Projector Reviews

Ensemble HD 1080: Physical Attributes of the Complete System

Ensemble HD 1080: Physical Attributes of the Complete System

Shown here: Epson Home Cinema 1080 right after mounting, in the provided projector housing that includes the rear surround sound speakers. The projector is one of the smaller home theater projectors out there. Even sitting in its cradle (with rear speakers), the whole assembly is still about the same size than some of the larger under $10,000 home theater projectors, including the JVC RS1, RS1x and RS2, the Sony VW projectors, and the recently reviewed InFocus IN83 and BenQ W5000.

From a placement standpoint, to fill the included 100″ diagonal screen, the projector can be as close as 9.8 feet, and as far back as 20.9 feet (measured from screen, to the front of the lens).

There is more than ample lens shift, so that the system can be wall mounted or ceiling mounted. When ceiling mounted, the center of the lens can be up to almost 23 inches above the top of the screen surface, so, even in a room, with relatively high (normal) ceilings, such as a 10 foot ceiling, the projector cradle can be mounted just about flush with the ceiling. If shelf mounted, it can be anywhere, again, from that far above the screen to even below the bottom of the screen (although no one is going to mount it really low).

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 A/V Controller

This relatively small device (about the size of a Sony Playstation 3, measuring in at 13.5×10.5×4 inches), is the AV receiver, DVD player, AM/FM tuner, and room controller, all in one nicely styled black box. The AV Receiver aspect supports full 5.1 audio, and multiple formats including: Dolby Digital Surround, DTS 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. That’s just fine for today, although it doesn’t support all of the brand new – coming soon – Dolby and DTS formats that HDMI 1.3 can handle. Still, these compatibilities offer a solution for just about anything you can throw at it, that is available today (movies, TV, etc).

The built in DVD player is just that, a basic SD-DVD player, not a Blu-ray player. Some will be unhappy with that, but I don’t see why, when you consider Epson has been working on the design of this system,since long before the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD war were decided. Fortunately, the AV Controller has 2 HDMI inputs, and the first thing I did upon completion of the installation, was to plug in a Sony PS3 into one of them so I could watch my Blu-ray movies. Since my Blu-ray player is outboard, and firmware upgradable off the internet, that likely will work out much better for most people. Had Epson put in a basic Blu-ray player, it almost certainly would not have had the performance, or the upgradability of the PS3.

The built in DVD player supports a healthy assortment of DVDs and CDs, including:

  • SD-DVD (standard format DVDs)
  • Recordable DVD (DVD-R format)
  • Standard CD
  • CD-R and CD-RW
  • Data CDs with jpg MP3 and WMA files

On the other hand, the player cannot play SACD or DVD-Audio, DVD-RW and several other formats. In other words, it plays what I have listed, but no other formats.

I better mention it again, before it is forgotten. The AV Controller also has an AM/FM tuner, although I’ve never tried it, as I’ve got something like 60 music channels on my cable, (which happens to be plugged into the 2nd HDMI port). Down here, by the beach in San Clemente, CA, half way between LA and San Diego, reception leaves much to be desired anyway!

The AV Controller is primarily controlled with the remote control (we will explore than in the General Performance section). It does have a couple of controls right on the unit, though. There is a Power button on the left, five small buttons in the center in a row. On the left is Source select, then the DVD controls: Play/Pause, Back Chapter, Forward Chapter, Stop, and Eject. To the right of all that, is a large volume dial (backlit in LED blue – like the power button), when the unit is on. The power button is orange when off, the volume dial doesn’t light when off.

Low on the front left, are a headphone jack, the Audio 2 input (convenient), and the USB input.

There are a good selection of inputs on the back- both video and audio. No actual photo at this time, as we never photographed the back of the A/V Controller, before installation. I did, however take a picture of the drawing in the manual – it’s not great:

Video inputs: HDMI 1 and HDMI 2, Component Video, S-Video, and of course Composite video. There is also an input for a USB flash drive (want to watch pictures from your digital camera? – No problem).

Audio inputs: As you would expect, there is also a full complement of audio inputs. Remember HDMI ports provide audio as well as digital video. In addition, there is a Coaxial audio port, and a Digital Optical port, as well as stereo audio labeled Analog audio for the audio for the composite or S-video inputs. There is also an additional stereo audio input simply labled Audio In, which can be used for an iPod, MP3 player, or other audio only device.

Tuner inputs: There is the traditional 75 ohm coaxial input for the FM tuner, and the standard two connectors for the AM tuner.

Outputs: Interestingly, Epson thought this all out rather nicely, there is an HDMI output (you could use that for a separate DVR), an analog 5.1 audio output, and a stereo (labeled 2CH) audio pass through output (to a recorder). As is typical of audio outs, the volume of the system does not affect the output volume of the 2CH output.

Bottom line on the Ensemble AV Controller, is that they have covered almost all of the bases. Few users, if any, will run out of inputs or outputs. Next: