Projector Reviews

Home Cinema 1080: Black Level and Shadow Detail – 2

Epson Ensemble HD Home Cinema 1080 projector

(Note, all four images below are the same. Clicking on each brings up the higher resolution, and overexposed versions that allows you to compare shadow detail abilities in the dark areas. Look to the roof tiles, and the trees on the left.)

Shadow Detail Performance

Epson Ensemble HD Home Cinema 1080 projector
Sony VPL-VW40 projector
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB projector
Mitsubishi HC5500 projector

These next two images are found in almost all recent reviews. Click for large, and seriously overexposed versions of the thumbnails. You can look to the dark areas of the shed on the right, plants along the bottom, and the wood structure on the left, to compare shadow detail.

Lastly, here’s a shot from the black and white beginning of Casino Royale. The image is intentionally overexposed, so you can make out the details in the furniture, especially on the back wall. This same image can be found in most reviews done in the last year.

Shadow Detail Performance Slideshow

Epson Home Cinema 1080 Projector: Sharpness

The sharpness of the included Home Cinema 1080 is about average for 1080p projectors. There are definitely a number that are sharper, and a few, not quite as sharp. While sharper is better, keep in mind, that the Epson doing a nice clear 1080i signal from your cable or satellite box, something shot digitally, like football, or the Olympics, is still going to appear visibly sharper than a movie, originally shot with film, even on slightly sharper projectors. That is to say, movies from film are inherently less sharp than a pure 1080 digital source.

The Epson looked fantastic while watching hours of the Olympics, although I could go into the other theater and see that the InFocus IN83 (currently in use there), is sharper. I also know from experience, that my own projector, the JVC DLA-RS1, which just a year ago, was considered by most reviewers to be the best overall home theater projector under $10,000, isn’t quite as sharp as the Epson. So there!

Bottom line: There are sharper projectors, but the Epson looks great. Again, the “hard core” enthusiast seeking perfection in all areas, might have a bit of a problem with the sharpness, but millions of potential buyers will not!

I’ve got a car analogy for you. I own an Infiniti G35. When I bought it there was a second “sportier” version that was slightly faster. When it comes to cars (I also own a Mazda Miata, so, you can believe that I really do enjoy driving), my G35 with its 0-60 mph, in under 6 seconds, is just fine by me.

When it comes to the Epson’s sharpness, it’s like my G35’s acceleration – sure you can do better. The question is, is it important, especially since this projector, like my Infiniti, is a strong performer to begin with!

The DTS test disc main menu is a good test of sharpness

Epson Ensemble HD Home Cinema 1080
Sony VPL-VW60
Panasonic PT-AE2000U
Sanyo PLV-2000
Optoma HD8000
InFocus IN82

A close-up of the monitor image in Space Cowboys

Epson Ensemble HD
InFocus IN82
Optoma HD81-LV

Bottom Line Sharpness

Good for the 1080p class of projectors but definitely not the sharpest. The fact that live 1080i broadcasts appear a little sharper than Blu-ray 1080p movies, just makes the point that with movies from film, there is enough loss of sharpness due to film grain and resolution, that movies can’t push the Epson enough for it to be considered an issue. HDTV looks stunning. Yes there is sharper, but unless you get to play with projectors like I do, you’ll almost certainly never miss that last few percent of sharpness.