Projector Reviews

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 A Complete Home Theater System Review: Summary, Pros and Cons

I’ve had dozens of people at least take a quick look at the Ensemble HD 1080 setup in my office/Theater 2 (T2 for short). Overall, they were all simply “blown away”.

We even bought a new couch for the room, and moved out other stuff to take full advantage of this new home theater, but I digress.

As a good example, the in-laws were by for a barbeque the night before last. My brother-in-law (a successful doctor) got the 15+ minute tour before I had to fire up the steaks. After about 5-10 minutes of the Nicolas Cage movie, “Next”, and about the same amount of time watching some of the Olympics – his take on the system – to paraphrase: “Someone I know is having his 50th birthday soon (he’s talking about himself), and would really love a system like this.” I asked if I should drop a hint with his wife and his answer was a definitive “Yes!”

Now many of my friends have had a chance to watch movies in my main theater, as well as football, the Olympics, Grammys, Emmy’s, Oscars, American Idol, or even CSI or Boston Legal. Everyone of them would agree that my larger (128″ diagonal) system, with a more expensive projector, plus a sound system alone, that easily would cost today, 3-4 times what the whole Ensemble HD costs, is more impressive than the Epson Ensemble HD. And that seems fair. That a far more expensive system is even more impressive, however, doesn’t change the fact that they all loved the Ensemble HD. So far, by my count, it looks like two (including my brother-in-law) are very likely to buy an Ensemble HD very soon, one more friend is looking for spare change in his couch, and car seat, and a still another is trying to figure out which room in their home it might work in… Interestingly, and very important to the purchase decsion, is that the Ensemble seems to be almost immune to the “wife syndrome” – you know: “You’re not putting all that junk in our family room.”

The simplicity of buying and installing the system, for all of them, changes the dynamic. Not one of them ever cared enough in the past, about having a high quality home theater, to seriously consider taking on the challenge of going with a home theater projector based system. And that’s with my friends knowing that could tap me for tons of advice.

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Home Theater System: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Home Theater System: Pros

  • Only complete system on the market, makes for easy, fast, and affordable installation
  • Overall, a wonderful home theater experience, combining very good video and room filling audio
  • Very good picture performance for movies (Blu-ray and standard DVD), TV/HDTV, and especially, HDTV sports (we do recommend a basic calibration)
  • Audio is extremely impressive, providing the kind of sound that “rocks the house”, on those great action movies, but also does a solid job when listening to music, and no lack of volume, under any circumstances
  • Truly easy to use and operate. With this system, even my wife finds it simple to use
  • Want to really shake the house with those special effects, Epson was thoughtful enough to provide an output so you can add a second subwoofer!
  • One button operation to start up: Hit that power button on the universal remote, and the screen comes down, the projector and audio fires up, and you are ready to go
  • Lots of inputs and outputs – two extra HDMI (ie. Blu-ray player and sat/cable), plus plenty of other inputs, including USB memory slot (“flash drives”), for viewing images from digital cameras, other devices.
  • Midnight mode, and Headphone jack provide solutions for when (late night?) you can’t “crank up” the audio
  • Programmable remote – simplifies, and equally important, additional devices can be added to it, such as cable or satellite boxes and other devices
  • Very good brightness – just the right amount of brightness to fill the included screen sufficiently for watching movies in a darkened room, but also plenty of lumens for watching – especially sports, with moderate ambient light
  • Clean look and design, mimimal impact on the look of your room, when the system is off
  • Included wiring channels are clean and unobtrusive (and can be painted) keeps installation simple, fast and affordable
  • For those that choose to (like me) you can run all the wiring “in-wall” but most buyers, I suspect will choose not to, thanks to the neat channels
  • A great 2 year warranty on most components
  • Outstanding price performance – the complete integration should save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, compared to building your system piece by piece. (Although DIYers might disagree, since they don’t seem to mind investing tons of hours installing their systems theirselves).
  • Epiphany! The Epson Ensemble HD changes the world. Finally a real home theater (no tiny plasma/LCDTV), is now practical for millions of families

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Home Theater System: Cons

  • Only one screen size available, which combined with the projector’s throw distance, requires a room at almost 12 feet deep at a minimum, and no larger screen (not that you need one), for those with really large rooms
  • The lack of an option to purchase the system with the Home Cinema 1080 UB projector, instead of the standard Home Cinema 1080, for those willing to shell out some extra for an increase in black level performance
  • Built in DVD player is not Blu-ray (as noted, we do not see that as a real disadvantage, since it’s easy to add one to the system)
  • Audio system, while really great for movies, is merely very good for music (still, considering the price… not that buyers will have a problem with the audio quality – remember – I’m “way over the top” when it comes to audio
  • Heat – All projectors, like all surround sound amplifiers and powered subwoofers, like any AV Receiver controller, and DVD player, electronic devices give off heat. In a small room this is enough to raise the temperature a couple of degrees during the length of a movie, if doors are shut and your air conditioning isn’t running. While this is typical, it’s worth mentioning