Epson Pro Cinema 810 Projector Reviews: Summary, Pros, Cons
Well, by now you've figured out that I like the Epson Pro Cinema 810. It's solid on movies, especially those in HD, and it really shines on quality HDTV content, be it Discovery HD, INHD, Leno, or football...
This review isn't quite finished, as noted earlier, due to the slight color unevenness, a 2nd, this time full production projector is inbound. Look for updates shortly.
It's finally time, however to consider the price, and very relevant in this case, Epson's distribution strategy.
I believe the Epson is the most expensive of the 720p LCD projectors right now. Epson doesn't use a standard MSRP, but what they call UMAP. Essentially Epson sets the selling price with UMAP, something, I believe, legally pioneered by Bose. As a result, if you try to by the Epson Pro Cinema 810 all by itself, without cables, screens, speakers - etc., you are likely to find yoursefl paying $2999. Reality however is that if you are buying the Epson with other equipment, a dealer is likely to give you especially generous discounts on some of them, to offset holding the projector's price at $2999. This keeps the local dealers happy, Epson happy, and I imagine the small handful of online A/V home theater resellers happy. It's very difficult to sell to both online (or places like Costco) and also sell to the small specialty, heavy support oriented local "Cedia" dealers. Epson is trying, however.
Now that you have some idea of what the Epson can cost, the next question is - how does it compare to lower priced LCD's notably the Sanyo PLV-Z5, the Panasonic PT-AX100U, and Sony HS-51A (HS-60), as well as the more expensive BenQ PE8720 DLP projector.
So, here goes:
Epson Pro Cinema 810 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z5
The Sanyo, as mentioned appears almost oversharp, but does provide an extremely sharp image. Out of the box color of the Epson is better than the Sanyo but not perfect by any means. And perhaps one of the biggest differences - the Epson has a lot more lumens to toss around. The Sanyo is good for smaller screens, the Epson can tackle larger screens or face more ambient light, although its dimmest mode Silverscreen isn't particularly bright for a "best mode".
Epson Pro Cinema 810 vs Panasonic PT-AX100U
Well the Epson and the Panasonic are pretty close in lumens. The Panasonic has the edge in out of the box color, and invisible pixels, but the Epson has the sharpness, and a great warranty and it should prove to have exceptional quality control. Panasonic seems to have more issues with minor problems with some units, the forums report a small but significant number of buyers having issues and replacing them.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 vs. Sony HS-51A
The difference in brightness is almost overwhelming. The Sony is a very respectable projector but I have to opt for the Epson - on almost any sized screen the Epson will just be more enjoyable to watch by virtue of brightness and dynamics. Unless you believe that a home theater projector can be too bright.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 vs. BenQ PE-8720
I still have to go with my BenQ. It's not quite as bright (especially in brightest mode) but comparable brightness in best modes. It lacks all the settings and controls of the particularly flexible Epson, but like the Epson and other LCD projectors has vertical lens shift. The BenQ's 1.35:1 zoom lens can't match the range of the Epson's 2.1:1, but overall I still like the sharpness advantage of the BenQ. BenQ even has a 3 year warranty (but only 1st year replacement program). The BenQ is more expensive than the Epson, but not dramatically so. My BenQ is very filmlike, and of course has a DLP's much smaller pixel structure that allows me to sit closer. The Epson is good, the BenQ better.
Epson Pro Cinema 810 Home Theater Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Pro Cinema 810 Projector - Pros:
- Very bright - a close second among all the 720p home theater projectors
- Very good black levels - on the right, very dark scenes, excellent, still good where the dynamic iris can't be effective
- Good shadow detail
- Very good sharpness (although not the best)
- Color out of the box - on a couple of modes - others need a basic end user calibration
- Great warranty
- Great support
- Lots of user savable memory settings
- 7 color preset modes
- 2.1:1 zoom lens - more zoom range than any other competitor
- Lens shift horizontal and vertical
- A very good remote
- Very good menus
- It's got some stylin'
- Pixels slightly less visible than Sanyo Z5 and most other LCD projectors
- Surprisingly "film-like" image from an LCD projector
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Pro Cinema 810 Projector - Cons:
- Out of the box color on a number of modes needs basic end user calibration
- Price - it is a premium 720p LCD, but an expensive one too
- Projector must be unmounted to change lamp
- Would have liked to see a 2nd HDMI input
- Could be a touch sharper, which would really have put this projector over the top.
Pro Cinema 810 Projector - Typical Capabilities:
- User manual (overall very good, but a little thin on some menu descriptions)
- Lamp life
- Number and types of inputs
- Filter requires occasional cleaning
- Quietness - Extremely quiet in low power but only moderately quiet in full power (still quieter than most DLP projectors, but noisier in full power than some LCD models)
Image above - the Throne room in Gondor - absolutely stunning on the Pro Cinema 810, it resolves shadow details beautifully, and doesn't crush the bright areas! And this from only a standard DVD. -art
Pro Cinema 810 Projector - Summary
Although a little pricy (in the US), most Epson's are sold by "local" home theater specialists, where you can expect a different level of service, can get installation, and more. Even as an online projector (available from only a handful of dealers), the value proposition isn't bad if you are buying a full system, and the dealer can work with you on a system price.
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What we have here, is a bright projector an alternative to the Panasonic, with similar brightness, but a slightly sharper image, better warranty etc. Compared to other LCD projectors, it simply is much brighter. An excellent compromise choice for those needing the Panasonic's brightness, and the Sanyo's sharpness, and you get a more"film-like" picture as part of the deal. Very natural to watch, more reminicient of a DLP projector (but slightly more visible pixels). Not as color accurate out of the box, but that's easily fixible.
And, if you are simply looking for a great projector for a fair price. If you don't want to get into quibbling about little technical details, but want a great long term investment, with no hassles, The Epson Pro Cinema 810 is a home theater solution that won't dissapoint. This Epson really is worth your consideration. It's a projector for "most of us".
And, it's a home theater projector you can find and buy locally from the kind of dealers that can demo it, provide all the accessories (and furniture usually) you will need, and help you assemble a home theater environment you can fully enjoy.