Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, Pro Cinema 7500UB, TW5000, Frame Interpolation

Greetings!

Had two meetings at CES with the folks at Epson.  The first was a general one, but the second one, was completely focused on the frame interpolation issues that I have been discussing in these blogs.  We looked at the same material on both the Epson Home 6500UB, and a Panasonic PT-AE3000.  The meeting included engineers from Epson Japan.

We looked at the “live digital video” look to movies when frame interpolation is engaged, the occasional jerkiness, and other artifacts.  Yes, the Epson performed worse than the Panasonic in several modess, although one could see many of the same issues with the Panasonic Mode 1 (for frame interpolation), as with the Epson with frame interpolation on.  We did not have time to play with Panasonic’s Mode 2, which I rarely used, as it too has a lot of that “live digital video” look.  Definitely we saw more issues with the Epson, but the Panasonic too, (as does the Sanyo PLV-Z3000), also has some issues, just not as significant.

The Epson team was very receptive.  I learned that their frame interpolation comes from Pixelworks (most of the other image processing is from Silicon Optix.  We worked with the Epson and Panasonic side-by-side, trying the different 4:4, frame interpolation modes, watching for artifacts on one, then the other, repeatedly.  Overall, the meeting, the sole focus of which, was on the frame interpolation issue, ran about two hours, mostly viewing, and Epson making notes.  No question that they saw what we have all been discussing!  We worked 24fps input at 4:4 and creative frame interpolation modes, as well as having the Blu-ray player with 24fps turned off so we could see how they performed with a 30/60 source.  The one area we did not get a chance to look at, (due to a lack of a HD cable or satellite feed), was movie watching with a 1080i input, but, of a movie being broadcast over the 1080i.  I presume that means that the broadcaster is doing a 3:2 pulldown on the original 24fps movie, before broadcasting as 1080i.  This also produced jerkiness, in my testing, and we noted this so they could investigate later.

I expect to be updated over the next several weeks as Epson further investigates, and decides what, if anything, they plan to do. I intend to stay “in the middle of this”, and will communicate more info as I receive it from Epson.

Myself, for now, I’ll stick with my original take on the whole frame interpolation thing – that there are benefits to it being done right, but even so, there will always be issues.  Forgetting the occasional jerkiness, etc., these projectors with frame interpolation, all do, to some extent change the feel of the content.  And that raises the issue of whether features like this destroy the director’s intent.  That “live digital video” look (like a live video feed on an HD news program, or as someone pointed out – the look of a TV soap opera), is definitely different than without frame interpolation.  If the director knew what we are now seeing with any of these, would they be happy?

One consideration.  If frame interpolation smooths out some of the motion, is it making original high speed action, seem more tame, less “action” than the director’s intent.  If so, with this technology in hand, would the director have shot a scene the same way, or put more “energy” into the scene, to compensate what frame interpolation may be taking out.  We shall see what happens over time, as frame interpolation becomes a more popular feature in projectors and LCDTV/Plasmas.

My own take on Epson is that they are very focused on customer satisfaction.  I expect we will hear some encouraging response, though let’s not expect it immediately.  I’ll still stick with my initial belief of the  Home Cinema 6500UB’s performance:  Rather excellent overall, despite the frame interpolation issues.  Forgetting the frame interpolation for a moment, consider the 6500UB, the 7500UB and the international version, the TW5000, to be improved 1080 UB projectors – sharper, slightly better blacks, a little more brightness, and a doubling of the lamp life in full power mode.  That makes it a top performing projector even if you never engage any of the frame interpolation schemes.  -art