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Epson Pro Cinema 1985 W Projector Review - Performance

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Art Feierman
Pro Cinema 1985 PROJECTOR - PERFORMANCE:  Brightness by Mode, Eco Mode, Auto Sensors, Audible Noise, Image Noise

Projector Brightness Measurements

Pro Cinema 1985 Brightness - Wide angle on zoom (closest)
Mode Brightness (Lumens)
Dynamic 4915
Presentation 3460
Theatre 3363
Photo 4102
sRGB 2643
BlackBoard 1461
WhiteBoard 1696


Measuring the various modes was done with the zoom lens at full wide angle, which is to say, with the projector projecting the largest image possible from its distance from the screen.

As is typical with any projector with a zoom lens, as you adjust the amount of zoom, that will affect the brightness.  At full wide angle most projectors are at their brightest.  Considering that the 1985WU has a 1.6:1 zoom, you could place the projector at the opposite range of the zoom, which would put it 1.6x further from a screen for the same sized image.

That results in a drop in brightness of approximately 20%, which is just enough to be a visible drop in brightness, but still a pretty small one.  It's less, for example than going from full power to Eco mode (over a 30% drop).  Leave the room for a minute, while someone decreases a projector's brightness by 20% and when you re-enter, it's unlikely you would notice the change unless warned in advance.

Powerlite 1985 WU Eco Mode

Epson offers a Normal Mode, an Eco Mode and an Auto mode.

Eco mode measured approximately 32% below Normal mode.  That difference should be consistent, no matter what image mode you are using (Presentation, Theatre...)

We really can't measure Auto in any meaningful way, because when presented with a full white (100 IRE), it will measure the same as Normal.  If an image has no maximum bright areas, then Auto mode will limit the brightness accordingly.  Use Auto to save some energy, but not as effective as Eco mode.  Fan noise is typically louder than in Eco mode.

The first image is just a closeup of the Eco menu.  The next four images are from our previous review of the commercial Powerlite Pro 1985WU, which measured almost identically.  This newer projector averaged just about 1% less bright (well within normal measuring error). Three modes are shown so you can see brightness and color differences.   Theatre modes is shown twice, first in Eco mode, then Theater mode (Normal), followed byPresentation (Normal), and Dynamic (Normal).  Basically these images take you from best mode (Theatre) at lowest power, to the brightest the projector is capable of.  The differences in brightness are certainly signifiant, but even Theatre (Eco), isn't dramatically darker (although the total drop in color and white lumens is roughly 50%).

Pro Cinema 1985 Sharpness

WUXGA (1920x1200) projectors like the PC1985 are inherently slightly higher resolution than 1080p (1920x1080), which is fine, as it allows 1080p content to be displayed natively, without any compression.  Unless you have a specific need, you will pair the PC1985 with a 16:9 screen even though WUXGA is 16:10.  The letter boxing above and below will be off the screen, but dark enough that you shouldn't notice under normal viewing.

The optics of the Epson are definitely respectable, with everything looking nice and sharp.  While this version of the 1985 is geared for the home, if you look at one of the images from the previous review, you'll see 8 point type.  That same 8 point type would be almost 4 times the size on an XGA projector, so that's really good.  Consider that on a 10 foot screen, with 20/20 vision, you would want to be within 6 feet to easily read 8 point type at that resolution.

The other images are typical ones to give you a general feel of the projector's sharpness and detail on home content.  Just remember, even when you click on one of these images to view it larger, that larger version is only 1000 pixels wide, not the 1920 wide of the projected image, so what you are looking at in your browser is technically not much more than 1/4 the resolution the projector puts up on the screen.

Auto Sensors

Epson has three sensors of interest.  Call them special features.  Two affect brightness, so are discussed here.

The first is more of image processing - rather than a physical sensor.  That is the Auto mode on the Eco menu.  I just mentioned that as a way of maintaining maximum brightness but able to save energy when the image content itself isn't a very bright one.

The other two though are sensors.  The first located on the front of the projector enables the projectors Auto Fit (so the image does not overshoot the screen) and focus assist functions.

The other sensor is located on the top of the projector behind the lens focus and zoom controls.  This sensor faces up, and measures the brightness of the room.  When engaged, it will adjust the brightness of the projector accordingly.  If the room is relatively dark, it will lower the brightness of the projector.  If the room measures very bright, it will not.

Sensors used for adjusting brightness have been around for probably close to a decade.  They do work, but I usually wonder if they are really needed, or more of a marketing device.  You know:  "sounds great - maybe I should get a projector with this capability, just in case I decide I will need it in the future?"  Well, this Epson has it, and it provides another tool in the Epson's energy management and control capabilities.  My point though, is that if it didn't have this feature, I can't really imagine anyone deciding to choose a different projector simply because this feature wasn't available!  The auto sensor isn't a feature I normally think of as really useful on home projectors, but as it turns out, it can be.

For example, as mentioned, I have a similarly bright Epson in my living room - a G6550U.  Bright day viewing is very different from night viewing with the lights on.  So I'm used to watching at full power on the lamp in the daytime, and on very bright days at the brightest time in the afternoon, I might be in Dynamic mode - basically just shy of 5000 lumens.  But let's assume I'm using a mode doing roughly 3500 lumens at full power.  In the evening with lights on, I normally run Theater mode in Eco - almost 40% or so drop in brightness. With the sensor engaged, come evening, the sensor would lower overall brightness enough that I typically wouldn't have to pick up the remote to manually adjust.

Audible Noise

If this were a much less bright projector, one might have a problem with the amount of fan noise.  At full power this would be fairly noisy in a small conference room.  Not enough to have to shout over, but certainly enough to notice. But then one doesn't need 4800 lumens for the size screens you would find in a smaller room.  Even under full fluorescent lighting, lighting up an 80 or 100 inch screen is no problem.

But we're talking home use here, and the claimed 39 db is definitely about 5-10 db louder than a typical projector designed for a home theater.

Epson says the PC1985 produces 31 db in Eco.  The typical range of brightness projectors in the general 5000-8000 range is probably from 36 to 44 db, so overall, the Epson is likely average.  31 db in Eco mode, on the other hand is reasonably quiet.  Consider than many of Epson's home THEATER projectors claim 32-34 db at full power so are a touch louder than this projector's Eco mode, 31 isn't particularly quiet, therefore, but should be sufficient for movie viewing.  39 db for sports viewing means most likely no one will ever notice the fan running.

Check out our video showing how my almost identically bright G6550 does in various Bright Room conditions at different times of day in my living room.

BTW, we don't measure audible noise levels (it's a complicated process), but from experience, Epson's decibel claims seem reasonable.  The projector sits less than 3 feet behind me, and it is audible, but nothing about it is high pitched or whiney, so I find it very acceptable.

PC1985 Image Noise

I  hooked up the projector to a DirecTV DVR and to a Blu-ray player.  Again no issues, except when using the Guide on the DirecTV menus.  The small window that displays the live channel showed a little image noise around the top of that window when the box was tuned to some standard channels, but not HDTV channels.  Count that very minor, and not something anyone's likely to duplicate.  And that's why projectors have Overscan or Mask capabilities (to hide that edge noise).

No issues with viewing movies or all digital content off of the Blu-ray player.  Performance on slow pans is very good.

If there's one "image issue, it's that the dynamic iris when engaged on the PC1985 isn't as smooth as those on Epson's dedicated home Theater projectors like their Home Cinema 5030UB.  The iris more visibly stops at times which is fine for normal viewing.  If you are after perfection in movie viewing, this isn't the projector for you, you need a nicely dark home theater and an appropriate projector.

Overall I also viewed standard computer material displaying at the native resolution of this projector, upscaled by my MacBook Pro to  1920x1200, but also output at the Mac's native resolution and let the Epson upscale to WUXGA.  Both look nicely sharp, with no noise problems or jitters of any sort.  In addition I viewed video clips that were on the Mac as well. Again, no issues to report.

I found viewing non-HDTV TV to be less impressive. It can, at times, seem slightly pixelated on text.  I didn't spend much time with low def, it's hard for me to watch on a really large screen.  DVD viewing was reasonable, but if you go to the trouble and expense of having a projector that's 1080p, you want to feed it properly!

Bottom Line:  No real issues.  Of course that's not a surprise, considering companies have been refining image processing in projectors for more than 15 years.  In other words, I'm sort of reporting about something that hasn't really been an issue with most quality projectors in quite some time. There's still variation, but most projectors come out of the box pretty good with no major issues.  This is certainly one of those.

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