Projector Reviews

Epson Pro Cinema 1985 Bright Room Projector Review – Summary

EPSON POWERLITE PRO CINEMA 1985W REVIEW SUMMARY:  The Big Picture, The Experience, Competition and Value Proposition, Pros and Cons

The Big Picture - Pro Cinema 1985

I have no choice but to repeat myself endlessly it seems: This projector is bright enough to be used almost anywhere an LCDTV will work.  Just remember to pair this Epson projector with a good light absorbing screen.

The first image in the player above show you the ambient light coming in the front side window, and how it lights up part of the screen, along with the window in the back of the room and light coming in from the bright, skylight lit adjacent room. The color pie chart test images are from our previous review of the 1985 as a commercial projector (from 1/2015).  It provides another look at the differences between major modes Dynamic, Presentation and Theatre.  

4800 maximum lumens is about 10x what you need in a home theater for to fill a 100″ screen!  Even in best mode (Theatre), the PC1985 offers way over 3300 lumens.  That’s a lot to work with as you can see in our video showing the similarly bright Epson G6550 (it actually measured slightly less bright) at work at different times of day and night, lots of light.

With the right screen selected most likely you’ll be able to run the Epson 1985 in Eco mode, which audibly quieter than full power, and draws a good bit less wattage.  Speaking of screens ALR screens that “reject” ambient light are becoming more available.  Look to well known (and not so well known) brands covering the price spectrum, including Da-Lite, dnp, Elite, Screen Innovations and Seymour to name a few.

If your room isn’t overly bright, this projector has enough punch for some pretty large screens.  I only have an 86″ diagonal with my similarly bright G6550, but that was due to space, not brightness.  If it would fit, I’m confident that even in my room I could handle 110″ diagonal, with the Slate screen and even larger with a Black Diamond for its even better ambient light rejection skills.

The Experience

Special_Interest

 

I’ve been watching the PC1985 in my theater for a few dozen hours. It’s a different experience in there because I don’t have to shutter my windows at all for normal viewing, and a fair amount of shadow detail is still very visible.  As you can see in many images, the right side of my screen catches a lot more ambient light, yet the picture is solid.

I didn’t (I may yet) set it up temporarily downstairs in the living room under my Epson G6550.  I probably won’t because the two projectors are almost identical in brightness and most other things that count. And it looks great – given I only had room for 86″ diagonal.

G6550_11am_theatre-mode-HGTV
This is what an Epson projector putting up 3300 lumens in Theatre mode looks like at 11am on on a sunny day at my house

 

If this projector was available back when I got the G6550, I wouldn’t have been able to rationalize the G6550, the PC1985 makes far more sense.  It’s missing some features, but is a lot smaller and sells for less than half the price!

My downstairs experience with my other projector plays out like this. In the daytime the image is very nicely bright, I can watch sports on a sunny day with lots of doors and windows and no coverings.  I’ve got a Screen Innovations Slate – a motorized ALR screen designed for brighter rooms.  If my budget was larger I could have opted for their Black Diamond screen surface with even better ability to absorb ambient light.

Come nighttime downstairs, I’ve got good control of my lights, but even if I fire everything up (that’s over 30 recessed floods) the projector still looks more than reasonable on bright scenes such as sports.  Of course if you want to watch a movie, you need to turn down the lights to enjoy the dark scenes.  That’s true of an LCDTV experience as well.  Darker is better.

Competition and Value Proposition

The real value proposition of the PC1985 comes when compared to LCD TVs.  For less than $3500 you can pair a Pro Cinema 1985W with a reasonably priced ALR screen from Elite, or probably one from Da-Lite (I don’t know their pricing yet on their ALR screens), and have a 100 – 120 inch diagonal image.  For $3000 – $4000 you can buy yourself a 70″ to 78″ diagonal LCDTV.

Now that’s one whole lot of extra picture size – even 100″ compared to 70″ is slightly over twice the square footage.  Talk about value!  If you don’t care about “the big screen,” then you can probably live happily ever after with a nice 55″ LCDTV in your living room or family room.

At this time, Epson seems to be the only projector player out there actively marketing high brightness projectors to the home.  While other companies have upped the brightness of dedicated home theater projectors – typically into the 1200 – 2000 lumen range (in part to support the extra lumens 3D needs), we aren’t seeing (yet) others marketing 4000 lumen and up projectors for use in traditional living rooms etc.

But those projectors are out there.  One can pretty much pick out any 4000+ lumen DLP projector geared for business, and drop it into a living room / family room environment.  As with the Epson Pro Cinema 1985 W, those are likely to be missing some features normally found on dedicated home Theater projectors – such as CFI for smooth motion, and on affordable models – lens shift.  Typically you don’t find lens shift on smaller business projectors.  They will also tend to be fairly loud – overall, I expect single chip DLP projectors to be louder than 3LCD, as they are a) smaller (harder to baffle the sound) and use a higher wattage bulb for the same level of brightness, so more cooling is necessary.

Now we haven’t been reviewing any BenQ, Optoma, or other DLP business projectors for their potential in the home, but as they start marketing them to the home, I’m sure we will.  We typically already report on movie viewing – with photos in the reviews, of almost all business projectors so that gives you an idea of the color accuracy.

On the lower brightness end, there’s been a number of “sRGB” projectors (a mode similar to the REC 709 HDTV standard), but the ones coming in for review are no match in brightness (typically under 2000 lumens).  But they do offer better color than we’re used to from most DLP business projectors.

I can’t offer you, off the top, a good DLP alternative, with lots of lumens, but I can tell you what to look for:  Considering this projector does over 3300 lumens with really good color, and 4800+ with decent color accuracy, you want to be looking for a single chip DLP projector with about 6000 lumens to start.  That’s because the DLP’s aren’t going to have near as many color lumens as white ones. We have discussed the color lumens issue in other reviews and did a video on it as well.  The point is, this Epson can easily be calibrated and end up around that same 3300 lumens, but I expect no more than 2/3 the number of color lumens as white, and probably less from the DLP competition, so with 6000 white lumens, a DLP should have less but at least be close to having as many color lumens as this 4800 color lumen Epson.  Without as many color lumens, a projector will not cut through ambient light nearly as well.

Those DLP’s will, however, even lacking a dynamic iris, have slightly better black levels, but we’re talking environments with ambient light (a little or a lot), and that ambient light will negate most of the differences afforded by slightly better black levels.

PC1985 Projector – Value Proposition

Assuming you will be using the ceiling mount, and figuring you will eventually use the spare lamp, at the $2499 list price for the bundle, you are really paying about $300 or so less for the projector itself.

$2200 is not a whole lot for a projector with 4800 color and white lumens, in fact, it’s downright reasonable.  You get very good placement flexibility, but lack lens shift and CFI.  I repeat, CFI is good for sports in particular, but it’s a feature we can generally live without. Lens shift – compared to keystone correction is the better way to get the cleanest image (no compression) but consider – if you mount it properly, right height, etc. you won’t need the keystone correction or lens shift. If you can’t in your location, keystone correction really isn’t bad, it’s just less perfect, and home Theater fanatics like me, tend to be sort of perfectionist about such things.  For a projector in a “bright room” that will probably be watching more sports and HDTV than world class movies, few will care about the differences.

Remember the PC1985 also comes with networking – and wireless capabilities, and many more features.  But mostly, it’s the brightest thing around the price, with both high white and color lumens.

I’d like to see some more “home” oriented features on the next generation, but as someone who’s been using this projector’s big big brother (although not brighter) projector, the G6550, I can tell you that the viewing experience is impressive, be it our annual Super Bowl party (we’ve had two now using the G series) or our having the TV on during dinner, or viewing family photos and videos, etc.  Certainly, of my family and friends, no one is noticing any missing features, they are only noticing a bright picture and very good color in a bright room.

The only potentially better value proposition I can think of, is the Epson HC1440 we reviewed not that long ago.  Rated 4400 lumens it’s almost as bright, but lacks Miracast streaming, a few other features, but lists for $1699 (no spare lamp or ceiling mount).  So basically, when you net things out, you are paying about $500 more for this PC1985 for those features and the extra year of warranty and replacement program.  So if you aren’t interested in the streaming, etc… you can save some.

On the other hand, the Pro Cinema 1985 W I consider a much better value proposition than the G6550 I have.  If I needed one of the optional lenses, the G would still make sense, but I don’t.  I like having the lens shift and a few other things, but not when it’s a couple thousand dollars more.

Pros

  • Bright enough to handle most rooms*
  • Very good color, right out of the box
  • Very good shadow detail
  • Dynamic iris helps lower black levels
  • Built in Wireless
  • Split Screen capabilities
  • MHL on HDMI for streaming sticks, etc.
  • PC free image player
  • Miracast for streaming
  • Audio output with lots of options (important for streaming)
  • Nicely powerful 16 watt internal speaker
  • A Fast (instead of Fine) mode for lower input lag – for gaming
  • Full set of controls should you want to calibrate
  • Wired networking (Crestron, other support)
  • Assorted Eco features
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Very good lamp life for a high power projector
  • Obviously can double as a high power portable projector for biz/ed
  • Excellent warranty 3 years, with 3 years of rapid replacement program
  • Overall very good value proposition for a high brightness projector

* paired with the right type of screen for your room

Cons

  • Remote not backlit
  • No 3D
  • No Creative Frame Interpolation
    (CFI aka “smooth motion” for sports, etc.)
  • Black levels are “entry level” but definitely OK
    for bright room projector
  • No extra user savable settings (but plenty of modes)
  • Fan noise on the loud side in full power lamp mode (but much better in Eco) fine for sports, loud for a quiet movie
  • No lens shift (it does have extensive keystone correction)

All considered: Lots of brightness, really good color all the basic features but missing a few, and a lot of power for the dollars invested make the Epson 1985 W one fine alternative to some undersized 70 inch LCDTV.

When it comes to viewing sports, movies, and, well, most things, Big is Better!