Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes
- Art Feierman 1-18-08
Check out how the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB fared in our comparison report.
View Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. JVC DLA-RS1x projector comparison.
View Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U projector comparison.
View Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. Sony VPL-VW40 projector comparison.
View annual winners.
This is the second Epson Home Cinema projector in a row, that I'm reviewing. Two weeks ago, I published the review of Epson's new Home Cinema 720, a 720p resolution home theater projector, that is bright, a good performer, and rather affordable.
Now it's time for the flagship of the Epson Home Cinema Line; the HC1080UB. Note, the UB designation stands for "UltraBlack."
- Best in class black levels - superior to any sub-$3000 projector I've seen yet, and better than most under twice that price.
- Excellent shadow detail
- Sharp - better than average - for 1080p projectors
- Good, not great, out of the box color accuracy, needs some work, for best enjoyment
- A bright Dynamic mode that really does the trick. Excellent on sports and HDTV, with some ambient light
- Solidly built
- Vertical and horizontal lens shift, and zoom lens with lots of range for excellent placement flexibility
- Excellent, best in class warranty
- 2 HDMI 1.3 inputs, with support for 1080p 24fps
- $2999 estimated street price, less $200 rebate, at launch
The image above, of Gandalf, is from Lord of Rings (SD-DVD), and shows the excellent skin tones (after adjustments) in the Theatre Black 1 mode (best).
The Home Cinema 1080UB is a superb projector. Despite being impressed with a preview of it, at CEDIA, back in September, I can say that upon working with the Home Cinema 1080UB, it easily exceeded my rather high expectations. While I don't take contrast ratios too seriously any more (it used to be a great way to estimate black level performance, but no more), the UB has an industry best 50,000:1 contrast ratio.
It is the first of the 3LCD powered home theater projectors that really outperforms most of the competition, both LCD, and DLP, in terms of those highly sought after, excellent black level capabilities. Add to that brightness, placement flexibility, and a sharp image with rich saturated colors. The UB thanks to the excellent black levels is more than just a replacement for the Home Cinema 1080, it moves the projector up into a whole different class of performance!
I believe Epson, with its new D7 C2Fine LCD panels, has taken the performance of 3LCD projectors to new levels with the Home Cinema 1080UB.
I should note, at this point, that in addition to the Home Cinema version, there is also a Pro Cinema 1080UB. It is more expensive, is sold only through local, installing dealers, comes in a black finish, is ISF certified (unlike the Home Cinema 1080UB), has an extra year (3rd year) warranty, and comes with a ceiling mount and spare lamp. At the time of this review, the Home Cinema 1080UB is $2999 less a $200 mail in rebate, while the Pro Cinema 1080UB, is $3999, but includes the extra's mentioned above.
People, this is going to be one of those rare, "rave reviews" that I write. I may find virtue in a lot of projectors, but few really get me excited. While many of you notice that I give out a lot of Hot Product Awards, that's to be expected, as the criteria for the Award, is that a projector "must be the best projector for at least a small, but significant segment of the home theater projector buyers. Thus one projector receiving the award might have the best overall picture, but not be bright enough for many. Another getting it might come in short a little on the picture quality, compared to the first one, but be significantly brighter, thus a better choice for others, and a third projector might be comparable to the second one, but have more placement flexibility, so becomes the best choice for those needing bright, but can't use the 2nd one because it won't position in their room. You get the idea.
In the summary section, I'll also provide some brief thoughts on how the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB compares with the Panasonic PT-AE2000U, Mitsubishi HC4900 and HC6000, Optoma HD81, HD80, HD8000, and HD81-LV DLP 1080p projectors, as well as the Sanyo Z2000, JVC RS1 and RS2, and finally, the Sony VW50 and VW60.
In February, we'll be producing our comprehensive 1080p projector comparison report. In that, we'll further compare projectors, and also award Best in Class and Runner-up rewards, selected from those having received Hot Product Awards, to further help you sort things out.
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Projector: Basic Specs
Estimated Street Price: $2799 (after initial $200 rebate)
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1600 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 2.1:1
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal
Lamp life: 3000 hours low power (theater black), 2000 hours at full lamp power
Weight: 11.5 lbs. (5.1 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor, overnight replacement program both years
Click here for more complete Home Cinema 1080UB specs and brochure.
Epson HC1080UB Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
The Epson Home Cinema 1080UB, is physically almost identical to the older Home Cinema 1080, as well as the Home Cinema 720.
Starting from the front, this Epson sports a fairly large zoom lens (right of center, if you are facing the projector). The zoom lens has a 2:1 zoom ratio, allowing the Epson to fill a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 screen from as close as 10.4 feet, or as far back as 22.2 feet. Manual focus and zoom are achieved by rotating the appropriate rings on the lens barrel. Close to center is the front infra-red sensor for the remote, and to the left is the front vent which blows hot air out on an angle, so as not to have heat distortion in front of the lens. The front, off angle exhaust also makes the HC1080UB an excellent candidate for shelf mounting in the back of your room. Immediately below toward the outsides, are two screw thread adjustable front feet.
Moving to the top (and looking from the rear) of the Epson HC1080UB, just behind the lens are two dials, one for vertical lens shift (with a very impressive range), and horizontal lens shift. There is enough range to mount the projector above the top of your screen, or below the bottom, or anywhere in between.
The control panel is located on the top, as well. It has the same very good functionality as the older HC1080. From left to right, a large Power button, then the Source select button. Next comes the four navigational arrow keys in the typical diamond layout, with the menu button in the top left, and the escape button top right. In the center of the diamond, is the Enter button. That leaves only the Aspect ratio button on the right.
In addition there are two indicators, power, and temperature/lamp.
Moving to the back of the Epson HC1080UB, you'll find the input panel. It is pretty typical, organized into two rows From the left, a 12 volt trigger for working with properly equipped motorized screens, a SCART port, and below it, a composite video (NTSC/PAL/SECAM). There is a single component video input (3 color coded RCA jacks), and below them, both S-video input and an RS-232c for "command and control" of the projector from a computer or room control system. Back to the top row, there is an analog PC input (which can double as a 2nd component video input, and lastly a pair ofHDMI connectors - one more than the older HC1080.
I'd still like to see 3 HDMI inputs, but two seems to be about the standard, with only a couple of projectors sporting three.
Also found on the back of the Home Cinema 1080UB, is the rear infra-red sensor, the power receptacle, and a hard power switch (which must be on, for the top power button or the remote control to turn the projector on).
The Home Cinema 1080UB, like other Home Cinema series projectors, has a pearl white finish with a silver lens barrel. Overall, physically, it is a very attractive, and compact, projector.
The remote control will be covered on our General Performance page. Now, though, it is time for the really fun stuff - Image Quality.