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Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: First Look

Greetings all, I know at least a few of you have been patiently waiting for this

The Epson Home Cinema 6100 - lots of bang for your buck!

Epson Home Cinema 6100 projector blog, and almost all of you who are, have probably read the review of the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.   With that in mind, I'm going to keep this short.  For many points I may refer you to the 6500UB projector review on the site. OK, what have we here - the Epson 6100 is a $1999 MSRP projector, so most of you (in the US) will be paying a little less than that.   Some basics: 4000 hour lamp, in bright or low lamp modes Very bright, Nothing I can think of is brighter in "brightest mode" without spending twice the price or more. Of course, as an LCD home theater projector it's got great placement flexibility, slightly better than most of the other LCD projectors, in fact. Audible Noise is average - there are much quieter, and noticeably noisier.  For example the also very bright Optoma HD806 which is a little noisier than the average DLP home projector, is far noisier when both are at full power.    Menus, and the remote, are both very good.  The menus are almost identical to the 6500UB, or for that matter the older Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, if you want to see what the menus look like (the 6500UB menu section isn't up yet as of today). The Epson 6100 is very sharp.  Not the absolute sharpest, but like the 6500UB, it is solidly in the "very sharp" group as opposed to the "average sharpness" group - of 1080p projectors. Black levels - very interesting.  I've already reviewed all the new ultra high contrast LCD projectors (Sanyo Z3000, Epson 6500UB, Mitsubishi HC7000 and Panasonic PT-AE3000), of which, the Epson does the best blacks.  The Sanyo had the weakest blacks of those four. Since the old entry level Epson 1080 projector, the Home Cinema 1080, was pretty good at blacks, and since the 6100 has a better contrast spec, I wondered whether it might get close to the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 - the least expensive of the ultra high contrast projectors. After viewing side by side, no, the Epson cannot match the Sanyo.  Due to differences in how the dynamic irises are setup, the Sanyo's lamp control, etc. different scenes do yield slightly different results.  The Epson is one of the better "non ultra" projectors in black level performance, but futher, say, from the Sanyo, than the Sanyo is to the Panasonic or Mitsubishi.  the Epson UB puts a lot more distance between it and the Sanyo in black level performance, so the Sanyo might be just a little better than half way between the two Epsons.  Let's say the slight more expensive Sanyo is a small step up in this regard, but there are many other factors, and many favor the 6100, starting with the probable $300 lower selling price for the Epson. It's hard not to like the 6100.  It really does everything very well.  With no frame interpolation, unlike the Epson 6500UB, that translates into no real issues. Brightness is virtually identical to the 6500UB, just a tad brighter.  We know our metering tends to produce 15% higher lumen readings than some other reviewers, still, Mike measured 2057 lumens in Dynamic mode!  TheaterBlack1, clocked in at 687 lumens uncalibrated, and 675 calibrated.  LivingRoom mode cranked out 1581 lumens, and does it very well, in terms of color fidelity. Mike reports that the Epson 6100 projector calibrated easier than the 6500UB, but that could be caused, by?? - well lamp variation could account for that.  Bottom line, Mike got a more perfect grayscale balance with the 6100. I favor the iris on the fast setting, as with the 6500UB.  I didn't play with the normal mode much, but the fast mode seems to be pretty unobtrusive, better than most. If you are short on the bucks, or just don't care enough about getting a projector with the "next" level of black level performance, the Epson looks real good.  Of the LCD projectors it is the brightest - in both best and brightest modes.  Oh, the Optoma HD806 creams the Epson in best mode, with over twice the lumens, but I ran the two side by side, with the Epson on LivingRoom setting, and it was about the same brightness as the HD806, but even in LivingRoom mode, it bested the Optoma for black levels, and that was with the Optoma's dynamic iris engaged - it's a really noisy one, so much so, that I could not engage it and enjoy movie watching.  By comparison the Mitsubishi HC5500 is about as bright in best mode, but only about half the brightness in brightest mode.  The Sanyo Z700 is much dimmer in best, and about 2/3 the brightness in "brightest" mode.  The Panasonic PT-AE3000?  Well, it's more a competitor of the 6500UB (but about $300 less than the UB).  It also can't match the 6100's brightness in either mode, but is definitely a step up projector.   The Optoma is the only DLP I have here other than the IN83 (over twice the price).   It would have been interesting to see where the Epson 6100 falls, relative to the two BenQ's (W5000 and W20000).  My guess is it can hold its own with the W20000, which is a lot more expensive.  I could discuss the LCoS projectors, but basically on the Sony HW10 comes even within $1000 (if it does), but it's competition is the 6500UB. I'm pretty certain that the 6100 bests the lower cost Sanyo - the PLV-Z700, as well as the Mitsubishi HC5500 in black levels, though it can't be by a great deal.   Bottom line- hard go wrong with this Epson projector.  While, like other Epson's I don't consider it the most "film-like" it is good, and the trade-off is a nicely dynamic image - a bit more "wow" and "pop" than most of the competition offers. That's it for tonight!  Need sleep - it's 3:29am  PS, will try to have the whole review posted by next Monday. -art

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