The Art of Home Theater Projectors

The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB Projectors – The Eagle has Landed

UPDATE: The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB projector review has been posted.

Greetings all,

The Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB - should be impressive!

The Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB - should be impressive!

No, this isn’t a first look blog.  Just a quick announcement, to let you all know that I just received, last night, a Pro Cinema 9500UB projector – an engineering sample, fresh from Japan.

It came in yesterday afternoon.  I got Mike to do a quick “rush job”, picking up the projector, calibrating it and getting it back to me later in the evening.  I’m just about to fire it up for the first time.  I took off last night to go hear Bob Dylan (and his band) perform in a nice, relatively small venue in LA (the Palladium for you locals).  Awesome concert, btw!  I would highly recommend catching him.  Great music, great musicians (including Charlie Sexton on guitar).  Don’t miss.

But, back to the Epson home theater projectors.  I expect the full review to post on Wednesday October 21st! I’m going to start viewing shortly in my main theater, as I’m pretty sure there’s a Thursday night college game on, in HD, and want to view it for sports, before it gets dark out here.

Then, next, likely a couple of quick movie segments, also in the main theater – where I’ll just kick back and relax, and likely  switch back and forth between the Pro Cinema 9500UB and my JVC RS20, but mostly to just watch the content, and see if anything about the Epson “jumps out” and shouts to me (good or bad).

Finally, I’ll drag it into the testing room late tonight.  I’ll start playing with the new CFI, probably, and their split screen setup (probably not too different than the Panasonics have had since the PT-AE1000), and other features.  Primarily though I’ll do some side by side viewing with the older Home Cinema 6500UB, so I can weigh in on black levels, iris action, etc.

I’ll try to publish a First Look blog on the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB tomorrow evening!

But!!!! since you’ve read this far down the blog, here’s a reward:  I just looked at the Epson post calibration numbers. Mike further calibrated the THX setting (best mode) – and the result is perhaps the best 20 – 100 ire measurements we’ve ever had, in terms of how close and consistent to D65 it gets.  From 20 to 100 IRE, the lowest measured temp was 6449K, the highest 6543K – less than a 100K difference, with 8 of the nine measurements within 61K!!!

For those of you not familiar, the Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB projectors are basically identical.  The key differences:

  • 8500UB comes finished in white, the 9500UB in a charcoal gray
  • 8500UB comes with a 2 year warranty, with 2 year replacement program, the 9500UB has 3 years and a 3 year replacement program
  • 8500UB does not support an anamorphic lens, the 9500UB projector does
  • Some of the preset modes are different
  • Both are now officially THX certified, joining only JVC and perhaps one or two other projectors in the under $10,000 range (most Runcos and Vidikrons (typically $20K and up) are THX certified, for example)
  • Not sure (yet), but I believe the Pro version is, like the 7500UB it replaces, ISF certified, if that’s the case, the 8500UB won’t be ISF (the Home Cinema versions never have been)
  • Price and distribution – the Home Cinema 8500UB sold by select online authorized dealers, big box houses, and local installing dealers, the Pro Cinema 9500UB is sold only buy authorized local installing dealers.  The Pro is priced higher

Since I mentioned THX above.  I thought I’d share this question Mike sent me, after he measured and calibrated:

“THX certification really adds up to accurate colors and grayscale.”

BTW, although I received the 9500UB, I’ll mostly be referring to the 8500UB going forward.  When Epson sends me a production unit, that will be an 8500UB.  This focus in the reviews on the 8500UB is simply tied to search engine related strategies (since the 8500UB will be the bigger seller).   I’ll of course point out any potential differences.  When the review is finalized, it will probably be set up as an 8500UB review, with an attached one pager about the differences between the two.

OK we’re about to find out how good the black levels are on the first home theater projector (non CRT) to claim 200,000:1 contrast.  Like the Home Cinema 8100, which we just reviewed, the Pro Cinema 9500UB and Home Cinema 8500UB got a big increase in contrast. With the 8100, that was mostly due to the iris, and per Epson, contrast doubled.  With the UB however, contrast almost triples, so there’s something else going on as well.  Who knows – black levels may be even more outstanding, and perhaps even challenge somewhat, the more expensive JVCs.

I could conjecture on some more, but the sooner I finish this blog, the sooner I start viewing the Epson, and getting you the First Look impressions.

Racers –  Start your engines!

I’m on it! -art

News And Comments

  • Peter Miller

    Sorry Art,

    Please disreguard my previous message….. got so excited I failed to read your first blog which clearly states it’s a pre-production model.


  • kev

    OMG !!!!!!! Arty your evil I swear it lol

    Thats the worst cliffhanger ever and alot of us are gona loose sleep over that

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hey kev,

      Tough luck with the lost sleep. I was up until almost 4am. Took a fair number of side by side images of the 9500UB vs. the 6500UB, and the 9500UB vs. the BenQ W6000.

      Unfortunately, I still didn’t have a chance to do the 9500UB vs. my RS20 (which can’t be done side by side – only alternate viewing (a few seconds in between) in my main theater. I plan to spend about 20-30 minutes on that, tonight, right after its dark, so I can see how much better the Epson’s black levels are than the RS20s (only kidding).

      Stay tuned! Order a pizza, could be a long night for those not planning on sleep, until I do the blog… -art (it will be tonight, however)

  • John Thacker

    Hmm, minor HTML problem. The “read the rest of this entry” jump cuts the bold text “I expect the full review to post on Wednesday October 21st!” in half, which means that on the main page we don’t see the end bold tag, so everything below this entry on the main page is in bold.

    • Lisa Feierman

      OK, I’ll look in a few minutes and clean it up… -art

  • Matthieu

    Go Art, Go Art, Go Art, Go Art.

  • PatB

    I choose a wine merchant largely for his taste. I want to be able to trust his judgement so when he recommends a bottle I can expect to enjoy it.

    Alas this post casts serious doubts in my mind about your judgement. You actually enjoy Bob Dylan?

    I try to forgive people who follow college football too. It gets harder each year.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi PatB, hmm, most amusing, thanks for commenting.

      Really? Regarding your wine merchant? That’s amusing (that you would use that as an example. One of my best friends is one of the worlds foremost wine experts (and the first American to ever earn the title of Master Sommelier. I mention this because, he might say to choose a wine merchant who understands your tastes in wine and can Pair the bottles in his selection to your palette.

      As to Dylan, Yep, I do enjoy him, although the previous time I saw him was about 5 years ago, and as usual, his band is always stellar, but previous time he was not. this time, it was just an awesome concert. Yeah, my musical judgement is always questionable. Try to sort this out, these are probably most of the bands I’ve seen live in the last 6 months or so, certainly all of them since the beginning of the year:

      Dylan Jefferson Starship, Zombies, The Dead Weather, Ian Anderson (Ok, that one is in 3 weeks), Ten Years After, Pat Benatar and Blondie, Three Dog Night, Moody Blues, MGNT (twice), Modest Mouse, Pete Townsend (100 person venue), The Who (much larger venue), Heart, Train, Paul McCartney, Canned Heat, Greatful Dead, Coldplay (shitty venue – again), Alan Parsons Project, Journey, Jonny Lang, Leonard Cohen, Franz Ferdinand, Morrisey, and The Black Keys (the last 4+McCartney, at Coachella), oh yeah, and My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon.

      And in the last year or so, some other particularly spectacular concerts: David Gilmour, Roger Waters (2x), Arcade Fire (3x), Radiohead, Racontours, Moby

      Probably missed a few, point being, I can’t spend every evening watching movies and college football. You guys just don’t pay me enough, but enough for plenty of concert tickets!

      Actually I do typically catch at least 20 concerts and 2 music festivals each year. And, as the guy who fell off the top of the empire state building was heard saying, all the way down: “so far, so good, so far, so good, so far, so….” so, I expect the next year, will be no different…

      Hey, no problem with your “trying to forgive people who follow college football, too” afterall, to quote Caddyshack “the world needs ditch diggers too”. -art

  • Jeff Hurst

    “…right after its dark, so I can see how much better the Epson’s black levels are…”
    I’m surprised you don’t have the ability to completely black out both rooms during the day in both theaters, considering how much of this you do.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Jeff – Me too, but then when my family bought this house, I was busy making a living selling a few hundred projectors a month online. This house isn’t well set up for what I do. Anyway, it works for me. Both rooms can be essentially fully darkened in the evening, and I’ve never been a morning person (rarely up before 10am – and if I am, usually it’s to fly somewhere warm and sunny, with the family.

      Our daughter goes off to college next fall. We’ll be looking for a new place, where I really can put in a more ideal home theater, and one closer to the ocean (two miles is just too far).

  • Lance

    I’m excited. I was willing to spend $1200 on the X10 (was because it’s out of stock now). But if the 8500UB goes round $2K like the AE4000, I’m willing to put in the extra $$$ for it. Waiting for your judgement.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Greetings Lance,

      I really don’t expect that the 8500UB will sell for very close to $2000. I’d be surprised if Epson launched it with a MAP below $2499, but you never know.

      I say this for one reason – and that’s the lamp cost issue. Let’s assume the Epson is $2500, the Panny is $2000.
      The Panny gets 2000 hours at full power, the Epson gets 4000 hours. (that’s taking both their words for it). The Panasonic lamp costs $400, the Epson, $300.

      This won’t make much difference to the owner who only uses their projector 8 hours a week or less (typically movie only users), but will matter one hell of a lot to those running their projectors 20 – 40 hours a week or more (as many do.)

      I think I did the math once before last week in a blog, but let’s take the nice average number of 20 hours a week? Now lets figure you want to get 4 years and change out of your projector. With the Epson, the original lamp gets you to the 4 year mark, and you replace it at a cost of $300 ($299). Or, with the Panasonic, you buy a new lamp at the end of two years, and another at the end of four, both at $400. OK:
      Panasonic total cost: $2000 + $400 + $400 = $2800.
      Epson total cost: $2500 + $300 = $2800.

      Of course, for those running more than 20 hours a week, the Epson will have lower total cost, and for those using less than 20 a week, the Panasonic will have the lower cost. Then of course, the Epson comes with an extra year of warranty standard, which might just save a few hundred dollars more, but you never know who will need it.

      So, maybe, but don’t count on it. They might get closer to the $1999 than $2500, but they probably don’t need to. So far, I have no idea – Epson hasn’t said anything to me yet… -art

  • biliam1982


    I love your stuff and thanks for everything you do.

    I’d like your take on my thoughts on lamp pricing. W/ the advent of LED Projectors and maybe one day even Lasers, do you really think the lamp pricing will be the same in two years, let alone four? I haven’t been following this long enough to know, but what has the prices of the lamps done over the past four years? What were they estimated to cost back then and what are they going for now?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Billiam1982!

      It doesn’t matter! If you are buying a projector today it uses a UHP (ultra high pressure) lamp. (Or you’ve spent more than $10,000 for one with LEDs).

      Do not expect the lamp prices to fall, over time. Even when they have dropped in the past, the lamp prices of the older projectors has stayed the same, while the newest model might come out $100 less for it’s lamp.

      And overall, there’s been little adjustment. Today, most lamps sell between $299 and $399, with a few still going up to $500 or $600 in the reasonably priced projector ranges ($1000 or more is easy on some expensive 3 chip DLPs and others). For example, I think Panasonic has been at $400 for at least 5 years. Epson, on the other hand was at $400 for years, but in the last year has dropped to $299 on their newer projectors. There are a few projectors at $250, and there was one at $199 for the lamp, but That was the rather unsuccessful InFocus IN1 “almost-all-in-one” projector, which had a very short life on the market, if I recall correctly.

      So, maybe next year’s Panny will be $299, but that doesn’t help this year’s model. And in two years, if we start seeing $2000 and $4000 LED projectors, that will change the game, but not the story for those who already own. -art