Epson Home Cinema 1080 and Pro Cinema 1080 Projector Reviews - General Performance
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
Epson Home Cinema 1080 Menus
The first, nice thing about the Epson menus, is that all the main menus are visible, while you are looking at any of the first level of sub-menus. On the right, you can see the Image menu, and to the left of the Image Menu choices you can see all the other key menus: Image, Signal, Settings, Memory, Info and Reset. The menu is partially translucent, which is always nice. Even when I put these translucent menus in front of a very "busy" scene, they remained easily readable (some menus that are even more translucent can get tough to read at times.
The Picture menu first gives you a choice of color presets, including Theatre Black 1 and 2 (quietest modes, best contrast, darker picture, designed for movie watching in a darkened room), as well as other settings designed to handle more ambient light (Theatre, Natural, Living Room, and Dynamic). Also on the Image menu is a Skin Tone control. Best skin tones seem to be with settings of 3 or 4.
I'll mention again later, under Audible Noise, that only Theatre Dark 1 and 2 let the projector run in its quietest mode. The Home Cinema 1080 gets noiser if you swtich to Theater or the higher modes. You can, also, however put the lamp on high for the Theater Black modes.
The Advanced sub-menu in the Image menu, offers all the control any "tweaker" would want.
The three options here, are a Gamma menu, which let's you select from 5 preset gamma's including the "ideal" 2.2 gamma.
You can also create your own gamma curve, essentially the equivalent to an audio equalizer, but it let's you control the relative brightness separately of the darkest, more moderate and brightest areas, with a total of 9 separate brightness bands.
For adjusting white balance (grayscale calibration), the RGB sub-menu gives you lots of control, with separate bias and offset for each of Red, Green, and Blue.
The even more sophisticated RGBCMY submenu allows you to control the color balance individually for the three primary (red, green, and blue), and secondary (cyan, magenta, and yellow). A moment to explain. Using the RGB menu, you can adjust the projector to as close as possible to the ideal 6500K temperature for movie watching. Even if you get that perfect, it doesn't guaranty that individual colors are right on the money. For example Red, could still look a little to orangish (which means it has some yellow content), and so on. With this control, you can adjust the individual colors, and even their intensity (saturation).To do this properly you need some good equipment, or an artist's eye and understanding of color.
The Signal menu controls aspect ratio, Noise reduction, Overscan control (Output Scaling) and noise reduction.
Speaking of color temperatures, the Absolute Color Temp control offers a slide bar so you can move the color temp up or down by increments of 500K (Kelvin)
Moving to the Settings Menu, from here you have a lot of control of the hardware, including a Sleep mode, password protection (Child Lock), control of the Trigger for raising and lowering properly equipped, motorized screens. You can also set the projector for front projection, rear, ceiling mount or tabletop.
The Info Menu (not shown, tells you about the signal source, lamp hours, etc. There are no controls on that menu.
That leaves the Memory menu which we will cover in the next section, immediately below.
For those of you considering the Pro Cinema 1080, the menus are definitely a bit different, especially in that the Color presets are different and have different names. I don't have images for you here, but if you visit the Epson Pro Cinema 810, it's menus are very similar to the Pro Cinema 1080.
Epson Home Cinema 1080 User Memory Settings
The Epson Home Cinema 1080 home theater projector offers nine separate memory settings (that's about as many as you will ever find), so go crazy, you can have some settings for a completely dark room, (separate ones for Movie, TV, sports), others when there is more ambient light, and still others for your brightest usable room settings.
Epson Home Cinema 1080 Remote Control
The Home Cinema 1080's remote is the same as several other Epson home theater projectors.
Epson's remote is well laid out, with key menu features directly accessable without having to go through the menu. Some of those include Aspect Ratio, Color Mode (Theater Dark, Theater, Living Room, etc.), Gamma, Contrast, Color Temperature and more.
The Backlight button is at the very bottom, by itself, where you can't help but find it. There are also separate buttons for each source (Component, HDMI, S-Video, etc.).
The Epson also has storable user defined settings that can be called up from the Memory button near the top. Immediately below the Memory button is the Menu button.
Right below that are your four arrow keys, nicely spaced out with the Select (enter) button in the center, and the Escape button on the lower right.
As I indicated previously in the Epson Cinema 550 review this is one of the best remotes you'll find, and with plenty of range. After using for just a few hours, everything is easy to find even without hitting the Backlight button to light it up.
I should note too, that the backlight is plenty bright, unlike some projectors' remote controls that are backlit but dim enough to still be a nuisance in a fully dark room. Also all buttons are labeled so they light up with the backlight. unlike some remotes that label some buttons but others are labeled on the remote itself and not readable in the dark, even with the backlight engaged.
The sculpted remote also fits well in your hand. Even those with large beefy hands should like this one.
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Epson Home Cinema 1080 and Pro Cinema 1080 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As mentioned on the overview page, the Epson offers sensational placement flexibility. It starts with the widest range zoom lens around 2.1:1. This allows you (using a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen), to place the front of the projector as close as 9.8 feet, and as far back as 20.9 feet. To make things even better, the Epson's both offer horizontal and vertical lens shift. As is typical, using the horizontal lens shift (which few need), will limit the vertical shift, but that likely will never be an issue. For that 100" screen, the projector can be as high, as 22.7" above the top of the screen, or as low as 22.7" below the bottom (in both cases, measured to the center of the lens).
These Epson projectors will work in just about any setup. Of course, in full wide angle zoom (closest to fill the screen), the projector will be almost twice as bright as full telephoto (further back), so ideally you'll position the projector as close as you can (although you probably wont want to be at full wide angle - for other reasons we won't get into).
Epson Home Cinema 1080 and Pro Cinema 1080 Screen Door and Rainbow Effects
These Epsons are LCD projectors, so, no spinning color wheel, and therefore, no potential Rainbow Effect issues.
The Pixel structure of the Epson was a little less visible than I expected. It is my impression that they are slightly less evident than the Mitsubishi HC5000, but it's been too long since I reviewed the HC5000 to be sure. The great news is, of course, that these are 1080p projectors, and that means that the pixels are not likely to ever be visible at any normal seating distance. And that's the end of that conversation. Here's that closeup image of my cable guide, that shows the pixel structure. Click for the closeup.
No issues with light leakage. There is some small scatter from the lens, but, I don't think it's possible to notice it with an image being projected.
Epson Cinema 1080 Projectors: Audible Noise Levels
Good news and bad. In low power mode (27db), the projector is quiet. You'll barely hear it with your sound system off. With the lamp on full power, though, the Epson's are surprisingly noisy, since many other LCD proctors are quieter. Epson claims 33db, which is more typical of DLP projectors in full power, and will definitely be a potential issue for those who are really fan noise adverse. (A very, very, small percentage of people).
Epson Home Cinema 1080 and Pro Cinema 1080 Projector Brightness
Epson earns a WOW. The other two popular 1080p home theater projectors - the Pansonic PT-AE1000U and Mitsubishi HC5000, are considered to be a bit below average in brightness, compared with most home theater projectors (all resolutions). Those two are not as bright as either of the two LCOS and two DLP projectors I have also reviewed. The Epson's though are really bright. These measurements were taken with the lens less than 20% from full wide angle, so they are within a few percent of the brightest the Epson's can do. If you are extreme telephoto, I believe the projector will measure about 35-40% lower.
In its best modes, the Epson still can't quite match the brightness of a couple of those other projectors, but when you need lots of lumens, the Epson delivers, by far the brightest of the 1080p projectors I am aware of, under $10K, and, at least the Home Cinema version is under $3000.
Here are some numbers for you:
Theater Black 1 mode (which I used for most movie watching): 597 lumens with lamp on high. With lamp on low (default for Theater Dark 1), 460 lumens, or about 23% dimmer.
Theater Black 2 was the least bright, yet still produced 385 lumens in full power. For this and the others, to figure low power, reduce by that 23% and you should be close.
Theater mode was 599 lumens, high lamp
Natural, 593 lumens, high lamp
Livingroom (probably your favorite for watching HDTV, TV, sports...) an impressive 880 lumens at the default 8000K temperature, but lowering color temperature to 7500K raised brightness to 937 lumens!
Finally, Dynamic mode. Not the best color at all (as expected) and very, very heavy on green, (you probably should reduce the green somewhat, to have a more enjoyable picture, at the expense of some but not a big drop in lumens. Dynamic mode yielded a whopping 1685 lumens. I took the measurements, but didn't do the calculations until I started to write the review up, by which time the Home Cinema 1080 was on its way back to Epson. I knew right off this Epson was bright, but I wish I had done the calculations sooner, I would have remeasured, just to be sure. In my experience, most companies projectors don't meet their brightness claims, but Epsons do more often than not. Still to beat claim by over 40%, is staggering. Actually I shouldn't be that surprised, last fall we reviewed the Epson Cinema 400, rated 1500 lumens, and it came in only a handful of lumens shy of 2000 when measured!
Bottom line here, if you need the lumens (for say HDTV sports) and want some lights on, the Epson is the best able to handle it of the affordable 1080p projectors so far. In fact, none of the other six 1080p projectors we've reviewed comes close to matching the lumens. The closest, is the DLP BenQ W10000, which only measured 1119 lumens in brightest. The Optoma HD81, might have been able to beat the BenQ slightly, with some adjusting, but doesn't inherently have a really "bright" pushed mode.
It all just goes to show how different manufacturers, and probably different technologies create projectors with different strengths in terms of brightness. The JVC for example can put out almost 800 lumens in best mode, - far more than the Epsons at their best, but the JVC can only find an extra 100+ lumens when you need maximum output. The Epson's by comparison, have 4 times the brightness when in brightest, compared to best.
All, which of course gives you much to think about and choose between, as you try to find the projector that will best work for you.
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Lamp Life and Replacement
Epson uses a modified type of lamp they call an e-Torl lamp which their marketing says offers extremely even illumination. We don't measure ilumination, but the gray screen image below shows good evenness, and a pretty good color consistancy from edge to edge.
The lamp itself, is rated 1700 hours at full power and 3000 in low power. Just like Epson to be conservative... I suspect other manufacturers would, in a similar environment say 2000 hours in full power, just to have that popular industry average. Most other companies say 2000 at full, and 3000 in low.
Lamp replacement, unfortunately is from the bottom, where you will have to unmount the projector (assuming you are ceiling mounting) to change it. This is more common than not, but, of course a bit of a pain, or, if you have really high ceilings, a potential nightmare.
Projector Screen Recommendations for the Epson Cinema 1080s
If you aren't ceiling mounting this high lumen beast, get two screens! What?!
Sure, in addition to your screen for indoors watching, you might as well pick up a huge inflatable, like the Gemmy (about 140" diagonal), that I reviewed last year. Drag the Epson outside, and light up the neighborhood. The Epson has the horsepower to overcome a fair amount of nighttime ambient light, such as street lamps.
But back to serious screen recommendations. Of my three somewhat different screens, a projector this good with very respectable black levels works well with all three. Still, I have these observations. For serious movie addicts "purists" looking for the functionally best image, the Firehawk G3 is awesome. With lamp on high and a slightly calibrated Theater Black 1, the Epson easily handled my 128" G3.
For those on a financial diet, though, the very affordable Elite Cinetension HC Gray (motorized, but similar surfaces are available from them in fixed frame) , provides a very good alternative. In fact, one thing I really like about their HC Gray, is that it really has very little "HC" (high contrast). As a result it has a wider viewing cone, and you suffer almost no roll off in the corners.
The Carada Brilliant White with it's roughly 1.3 gain, is, of course a real plus if you are fighting a lot of ambient light, but it is probably best if you feel the need for huge screen sizes. I don't know that I would particularly choose it for anything under 110" diagonal. I imagine the Brilliant White, could probably work well with sizes to 150" diagonal, and still let you use some of the "better" image modes.
You may recall, that, in the beginning of the Image Quality section, how the first thing I watched on the Cinema 1080, was X-Men: The Last Stand, a movie with lots of dark, detailed scenes, and followed that with Space Cowboys. Well, that was on my Firehawk G3, projecting the full 128" diagaonal, and I repeat, the combination yielded extremely good black levels and rich deep colors. Overall, a very satisfying combination. It works for me, should work for you. I should note that Theater Dark 2, is theoretically the best mode at black levels, but I worked with it only briefly, instead savoring the Epson advantage over the Panasonic and Mitsubishi, in it's ability to do a larger screen then they can comfortably handle while still producing deep black levels.
Epson Home Cinema 1080: Calibration
As usual, I did the basic minor adjustments to contrast and brightness, which in Theater Dark 1, were insignificant, and then I did a grayscale adjust to get the color temp as close to D65 (6500 Kelvin) temperature. For Theater Dark 1, is the only mode I adjusted. Not much to do. The Epson offers RGB Offset and Bias. I left the red, green, and blue offsets at 0, but reduced the red gain to -4, and green gain to +1. Here are the before and after numbers:
100ire (white) 6649K
30ire (very dark gray) 6077K
As you can see, I was able to reduce the spread in color temperature, from almost 600K (with the lower ranges have more red content), to just less than 300K. Please note, that Theater Dark 1 has a default color temp setting of 7500K. I started by dropping that to 6500, which yielded the first color temp numbers above.
Here are the color temp measurements (for white only - 100 IRE), for the other color modes:
Theater Dark 2: 100IRE: 6390 (note, this mode defaults to 6500K on the color temp setting. I did not try measuring it again, with the color temp set for 6500K, but would assume that it would jump by about 500K in the actual measurement.
Dynamic: strange results here, a surprisingly warm 6926K (usually I exect 8000K - 9500K in a brightst mode - close to what these types of lamps do best at). I should note however that the Dynamic mode is just dripping with excessive green (a good way to boost brightness). Thus, you have tons of lumens but they aren't that "pretty". I would conjecture, though, that you could get the green under control and produce a much more enjoyable image with only the cost of about 200 lumens from the measured almost 1700.
Livingroom, your day to day mode for HDTV, TV and sports, and fully able to handle some ambient light, measured at the default color temp of 8000K, and came up with a very close 8188, while dropping the color temp slide to 7500K brought the color temp measurement down to an similarly close 7588K.
Natural mode yielded a color temp of 6685K at 100 IRE, while
Theater mod - produced a color temp of
6660K at 100IRE
6703K at 80IRE
6789K at 50IRE
6680K at 30IRE
You can see why I didn't tamper with Theater mode. all four measurements within 130K, about as close as you will ever see, and since overall, the temperatures were only a minor amount cooler than the perfect 6500K, I figured "close enough".
Not surprisingly (based on my measurements with other projectors, there is a a color temperature shift going from lamp in high power to low power. Typically low power produces a cooler (more bluish) color temperature, than lamps working full out. The Epson is no exception. In Theater Dark 1, when I dropped to low power, the color temp increased (at 100IRE from 6649K to 7036.. You can see where having the color temperature slide, and lots of user memory settings can be really handy, for, if you are a fanatic, you might want to save different settings for high and low power for each of the color modes you decide you will be using.
Very nice. I brief run of the new HQV 1080 test disk (beta version), found no problems. General background noise was on the low side of typical, jaggy problems were basically non-existant, and I never felt the need to engage the motion noise filter, although I must admit, I spent almost all of my viewing time on hi-def DVDs and HDTV, and not much on standard TV and standard DVDs, so, it's possible that the noise filter might be handy for some content.
Overall the Epson did really well in virtually every catagory on this page... About my biggest complaint would be the inability to change the lamp without removing it from a ceiling mount.
OK, next is our only sort page, just a paragraph or two, on the warranties, which in this case are of particular note, since the Home and Pro versions have different warranties. Then on to the Summary, with our listings of Pros, Cons, and also typical capabilities. Go for it!