Projector Reviews

Defocus time again – Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, et. al.

Greetings everyone!

OK, time to weigh back in on the Epson, and for that matter general issue of projector focus.

I’m about ready to bury this issue.  For Epson owners and those considering – they have a fix.  How good, I don’t know, as I haven’t seen one, but I’ll take their word that they have reduced the issue to what should be relative insignificance (by my standards).  Below I’ll discuss two things – defocusing and also edge to edge focus.  Then I’ll get back to the Epsons.

First things first.  I’ve had a chance to view a half dozen projectors, in addition to the Epson 6500UB and 6100, in the last few weeks.  All but two show some visible measure of defocusing. In none of the projectors (including the Epsons I have here) is the issue severe.  In no cases was the defocus obvious with casual observing.  If you are looking for it, yes you can spot it, primarily looking at menus up close, rather than normal content.

The projector that showed the least defocusing turned out to be a Panasonic PT-AE3000, but up close, even that projector showed a very small amount.  The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 showed more than one of the Epson’s I have here, and just a little less than the other.  And so it went, with projectors including the Sony HW10, the JVC RS20 (2nd least amount of de-focus).  The InFocus IN83 is perhaps the sharpest projector here, but even it defocused very slightly (but still appears sharper than any of the others).

The two Epsons I have here (6500UB and 6100) show different amounts of defocus.  I have found the amount of defocusing on the 6500UB to be very minor, and a non-issue.  The 6100, by comparison exhibits more, but still less than most people would ever notice except when looking at a menu, or some digital signage. Still, it is enough that a few might object.  There have been other folks (including Evan), with units noticeably worse than the two I have (we have compared images).

One thing I’d like to mention is this.  In most cases, more significant than defocusing is the evenness of focus across the entire image.  You can pick any of the projectors I’ve mentioned so far, do a perfect focus in the center of the screen, and then look at the sides and corners, and you will always see some softness, typically more than any defocusing causes. Those that mount their projector relatively close to the screen will have even more difference in sharpness across the screen.  (We recommend that you set your projector’s focus to be at it’s sharpest about 1/3 out from the center, for the best overall focus across the entire screen.)

I guess the point is, that one should consider overall sharpness, rather than individual aspects.  Some will be better than others, but with most 1080p projectors, the image you get still is going to look nice and sharp.

OK, back to the Epson projectors, since this is where the whole discussion started.  Epson tells me that their new projectors turn out to have had an internal hot spot in terms of heat, and when they warmed up, it was causing the lens assembly to be affected.  A few days ago they advised that they have modified one of the components (a flange of sorts) around the lens, and that nicely deals with the problem.  By the time you read this, Epson should already have the modified design in most dealer’s inventories.

Whether this makes the issue go away completely, or simply reduces it to a level where it is no longer worthy of any consideration, I don’t know.  We’ll see, as the newer units end up in people’s hands, and I get more feedback from owners.

Perhaps most important to those of you who have already bought an Epson or are considering one:

Epson management was very clear in that they will take care of any owner who is not satisfied.  I don’t know how they are handling things specifically, but they do have their replacement program, and knowing them, any unit they send out as a replacement will have that flange (or whatever it is) upgrade implemented.

Bottom line:  If you do buy an Epson, and should it have a de-focus issue of enough significance that it bothers you, Epson intends to take care of the problem.

OK, enough!  Any readers that have a significant defocus problem going forward from now, let me know how Epson handles it.  Thanks -art