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The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB Projectors - The Eagle has Landed

UPDATE: The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB projector review has been posted. Greetings all,

The Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB - should be impressive!

No, this isn't a first look blog.  Just a quick announcement, to let you all know that I just received, last night, a Pro Cinema 9500UB projector - an engineering sample, fresh from Japan. It came in yesterday afternoon.  I got Mike to do a quick "rush job", picking up the projector, calibrating it and getting it back to me later in the evening.  I'm just about to fire it up for the first time.  I took off last night to go hear Bob Dylan (and his band) perform in a nice, relatively small venue in LA (the Palladium for you locals).  Awesome concert, btw!  I would highly recommend catching him.  Great music, great musicians (including Charlie Sexton on guitar).  Don't miss. But, back to the Epson home theater projectors.  I expect the full review to post on Wednesday October 21st! I'm going to start viewing shortly in my main theater, as I'm pretty sure there's a Thursday night college game on, in HD, and want to view it for sports, before it gets dark out here. Then, next, likely a couple of quick movie segments, also in the main theater - where I'll just kick back and relax, and likely  switch back and forth between the Pro Cinema 9500UB and my JVC RS20, but mostly to just watch the content, and see if anything about the Epson "jumps out" and shouts to me (good or bad). Finally, I'll drag it into the testing room late tonight.  I'll start playing with the new CFI, probably, and their split screen setup (probably not too different than the Panasonics have had since the PT-AE1000), and other features.  Primarily though I'll do some side by side viewing with the older Home Cinema 6500UB, so I can weigh in on black levels, iris action, etc. I'll try to publish a First Look blog on the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB tomorrow evening! But!!!! since you've read this far down the blog, here's a reward:  I just looked at the Epson post calibration numbers. Mike further calibrated the THX setting (best mode) - and the result is perhaps the best 20 - 100 ire measurements we've ever had, in terms of how close and consistent to D65 it gets.  From 20 to 100 IRE, the lowest measured temp was 6449K, the highest 6543K - less than a 100K difference, with 8 of the nine measurements within 61K!!! For those of you not familiar, the Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB projectors are basically identical.  The key differences:
  • 8500UB comes finished in white, the 9500UB in a charcoal gray
  • 8500UB comes with a 2 year warranty, with 2 year replacement program, the 9500UB has 3 years and a 3 year replacement program
  • 8500UB does not support an anamorphic lens, the 9500UB projector does
  • Some of the preset modes are different
  • Both are now officially THX certified, joining only JVC and perhaps one or two other projectors in the under $10,000 range (most Runcos and Vidikrons (typically $20K and up) are THX certified, for example)
  • Not sure (yet), but I believe the Pro version is, like the 7500UB it replaces, ISF certified, if that's the case, the 8500UB won't be ISF (the Home Cinema versions never have been)
  • Price and distribution - the Home Cinema 8500UB sold by select online authorized dealers, big box houses, and local installing dealers, the Pro Cinema 9500UB is sold only buy authorized local installing dealers.  The Pro is priced higher
Since I mentioned THX above.  I thought I'd share this question Mike sent me, after he measured and calibrated: "THX certification really adds up to accurate colors and grayscale." BTW, although I received the 9500UB, I'll mostly be referring to the 8500UB going forward.  When Epson sends me a production unit, that will be an 8500UB.  This focus in the reviews on the 8500UB is simply tied to search engine related strategies (since the 8500UB will be the bigger seller).   I'll of course point out any potential differences.  When the review is finalized, it will probably be set up as an 8500UB review, with an attached one pager about the differences between the two. OK we're about to find out how good the black levels are on the first home theater projector (non CRT) to claim 200,000:1 contrast.  Like the Home Cinema 8100, which we just reviewed, the Pro Cinema 9500UB and Home Cinema 8500UB got a big increase in contrast. With the 8100, that was mostly due to the iris, and per Epson, contrast doubled.  With the UB however, contrast almost triples, so there's something else going on as well.  Who knows - black levels may be even more outstanding, and perhaps even challenge somewhat, the more expensive JVCs. I could conjecture on some more, but the sooner I finish this blog, the sooner I start viewing the Epson, and getting you the First Look impressions. Racers -  Start your engines! I'm on it! -art

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