The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Home Theater Projector Pricing Update – Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, BenQ W6000

Greetings all,

I’m taking a break from playing with the PT-AE4000 for some pricing updates.

As some of you know, there were two real surprises this fall.  First, Optoma introduced the HD20 at $999 (and Vivitek and BenQ also announced their 1080p $999 projectors).   This apparently caused great consternation with other manufacturers.   I know Mitsubishi and Epson weren’t happy to see $999 projectors, and quite likely the pricing decisions of the low cost DLP manufacturers influenced Epson’s and Mitsubishi’s final prices on their Home Cinema 8100 and HC3800 respectively ($1599, and $1495, respectively).

That, however was almost minor compared to Panasonic’s late announcement in the US of the PT-AE4000 (which normally would have been announced at CEDIA, but Panasonic held off until most of “last year’s” PT-AE3000s were sold through.

So, in October, Panasonic announced the PT-AE4000 at $1999, and shocked everyone.  Most had expected something around last year’s $2499, or maybe a little lower.  (Afterall, the US dollar is in the “toilet”, and has performed poorly compared to the EU or the Yen, in the last year. That makes it tough to drop prices in the US.)

That had everyone else scrambling.  Most notably, it got a reaction from Epson who, at CEDIA, had not yet set the price for the Home Cinema 8500UB, beyond “Under $3000″.  Well, in time for our review, Epson assured me that the new price for the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB (scheduled to ship around Thanksgiving) would definitely be “Under $2500″.   (I had figured most likely they would (Panasonic notwithstanding) launch around $2799.

Well, the word is out.  The large dealers have now placed their opening orders for the Home Cinema 8500UB, and the news is even better.

Yes, the MAP is “Under $2500″ (Map is minimum advertised price), in fact $2499, as expected.

But, Epson is also launching the 8500UB with a $200 mail-in rebate.  That rebate will be in place at least until 12/31!

Bottom line, therefore, is an official “net price” of $2299.

$300 more than the Panasonic.  Epson no doubt will leverage their far less expensive cost of operation, to all who will listen.  I’ve mentioned that in the review. Panasonic charges $100 more per lamp, and their lamp has only half the life of the Epson’s at full power.  (Panasonic 2000 hours, Epson 4000 hours).  In other words, for just about everyone, except the very infrequent user, the Epson will actually cost less in the long run.  More to the point, though, is that the two projectors, considering all of that, are now priced roughly comparable, so pricing (other than the benefit of the “$1999″ price point), is, from a value standpoint, roughly the same.

OK, so that’s how Epson decided to play the pricing game, after the Panasonic price was set at $1999.

That brings us to another player – BenQ.  As noted, they already have one of the 3 lowest cost 1080p projectors – their W1000, with a MAP of $999.

But, BenQ also has an impressive projector known as the BenQ W6000.  It’s exceptionally bright, has a dynamic iris and very good (though not exceptional) black level performance, has that classic DLP look and feel to it’s image, and is also sharp.

BenQ launched at $2799, and just advised me that they have dropped MAP to $2499.

And that folks is the latest price positioning, that I am aware of.

Hope that helps as you count the pennies, and try to figure out which projector to spend them on.  -art

News And Comments

  • robert

    Hi Art –

    I see where Benq announced a price decrease. Did they happen to mention if they were working on a fix for the iris or not. Thanks

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

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, last I spoke with them (a VP, but not product management), I was told yes, that they were working on it. That said, timeline, totally unknown. I won’t even guess until I here something more detailed. -a

  • Lance

    Art,
    Thanks for the price update. This just make my mind goes crazy now :-). Just $300 more. Just $300 more :-))). I really like the extra warranty the Epson offer.

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

      Hi Lance,

      Well, me too (better warranty), though panasonic is offering a second year with registration, they still have a maximum of 2000 hours use on their warranty, so for many people watching TV, sports as well as movies, who use theirs a lot, will run out of panny warranty in about a year, anyway.

      As to the $300, you’ll save that and an extra $100 when the projectors hit 2000 hours, and the Panny needs a $400 lamp, while the Epson will go another 2000 hours until it needs a $300 lamp (and the Panny will need another at the same time). -a

  • Mark Pitchford

    I’m just shocked that prices aren’t going up with the dollar losing about 1/3 of its value this year. This is actually more like a 50% price cut for these companies than a 15 or 20% price cut when you account for actual value.

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

      Hi Mark,

      Ahh, that’s the a wonders of high tech. Somehow prices almost always fall. Production increases, the manufacturers this year are mostly doing upgrades of existing projectors rather than major retooling, etc. As a result, they manage to eek out savings, and also commodity prices have come down in general, from their peak, before the financial collapse in 9/08 when they were setting prices for last year’s models.

      So, all considered this “season” will still be one of noticeable price drops, but fewer significantly new projectors. That said, the new JVC’s are still a little bit better than last years, as are the new Panny, the Epson’s etc. I really haven’t seen any breakthrough products lately unless your criteria includes price, in which case, yes, $999 1080p projectors is definitely a breakthrough. Remember, early this year, the Sanyo Z700 and Mitsubishi HC5500 1080p projectors were both netting out to about $1100 – $1200 for a while after subtracting the value of rebates and free spare lamp promos. Still, $999 is better.

      Yes, when you factor in the $US dollar depreciation, the cuts do seem rather impressive. -a

  • Matthieu

    Hi Art.

    Do you know when you get the productionmodel in for reviewcheck.
    Than I would like to know if the Epson is set to a brighter mode, compared to the Benq’s brightness in best mode, if Epson still would be the winner?
    I really need the light sometimes during 3D projection with circulair-Polarfilters on the front of the projectors and the glasses taking away a lot of light, 35%.
    I really like to know.

    Alsoto see how the FI works of course.

    Did I tell you how glad I am with your reviewsite?
    Well I am, for a few years already. :D :D :D

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

      Hi Matthieu.

      With the Epson in a brighter mode, such as Livingroom/Cinema Day, it should still best the W6000 in black levels, but, the BenQ would have the color accuracy and richness advantage. Further, since you are playing with 3D, you have more flexibility with DLP projectors than LCD, due to the heavy use of polarization in the optical engine of an LCD projector.

      Sounds like the W6000 is your better choice, based on that limited info.