Projector Reviews

Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Best in Class Awards for 2010-8

Special Interest Awards

I ended up very pleased with my award choices for this Mid-Priced class. That said, like last year, in this class, I thought I’d look at some “local dealer only” projectors to see if any qualified for an award, despite the higher prices. Last year there were two, this year, pretty much, the same two. Interestingly, this year’s Special Interest award winner from Epson, is the replacement projector for the one that won, last year. The other winner last year was the Mitsubishi HC7000, which remains in the Mitsubishi line-up this year. It’s still just as good a projector, but, it is less competitive than last year. Nonetheless, the HC7000 has a quality picture, and is sufficiently different from our other winners as to still be one of the very best projectors at its price, for people requiring its particular strengths.

Special Interest Award: Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB

See Art's Video Summary of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, 9500UB review

Epson continues to manufacture two versions of their “UB” projector (for the US market) The Home Cinema 8500UB, which received our Best In Class award, has already been discussed. Our Special Interest award winner from Epson is their Pro Cinema 9500UB. For the most part, they are the same projector, with a handful of differences, to, quite honestly “differentiate” them, so that local dealers won’t necessarily lose a projector sale to an online retailer.

Epson’s Pro Cinema 8500UB offers these “extras”, in exchange for pricing that is about $1200 higher.

Internal support for an anamorphic lens and sled. If you want to go with a Cinemascope screen (2.35:1) to eliminate letterboxing on Cinemascope (most) movies, the 8500UB makes more sense than the lower cost 8500UB (which lacks built in support). The lower cost 8500UB would need an external scaler (figure about $800 – $2000, depending on the brand, features). The Pro Cinema 9500UB, by comparison, is “ready to go”, just add anamorphic lens, and set up.

Black finish instead of white. For those doing fancier theaters – with darkened ceilings, that’s a plus, aesthetically, when the lights are on, and the projector is off.

The Pro Cinema 9500UB is ISF certified – which means two extra memory modes (the Epson already has plenty), but reserved (by password) for a professional calibrator to use. Nice, but not a really big deal!

An extra year of warranty (three total) and Epson’s replacement program for all three years (instead of two). That should be worth a few hundred extra for most buyers.

Spare lamp and mount: The 9500UB comes with a spare lamp (we value that at $299), and a ceiling mount (figure worth $100 for those planning to ceiling mount, or worth nothing to those planning to place on a shelf.)

Subtract out the value of the warranty, lamp and mount, and the 9500UB likely costs only about $700 more than a 8500UB. For that extra, you should be getting a healthy amount of local dealer support that should really be appreciated by those who are of the “I want to enjoy my theater, not build it” crowd.

The things we like most, however about the Epson Home Cinema 9500UB remain unchanged for the Pro Cinema 7500UB:

  • Superb black level performance – best in class in this price range.
  • Brightness – the 9500UB is brighter than any other 3LCD projector, in both “best” and “brightest” modes, and while some non-3LCD projectors are brighter in their best modes, only two in this class can beat the Epson’s brightest mode output
  • A dynamic looking image – lots of “wow factor”
  • Long life lamp – rated 4000 hours (full and low power), which can save some real dollars compared to most projectors claiming 2000/3000 (or less).

Bottom line: Working with your local dealer to put a really nice “theater” setup in your home? The Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB is about as good as you will find for its price, with local support from an installing dealer. It is also one of the brightest, a real plus for those who just need to watch some content with significant ambient light present.