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Epson Z8450WUNL 3LCD Projector - Review Summary

Posted on July 18, 2013 by 

Epson Powerlite Pro Z8450WUNL Projector: Bottom Line

This Epson Powerlite Pro Z8450WUNL, and it's black version - the Z8455WUNL - are true, high power commercial projectors designed to be able to take a huge array of different types of presentations, digital signage, rock concerts, Museum displays, Worship applications, command and control rooms, scientific presentations, and large (university) classroom use.  Basically most of everything you can think of, that requires true WUXGA / 2K / 1080p resolution (Technically it's not 2K - only 1920 - but the term is being used to cover WUXGA projectors).

Certainly not everyone needs WUXGA, either immediately or within the near future while this projector is still being used.  For those, Epson offers lower resolution projectors in XGA and WXGA formats.

This Epson Z8450WU is especially practical where live camera work needs to be pumped directly through the projector to the screen.  An example might be a professional camera in a studio, or, perhaps a church, pointing at the speaker from 20 feet away.  The projector might be mounted 120 feet away, connected to the professional video camera by SDI connector (over coax) which is good for a 300 foot run. SDI is still rare on projectors, including most in the Epson's price range.  Combine that ability with home theater like (or professional) level calibration abilities, for superb color.

We were pleasantly surprised when this 7000 lumen rated projector, actually exceeded 8000 lumens in our testing.  That just doesn't happen often, though Epson models tend to hit or beat claims at much or more than almost any other brand, based on our experience.  Remember, if you don't need the WUXGA, you can save a fortune and have virtually the same projector (give or take SDI, etc.) for a fraction of the price.

With advanced features like Edge Blending, and the ability to mount the projector tilted in different directions, allows a great deal of creative applications, or to meet unique, demanding setups.  The Tilt Position ability can offer extensive benefits when just one Epson is being used as well.  I mentioned rear projection as an excellent example of how that feature could save valuable rear space.

But, there's more to like.  The remote is good (backlight would still be a plus), and has excellent range. A wired remote can be used when distance is too far, or there's no line of sight.  Menus are very well designed - logical, and functional.

The selection of inputs is very good for the price, but not as extensive as some.  Split screen can be a powerful tool, but remember the single HDMI source limit for split screen (HDMI and 1 of something else...).  There are work-arounds but... a second separate HDMI circuit would be a good addition to the design, and helpful to some.  Of course, I'm quibbling on that (when a commercial "box" for perhaps $100 or $200 easily solves that problem)

Ultimately, I'm extremely impressed.  We don't see true full featured commercial projectors here very often, though I would like to also bring in a couple or three each year for review from other commercial brands (ie. Christie).  Back to being impressed.  As regulars know, I mostly keep to reviewing Home Theater projectors, letting my other two reviewers handle almost all of the portable, small fixed install projectors.  For a projector of this capability though, I'm the only one here with familiarity of features like edge blending or SDI, or DICOM (medical imaging), or for that matter, Crestron and AMX room control support (was just visiting Crestron last month). Besides, I like the expensive, high performance projectors - reviewing 5 or 6 2500 to 3500 lumen , seven pound projectors in a row gets really boring.

I really have been trying to determine if this projector has any real weaknesses.  In the real world of high power commercial, including rental and staging, projectors, there are some abilities not found here, but I'm talking about finding any issues - where it has an ability, but doesn't do it that well. The Powerlite Pro Z8450WU, doesn't seem to handle anything it does, (that we could test), less than very well.  Haven't found a poor implementation of anything, nevermind anything that fails at what it's supposed to do.  In fairness, we are not networking people here.  We do not test networking at all, except for wireless features in portable / small install projectors (such as for a classroom).  This Epson offers wireless, but we did not test it. We've seen it work on half a dozen Epson business / education projectors in the past, and it has worked well.  (I have used portable Epson projector's wireless features for my own presenting, over the years.)

A quick search of commercial projector databases will find that there are only a few under $20,000 commercial projectors with native WUXGA resolution and interchangeable lenses. Most cost far more. I have not checked to see if any of those other, under $20,000 projectors offer as wide a feature set, for example, Edge Blending, or SDI.  It is the nature of commercial grade projectors to have lots of capabilities, especially those projectors that target the rental and staging market as these Epsons do.

And that folks, is the bottom line. This Epson Z8450WUNL, with its wide range of powered lenses, healthy 7000 lumens plus, offers an extensive feature set (no one will need them all), a great warranty, and for many, just as important, Epson's reputation for reliability. And no, I never did find a real flaw with this projector's performance. Deciding to bestow our Hot Product award on the Epson Z8450WUNL didn't take a whole lot of time, this Epson projector obviously deserves it.  I didn't have to spend time weighing its overall strengths against any real weaknesses, or missing features.

Down to basics:  If you need WUXGA, and continous operation capabilities (dual lamp), with great image quality, and a price tag of less than $20,000 with lens, this Epson better be on your short list to consider.

Epson Z8450WUNL Projector: Pros

  • Multiple (6) lens capability allows for installation over a wide range of distances from screen including "very short throw" for rear projection - to back of the auditorium ultra long throw, all offer motorized lens shift
  • Excellent color saturation, overall excellent image quality
  • Color Lumens along with White lumens - no color wheel, unlike single chip DLP projectors where a "clear" filter sacrifices color brightness and saturation for a higher "white" lumen claim)
  • Out of the box modes all have at least respectable picture (color) quality, even Dynamic, the brightnest.  Theatre and sRGB are even better.
  • Full calibration controls (rivalling any home theater projector)
  • Excellent warranty (3 years) and support with replacement through Road Service program
  • DICOM simulation mode for medical applications such as presenting X-rays and other medical film (normal everyday projectors are NOT able to do this.
  • Dual lamp operation for minimum/no downtime
  • Extremely bright, measuring well above Epson's 7000 lumen claim.
  • Ability to display presentation without a computer via a USB storage device or over network
  • Support for Crestron RoomView and AMX support (certified)
  • Networking abilities including email notification for maintenance and mechanical problems, as well as presenting from other computers on the network, and a full host of other features
  • When mounted, both lamp and filter can be changed without unmounting the projector
  • More than one projector can be "stacked" for more brightness.
  • Multiple Projector support - A number of Z's can placed with different tilts to create unusual scapes for public display, signage, and a myriad of other unique uses
  • Edge blending allows seamless images that look consistent and continuous, such as creating a panorama with 3 projectors that's 10 feet high and 50 feet wide. Both the image itself and the color should be consistent across all the projectors
  • Considering the feature set, excellent price performance

Epson Z8450WUNL Projector: Cons

  • Lamp life below average compared to most projectors (might be better than a lot of the other auditorium projectors, but not as good as some more basic 4000 - 6000 lumen projectors) Dual lamp use means two lamps going, so the replacement costs are higher than a smaller single lamp projector
  • Has dust filter that must be maintained
  • Despite a good 200 page user manual, many features still lack a good explanation that would help a user understand how to get the best results out of those features
  • A true second, independent HDMI circuit is needed for those wanting to do split screen from two HDMI sources
  • 3D mode capability might be considered a good additional feature, but in fairness, there are much better ways to do 3D with large venue projectors like this one (dual projectors - and passive glasses)

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