Product Review (January 2008) -
Epson PowerLite™ Home Cinema
1080 HD LCD Projector

By Kevin Nakano


Projectors 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.

Several 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 projectors available.

Rear Panel
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 IR remote.

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.

Installation
The 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.

The 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 Control
The 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).

The Menu button displays six menu options on the screen for Image, Signal, Settings, Memory, Info, and Reset.

The 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.

The Signal menu has controls for Aspect, Progressive, Motion Detection, Noise Reduction, Output Scaling, Auto Setup, Tracking, and Sync.

The 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 Altitude Mode.

The 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).

Top Panel
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.

The 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.

Display Primaries
We 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.

Color Tracking
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.

The 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.

OFFSET
GAIN
Red
Green
Blue
-25
25
-1
Red
Green
Blue
0
-19
-7

Performance
The 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 HD Scape 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 no artifacts.

Light Output
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.

Conclusion
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 of price.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer

Blu-ray DVD Player: Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray DVD Player and Game Console
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
DVI Extender: Gefen HDTV Extender
HDMI Cables: Accel Corporation HDMI Adapter and Cables
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Gefen 1080p HDMI Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: Milori ColorFacts Professional with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro


Review - At a Glance


Epson PowerLite™ Cinema 1080 LCD Projector

General
Projection System Epson C2Fine 3LCD technology
Projection Method Front / rear / ceiling mount
Panel Size Three 0.74" wide, poly-silicon TFT active matrix
Type of Display Poly-silicon TFT Active Matrix with Micro Lens Array
Pixel Density 1920x1080
Native Resolution Native 1080p
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Lamp Type 170W UHE E-TORL Lamp
Lamp Life Up to 3000H (Lamp life will vary depending upon mode selected, environmental conditions and usage. Lamp brightness decreases over time.)
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Contrast Ratio (typical) 12,000:1 (Color mode: Dynamic)
Brightness (typical) 1200 ANSI lumens (Color mode: Dynamic)
Lens Optics F=2.0 to 3.17
Lens Throw Range 40" to 150" (8.4' to 14.7')
Zoom Ratio 1:2.1

Connectivity
Composite Video Input

1 x RCA (Yellow)

S-Video Input 1 x (4-pin mini DIN)
Component/RGB Inputs 1 x RCA (Red / Green / Blue)
D4 1 x D4
PC 1 (15-pin VGA)
HDMI 1 (Version 1.3)
RS232C 1 (D-Sub 9)
Trigger Out 1 (12 Volt)

 

Specifications Sheet

User's Guide

RS232 Command Spec


Company Information
Epson America, Inc.
3840 Kilroy Airport Way
Long Beach, CA 90806
Phone: 562-981-3840
Support: 800-922-8911

Source: Manufacture loan
Model Number: EMP-TW500
Serial Number: FU90450074K
MSRP: $2,499.99

URL: www.epson.com

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