for home theater are no longer just for the wealthy. Several new models have proven
that high quality 1080p video is now available for the masses. Epson's latest
PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 is an example of how LCD technology has been
able to penetrate the projector market with impressive specifications and performance.
The new Home Cinema 1080 is such a projector and is capable of delivering an astonishing
native 1080p (1920x1080) resolution using a trio of 0.7" LCD panels. More
impressive is the price at which they can do it. Epson has recently broken the
$2500 price point with this unit. The Home Cinema 1080 comes with amazing specifications
including an output of 1200 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 12000:1 with the
dynamic iris sourced from a 170W E-TORL lamp. The projector has a cooling system
with the exhaust exiting the front panel. The exit port has angled fins that direct
the hot air away from the projected light. The fan can be audible when the projector
is set to higher output levels.
innovative technologies are at the heart of the Epson Home Cinema 1080 projector.
The C2Fine 3LCD technology is responsible for the high resolution and accurate
colors produced by the Cinema 1080. The proprietary Twin Optimized Reflective
Lamp (E-TORL) produces maximum brightness and color uniformity across the screen.
The 1080 Perfect video processing (by Pixelworks) provides full HD 1080p
performance with 24 frames-per-second with 10-bit color processing and the latest
HDMI 1.3 compatibility. The HDMI input supports Deep Color to help eliminate false
contouring and features the latest xvYCC enhanced color. AbsoluteBlack
technology and Auto Iris Control produces the richest and deepest blacks, with
up to 12,000:1 contrast ratio. The Precision-crafted OptiCinema lens with
a 2.1x optical zoom produces a uniform corner to corner image with minimal flaring
or distortion. Large 100" pictures can be projected from as little as 9.8-feet
away. The result is an amazing picture with attributes found in some of the best
The back of the Powerlite Home Cinema 1080 has a variety of
interconnects. There is one HDMI port, one YPbPr component input, one 15-pin VGA
port, one composite video port, one s-video port, one RS-232c, and one D4/SCART
(used primarily in Japan) connection. An IEC power jack and switch are near the
bottom of the unit. A 12 volt trigger output is available for use with a control
system or can be used to raise or lower a motorized screen. An IR receiver is
located on both the front and back of the unit to maximize reception from the
The composite and s-video inputs are compatible with NTSC, NTSC4.43, PAL, PAL-M,
PAL-N, PAL60, and SECAM. The component and HDMI input can handle standard definition
(480i, 625i, 480p, 625p) and high definition (720p, 1080i, and 1080p) formats.
The RGB input supports most standard PC formats including the standard and high
definition formats supported by the HDMI input.
chassis of the Cinema 1080 blends nicely with its smooth contours. The projector
is far more attractive than some of the rectangular boxes we have seen. We mounted
the Home Cinema 1080 using a Peerless PRG Series Projector
Ceiling Mount with the Spider® Universal Adapter Plate. The lens assembly
has two adjustment rings, the inner for Zoom and the outer for Focus.
The top of the projector (or bottom if mounted inverted as in our case) has the
horizontal and vertical lens shift controls. This is critical in getting the image
on the screen correctly positioned without introducing any geometric distortions.
Since it is not always easy to mount the projector in the optimal position due
to existing stud placement in the house, the lens shift feature is used to correctly
position the image on the screen.
horizontal and vertical lens shift controls on the Home Cinema 1080 provide a
lot of flexibility. The image can be shifted horizontally up to ±47% and
vertically up to ±96%. It should be noted that both the horizontal and
vertical limits cannot both be met simultaneously. For example, if the vertical
limit is pushed to +96% or -96%, the horizontal shift is limited to ±9%.
This is a big advantage over projectors that do not offer any lens shifting capabilities.
We projected the image onto our 100-inch Stewart FireHawk 16:9 filmscreen from
a distance of about 12 feet. This projector has a very flexible range and with
the 2.1:1 manual zoom can be placed anywhere from 9.8' to 20.9'.
remote included with the Home Cinema 1080 projector is very similar to other Home
Cinema remotes we have seen in the past. The remote offers an ergonomic design
with logically placed buttons that are well spaced for easy control of the projector.
The backlight, activated by the bottom button, works well in the dark. The separate
On and Off have distinct backlight colors with the latter being
recessed to prevent users from inadvertently turning off the projector. Four large
buttons select the Menu, Memory, Color Mode, and Aspect functions
and are conveniently located near the top of the remote. The six navigation buttons
control the menu items and include Left, Right, Up, Down,
Select, and Escape. The source buttons select one of the six inputs
(HDMI, Component, S-Video, D/SCART, PC, and Video). The last six buttons control
Gamma, Color Temp, Test Pattern, Contrast, Skin
Tone, and Blank (screen).
Menu button displays six menu options on the screen for Image, Signal,
Settings, Memory, Info, and Reset.
Image menu has controls for Color Mode (Dynamic, Living Room, Natural,
Theatre, Theatre Black 1, and Theatre Black 2), Brightness, Contrast,
Color, Tint, Sharpness, Absolute Color Temp (5000°K
to 10,000°K), Skin Tone, Advanced (RGB, RGBCMY, and Gamma),
Brightness Control (High/Low), and Auto Iris. The RGBCMY menu is
used to adjustment the
xvYCC enhanced color.
Signal menu has controls for Aspect, Progressive, Motion
Detection, Noise Reduction, Output Scaling, Auto Setup,
Tracking, and Sync.
Settings menu has controls for Display (Messages, Startup Screen,
and Display Background), Projection (Front, Front/Ceiling, Rear, Rear Ceiling),
Direct Power On, Input Signal (Video Signal, and Component), Trigger
Out, Sleep Mode, Child Lock, Operation Lock, and High
Memory menu allows the user to select Load Memory, Save Memory,
and Erase Memory. The
Info menu displays information about the input signal being used and statistics
on the projector lamp (hours of use). HDMI Deep Color bit depth is also
indicated in this menu. The Reset menu is used to reset the Lamp Hours,
reset memory (clear all memory settings), or reset all (factory defaults).
The top panel of the Home Cinema 1080 has the horizontal and vertical
lens shift controls. Also located
here are the same basic buttons as the IR remote for controlling the projector's
functionality. Power and status indicators provide useful feedback to the user.
The same six navigation buttons found
on the IR remote are included as well as buttons for power, input Source
selection, Menu and Aspect control. The power indicator illuminates
orange when the unit is in standby mode. When powered on, the indicator light
flashes green while the unit warms up at which time the indicator constantly illuminates
green. When powered down the indicator flashes orange until the unit cools down
and then it goes back to a constant (standby) orange. If the warning indicator
flashes orange, then high speed cooling is in progress. If the projector gets
too hot again, the unit will shutdown automatically.
bottom of the unit has the air filter and houses the cover for the lamp should
it need replacing. The Epson ELPLP39 ultra high efficiency (UHE) replacement lamp
(V13H010L39) for the 1080 retails for $349. Installing the lamp is made simple
with an all-in-one lamp assembly. Cleaning the air filter is simple enough and
can be done with a vacuum cleaner.
measured the Home Cinema 1080 primaries using the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer
and ColorFacts Professional software from ColorVision (formerly Milori Software).
Light was measured directly from our Stewart FireHawk filmscreen from a distance
of 2 feet. The CIE chart shows where the ideal primaries are located with the
smaller three points making the dark triangle. The measured primary colors have
the red, green and blue corner markers connected together with the white triangle.
Yellow, magenta and cyan are located between the points along the lines that make
the triangle. The color components (RGBCMY) out of the box were fairly accurate
as seen in the CIE chart. Epson has an advanced color correction menu that allows
the user to adjust both the Hue and Saturation of each of the six color components.
This optimizes the primary and secondary colors and results in natural looking
flesh tones with excellent overall color fidelity.
We set the projector's
Color Mode to Theatre Black 1 for all our measurements. Color Temperature
ranging from 5,000°K to 10,000°K in increments of 500°K can also be
selected by the user . We set the projector to the reference 6500°K prior
to making any measurements. We used the same devices to take color temperature
measurements. Video patterns came a new Gefen HDMI 1080p Pattern Generator connected
to the projector's HDMI input. We first set the black level using the PLUGE pattern
and checked the stair step levels to ensure that blacks were in check and white
were not being crushed. We
measured the color temperature in 10 IRE increments starting with 20 IRE. The
6500 °K setting was fairly accurate, but started with 5500°K at 20% IRE
and worked its way into 6500°K at 100% IRE. Once calibrated, the projector
produced a pretty accurate color temperature across all IRE levels.
Home Cinema 1080 offers both gain and offset adjustments for each of the primary
(red, green and blue) colors needed for adjusting the color temperature. The gain
controls set the higher IRE levels while the offset controls adjust the lower
IRE levels. This allows the calibrator to optimize the color temperature across
the different gray levels. Our post-calibration setting were as follows.
PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 is an amazing bargain when you look at the performance
and features. While the picture appears slightly softer than some other more expensive
LCD projectors we have seen (such as the Mitsubishi HC5000), it did very well
with high definition content. Much of our viewing came from our Dish Network ViP722
DVR which makes recording high definition movies and over-the-air broadcasts simple.
Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD looked great on this projector. We viewed some sample
material from DVD International's
sampler Blu-ray DVD using our Sony PlayStation 3. This disc is available for
only $6.95 and offers a taste of full length features. There is also an HD
DVD version available at the same price. It is hard to imagine video of this
caliber for $2500 ($300 less with rebate). The internal video deinterlacer performed
very well with the 1080i and 480i material we tested. The 1080p content that came
from our Sony PS3 was delivered with perfection with a sharp picture and virtually
We measured 35.5 foot-Lamberts (fL) in the Vivid mode on
our 100" Stewart FireHawk screen. In this mode the video popped out and provided
a bright image even with some ambient light entering the room. The fan was somewhat
audible and the black level suffered in the Vivid mode. The Living Room
mode produced 19.3 fL. The Theatre Black 1, Theatre, and Natural
modes produced 11.2 fL. Finally, the Theatre Black 2 mode generated 8.2
fL on the screen. We preferred the Theatre Black 1 mode as the picture
performance improved significantly for our viewing environment. We also found
an improvement placing the Brightness Control in the Low mode, which also
increases the lamp life from 1,700 hours to around 3,000 hours and slows down
the fan to inaudible levels.
The Epson PowerLite
Home Cinema 1080 sets a new standard for a value 1080p projector and is the most
impressive home theater projector we have seen for the money. In terms of bang
for the video buck, it is a true winner. Add in the $300 rebate with free ground
shipping (available through 1/31/08) and you have a 1080p projector for under
$2200. If you ever dreamed of owning your very own cinematic picture and have
a passion for high resolution video from HDTV, HD DVD, and/or Blu-ray, the Epson
PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 lets you step into the HD world at an unheard