Best In Class 2D Only: Best Value Proposition Epson Home Cinema 8350
Price changes are key to this Epson projector winning this award. A year ago, the HC8350 (click for full review), now a projector on the market over 3 years, sold for around $1200. Today it's typically $899 or slightly less.
This has been Epson's workhorse, volume projector, which is why it doesn't seem to go away. I haven't seen any numbers of late, but I believe a year ago, it was Epson's best selling home projector despite, better, newer, more expensive models.
Brightness is respectable, well better than average, with only really the newer Epson and Panasonic 3LCD projectors being significantly brighter. The HC8350 (click for specifications) measured 467 lumens calibrated, hardly spectacular of course. But the strength of this Epson is that it has far, far, more lumens while still retaining pretty good color. That's where the HC8350 "shines. At mid-point on the zoom, the Epson's Dynamic mode left as is, measured 1378 lumens and is definitely watchable, but Mike's "Quick-Cal" of Dynamic was much improved and still measured 1240 lumens, still enough to outmuscle just about every DLP in this class. Flat out, Dynamic, zoom in wide angle, the Epson tops out at 1640 lumens. It may not be a match for the newer HC3020, but it's not too far behind, either, and considering it doesn't need a ton of lumens for 3D, plenty bright.
Hardware wise, the Epson's pretty impressive and solid. Placing it in your theater or family room should be as close to simple as possible with a 2.1:1 zoom lens, and at least as much lens shift as you'll find anywhere else, far more than most.
The remote is really nice, the 2 year warranty with two year replacement program may not be the longest, but it is the most complete, and should be the most hassle free, should you be unfortunate to have a warranty issue.
At it's new lower price point, the HC8350 should be getting some interest from hard core gamers. We never tested the HC8350 back then for lag times, but with both of our "gamer bloggers" owning HC8xxx projectors that should behave the same, expect 50 ms or under. (1/20th of a second lag).
The Epson's new lower street price, solid design, very good color, dynamic iris for reasonably good black level performance for a family room type environment, and capable (if lacking ultra-high contrast blacks) in a dedicated home theater. The Home Cinema 8350 sells for 1/3 less than just a year ago. That tends to make for a great value proposition.