Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB – CFI – Creative Frame Interpolation Final

Greetings all,

OK, I’m a bit late on this one, but finally ready to put the CFI issue to rest.

For those new, I’ve written a number of blogs on creative frame interpolation, and some of the issues.  Of the four projectors we’ve seen with CFI, Epson had some problems, which have been discussed. Epson has just released their new firmware, to deal with the issues. This blog looks at the performance of the new firmware in terms of creative frame interpolation, and also talks about the process of upgrading.

Below I’ll discuss the  Epson Home Cinema 6500UB (click for review) and Pro Cinema 7500 UB‘s 1.09 firmware, how to upgrade to it, and what you can expect.

There are too many modes (3: low, normal high), times too many types of source material (24fps, 24fps over 60, standard 720p and 1080i, standard DVD, standard TV etc.) to play with them all, but I believe I have most of the answers – or at least my opinions on what most people are asking.

First, How to upgrade your 6500 UB or 7500 UB:  (Sorry international folks, I don’t have a handle on what Epson is doing in the UK or elsewhere with the TW5000 etc.  If you know please post.)

I do know Epson is sending out firmware upgrades.  They apparently, alternately offer to take back your projector and send out a replacement (not necessarily new, but none are that old).

To send it in, call Epson – your PrivateLine phone number is best.  (It came with your projector on a credit card sized card).  With their replacement program they pay all the freight.

If you want to tackle it yourself, ask for the firmware upgrade.  I discuss that in more depth, below.

Creative Frame Interpolation v. 109

My take is that Epson concentrated on two things:  Improving the performance of the Low setting, and changing the way their creative frame interpolation works with a 24fps source. (ie. most Blu-ray movies)

The CFI Low setting is what you are going to want to use for just about everything except gaming. Epson recommends Normal and Hi for video games, but that’s it.

Note, if you are one of those who really likes that “live digital video” “soap opera” “extreme depth” look on some content, then rest assured, it is still there in the High setting and to a lesser extent, Normal. -art

When watching 24fps, Epson’s Low setting now works well.  Side by side it performs about the same as the Panasonic in Mode 1.  Both projectors provide visibly smoother motion when the camera is panning.  Artifacts (which all CFI seem to exhibit) are much less frequent and normally below our radar. I’ve watched a number of movies and like it.  There is the slightest difference in the feel of the picture, compared to no CFI, but that has to be expected.  If you liked the “live digital video” or “soap opera” look that the older firmware had, you can still have it in the Normal and High settings.

The major thing that Epson did, was switch their handling of 24fps to 96, instead of 120.  They are now creating 3 frames instead of 4, between every two.  That’s just fine.  They also did that to Normal and High as well as Low.

24fps over 1080i 60 – HD movies coming over 1080i.  This is still a problem.  Epson strips back the 60 to 24fps (reversing the 3:2 pull-down), before doing the creative.  Even the Low setting has a lot of artifacts and still is jerky.  Forget it.  If you want to watch movies over HDTV, you’ll want to turn CFI off.  Epson continued to go from 24fps to 120.

Standard 1080i 60 – The Low setting is improved here as well.  Less artifacts.  This is the easiest mode – only creating one frame between each pair.  Works very well.

Epson says it has done things in Normal and High modes that make them better in terms of artifacts, but fundamentally, they work as before.

I watched sports on HDTV – NBA playoffs, in both Low and Normal.  I could spot a bit more artifacts in Normal, and preferred Low.  I can see this as a personal choice, however.  The difference between Low and Off is noticeable.

In summary, Epson, I believe, has made their CFI competitive with that of the few other projectors to offer it so far.

It still doesn’t cope well with 24fps movies over 1080i, but, then, for example, Panasonic doesn’t strip back to 24, so still has the 3:2 judder when they tackle that combination. (In that case, if you insist on using CFI, the Panasonic is the better of the two.

GETTING THE FIRMWARE UPGRADE:

Epson is sending out firmware 1.09. It consists of a pdf with pretty good (and pretty complete) instructions, those of you pretty comfortable with installing things should not have trouble.  There are three others – zip files including an app that has to be renamed from .eee to .exe.

BTW, no Mac solution.  That made my life more difficult, I’m a bit rusty with PC’s.

Cables are going to needed.  You can download the firmware into the Epson by serial cable, or of your PC doesn’t have one, from USB.  For the USB solution, that requires probably installing a USB-Serial driver on your PC.  Epson provides links to two sites with usable drivers.  Downloading was very straightforward.  I only tried out the second site they listed.

SERIAL:

You will need to find a serial to serial cable (standard DB9 connectors), female on both ends, or if you can only find a male to female, then you’ll need a gender changer.  My local Radio Shack had only the male to female ($19.99) and a gender changer ($9.99).  You will also need a null modem adapter.  That was $10.99.  Conceivably you could find the right cable wired for null modem, but probably only at a place like Fry’s.

USB:

Ok, our two PCs don’t have serial ports, so I used a USB to Serial cable ($34.99 – at Radio Shack).  Again, I needed the gender changer, and null modem adapter.

When it came to configuring the serial port, I got lost, or at least lazy.  I called Epson.  The support person walked me right through it, in a couple of minutes.  He knew his stuff.

Oh, please note, upgrading the projector flushes out everything – all your settings, even lamp life, so write everything down.

Bottom line – it’s doable for those that get along fairly well with computers.  At worst, get the cables you need, get ready, and let Epson walk you through it.  That’s a good plan.

Finally!  I’ll let you guys chat over your own findings, and share opinions.  This is an area where subjective choice comes into play.  I know that some find CFI to have a much larger impact on their viewing, than it does for me.

OK, that’s it.

Now I’ve got to start my Sony VW70 first look blog.  -art

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