The image above, of Gandalf, is from Lord of Rings (SD-DVD), and shows the excellent skin tones (after adjustments) in the Theatre Black 1 mode (best).
The Home Cinema 1080UB is a superb projector. Despite being impressed with a preview of it, at CEDIA, back in September, I can say that upon working with the Home Cinema 1080UB, it easily exceeded my rather high expectations. While I don't take contrast ratios too seriously any more (it used to be a great way to estimate black level performance, but no more), the UB has an industry best 50,000:1 contrast ratio.
It is the first of the 3LCD powered home theater projectors that really outperforms most of the competition, both LCD, and DLP, in terms of those highly sought after, excellent black level capabilities. Add to that brightness, placement flexibility, and a sharp image with rich saturated colors. The UB thanks to the excellent black levels is more than just a replacement for the Home Cinema 1080, it moves the projector up into a whole different class of performance!
I believe Epson, with its new D7 C2Fine LCD panels, has taken the performance of 3LCD projectors to new levels with the Home Cinema 1080UB.
I should note, at this point, that in addition to the Home Cinema version, there is also a Pro Cinema 1080UB. It is more expensive, is sold only through local, installing dealers, comes in a black finish, is ISF certified (unlike the Home Cinema 1080UB), has an extra year (3rd year) warranty, and comes with a ceiling mount and spare lamp. At the time of this review, the Home Cinema 1080UB is $2999 less a $200 mail in rebate, while the Pro Cinema 1080UB, is $3999, but includes the extra's mentioned above.
People, this is going to be one of those rare, "rave reviews" that I write. I may find virtue in a lot of projectors, but few really get me excited. While many of you notice that I give out a lot of Hot Product Awards, that's to be expected, as the criteria for the Award, is that a projector "must be the best projector for at least a small, but significant segment of the home theater projector buyers. Thus one projector receiving the award might have the best overall picture, but not be bright enough for many. Another getting it might come in short a little on the picture quality, compared to the first one, but be significantly brighter, thus a better choice for others, and a third projector might be comparable to the second one, but have more placement flexibility, so becomes the best choice for those needing bright, but can't use the 2nd one because it won't position in their room. You get the idea.
In the summary section, I'll also provide some brief thoughts on how the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB compares with the Panasonic PT-AE2000U, Mitsubishi HC4900 and HC6000, Optoma HD81, HD80, HD8000, and HD81-LV DLP 1080p projectors, as well as the Sanyo Z2000, JVC RS1 and RS2, and finally, the Sony VW50 and VW60.
In February, we'll be producing our comprehensive 1080p projector comparison report. In that, we'll further compare projectors, and also award Best in Class and Runner-up rewards, selected from those having received Hot Product Awards, to further help you sort things out.