The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Epson Home Cinema 8350 Projector – A quick comment

Greetings all,

Since I’ve been pounded with emails about the Home Cinema 8350, here, in a nutshell, is the important knowledge I’ve acquired so far.

Black levels have definitely improved.  Whether, however, this is an ultra high contrast projector I still can’t make the call.  It’s close.

Last night I did some quick viewing, and took some photos of the Home Cinema 8350 side by side with the Pro Cinema 9500UB/Home Cinema 8500UB, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 and the Panasonic PT-AE4000.

The 8350 is no match for the Epson UB. (I’m figuring the same iris, so a native 4:1 advantage in contrast for the UB, by my math.)  And I didn’t expect it to be.  Where I was surprised was that the Panasonic PT-AE4000 still does better blacks.  The HC8350 is a bit closer to the Panny, than the Panny to the 9500UB, but its still definitely not the Panasonic’s equal.

The Sanyo PLV-Z4000 – the Z3000 update, did not improve on the 3000′s blacks, and they were always the lightest – of the projectors I call ultra high contrast.  In other words, the Sanyo was the entry level of the ultra high contrast projectors.

This new Epson is very close to the Sanyo, and on a couple of scenes could beat it, but overall, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 has the edge.

My thought so far is that, the Epson improvement in blacks, is like that of the Mitsubishi HC4000′s (getting a Darkchip3 upgrade compared to the HC3800′s DC2.) That is, its a real improvement, small, but significant, and yet, not enough to catapult either projector into the middle of the pack, one price point higher – around $2000.  I see the Epson as potentially canabalizing Sanyo sales, but not too likely to take from either the Panasonic, the more expensive Epson, BenQ W6000 and others.

That’s it for now. -art

News And Comments

  • Hayati Akbas

    Thank you for the quick comment Art. I owned an Epson 8100 and this sounds like 8350 still trailing behind all the projectors 8100 was trailing last year. I don’t know where the improvements then. yes perhaps little better blacks but common Epson.

  • Hayati Akbas

    Then again at price of just $1299, I don’t know how I can still complain:)

  • wyatt

    Was the 8350 calibrated when you did your comparison?

    Also, I’d love to hear about the lumen output. I am trying to have a “best of both worlds” projector for my living room. It has quite a bit of ambient light in the day, but near black for movies at night. I am hoping the 8350 can satisfy in both realms, but if it is not much brighter than the AE4000 or the 8700, then i might step up a level.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hi Wyatt,
      First, no, not calibrated. Mike picked it up today, and will measure and calibrate – and return, for viewing, and photo shoot. That said, I did do a basic contrast and brightness adjustment, so that I wouldn’t be crushing dark shadow detail, nor, going the other way, raising up the blacks higher than necessary. I still will put it up against the 1080 UB I have. Since that one’s mounted, I’ll have to switch off, but will report back. -a

  • http://AVS Ed Bauer

    Thanks Art.
    Has the 8350 been calibrated yet?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Has been now. Mike brought it back over the weekend. Looks damn good, the sports have been fabulous. I’m saying no more, I have to get this review, and a ton of other stuff done… -a

  • Hayati Akbas

    Hi Art,
    I can have Epson 8500 for $1600. I was thinking of buying the Epson 8350 for $1300. now to make the matters even more complicated I found a Clearance sale on Epson 8100 for about $1000. Please let us know what you think. I am in the budget of all of them. so we have 3 projectors with $1000,$1300 and $1600. its tough out there for people with limited budgets whom are a majority in the scheme of things. your opinion shall determine what I should buy.
    Thank you

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hayati,

      For me, the answer is easy, the 8500UB is still the best of the three. It still has substantially better blacks than the 8350. So, ask yourself this. If you bought either of the other two (you did say all were within your budget), do you think you’d be regretting it 6 months later. If you say yes, then you need the 8500UB. If you expect you will be happy with any of them… -art

  • Hayati Akbas

    I just bought the Epson 8350 today. impatience is not a virtue I guess

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Virtue or not, enjoy. Let us know what you think! -art

  • asay

    Art,

    how does the epson compare to hc4000, which is USD 200 more.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hi asay,

      It’s an “instant replay” both projectors are essentially the same as last year, with minor firmware refinements, but both are sporting better panels than last year’s – the HC4000 gets a darkchip3 for slightly better blacks, and the Home Cinema 8350 gets the C2Fine LCD panels used in the more expensive UB projectors, for better blacks. Neither, however show a dramatic improvement. Both are simply slightly better projectors than last year’s, for slightly less money. Then it’s the usual trade-offs, the brighter best mode of the HC4000, both with bright brightest modes, the Epson with better warranty, greater placement flexibility, and so on… That’s why we write reviews… to sort that all out. -a

  • SviRu

    Is 8350 really better than 8100? Or is it just a marketing BS?
    I know it should… but than again… would you consider one better then the other without direct comparison?

    It looks like old ones are brighter than the new ones – or maybe it is a projector review mistake in measurements…

    And the most important question!

    Does the 8350 still have problems with purple/red glow in the corners of the screen? (on the dark/black surface?).

    Mine last 8100 had this issue – had to give it back :(

    Thanks!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Well, it measured about 10% brighter, for openers.. It definitely has a much better looking dynamic mode than the 8100, right out of the box, and, well, I really can’t bitch about the black level improvement – as noted, it is slight. However, they only raised their contrast spec from 36,000:1 to 50,000:1, which should only be a very slight difference. From a practical standpoint, an increase of 50% (less than 2 decibels) in audio is not noticeable to most people, and a similar increase in contrast numbers would also be barely noticeable. A big jump was going from 2500 and 4000:1 contrast ratios to 30,000:1 etc. Of course, there’s real contrast, and dynamic contrast, but either way a boost of less than 50% is very slight.

      As to the corners, that’s a potential issue with every three chip projector. If yours was noticeable during normal viewing Epson would consider it defective and swap it out (when under warranty). I often work with pre-production units and they are almost always bad. This 8350 shows red in two corners in the time exposure shots, but was not an issue during normal viewing. It is spottable on a normal very dark scene – if you are looking for it… -a

  • Gerald Nielsen

    Thanks so much for your superb work in keeping us enthusiasts informed. I’m ready to replace my Optoma HD7100, and leaning toward the 8350. My wife and I still watch a lot of standard DVDs. Is there much difference in image quality for standard DVDs across the $1300-$2500 range (basement home theater, very low ambient light)?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Well, the image is sharper. Most blu-ray titles are worlds better, but, there’s only so much a 1080p projector can do with a) 480p content, and b) the typically inferior color of the old DVDs. (most movies are “remastered” for blu-ray. My answer is probably, but the real dif will be with your blu-ray and hdtv movies, which sooner or later you will be accumulating (or netflix, etc.

  • eddieb

    The review of the Epson 8350 that you just put up has some errors.
    Here’s the first line:
    “Mitsubishi’s Home Cinema 8350 will shortly be replacing the “award winning” HC3800 ”
    I believe someone may have mixed up the reviews of the Mitsubishi HC4000 and the Epson Home Cinema 8350.
    Just a heads up.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Yep, that’s already fixed, but there will be a number of such errors until Lori gets to proof it. As I say in most reviews. they go up when I’m initially done. I continue to add, and Lori normally has proofing done, within a week. But each review typically uses a previous, competing projector’s review as the template, so this is a chronic thing. When I ask though, readers seem to prefer that we get the reviews out soonest. -a

  • eddieb

    Art,
    Someone on AVS posted this. Is this true?

    “I noticed that some people are saying to turn on Epson super white, but I found this to be a bad idea. When super white is left on, HDMI video range cannot be set to expanded. This results in serious clipping of black levels and reduces shadow detail. Instead of turning on Super White, set HDMI video range to Expanded. This improves both white and black levels considerably.”

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hi EddieB

      I’ve forwarded to Mike (“the calibrator”) he’s done all the calibrations for the last two plus years. Tell you the truth, I’ll need to yak with him… When I had calibrated the still earlier Epsons like the 1080UB, as I recall I opted not to use Super-White… I’m quite happy to let others do the calibrating. I’ll try to get an answer back to this post. -art

  • Anders

    Hello,

    I don´t know about you in america, but in Sweden (Europe) we´ll have the 8350 (called 3600 in europe) AND TW3200 (don´t know what it´s called or if you guys have it in the states).

    The differences between those two is lumens, 8350 have 2000 and 3200 have 1800, and Contrast ratio, the 8350 50000:1, and the 3200; 25 000:1.

    I can´t make my mind up, do you think that the differences is significant and that it´s worth to cough up $700 more for the 8350?

    Thanks.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Anders – presuming the 25,000:1 is an older unit (last year’s variation) – then – well we measured the 8350, and it did measure about 10% brighter than last year’s but other than that – a doubling of contrast (true contrast) itself, only makes a slight difference to the image… I found the 8350 to be improved over older non “UB” Epson’s but that the 8350 was still a lot closer to the 8100 than the 8500UB in blacks… As such, no I certainly wouldn’t pay $700 more for the newer one. -art

  • EB

    In the 8350 review it states the PC input can also double as a second component input. I reviewed the 8350/8700ub manual and could not find how the projector is setup to allow this functionality. The manual shows the PC input not allowing hdtv resolutions. Can the PC input really be used as a component input?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      EB, I seems you are correct. I’ll take the hit on that error. Epson commonly did offer a second component (using the PC port) on older ones, and still does it on most (I think, but I better check) of their biz projectors (the portables normally don’t have the 3 RCA jacks for component).

      I guess the era of component video is ending… Though I sure wish Epson and most others would put three HDMI input jacks on their machines instead of 2 (Panasonic offers 3). I’ll correct the review. Hope it didn’t cause any inconvenience. Thanks! -art

  • tamae

    how about the audio???

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Audio – home theater projectors don’t have audio (we don’t need no stink’in badges either)

      You route your audio from your sources to your AV receiver/speakers or whatever you are using for sound… Only the all-in-one type projectors, and an occasional low end HT projector who’s platform is used in biz projectors, “crossovers” and home, such as a couple of entry level Optoma’s etc.

  • Darwyn

    Hi Art,

    In regards to the Epson 8350, does the basic rule of ratios apply for room sizing? 1H:1.3W:2.66D?

    Will this rule work efficiently for the 8350 since it’s a 16:9 capable projector? I have a clean slate waiting for me in the basement of the house I’m moving into with dimensions of 56W x 30D with a 9’ ceiling. It is bare with no walls up as of yet. My question is, what is the largest image I can project with the 8350 clearly and what would be the ideal seating distance then?

    I calculated the theater room to be around 9H x 14.4W x 20.97D (9x15x21) using the “rule of thumb” ratio. Is this size of room taking advantage of the 8350′s capability or can I go with a bigger room/bigger picture without sacrificing quality? I can make my Theater room as large as physically possible in my 56×30 basement…as long as I leave room for a bar. :)

    Thanks! Darwyn

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Darwyn, it’s a trade off between what you would like (how large of a screen) and the horsepower, and room conditions to fill it properly for great viewing. As you may have read, the Epson’s 8350, 8700ub are a bit limited in brightness in their best mode, so the enthusiast is usually limited to about a 110″ diagonal (16:9) screen. Of course with lower quaitly modes the projector has up to 3x the brightness.

      Consider your lighting control, your wall / floor / ceiling color, and what you watch, add to that how close you would want to sit to a given sized screen. If you find 8 feet too close to a 100″ screen, then you’ll likely find 10 feet away, too close to a 125″ screen (same relative distance).

      Since you will have a bar, try to make sure you have some extra lumens. Higher gain screens (but don’t go too high – or there are trade-offs), can help you move up a size or two (say from 100 to 110 – 120″ range. -art.

  • Jeffrey Hurst

    If projectors like this Epson can really average 4000hours on a bulb, and their Ultra High Pressure (UHP) bulbs can slowly leak gas through the glass… is keeping spare bulb(s) an iffy idea for moderate users? It took me a year to hit 650 hours on my 8500UB (right before the bulb blew, but that’s another story). At 650 hours a year a 4000hr bulb might take 6 years to blow. Would a spare’s 6 years on the shelf result in a riskier bulb than just buying a replacement when needed?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      There is always leakage with lamps under pressure, and those in partial vacuums. Still I don’t imagine the loss would be significant. Perhaps a few percent of life per year, if that??? I’ve never been able to get a straight answer, and there might not be an answer that is consistent across different bulb manufacturers and techniques. -art

  • Jeffrey Hurst

    BTW. After easing in a new bulb I am definitely one of those who may replace the bulb at the 1/2 way point next time! (Assuming this bulb survives that long…)
    The difference is amazing. It’s like I bought a new projector! THX mode was looking so flat as to be disappointing, but now it is so vibrant and rich that it makes me want to run to the theater room every moment I can steal! I’m even considering changing my screen to white and a smaller size to help preserve the richness longer. CinemaGrey at 106″ is fine now, but after a few months I fear I’ll be back to the pastel faded look. Besides, I don’t need ambient light resistance in my Batcave of a home theater (I even painted the ceiling flat black.)

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Well, as you know, I’m a big fan of lumens to spare. I really wish every HT projector could do at least 600 lumens in best mode (700 better still) and 2000 for “brightest”. If nothing else we’d be replacing our lamps less often! -art

  • http://www.jasmerphoto.com Jasmer

    Hello Art,

    Thank you for all your work it is much appreciated.

    Projector Choice:

    - Mitsubishi HC400 or Epson 8350

    Application:

    - Pitch dark theater no ambient light
    - Movies and occasional sports

    Details:

    - Stewart Screen 123″ about 12 years old
    Screen Material: Videomatte 200
    Model Number: 123HD
    Mounted 8″ from ceiling

    - Current Runco 933 projector mounted flush against ceiling
    142 1/4 in from front of lens
    154 3/4 in to center of mount

    Thoughts:

    It is my understanding that a DLP gives a more filmlike natural quality than LCD. Is this true?
    Several reviews seem to suggest that the Mitsubishi has better color saturation and contrast. True?
    As a photographer I am sensitive to color saturation.
    Your review of the Mitsubishi HC4000 seems to be warmer than your review of the Epson 8350
    I am leaning towards the Mitsubishi but am concerned that it does not have a tilt shift lens.
    Given my details above, is the tilt shift lens benificial?
    What is your choice if this was your theater?
    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, Jasmer

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Jasmer,

      Hi, sorry for the delay – just back from vacation. You probably can use the Mitsubishi, but you would have to lower your screen, no way you can mount the HC4000 and hit a screen 8″ from the ceiling with all the lens shift (the Epson can handle no problem. You would seem to be the type of person who would prefer the DLP, however. With your 9 foot ceilings you still should have the room to use the Mits with the screen lowered by 15 or more inches (off the top of my head – I’ll leave the calculations to you… -art