Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
The projector General Performance page is broken down into many topics. These links (anchors) will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Menus
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB User Memory Settings
Home Cinema 1080UB Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Projector Brightness
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Light Leakage
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB Audible Noise Levels
Home Cinema 1080UB Projector Screen Recommendations
Home Cinema 1080UB Calibration
HC1080UB User Memory Settings
HC1080UB Projector - Remote Control
Also, coming soon!
HC1080UB Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Epson's Home Cinema 1080UB has exceptional placement flexibility! The zoom lens is an industry best 2.1:1, meaning that the closest you can place the projector to the screen is slightly less than half the distance of the further back you can place it. With this range, the projector is ideal for shelf mounting in most rooms, and of course it can be ceiling mounted almost anywhere you need to place it, as well.
Using the numbers below, you can figure out the distances for your sized screen, easily, with a calculator. For a 100 inch,16:9 diagonal screen the front of the projector can be as close as 10.4 feet, or as far back as 22.2 feet.
The Epson HC1080UB not only has a flexible zoom lens, but also offers more vertical lens shift (and it has plenty of horizontal lens shift as well), than all but a couple of other projectors. For that same 100" screen, the lens of the projector can be placed as high as 22 inches above the top of the screen surface, or as low as 22 inches below the bottom. And, of course, it can sit anywhere, in between.
HC1080UB SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
This is a three panel LCD projector - 3LCD - and as such, has no spinning color filter wheel like all the single chip DLP projectors have. As such, there is no possibility of the Rainbow Effect.
Screen Door Effect, is also not an issue, unless you want to sit much closer than most people would consider remotely reasonable. Each new generation of LCD panels has a less visible pixel structure than the last, and the new D7 C2Fine panels have significantly improved designe to reduce pixel visibility. I simply never noticed pixel structure, even sitting at my usual 11.5 - 12.5 feet from a large, 128 inch diagonal screen, except on occasional "signage" such as the graphics with scores on a football game. Even then, I never noticed, unless I was looking for it. (Same is true for white movie credits on a dark background.) I must mention (again), I have very good corrected vision, with my glasses - I can read the 20/15 line at the eye doctor's with either eye. That tends to make me more critical of pixel structure than anyone with "merely" perfect 20/20 vision.
HC1080UB Projector Brightness
Ahh, I love bright, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB, overall, is a bright projector. In it's best mode, it's a little brighter than the average 1080p projector, although not as bright as the two JVC projectors. By the time you kick it into its brightest mode - Dynamic, it is brighter than all but a couple of under $10,000 projectors, most notably the exceptionally bright Optoma HD81-LV. Even the very bright InFocus IN82, which is much brighter in best mode, is about the same in brightest.
I should note here, that all measurements below are with the fan in High brightness mode. The low power lamp mode (when measured in Theater Black 1, came in almost a perfect 20% darker than lamp on full power. That 20% drop should be pretty much consistant, for all color modes.
OK, here are the numbers:
Theatre Black 1: 468 lumens (after color adjustments)
Theatre Black 2: 358 lumens (said to be the best mode for black and white films)
Theatre: 482 lumens
Natural: 530 lumens
and now it gets bright:
Living Room: 915 lumens
Dynamic: 1818 lumens (default settings - green is way up)
Dynamic: 1527 lumens (after some adjustments to "tame" the colors a bit to make everything look more natural)
You can push the Dynamic mode past 2000 lumens, but color balance gets worse...
HC1080UB Projector - Light Leakage
Not an issue. There's a little coming out on an angle from the front vent, which you might notice if your projector is at table height, and you were sitting a couple of feet away, and just forward and to the right of it. Of course, if you sat right there, you'ld also get hit by the hot air coming out of that same exhaust vent.
HC1080UB Audible Noise Levels
Ahh, this has never been the Epson's strength. While most LCD projectors are very quiet, in fact, all the quietest projectors are LCD models, the Epson is noisier than most of the LCD competition, and is almost as loud as the typical DLP projector.
Let me translate. Epson claims a very quiet 26db in low lamp mode, and that number is very believable. No one should have an issue when the projector is in its less bright lamp mode. Epson, I don't believe, publishes a spec for the brighter lamp mode, but, based on "listening" to other projectors, I'd put it in the 30 - 32 db range. 30 db to about 34 db, is typical for most DLP projectors in their bright modes, along with the JVC RS1 and RS2, which are similar to the Epson. Let's say that the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB is about 2-3 db quieter than the typical DLP home theater projector, not a lot, but everything helps. I should also mention, that its fan noise is a little lower pitched than most DLP projectors, in part because they have as part of their noise component, their high speed spinning color wheels which tend to be higher pitched.
Bottom line: Those most sensitive (annoyed) with any noise levels, will take issue with the Epson with the fan on bright, and for a few, it might be a deal breaker. Just remember, the actual noise level is going to be quieter than, say, the air blowing through your home's vents for air conditioning or hot air heating. I don't suppose anyone is going to turn off their heating/cooling systems, just to watch a movie?
HC1080UBProjector Screen Recommendations
The better the projector, the better it is able to work with a wide range of screen surfaces. I have never spent as much time watching a projector for a review - almost 80 hours! Most of that has been on my Firehawk G3, and In almost all cases, I was filling the full screen. (For fun, we opened a number of shades and used Dynamic mode for football one day, but reduced the image size to about 100 inches.)
The Firehawk G3 (or the Firehawk SST if you are ceiling mounting the Epson close, work spectacularly with the HC1080UB. It keeps the blacks looking very black, and it's HC (high contrast) aspects, I think, add to the "wow". I did however, spend a fair amount of time watching the Epson perform in my testing room, on the Carada Brilliant White (filling just about the whole 106" diagonal), as well as less time on an Elite accoustic screen that I'm reviewing, as well as a standard matte white surface.
With the Carada, which is smaller, I ended up with an extremely bright image. Even so, the superior blacks of the HC1080UB, remained dark enough to please (I think), all but the hard core black level fanatics. Obviously the blacks were a lighter gray, than on the larger, darker Firehawk, but the Epson's blacks are such, that it still kept those black levels down around what I would expect a lesser 1080p projector to do on darker surfaced, larger screens.
My recommendation is to primarily match your screen choice to your room situation, for both movie and HDTV/Sports viewing. If you've got some ambient light issues, go for the HC Gray like the Firehawk, any number of Da-lite, Elite, and other brand HC gray screens. if your room is the proverbial cave, with dark walls, ceilings, etc. you can go white surface, with or without extra gain, depending on your preferences.
HC1080UB Projector Measurements and Calibration
OK, a lot to cover here!
The Epson overall, does a very good job out of the box, but it has a couple of "screwed up" modes. Actually, really only one - Living Room. I'll get to that below.
The default Theatre Black 1 mode, what I'll call the Epson's "best" mode, out of the box, is off, but primarily by virtue o Epson having set the Color Temp default for this mode at 7500K. (What were they thinking - "everyone" knows that 6500K is D65 - the correct color temperature for viewing movies (black and white, excepted). I didn't even bother to measure brightness at the default, as it didn't make any sense to me (I imagine, though, I would have gotten more lumens than after the color temperature adjustment.
With just that simple fix, the colors were far, far better. All measurements were done with lamp on full power. Keep in mind, that there is usually a 200K - 300K temperature difference between projectors in bright and low lamp modes.
Theatre Black 1, default settings except for color temp changed to 6500K:
White (100 IRE): 6448K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6547K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6261K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 6365K
Getting down to work I wanted to get the color temperatures up (less red) just slightly overall, not that these settings above don't produce a very good image.
The end result proved to be a truly excellent set of numbers, and corresponding color accuracy for movie watching:
Theatre Black 2, 6500K color temp, Offsets: Red - 2, Green 0, Blue 3. Gain: Red 2, Green 3, Blue 0. For viewing I normally had the Skin Tone setting at 3, or occasionally at 4.
The end result of these settings:
White (100 IRE): 6633K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6498K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6348K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 6475K
Which adds up to: Bingo!
Theatre Black 2, which I expected to be lower than Theatre Black one, had a default color temp of 6500K, but still measured cool. I only measured white (100 IRE), which was 7068. Now, I'm told that for old black and white movies, the ideal is around 5500K, so this setting would need some work, which I didn't do.
Theatre Mode: I didn't tamper with the settings, except to change the color temp from default 7500K, to 6000K. In this mode, that yielded excellent color balance of:
White (100 IRE): 6505K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6678K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6730K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 6870K
That's just a tad "cool" (bluish), but is considered very close. Adjusting Offset and Gain, can further tweak that.
Natural, which is a mode, that seems to have lower contrast, less "sizzle" provides an overall cooler (more blue) look. Overall this mode appears less dynamic - more muted than the others:
White (100 IRE): 7964K
Light gray (80 IRE): 7940K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 7955K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 8116K
OK, now to the fun stuff. Living Room, and Dyanmic modes.
First, I want to mention that I had an interesting discussion with a ISF certified projector calibrator at CES. I have always found that most HDTV, and especially sports, tends to (in my humble opinion) look better with a color temp around 7500K, or a touch higher, than at 6500K like the movies. This calibrator, however, insisted that 6500K should still be the correct temperature. This is something I plan to investigate further. Meantime, this time, I worked with both Living room mode, and Dynamic mode, with a 7500K to 8000K range in mind.
HC1080UB Living Room mode:
What a mess. I couldn't believe the measurements I got in default living room mode, with its incredibly high color temperature measurements:
White (100 IRE): 8003K
Light gray (80 IRE): 9765K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 11,000K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 11,500K
It took some work to get good measurements, but the final results produced a very watchable picture, even if the range in color temperatures still varied quite a bit from white to dark gray. Further tweaking, of course, can tighten them up, but, it is, to a large extent, trial and error:
Color Temperature: 8000K
Offsets: Red -3, Green 5, Blue -14
Gain: Red -6, Green 14, Blue -15
White (100 IRE): 7029K
Light gray (80 IRE): 7595K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 7968K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 7586K
For those looking for a "living room" setting closer to 6500K, I suggest simply dropping the Color Temp to 7000K.
The default color temp is 6500K, and the measurements were very dead on, for maintaining a 6500K range:
White (100 IRE): 6551K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6662K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6553K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 6413K
That's about as good as it gets - except for green, which is pushed way up, to kick out more lumens, and cut through ambient light. Green was WAY up at white (100 IRE), and continuously dropped down to where it should be by 30 IRE (dark gray).
I targeted getting between 7500 and 8000K for my desired Dynamic mode, and getting there required these settings:
I set Color Temp for 8000K (probably should have used 7500K, so you might want to try that). Of the Offsets and Gain controls I left everything at 0, except for Green Offset 2, and Green Gain of 1.
The end result for Dynamic:
White (100 IRE): 7510K
Light gray (80 IRE): 7763K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 8291K
Dark gray (30 IRE): 8120K
This worked out very well. The green component was still a little high at 100 IRE, and just slightly low at 30 IRE.
Although I never remeasured, I ultimately spent most of my Living Room mode time, with the settings mentioned, except dropping Color Temp to 7500K from 8000K. On some content, 7000K looked even better (when comparing in a dark room). Remember, this mode is for cutting through ambient light, and gives up some overall picture quality. With over 1500 lumens, even after adjustments, it's very good at handling some ambient light.
Home Cinema 1080UB Measurements and Adjustments - Bottom Line:
Out of the box performance leaves much to be desired, but I'll consider it to be good overall, because, (with the exception of Living Room mode), just changing the from the default color temp settings, is all it takes to get really good results in most modes!
HC1080UB Image Noise
The Epson is overall, rather good in terms of different types of image noise. When it comes to basic image noise it is very good, better than my more than acceptable JVC RS1. Jaggies were a non-issue, as were typical motion artifacts. This Epson uses Silicon Optix image processing, so it was no surprise, that it tested out excellently, using my standard and Blu-ray HQV test discs, from Silicon Optix! If I had to pick on one thing, though, it is a bit noisy on lower res standard defiinition sources. (I generally avoid SD-TV, where it is at its worst). Still, not bad, just others do better. I don't play with the various noise filters, which can help, but have no further advice here. I don't see it as an issue. Standard TV looks so bad, compared to anything else, on any projector, that I refuse to quibble about noise differences when watching SD TV.
And that brings me to the subject of motion blur. LCD and LCoS projectors are often accused of being "slow", and truly, their panels cannot react anywhere near as fast as a DLP chip.
Up until now, I have pretty much ignored motion blur - simply because I never notice it. I have presumed, that, like with the DLP rainbow effect, it affects some people more than others. In my case, I am only slightly sensitive to RBE, which has allowed me to own and enjoy a number of DLP projectors.
Finally, though, I have seen motion blur - or at least I think so. Two nights ago, in flipping through the channels, I stumbled on to a tennis match on HDTV. Sure enough, I'm seeing something that could well be described as a motion blur. Of course, it's possible that the blurring I was seeing on the fast moving tennis ball, is part of the broadcast - no real way to tell, right now - not until I have another DLP in here, and can view tennis in HDTV again.
I did switch, however, to my JVC, and noticed the same effect. Since, however both technologies are similar in speed, it didn't answer the question of projector, or source material.
Bottom line: Great in terms of image noises. Verdict not in on motion blur. Let me say this: If what I did see on the fastest moving tennis balls (when the camera isn't following the motion), is all projector, then I imagine, a few people will be put off by it. My personal opinion, though is that if this is what motion blur is all about, it's another minor factor, and certainly not a deal breaker except for those, who find motion blur to be their personal pet peeve, much as some who will only buy the absolute quietest projectors. For most of us, a total non-issue.
OK, be wise, and spend the 60 seconds or so, it takes to read the Warranty page. It is an important consideration. You're spending a lot of money on a projector, so read the page. It might make a difference. After that - it's off to the summary!