The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Projectors – Upcoming Reviews

Greetings all you fans of projectors!

Let me say, this is a strange year.  Normally by the later part of October each year, I’m knee deep in new projectors – for home theater, to review.  This year, seems we’re off to a late start.  Of the new projectors reviewed so far – the Mitsubishi HC4000 projector, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 projector, and the Epson Home Cinema 8350 projector, are all updates from those projector manufacturers’ key  projectors in last year’s line-up.

On the other hand, there are a number of essentially new projectors to review this fall, in which I’ll include any home projector that is 3D ready.   Coming up, when available, will be projectors from JVC’s new 3D RS projectors, the RS40, RS50, and RS60, as well as the HD250 which should be most similar to the older RS15.

Epson will have their R series projectors (no, not 3D)- all new, but like the JVC projectors it’s probably a few more weeks before those are available to reviewers.

So, you ask, what’s next:

This weekend the last of the pico projector reviews goes live – the AAXA P1 Jr. – at only $119.  Tony will start a review of the new, 2nd generation InFocus interactive projector, the IN3916 projector.

Though I was hoping to work in some other projectors before tackling another Epson, an 8700UB arrived at my door yesterday, and went into my theater last night.  It literally is sitting on top of the Epson 8350 projector who’s projector review posted about a week ago.   I’ll just say this for now.  The 8350 projector, may have improved blacks compared to the older 8100, but it’s definitely not a match for the 8700UB.  That should answer a huge question many of you have been waiting for.  I was watching Iron Man 2 and switched from the 8350 to the 8700UB.  The difference in black levels is still dramatic.  End of that conversation for this blog.

People I’m still slowly writing about 3D.  I’ve got to get a couple of short 3D focused reviews – actually more informational than review focused – since I’m not sure a real review is in order – considering the state of 3D and projectors in most segments – especially home.  Those projectors include the LG CF3D, which is more commercial projector than home, but it is equipped with HDMI 1.4… and it is 3D.  It works.  The other is less a projector, than the Lightspeed system.  Those guys seem way ahead of the curve compared to the other DLP projectors using active glasses, and their system… well, wait and read…

That said, I’m dying to get one of those 3D JVC’s in here, and, since I have a bit of content, I “can’t wait”.

Panasonic: Panasonic has had me stumped for quite some time, as to what’s going on this year.   Panasonic reorganized back in April.  My contacts simply haven’t been able to give me a good feel for what’s going to happen in home theater projector space, this fall.  Finally, I have something informative to say.  Yesterday I was told, one thing, I already knew – that the PT-AX200U projector is “end of life” that is, it’s going away.  There is no announced replacement, and if one does surface, I’d be surprised (if still 720p), if it resembles the AX200U (that’ just a guess).  They just put too many features into the PT-AX20u projector for it to compete price wise with the competition.

But, it’s the 1080p side of Panasonic that everyone’s wanting to know, and finally.  Panasonic emailed me two important things, that I couldn’t be sure of till now:  1.  Panasonic fully intends to continue to be a major player in home theater projectors, and; 2.  Panasonic does have a new projector under development.  (Best I can tell, it’s months away.  I now suspect it may be announced at CES in January, but, that folks, is another guess.  Want one more?  Panasonic has always used Epson LCD panels in their home theater projectors, but it’s quite possible that Panasonic will go to Epson’s “R” reflective panels, or perhaps even DLP since they produce lots of DLP projectors on the education and business projector side.  Regardless, though, the good news is that Panasonic says they want to continue to be a major competitor, and that means more choices.  Amen to that.

Sony, as usual, is the hardest company to read, in terms of review units.  With them, it’s “not yet, not yet”, with most requests, but on the other hand, they occasionally surprise me with.  We can ship you one this week, just when I’ve given up hope for a while.  Nothing from them yet.

Gamers and 3D’ers on a tight projector budget – I just received the Optoma $399 3D adapter, the Optoma XP8000, that will allow you to take HDMI 1.4 Blu-ray 3D from your (new) HDMI 1.4 player (or upgraded PS3 – hooray), and convert it to 3D that can be accepted, most likely by most of the lower priced 720p and WXGA 3D projectors (from Optoma, BenQ, and several others).  Unlike big ticket 3D projectors like the new Sony and JVC projectors, those 720p projectors are mostly under $1000 – aimed at gamers – or the education market, but now can be real HD (ok 0nly 720p) 3D movie projectors.   I’m excited, and have machines here to test.  The Optoma XP8000 will make for a short, most likely one or two pages, but I hope to complete it this week, or during the move, next week. I could turn out to be a great new product, and offer additional 3D choices to many of us.

I’ll update when I have word on more for ya!   Meantime, as I stated, the next mainstream home theater projector to be reviewed will the the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB – because it has arrived, and of course I’ll discuss, the non-identical twin, the Pro Cinema 9700UB projector at the same time. -art

News And Comments

  • Ryan

    A few questions about the Optoma XP8000 3D adapter.

    What other brands of 720p 3D projectors are compatible, Benq, Acer, etc.

    DLP-link 3d glasses will work, no question. But there is also an IR emiter port. What IR 3D glasses will work with the adapter?

    Also, the adapter appears to be able to put out a 2D L or R image. If you use two adapters (one for L image and one for R image) you could use two 1080P projectors and polarized lenses and lightweight polarized glasses. Would you be willing to connect the Optoma 3D adapter to a 1080P projector (or even a 720P projector that accepts a 1080P signal) and then just flip the switch on the back and see if the image changes between left and right eye images.


    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Ryan,

      See my other recent answers to this thread. I’ll try to learn all that – when one finally arrives – (and no, I’m not upacked, and can’t think of the model number of the 3D adapter, off the top of my head. -a

  • nikotttin

    Hi Art,

    I am looking forward to your review if the XP8000. If I understand this correctly, the XP8000 is the recently unveiled 3d-XL converter box (see link below)? Is this a US specific naming? Second question according to Optoma’s range brochure, you could use the converter with their 1080p HD20. Is it the case?

    Thanks for the good work!

    • Lisa Feierman

      Sorry about that earlier post. When the box arrived from Optoma, I was excited, and saw the XP8000 designation on the box, and assumed it was the 3D device.

      I had forgotten that I was also expecting a battery pack for the PK301 pico projector. The XP8000 is that battery pack. The 3D converter hasn’t arrived yet. Sorry about that error. -art

  • Alistair Madan

    Hi – if at all possible can you test to see if the Acer H5360 720p 3d projector works with the Optoma adaptor box as it seems to be the most popular 720p 3d projector. Also there are rumours that Optoma are about to announce an upgraded HD67 720p 3d projector. Do you have any info about this?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi, Won’t have one here, to test, but, I should have one or two other non-Optoma 720p projectors here (still have a Dell, for example). I figure that if it works with one (other than Optoma) HDMI 1.3 720p projector, it will probably work on multiples… We shall see. -a

  • Rob

    Hi Art,

    I’m VERY excited to see that you have the Optoma 3D-XL (XP8000) box to test.

    There is one thing I’d VERY MUCH like for you to test with it. It is supposed to allow 1080p output for the left or right channel, by a selector switch on the back.

    This will allow end users to also have two XP8000 units, and two 1080p projectors – using polarised lenses – as a pretty nice high-end 3D system.

    Although you probably only have 1 unit to test, it would be nice if you could test for this capability as just the right or the left channel.

    The XP8000 can accept 1080p frame-packed 3D input because it has a HDMI 1.4 input. However, because its outputs are only HDMI 1.3, it can only output 1 (one) 1080 channel at a time, which is why two units are needed for 1080p stereo output.

    ALSO – there is one other thing I would love it if you could test for! :) The demo unit at CEDIA would only output 1080p60 when in single channel 1080p mode. But, in talking to Optoma after the show, they said they would try to modify the production units to allow 1080p24 output, when that is what is input. I’d love to see whether this is working on your unit yet, or what they say about it.

    Thanks!! And have fun with your review!

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Rob, First, I will check into that when the device arrives. Due to an error on my part, I correctly announced that the XP8000 has arrived. However, the XP8000 which came from Optoma is the portable charger for their PK301 pico projector. I had been expecting that too, but had forgot.

      I’m still waiting for the 3D HDMI 1.4 adapter. (Whose model name still eludes, me (I’m sitting writing in a room that’s filled with packed boxes from the move. No TV, no screens up, nada – music is from my iPad for the moment. I’ll have one screen running by Thursday or Friday, and get back to reviewing… Meantime, got to write a couple of those long overdue 3D articles for the long overdue report. I’ll be squeezing that in over the next two days… I will see if Optoma is serious about the 24fps support. -art

  • Scott

    Hi Art,

    Any updates on the 8700UB? Is it much better, if at all than the 8500UB? Anamorphic is not a feature I use, so that is not an advantage to me. Just wondering if the black levels, or overall picture quality is better, and justifies the $600 price difference over the 8500UB.


  • matt P

    Hey Art,

    Couple comments here. I’m wondering if you could comment very briefly on the 8700ub vs the 8500ub. Namely, is it actually improved with things like better color, better contrast, better blacks, better iris action, brighter in best mode, etc. I’m not really looking for all the details, I’m just wondering if its basically an 8500 with a new name and updated firmware, or really a new product in some way.

    As for the Optoma xp8000, I’ve read that it’s also capable of 1080p 3d, where you use it to send the left and right signal to a pair of projectors. It requires two of the XP8000′s and two identical projectors, but I bet that would be a good solution for some. Especially if the initial all in one units are not ready for primetime. You get double the lumen’s with two projectors, and I imagine there are other benefits. Black levels increase, but a pair of 8700ub’s or better yet, a pair of the JVC’s 2D models would probably make that less of an issue (given that the glasses already reduce the lumens by quite a bit).

    • Lisa Feierman

      OK, the review posts this weekend for the Home Cinema 8700UB, meantime.

      Yes, it’s an updated 8500UB

      It’s THX mode is improved in that you can now make changes to the CMS. This is a plus, as now you can calibrate, starting with the best mode provided…

      There are other minor firmware revisions, and there is now support for an anamorphic.

      The pricing is lower, and there is apparently a rebate for a free spare lamp.

      Depending on the price differential, whether you plan to calibrate, or have the projector calibrated, the 8500UB or the 8700UB may be the better value for you. But, ultimately they are far more similar than different.

      BTW, the XP8000 is not the 3D converter device. Optoma was sending me two devices, a recharger (suitable for their PK301 pico projector, and the 3D converter. When I mentioned in a blog, the box had just arrived, and I falsely “assumed” it was the 3D, not the battery pack. Sorry about that.

      But, your point remains – theoretically, you should be able to use a pair, with a pair of hdmi 1.3, projectors for 3D. Of course, If you are going to that trouble – -buying two projectors, with no real content available, I’d strongly advise waiting. If you have an HD8000 though… if the price is right… From the HT side, I’m definitely taking a wait and see attitude for the next 4 months at least. The JVC’s might change my mind, but, I’ll be damned if I’m going to recommend dropping a bundle on 1st gen 3D solutions, if I can only buy 4 or 5 movies. You should be able to do 3D from satellite, (I think) without the 1.4 hdmi requirement that Blu-ray 3D has. -art

  • Scott

    Hi Art,

    I just got the 8700UB, and the FI on the low setting seems pretty bad. Not sure if I have a bad unit, but the 6500UB on low was a lot smoother than the 8700UB. Did your unit have the same issue?


    • Lisa Feierman

      What are you watching with it. First, and generally, avoid movies coming over HD channels. They often start at 24fps, then upscaled to 60, and 3:2 pulldown applied. The Epson CFI will attempt, first, to reverse the 3:2, and return to 24, then do it’s CFI. It still has problems with that… Better, just with 24 fps movies from Blu-ray, but then, I recommend avoiding CFI in general, for movie viewing. Sure, non-critical viewers may not care about the slight soap opera/ live digital video look, but, it is “unnatural” not part of how the movie was intended to be viewed. Imagine, for a second, if the Epson’s CFI was so good, that it would remove 100% of the shake from the Bourne series movies, where the camera almost never stops moving – intentionally (a technique also adapted in the last two Bond movies. Makes action seem like there’s – more action.

      I have not yet noticed any real problems. And I did watch two days of football (DirecTV – Sunday NFL package) with CFI engaged on low. Certainly nothing like the original 6500UB, before the firmware CFI fix.

  • L. Wright

    Any new insights on the value and performance of the new Epson Home Cinema 8700UP :-)

    • Lisa Feierman

      review is up – incomplete, as usual, but up!

  • Matt

    Any update on when we can expect to see the 8700 review? Mine is setup and I’m wondering what settings you use and what noise level you can hear. I hear the fan during quiet scenes with it set to theater black 2 with eco mode and can hear the auto iris.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Well, I put it up last night (4am), but I haven’t transferred the Calibration data yet. Tonight, I hope… -art

  • Peter C

    Hi Art,

    The official name is the Optoma 3d-xl adapter,it should be compatible with all 720p 3d dlp link projectors.These projectors are only 720p but there brightness in 3d mode is anywhere between 750-950 lumen and through the shutter glasses about 8-10 fl on a 100″ screen.3d 1080p projectors approximately 4-6 fl ,might need a higher gain screen.I think its best to wait few months and see the reviews.Just dont think 3d is going to be perfect.But for the street price of about $4000 the jvc rs 40 you get great 2d performance, Black levels better than most 3 chip dlp worth up to $50,0000.Should i buy 720p 3d and update next year when 3d 1080p is better and brighter?Thanks for your advice.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Yep, that’s it. As I mentioned, the XP8000 that arrived I inadvertently assumed that was the 3D adapter, but it was the external battery for the Optoma Pk301. I’ve been so swamped with the move (the whole house is under remodel, and I’ve just gotten internet up (first time since Wed). I’ve been meaning to correct that mention. I’ve spoken with Optoma, they will ship me one, when they have them. They did not, as of last week. -a

  • Scott

    Hi Art,

    Any word on when you will be posting the calibration settings you guys came up with for the 8700UB?


    • Lisa Feierman

      Scott, they should be up, and also the competitors page.

  • Josef Aarskov

    Hi Art

    Any hope of seeing a review for Lightspeed’s DepthQ system? Eagerly awaiting this one, although I’m having a hard time figuring out whether this would be a worthy option for upgrading an already satisfying projector to 3D, or better to hang on for an integrated solution in the shape of a new projector… (sigh) (O;

    By the way, thanx for all your hard work; it’s always a pleasure to read your reviews, which I find more extensive than most. Keep it up!

    • Lisa Feierman

      Working on it.

  • L. Wright

    Hey Art,
    Last weekend I replaced my 9-year old Sanyo PLV-60HT with the new Epson 8700UB, and in short, I am blown away!

    Out of the box, with no tweaking, the 8700 fills my 123″ original Stewart Gray Hawk (.9 gain) with the most vibrant, stunning picture I’ve ever experienced. I new it would be a big step up, but this is an exponential leap in brightness, sharpness, contrast, color accuracy, quietness, and of course, black level.

    WOW, on “Living Room” mode in a dark room, the blacks are simply too black–black clothing can be so black-hole black they dominate the scene. But the space ship scene in Avatar’s opening is so phenomenally black, bright, and sharp it borders on being 3D–very addicting!

    Thanks for your pre-review insights, and for the in-depth review you published. I’m really looking forward to applying all of your/Mike’s calibration settings once you have them published. I’d like to find a setup somewhere between THX (great film-like color & contrast, but somewhat dim or understated) and Living Room (hyper-real color, brightness,and intensity, but outrageously overblown.)

    I’ve got lots of setup and calibration to do before Thanksgiving, but the first weekend was one helluva a ride! The Epson 8700UB is everything that I expected, and so much more.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi, “so far, so good” sounds like.

      Calibration page, and for that matter, also the competitors pages are now up. Mike’s dynamic should look better than the Livingroom. Let me know how it turns out…

  • Kostantino Diagoupis

    Art, Do you have any information as to whether one of these companies will be coming out with L.E.D.’s as their light source for their lower price and middle priced projectors?

    • Lisa Feierman

      We just reviewed a Samsung (I didn’t review it), with an LED light source, and a price about $1K (biz projector).

      Over the next year or 3, I imagine they will replace conventional lamps, but so far, the problem has been brightness. Both biz, and home…

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