Epson Pro Cinema 800 Home Theater LCD Projector:
Summary, Pros and Cons
No question about it, the Epson Pro Cinema 800 earns a Hot Product Award - It's bright, has excellent color accuracy, very good shadow detail, and comes with the best warranty around.
In addition, while it is a cut above less expensive LCD home theater projectors, it also is a real alternative to the Darkchip3 DLP projectors near its price. While it can't match them at their strengths - black levels and less visible pixels, for many its other attributes (I'm talking strengths, will more than offset the DLP projectors advantages.
The Vivid preset mode, produces very respectable color balance, with all the stops pulled out to light up your screen when you need maximum brightness. And no other home theater projector I've tested to date can match that brightness, and even at their best, none have as good a color handling in their brightest modes.
The list of reasons why I really like this projector is long, so I'll go right into the Pros and Cons, and add some additional comments to the bottom of this page.
- Exceptional color accuracy out of the box
- Color saturation
- Extremely bright in its brightest modes
- Very good shadow details
- As good a black level as I've seen from an LCD HT projector
- Great styling (ok, that's dependent on individual taste)
- Best warranty available
- Has the most lens shift range (vertical and horizontal) for most flexibility in ceiling mounting, shelf mounting or placing on a low table
- Comes with ceiling mount and spare lamp
- All preset modes perform extremely well. And Cinema Day, which, while darker than Vivid, still offers lots of brightness, and great color balance
- 9 user savable settings
- Exceptional range of controls over image (those of you who love to tweak, will love the customizable gamma, separate brightness/contrast/white levels/black levels controls and more
- Front venting allows for shelf mounting in the back of your room
- Zoom lens has good range (1.5:1), although not as good as some (Panasonic AE900u and Sanyo Z4 have 2:1 zooms
- Very price competitive
- Good remote control - backlit and bright enough to read in the dark, easy to remember where which buttons do what
- Noiser than most in all but its two quiet modes, but should be perfectly acceptable to all but the most fan noise adverse users
- slight loss of detail in the brightest areas
- Can't match the black levels of DLP projectors with the Darkchip3 processor, although all the Darkchip3 projectors except one (Optoma H78DC3) are more expensive (from $1000 to $11,000 more!
- Sharpness though good, could be a bit better. It is no match for, say the BenQ PE-8720 which sells for at least $2000 more.
- Menus - good, logical layout but more levels to navigate than many other projectors
- Lamp life (2000 hours under full power, up to 3000 hours)
- Pixel visibility and Screen door effect (compared to other LCD home theater projectors) Of the LCD projectors, only the Panasonic AE900u has less visible pixels, the Sanyo Z4's pixels are more visible...
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Bottom line - If you are looking for a premium quality home theater solution that can function in a dedicated home theater with virtually no ambient light - or one for the family room where you can control lighting but still have enough to challenge other home theater projectors, the Pro Cinema 800 projector, should be about the top of your shopping list. Add to that its excellent color and saturation (without any adjustments), excellent shadow detail, and an unbeatable warranty, and Epson has a projector here, that is going to be tough to beat.
If you are seeking the ultimate in black levels you'll still need a Darkchip3 DLP projector,or if you like to sit closer than most people (where the pixels become visible), DLP will also have the advantage. Other than that, this is likely your best choice. You will be hard pressed to find a better investment in its price range, at this time.
Kudos to Epson. Their Cinema 550 is a top contender in its lower price range, but overall, this Epson is truly a more impressive value, even at its higher price.