Home Theater Projector Pricing Update – Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, BenQ W6000

Greetings all,I’m taking a break from playing with the PT-AE4000 for some pricing updates.As some of you know, there were two real surprises this fall.  First, Optoma introduced the HD20 at $999 (and Vivitek and BenQ also announced their 1080p $999 projectors).   This apparently caused great consternation with other manufacturers.   I know Mitsubishi and Epson weren’t happy to see $999 projectors, and quite likely the pricing decisions of the low cost DLP manufacturers influenced Epson’s and Mitsubishi’s final prices on their Home Cinema 8100 and HC3800 respectively ($1599, and $1495, respectively).That, however was almost minor compared to Panasonic’s late announcement in the US of the PT-AE4000 (which normally would have been announced at CEDIA, but Panasonic held off until most of “last year’s” PT-AE3000s were sold through.So, in October, Panasonic announced the PT-AE4000 at $1999, and shocked everyone.  Most had expected something around last year’s $2499, or maybe a little lower.  (Afterall, the US dollar is in the “toilet”, and has performed poorly compared to the EU or the Yen, in the last year. That makes it tough to drop prices in the US.)That had everyone else scrambling.  Most notably, it got a reaction from Epson who, at CEDIA, had not yet set the price for the Home Cinema 8500UB, beyond “Under $3000”.  Well, in time for our review, Epson assured me that the new price for the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB (scheduled to ship around Thanksgiving) would definitely be “Under $2500”.   (I had figured most likely they would (Panasonic notwithstanding) launch around $2799.Well, the word is out.  The large dealers have now placed their opening orders for the Home Cinema 8500UB, and the news is even better.Yes, the MAP is “Under $2500” (Map is minimum advertised price), in fact $2499, as expected.But, Epson is also launching the 8500UB with a $200 mail-in rebate.  That rebate will be in place at least until 12/31!Bottom line, therefore, is an official “net price” of $2299.$300 more than the Panasonic.  Epson no doubt will leverage their far less expensive cost of operation, to all who will listen.  I’ve mentioned that in the review. Panasonic charges $100 more per lamp, and their lamp has only half the life of the Epson’s at full power.  (Panasonic 2000 hours, Epson 4000 hours).  In other words, for just about everyone, except the very infrequent user, the Epson will actually cost less in the long run.  More to the point, though, is that the two projectors, considering all of that, are now priced roughly comparable, so pricing (other than the benefit of the “$1999” price point), is, from a value standpoint, roughly the same.OK, so that’s how Epson decided to play the pricing game, after the Panasonic price was set at $1999.That brings us to another player – BenQ.  As noted, they already have one of the 3 lowest cost 1080p projectors – their W1000, with a MAP of $999.But, BenQ also has an impressive projector known as the BenQ W6000.  It’s exceptionally bright, has a dynamic iris and very good (though not exceptional) black level performance, has that classic DLP look and feel to it’s image, and is also sharp.BenQ launched at $2799, and just advised me that they have dropped MAP to $2499.And that folks is the latest price positioning, that I am aware of.Hope that helps as you count the pennies, and try to figure out which projector to spend them on.  -art

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