Epson Pro Cinema 810 Projector Review - 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 Pro Cinema 810 Projector Menus
I've always been a big fan of Epson's Menu system, and that holds true for the Pro Cinema 810. The menus are well organized and easy to navigate. Due to the the many levels of sub-menus on the Picture menu, there are a lot of images, so, here goes.
There are six main menus, and you can see the other five anytime you are in one of them. The main menus appear on the left side of the menu area. The Picture Menu (first, is the one you are most likely to spend time with, and it certainly holds lots of options.
The first option is the Color Mode, which on other projectors is often called Preset mode, for here are the multiple pre-defined color settings. The image immediately below shows all 7 of the Epson Pro Cinema 810's prese t "Color" modes.
Not surprisingly, Vivid, and Cinema Day are the brightest.
Five of the 7 modes run the projector at full power on the lamp. HD and Silverscreen, however switch the lamp to low power. I'll discuss this further as we get to User Memory
Next on the Picture menu, is the Input Adjustment sub-menu selecting this let's you access two more menus, the first with controls for white level and black level, the second, for brightness and contrast.
Shown to the right, is the White level adjust, and Black level adjust.
The other menu, for brightness and Contrast looks essentially the same.
The Color Adjustment Sub-menu has a lot of the fine tuning action on it. If you get yourself a basic calibration disk here's where you will be doing most of your adjusting.
First is the color temperature where you can select from several preset color temperatures, such as 6500K (ideal for movies) (which as you will see, in the Calibration section, was less than perfectly accurate).
The skin tone control is a nice touch. I found that 3 or 4 were the best settings (3 is the default)
RGB/RGBCMY is where the individual color controls exist. Below are images of both of those menus. For example, to do my basic color temperature correction, I work with the RGB menu shown here.
More sophisticated - and useful for a more complete calibration is the RGBCMY (primary red green blue, plus secondary colors: Cyan, magenta, and yellow).
With this menu, for example, you can actually affect the actual color of red.
Perhaps no less important is the gamma menu, which lets you select from a number of presets (2.2 is considered standard for movies. You can, however create your own gamma table, if desired, such as one that would lighten near black parts of the image without affecting bright areas.
Also on the Picture menu is control of the Auto Iris, which does frame by frame adjustment. The Auto Iris is key to Epson's claimed and most impressive 10,000:1 contrast ratio, as noted, with images in the Image Quality section. The reset feature on this menu only affects settings in the Picture menus.
Not shown is the Image menu which allows you to change aspect ratio.
Shown here, is the Advanced submenu from the main Image Menu. Of particular note here is the Output scaling which allows you to control overscan, when needed. (enlarging the image so that noise at the outer edges of some signals are no longer visible).
The Settings Menu as you can see, covers a wide range of items, from keystone correction, to putting in your own logo to display, set the orientation (position) of the Epson projector (front, rear, ceiling, table), menu language etc.
In the operation submenu, you can set the sleep timer, setup the screen trigger, set child security, switch to high altitude mode, etc.
In the Display submenu, you can control where the menus appear on the screen, Menu color schemes, the background color when there is no signal, and other mostly non-critical functions.
Moving right along, next comes Memory, however I'll go over that briefly in the next section down on User Memory.
The Info Menu does just that it tells you the hours on your lamp, the source, resolution etc.
And finally the Reset Menu (not shown) allows you to reset the lamp counter (when you replace a lamp), or to reset the entire projector back to factory default settings.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 User Memory Settings
In previous Epson Cinema series projectors, there have been 9 or 10 savable settings, and they were, cleverly, labeled Memory 1 through 9. The Epson Pro Cinema 810, however has, instead given them names, a major improvement. Following the concept of separate Day and Night (ambient light/no ambient light) from the ISF (the organization of professional display calibrators) there are five pairs of memories. As you can see, two each (day/night) general, plus two each for DVD, VCR, "X" (extra?), and one last one called Custom. Now, I don't think too many people are still using VCR's so probably that one could be used for your 2nd DVD player, of the hi-def variety - HD-DVD or Blu-ray. You get the idea, you can set up about as many scenarios as you could possibly want!
As I mentioned only two of the color presets - HD and Silverscreen, run the lamp in low power mode. As I understand it, therefore, if you want to create a user memory that runs the lamp in low power, you'll want to start off with one of those modes, make your changes and then save them. That should do the trick, although I must confess to not having tried it.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Remote Control
The Pro Cinema 810's remote is the same as the older Cinema series and the Cinema 400, except that, as a "Pro Cinema" it is black instead of the white of the Cinema 400.
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 in previous reviews of Epson Cinema projectors, 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, and equally important, most will find they can use the remote consistantly with one hand. Epson gets a gold star for their remote control.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Epson earns a bit Wow here. First of all the 2.1:1 zoom lens offers at least as much zoom range as any other home theater projector I can think of, and substantially more than the less expensive Cinema 400. This allows the projector to be placed anywhere from moderately close to far, far away from the screen.
To fill a 100" diagonal (16:9) screen, the Pro Cinema 810 can sit as close as (measured from the front of the lens) 10.4 feet, and as far back as 22.2 feet!!! In addition to all that zoom flexibility, the Epson has a healthy amount of lens shift range. Carefull here, different manufacturers describe the amount of lens shift differently. In the case of Epson they indicate that the vertical is 102.3% up/down. In this case that means the entire amount of movement of the image is just a tiny bit more than the height of the image. Thus, you can use the vertical lens shift to have the projector placed anywhere from just an inch or so above the top of the screen surface, to the same amount below the bottom of the screen surface.
By comparison, some manufacturers saying 100% would mean a full half screen above the top, or below the bottom. (basically being 100% up or down, Epson is saying 100, or rather 102% total movement). Horizontal lens shift is spec'd at 50% on the website, but that doesn't match actual usage. First, note that using vertical lens shift limits the amount of horizontal, and vice versa. Even so, without being limited by the vertical lens shift, the horizontal will allow you to place move the image almost, but not quite, so the edge of the image is even with the lens. The 50% measurement may possibly be with vertical lens shift fully engaged but I couldn't get that much horizontal movement when using all the vertical. - We'll leave that as a mystery of documentation. Any way you slice it though, the 810 has plenty of placement flexibility.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 SDE and Rainbow Effect
Of course, the Pro Cinema 810 is a 3LCD projector, and therefore there is no Rainbow Effect. Pixel visibility and Screen Door Effect, are a different story. The 810's pixel visibility is fairly typical of 720p home theater projectors that are LCD driven, which should be no surprise, since Epson provides the LCDs to (I believe) all the other LCD home theater manufacturers except Sony. That said, the pixel structure of the Epson definitely seems less visible than the Sanyo Z5. As is typical, pixels are more visible than DLP projectors, and of note, there is one LCD projector with effectively no pixel visibility, Panasonic's PT-AX100u, however the Panasonic pays a price for their "smooth screen" technology, in terms of sharpness. The Panasonic doesn't lose a great deal sharpness, but it definitely isn't as sharp as the Epson!
I would say that for most of us seating 1.4x screen width does the trick with pixels only being visible in fixed bright areas, or things like white text or credits at the end of a movie. For a 100" screen, that would be almost 13 feet from screen to eyeball. For those completely pixel adverse, figure 1.7 to 1.8 times screen width.
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Here's a quick image I will be using for considering pixel structure. It's the small HD-DVD logo that appears on my Toshiba HD-DVD player in the lower right corner when there's no disk in the tray. You can see the pixel structure (which as pointed out elsewhere, is a bit less visible than on most LCD projectors, like the Sanyo PLV-Z5 (noted for its sharpness). You can also detect a bit of color separation red and greens around the edges. This is something that exists on virtually every lcd projector, but as long as it's not visible at normal seating distances - no worries - and with this Epson - I could not pick it up at all, even at my close seating distance, but it's there standing 3-4 feet from my 128" Firehawk screen.
Click to enlarge, of course!
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Light Leakage
No issues here, virtually no leakage of extraneous light through the lens and virtually none through the venting. I'll give the Epson an "A".
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Audible Noise Levels
Hmmm. Quiet is not the strength of the Epson, which is surprising. Generally LCD projectors are more efficient than DLP (more lumens output from the same wattage lamp), and LCD projectors usually, therefore, manage to be much quieter than DLP's. The Pro Cinema 810, in full power modes, is quieter than almost any DLP projector, but not significantly so. In low power mode, it is very quiet, no one should have an issue. In full power though it is only a couple of decibles quieter than most DLP projectors (a good thing), but may be slightly audible in your room. Don't panic, very few buyers are adverse enough to fan noise to reject this Epson, but, again, I'm a bit surprised that it isn't quieter still. Officially Epson claims 26 db in low power, and and unimpressive 33 db in full power.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Projector Brightness
Brightness has always been a key strength of Epson home theater projectors and certainly the Pro Cinema 810 is no exception. Now I mentioned at the beginning of this review, that there is an issue with this review unit. As a result, the brightness and color temp is not as consistant across the screen as one would expect. And this makes the measurements I did, somewhat questionable. As a result, I plan to remeasure with the newer projector coming in next week, and will update. Also, this projector, as noted is not new, and although the lamp counter was reset to 0 when I received it, that is a typical practice for review units. It doesn't however, mean that the lamp was replaced. A lamp with a couple hundred hours on it could be as much as 20% dimmer than a new one. The replacement projector will be brand new, so I will know it has a new lamp.
For my measurements the zoom lens was set in the center position - which means that in full wide angle the projector should measure almost 35% brighter, and about 35% dimmer in full telephoto. This is typical of projectors with wide zoom ranges, which also includes the Panasonic PT-AX100U and the Sanyo PLV-Z5.
In Vivid Mode, the 810 produced a very impressive 1605 lumens (remember Epson only claims 1600). That means that in full wide angle (projector placed as close as possible to the screen) lumens should hit about 2150 lumens! Whoa, that's even slightly better than the Panasonic PT-AX100u which is rated 2000 lumens and rated brightest in class. Vivid mode, of course is tricked out for maximum brightness to fight ambient light, and has expectedly less color accuracy than other modes. Not surprising, Vivid mode is strong on greens (an easy way to get out a few more lumens), as is typical of the brightest mode on most home theater projectors.
I could list the lumens for all the modes, but, as I said, I'll be updating with new numbers next week. Here are a few of the more interesting ones, in the meantime:
HD - L ow power - best suited for HDTV/Sports, etc. (too cool an image for movies: 421 lumens
Silverscreen - Low power - best suited for movies: 341 lumens (pretty impressive for a "very best" mode)
Cinema Day - despite the name, better for TV/sports, than movies: 832 lumens
Standard - excellent color temp for movies - out of the box, fan/lamp in high power: 506 lumens
Cinema Night (better than Cinema Day, for movies, but not as bright: 418 lumens
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Epson Pro Cinema 810 Lamp Life and Replacement
Epson rates their lamp at 1700 hours in full power, and 3000 in low power (HD, Silverscreen) modes. That is fairly typical.
Also fairly typical, is that, if you ceiling mount your projector, you are going to have to unmount it to change out the lamp. As I said, fairly typical, but there are definitely a number of home theater projectors that don't require unmounting. Something to think about if you projector needs to be mounted in a precarious position.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Projector Screen Recommendations
The Epson in best modes generates very good blacks. As a result, you would not need to go with a gray surface HC screen, except for two reasons: First, to reject a lot of side ambient light, and 2nd, if you are going with a fairly small screen (under 100" diagonal) since the Epson has plenty of lumens. I found the 810 to be extremely impressive filling my 106" Carada Brilliant White screen (1.4 gain claimed - probably 1.3), and in Silverscreen mode the blacks were plenty black. I would say the Carada BW, the Stewart Studiotek 130 (the industry reference standard - also 1.3 gain) and similar screen surfaces from other brands are a natural match.
Still, the Epson had no problem with my 128" Firehawk, an advanced HC gray surface with a claimed 1.25 gain. Much of the watching I did on the Firehawk was in the Standard mode, putting out about 600 lumens to the screen (zoom was close to wide angle, thus the extra lumens). It looked great watching Phantom, and AeonFlux on HD-DVD.
As usual tough call, your room is going to be a key determining factor, but the combination of lots of lumens, and very high contrast (dynamic iris aspects notwithstanding), give you lots of flexibility. My own two cents - generally, if you are not a movie fanatic - but as much into sports, HDTV, etc., I would lean toward the positive gain white surfaces. I was very tempted to run the 810 at my annual Superbowl party last week but, of course it would have been temporarily on a table, and little kids would be staring into the lens, etc. I had to "settle" for my shelf mounted, but somewhat dimmer DLP BenQ PE-8720 (a competitor of the 810, I should note.)
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Calibration
This section will need updating, so I'm only going to give you limited numbers.
Color Temperatures for different Color preset modes (at 100IRE - white):
Vivid: 6480K (but heavy on green
Cinema Day: 8483K
Silverscreen: Before adjustment: 6070K, after calibration: 6441K
80IRE - before, 6355K, after 6633K
50IRE - before, 6317K, after 6642
30IRE - before, 6479K, after 6799
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Image Noise
Overall very good processing. General noise levels very good, motion artifacts extremely good, jaggies very, very good. Nothing to complain about here. I basically ran the usual HQV test disk at the 810. All passes except for a few of the tougher cadences, nothing to worry about.
Epson has a great warranty - check out the Warranty page - it takes about 30 seconds.