Epson Home Cinema 8700UB - Review Summary
Time for a relatively quick summary of the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
10/6/10 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector - The Bottom Line
At $2199, this Epson Home Cinema 8700UB is going to be tough to beat. No one projector is going to be best for everyone, especially in a moderate price range for a home theater projector. That said, the Epson's strengths will satisfy a large percentage of those shopping for a projector in the price range, or even for twice the price.
Let's summarize brightness first. The Epson's almost 1200 lumens in brightest mode, produced a bright image. It allows me to fill a 128" Firehawk screen, with more than a small amount of ambient light present, without taking too much of a beating. On the other hand, in "best" mode, although the Epson can fill my screen when its new, as the lamp ages and gets dimmer (as they all do), the Epson is going to start looking a little too dim.
That is to say, I believe the Epson overall, is best suited for a slightly smaller screen, say 100 to 110 inches. Of course if you want to go larger, you can choose a screen with a bit of gain. Your room, of course has a lot to do with what works. If you have lighter walls, you'll want to keep your screen about a size smaller than with darker room surfaces.
When it comes to color handling, this 8700UB is the best Epson I've worked with. Whether its the great THX mode, or perhaps Mike's becoming an even better calibrator, but this Epson has had the most natural looking skin tones, of any Epson so far. It's that simple. The sometimes green push that always seems to remain after calibration, with previous models, is either gone, or inperceptively there, once Mike calibrated it. Of course that's only true for our "best" mode - an adjusted THX. The Livingroom mode is very cool - too blue - too thin on reds. Dynamic, as notedm is improved, making this a much better projector for sports and when you want some light present.
The Epson's placement flexibility is almost unmatched, with the 2.1:1 Fujinon lens, and more lens shift than most. You can ceiling mount, place on a table, or shelf mount in the rear of your room, thanks to the lenses range. (That is, most will not have a problem, but if your room is really deep, and you go with a smaller screen, it might not work.)
Features abound, Creative Frame Interpolation offers fast motion smoothing (use judiciously - and probably not for movies). The CFI is supposed to be smart enough to call it quits (at least briefly when it can't cope with a lot of "creative" in the new frames), but, I notice that it still shows its rough edges if you are trying to apply CFI to a 24 fps movie, coming to you from satellite or cable, at 60fps. Epson had a lot of problems with artifacts with their first generation CFI, but quickly improved it. Yet, it still could be a bit better, there are slightly smoother ones out there. Also it's very tame when handling typical HD sports and programs on Discovery HD - that is to say, it's pretty clean adding one creative frame between each two, as it takes 60fps to 120fps.
The dynamic contrast can add some extra pop to your content, but again, use moderation, as dynamic features do have their unintended consequences. I do like Super-Resolution - a dynamic sharpening feature. I always run it with HD digital content.
The Very Bottom Line on the Home Cinema 8700UB projector:
Average brightness in "best" mode, and very bright at its brightest, it's got the horsepower to handle most screens in most rooms. No Epson I've reviewed has looked as good as this one. That makes the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB - and of course, the Pro Cinema 9700UB, a rather formidable projector and competitor. It's still early on in reviewing this year's crop, but, we've already looked at the Mitsubishi HC6800 and the Sanyo PLV-Z4000, and without a new entry for the near future from Panasonic, that's pretty much the other 3LCD competition. On the DLP side, there's some Optoma and BenQ competition, but BenQ's got newer projectors they haven't rolled out in the US (and may not). That BenQ DLP is particularly impressive, and will remain a direct competitor to the 8700UB.
Sharpness of this Epson is good, but hardly exceptional. There are a couple of slightly sharper 3LCD projectors, but the Epson is typical. For those who really demand the max in sharpness, they will favor a single chip DLP. Almost all of us, however, will be perfectly happy with the Epson's sharpness, especially for movie viewing.
That's not all the competition, there's the LG CF181D, a projector that can't begin to match the Epson's black levels and dark scene handling, but is powerfully bright, and just always looks good - a forgiving projector.
I digress. I mention all these others, because, they are the best of the competition, yet last year's Epson came out on top of all of those that were out at the time, when it came to our Best In Class awards. That this Epson is an excellent projector and a great value seems pretty straightforward, what you need to do, is consider your factors - what content you like to watch, your room's characteristics, the screen size you want, and whether the Epson is the right projector for you.
It is certainly likely to end up on your short list, if not at the very top.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector: Pros
- Excellent "out of the box" picture quality
- It only gets better with calibration
- Best in Class black level performance for a projector in its price range
- Image has good sharpness
- Projector lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector (door is on the top, though well hidden)
- Very low cost of operation - low cost long life lamp 4000/4000 hours
- Very good warranty - 2 years, with 2 years of replacement program
- Very good menus, very good remote (good range)
- Creative frame interpolation
- Support for an anamorphic lens
- An excellent value proposition
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector: Cons
- Dynamic iris can make a low rumbling sound (there are ways to dampen)
- CFI still seems to have minor problems with 24 fps movies coming at you over cable or satellite at 60.
- Slower than most projectors in locking onto a new source, when you switch
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Styling - it's off white, has some nice trim - but not an award winner for styling
- Audible noise - average, but still a good bit quieter than the DLP projectors that make up the Epson's primary competition
Final note. Yes, I've been a big fan of the Epson UB projectors since they first surfaced. I just wanted to mention that Mike and Tony - who have been writing reviews for my site, bought the older Epson 8500UB at the end of last year, and are both pleased. There most be something to it! -art
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Home Cinema 8700UB