18 less lumens, a total of 442 lumens for "best" mode.
Our "quick-calibration" of Dynamic mode - which is designed to improve color as much as possible without sacrificing a lot of lumens, should yield a brighter than average 1194 lumens on the full production projector, and with even better color. Sports looks great! I've got some football images of course, for your consideration.
Please check out the video summary of this review for a good demonstration of how the Home Cinema 8700UB performs in the real world. You'll see a video that pans my room with two windows partially open, and sunlight coming in. The view will swing around and then show you the image - in our quick-cal(itbrated) dynamic mode, under those conditions.
The Calibration page will provide the settings we used. That includes basic settings as well as gain and offset. We will revise, with numbers from a production projector if there are color table changes, between this unit and full production ones. I don't expect that to be the case, though.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Sharpness
OK, some things don't really change. 3 chip projectors, be they 3LCD, LCoS, or DLP, have potential convergence issues. As a result, its common for even moderately priced single chip DLP projectors like the under $1300 Mitsubishi HC4000, or the over $2000 BenQ W6000, to be slightly sharper than most projectors using 3 chips, even up to $10,000.
That said, the slight softness compared to a DLP, is minor on this Epson. On typical movie viewing most of us simply won't notice any softness, since the film introduces its own softness and grain artifacts. Switch to digital HD source material - be it Monday Night Football, or ScyFi HD, Discovery HD, History HD, HD HD, or etc HD, and you will notice that a sharp single chip DLP will appear a bit sharper in a side by side comparison.
That's the bad news. I actually really do like Epson's Super-Resolution - an apparent dynamic sharpening solution. At the lowest setting, it does add a sense of further sharpness, but any related hardness of the image, is so minor as to not be an issue under normal viewing. Pushing the Super-Resolution to higher settings however, and it will start taking a small toll elsewhere.
Overall, the sharpness is good, like many other 1080p projectors. There are only a handful of projectors - almost all single chip DLP projectors that will appear a touch sharper.
For your consideration, our usual close up images:
Top left: Home Cinema 8700UB, Top Left Center - LG CF181D, Top Right Center - JVC RS25, Top right - Mitsubishi HC7000
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE4000, left center: Epson Home Cinema 8350, right center: Mitsubishi HC4000, right: BenQ W6000.
Please note, we are still switching over to using the Playstation video logo as our sharpness example, instead of the old dts-hd logo. The original sample test disc from dts died, and they can't find me another.
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: Home Cinema 8700UB, InFocus 8602, Vivitek H5080, and Sanyo PLV-Z4000.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB: Bottom Line Sharpness
I see an improvement here. I cannot tell if Epson has really made the Home Cinema 8350 sharper than last years models, by virtue of a slightly improved optical engine, or just luck of the draw, but if they all look this sharp, that is an improvement.
There is minimal leakage from this Epson design. That has been true of all the Epson UB's using this basic design, essentially, starting with the 6500UB.
Epson relies on Silicon Graphix Reon VX processing. That's very clean stuff. No issues to report at all.
Epson claims 22 db in eco mode and 28 at full power. 28 is pretty good for full power, quieter than any of the DLP projectors, even at several times the price. The iris noise is minimal by my reckoning. The 8350 has been sitting 3 feet behind me and 18 inches below me, for most of a week. all my viewing has been with the lamp on full power. Never noticed the noise, but then, I know some folks are far more sensitive to background noise. In low power mode (eco mode), the 22 db isn't the quietest projector out there, but is close to silent, for all practical purposes.