Epson Ensemble HD 6500UB, 6100, and new pricing Posted on June 29, 2009 By Lisa Feierman UPDATE: The Ensemble HD Review has been posted. Greetings all, This blog will be short (well, short for something I write)! I’ve already posted an article on the new configurations of the Ensemble HD, and the new pricing. The long and short of it is this: The Ensemble HD continues to be the only fully integrated projector based home theater system on the market. And one designed for a quick and easy installation! As such, what are now three different models, have no direct competition. They do, however, “compete” with systems put together by folks piece by piece, making separate decisions on projector, AV receiver, 5.1 surround sound speaker systems, programmable remotes, etc. For those not up to the challenge of getting knowledgeable about each of those products, the Ensemble HD provides a solution that’s pretty straightforward, and offers excellent performance. One of the more brilliant aspects of the Ensemble concept is the ease of installation. With the front left/center/right speakers built into the motorized 100 inch screen casing, the rear speakers in the projector cradle, and provide wiring channels that can be quickly mounted, and painted with your ceiling or wall paint to blend in, a full installation is typically about 5 hours or less. In other words, going that route you might save a couple thousand dollars compared to a full installation of separate components where you end up opening the walls and ceiling to run the wires, and all that entails. Here’s what’s new for 2009: First, the entry level version – the Ensemble HD 720, remains the same product. The only notworthy difference is the drop in price from $4999 to $4699. $300 isn’t a whole lot, but, every bit helps. Far more significant, the old Ensemble HD 1080 which featured the Home Cinema 1080 projector has been replaced by the Ensemble HD 6100. The 6100 projector is the replacement for the old 1080, and is a bit brighter, has higher contrast, slightly improved black levels and a few other minor changes. The biggest news for this transition is pricing. The old Ensemble HD 1080 cost $6999, while the new improved version drops a whopping $1000 to $5999. Finally, for those into performance, Epson corrected what was in my opinion, a mistake, which was not to offer a version of the Ensemble HD last year featuring their ultra-high contrast 1080 UB projector. Problem solved with the introduction of the Ensemble HD 6500UB. You can now have the top of the line version (of the Home Cinema lineup) for $100 less than the old 1080 – for $6899. You get a dramatically higher performance projector for less than last years model. For the 6100 and 6500UB, you also get another dollar saving benefit – These new Epson’s offer lamps that are rated 4000 hours in high power mode, compared to 1700 on the older ones (and the 720). In the long run, that will save many hundreds of dollars. That’s about it! With the lower prices, and the 6500UB projector option, I’m an even bigger fan of the Ensemble HD now. (And I do own the old 1080 version, which is my “2nd theater.” The Ensemble HD is installed in my testing room (had to move out a file cabinet, and add a small futon/sofa.) Check out the more in-depth “mini-review” of the new Ensemble HD systems on our main site.