Epson Home Cinema 8700UB – Competitors5

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE4000

Unlike Epson, Panasonic did not update their flagship home theater projector this fall. The PT-AE4000 was reviewed just a year ago. Last year, when we reviewed the Epson 8500UB, the PT-AE4000 still wasn’t available, so we compared the 8500UB to the PT-AE3000.

The PT-AE4000 bests the PT-AE3000 with an improvement in black level performance. The older 3000 was an ultra-high contrast projector, but not a match for even the 2 generation older Epson 6500UB. The PT-AE4000 improved on the blacks, but so did Epson, going to their 8500UB. The 8700UB doesn’t improve on the 8500UB’s blacks so there is no real change in black level performance, when comparing the 8700UB to the PT-AE4000, as opposed to comparing the 6500UB to the PT-AE3000. Both are slightly improved.

Panasonic still has more features than any other projector. Sporting power zoom and focus, it offers lens memory – the ability to use a Cinemascope movie shaped screen 2.35:1 or 2.40:1, without an anamorphic lens, and still allow you to show 16:9 and 4:3 content without content overflowing the screen top to bottom. For this feature you would need the new, more expensive Epson Home Cinema 21000 projector. The Panasonic also has some neat gizmos, notably their signal generator. Gadget freaks will just love this PT-AE4000.

That said, I have always favored the Epson UB to the Panasonic AE. I like the additional lumens, the more dynamic “pop and wow” factor of the Epson, and the superior black level performance. That said, in the past, I’ve always considered – generally, the two projectors to be head to head competitors, both slugging it out for the same customer, and generally of about equal performance. While I’ll personally take this Epson Home Cinema 8700UB just about every time, compared to the Panasonic, I do fully understand why many favor the Panasonic. I’m not sure which is the better seller – possibly the Panasonic since it’s one model, whereas technically Epson has 5 models between $1300 and $3200, to dilute the sales of any one model. Overall I considered the 8500UB and the Panasonic to be about equal. Two years ago, the PT-AE3000 and the 6500UB split the Best In Class award for the $2K – $3.5K range. Last year, the Panasonic was $1999, and competed in the Entry level class. The Panasonic took the Best In Class award in that class, while the Epson took it in the $2000 – $3500 range. Only about $300 separated the projectors.

This year, once again, they will be in separate classes for the big home theater report in March, assuming we don’t adjust the price ranges.

Two excellent projectors. The Epson wins on warranty, cost of operation, and brightness. The Panasonic though has a nice accurate image as well, blacks that are fairly comparable, if not quite as good, and, as noted, lots of gadgets, including, a particularly smooth creative frame interpolation.

A tough call, choose wisely.

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB vs. LG CF181D

Here’s a different comparison, compared to the others. With the exception (above) of the comparison with the less expensive Epson 8350, all the other projectors are ultra-high contrast projectors.

Not so the LG CF181D. It’s black levels, mind you, aren’t bad, but more in line with the Epson 8350, than the Home Cinema 8700UB.

Where does that leave the LG? Right where it wants to be. The LG isn’t going to slug it out with the Epson for blacks, but it is more than happy to get into a slugfest with the Epson.

The LG is about lots of comfortable, effortless lumens, compared to this Epson, or for that matter, almost any of the other $2000 range competition.

The LCoS driven LG, musters up a dazzling calibrated 898 lumens in best mode, according to Mike. When you need all the horsepower, 1380 lumens are under the hood (remember, we test with the lens at mid-point, not at full wide angle which is brighter).

That blows away the Epson’s just barely 500 lumens in best mode, and also beats the Epson’s approximate 1200 lumens at brightest. That said, the Epson will have slightly better color than the LG. The LG can match the Epson in bright mode color, but stepping down one mode (from Vivid), to Sports, and still retain over 1100 lumens.

Overall, though the LG gets a major win in brightness. Also^ Back to Top, the LG just seems to “be comfortable” It just seems brighter – less like it’s straining to put an bright and colorful image on the screen, with modest ambient light, whereas the Epson seems to run out of energy, when the ambient light is up enough that the LG is still doing fine.

The LG is one killer family room projector for the money. In a dedicated home theater, the Epson’s blacks will appeal to those of us into max picture performance, but the LG will be loved by those that just want a nice bright image, and don’t quibble about black level differences.

Give the LG a close look. If you are a movie enthusiast, though, with good lighting control, I figure you’ll pick the Epson, but if you want that bonus room, or family room rocking, the LG is at least as good a choice. Remember, just because there are a lot of black level performance fanatics out there (like me), doesn’t mean that you are. Consider, most people never change modes on their LCDTVs (yes, there are movie/cinema modes, mid-modes and bright modes, just like on projectors. If you are one who never fiddles with your TV / LCDTV / Plasma, then the LG just might be the right one for you. Remember – what are you watching – how much light – how big a screen… is all part of the equation.

You May Also Like

News and Comments