Epson's PowerLite Pro Cinema 9350 is one of several new Full HD 1080p home theater projectors being offered by the company. Key features of the new Pro Cinema 9350 include Epson's latest 3LCD D7 chip with a contrast ratio of 50,000:1 with up to 2000 lumens of light output. The exclusive Dynamic Iris system contributes to the contrast improvement by controlling light on a frame-by-frame basis at up to 60 times per second. This projector features C2Fine™ 12-bit, 3-chip technology and Epson's exclusive cinema filter for a full spectrum of true-to-life colors. Best of all, this projector features ISF calibration, but omits THX certification. For full THX certification and improved contrast, Epson offers the Pro Cinema 9700. Epson offers a three-year projector limited warranty and 90-Day lamp limited warranty with next-business-day shipping service.
All cabling interfaces are on the rear panel of the Pro Cinema 9350. Video connections include two wide spaced HDMI 1.3 ports, component (YPrPb), PC (RGB), s-video, and composite, making it compatible with virtually any legacy video product on the market. The component inputs will accept standard definition as well as high definition (720p and 1080i/p) signals. Epson also includes an RS232 interface for controlling the projector functions without the need of the IR remote or if the projector is installed in a remote location. A Trigger Out jack can be used to control other products when the unit is turned on. We only tested the HDMI interface since most users will probably connect this unit to a receiver or video processor capable of converting older video formats to HDMI. A standard IEC power cord plugs into the back next to the power switch at the base of the unit. The removable filters are located in the back as well and require periodic cleaning.
Setting it up
We installed the PowerLite Pro Cinema 9350 inverted from about 13 feet away from our 92-inch Screen Innovations Black Diamond II (0.8 gain) screen. This particular screen has a lower gain than most other screens, but offers exceptionally deep black levels. Projectors that are not capable of producing deep blacks will benefit from this screen technology. This screen is ideal in sizes of 80-inches to 92-inches. Any larger and it is recommended that the gain be increased to 1.4 for optimal picture quality. We also ran some tests with our 100-inch Stewart Firehawk (1.3 gain) screen for comparisons. Both screens produced stunning images from this projector.
Our A/V system is centered around Denon's flagship AVR-5308CI A/V receiver and the new OPPO BDP-95 universal audiophile blu-ray player. We also have a Dish Network ViP 722 high definition satellite receiver with an integrated ATSC tuner for local broadcasts. All HDMI sources were switched using the Denon receiver. The long HDMI video cable needed for the projector was provided by Accell.
The Fujinon® OptiCinema™ Multi-Lens Optics System with a 2.1x zoom ratio provides consistent image quality across the entire screen
with precise edges and sharp focus. The zoom ring located closest to the projector body is used to fill the screen while the focus ring located just in front of it dials in a crisp image. The IR receiver is also located on the front to easily receive the IR remote signal bouncing off of the screen. The large air vent in the front is where the hot air exits the projector.
The lens shift and focus controls on the Pro Cinema 9350 are fully manual, so adjusting the picture from afar can be a bit more challenging. Focus in particular is more difficult especially with high resolution displays where the pixel structure is not evident at far distances. However, there are methods that can be used to make this task easier and once set, there is no need to change or adjust the settings. In fact, in many ways it is hard to justify the added cost of motorized optics for something that is only used during installation.
The horizontal and vertical lens shift controls are located on the top of the unit near the lens. This allows the image to be shifted left, right, up or down without creating geometric distortions. The maximum horizontal and vertical image shift can be as high as ±46% and ±96% respectively. However, there are some limitations in that the image cannot be moved to the maximum distance in both the vertical and horizontal
directions simultaneously. When the image has been shifted vertically by the full amount, it can only be shifted up to 9 percent of the width of the image as shown in this diagram. Similarly, when the image is moved horizontally to the full amount, the image cannot be shifted vertically. Most installations such as ours used a combination of limited horizontal and vertical lens shift.
The top access panel allows the user to remove and replace the 200W Energy-efficient E-TORL lamp. The lamp lasts up to 4000 hours in the low power mode. The Power button is located on the top along with an Image Source select button. Indicator lights provide Lamp and Temperature status.
right side of the unit (left side when inverted) has standard controls that include Menu, Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right, and Enter) and Esc. This minimal set of controls allows the user to operate all of the features on the projector. Most users will never need to access these controls, but they are provided for convenience.
The remote that comes with the Pro Cinema 9350 is a full size design with large uncluttered buttons and full backlighting. The large power button on the top left is easy to identify with the smaller Backlight button located on the right. The six Source input buttons are grouped together and offer quick access to any of the dedicated video inputs. Standard navigation controls are surrounded by the Esc and Menu buttons. The recessed Default button is used to reload the default values and is normally not used. The bottom section of the remote has buttons for Memory, RGBCMY, Gamma, Patterns, Color Mode, Aspect, Sharpness, and Blank.
The Memory button can store up to 8 different configurations with custom names. The RGBCMY and Gamma buttons provide advanced control (see below). The Pattern button can be used to put up a grid pattern that helps during focus and offset adjustments. The Pattern button can also be used to filter colors in the image when using a color bar test pattern from a DVD or Blu-ray disc. Simply select one of the
Color Isolation options for the color you want to filter (R/G/B). This lets you adjust color settings without holding a filter over your eyes while making adjustments. A great idea that saves time and the hassle of color filters. The Aspect (Normal, Full Zoom, or Wide) button changes how video is displayed..
All the buttons on the remote are large, minimizing any accidental button presses. The remote operates on two "AA" batteries that are provided. The only complaint with the backlighting is that it is not evenly distributed over the buttons and tends to hotspot in the middle. Not a big deal, but a more diffused LED or button material may help improve visibility.
Pressing the Menu button on the remote allows the user to adjust the projector settings. The menu controls follows a logical format with six main categories (Image, Signal, Setting, Memory, Info, and Reset).
The Pro Cinema 9350 projector has some excellent user controls under the heading of Advanced Color Adjustments. These controls are necessary to dial in the best picture possible. Color gamut, gray-scale tracking and gamma controls let those with calibration equipment make the necessary adjustments with ease. Each video input has its own memory settings, so the optimal picture parameters can be saved individually.
The projector has some advanced settings to optimize picture quality. When the x.v.Color mode is turned off, the user can adjust the RGBCMY (Red, Green Blue, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) controls. This gives the user the ability to adjust Hue, Saturation and Brightness for each of the primary (Red, Green Blue) and secondary (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) colors. This level of control is ideal to have when subtle color shifts occur due to the screen and aging of the bulb and projector.
Before making any changes to the zero settings on the RGBCMY menu, we measured the colors produced by the Pro Cinema 9350 using a GretagMacbeth
Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer and ColorFacts System (Milori) from Datacolor.
Color readings were taken directly off our Stewart FireHawk filmscreen. The CIE
chart shows where the ideal primaries are located with the smaller three
points making a dark triangle. The measured primary colors have the red,
green and blue markers connected together with the white triangle. x.v.Color extends beyond the standard color gamut, so this explains the larger white triangle that encompasses the smaller dark triangle. Basically this projector goes beyond the reference. Our goal was to see how much adjustability these controls had to offer.
Using the Hue, Saturation and Brightness controls for each of the primary (Red, Green Blue) colors, we were able to adjust the colors parameters to near ideal locations on the CIE chart. Earlier projectors made this task much more difficult and in some cases impossible. Adjusting colors is relatively easy with these controls. The good news is that when one primary color is being adjusted the other two colors do not move significantly. This is a great benefit and prevents the user from having to go back and forth between the colors to get it dialed in just right.
RGB Offset/Gain Settings
There was a time when these controls could only be found in service menus and were sometimes difficult to navigate. Epson has Offset and Gain controls for each of the primary colors, which is essential for proper gray-scale tracking.
The Color Temperature readings came from a
Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer with IRE levels generated by a Sencore VP403 video generator. We connected the video to the HDMI 1 input on the projector for these adjustments and set the video generator for 1080p24. We set the Color Mode to Cinema and the Color Temperature to 6500°K on the projector. We measured
the color temperature in 10 IRE increments starting with 20 IRE. The pre-calibrated readings were a few hundred degrees on the low side, but relatively flat across all IRE levels. Once adjusted, the gray-scale was much closer to the ideal 6500
The predefined Gamma settings range is from 2.0 to 2.4. However, the projector also has the ability customize the gamma if desired. Using the Customized screen, the user can adjust a custom gamma profile by setting the level of each IRE step. Non-standard gamma settings can be created and used.
Our video tests made use of an OPPO BDP-95 Universal Audiophile Blu-ray player as a video source. Video was routed through a Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver and sent to the projector over an Accell UltraRun cable. The Cinema mode along with the calibrated 6500°K grayscale tracking produced a beautiful picture using Screen Innovation's Black Diamond II and Stewart's FireHawk screens. Our favorite screen turned out to be the Black Diamond II, especially with a controlled lighting environment. Deep black levels in the dark forest scenes from Avatar revealed excellent shadow detail. Activating the auto iris produced even higher contrast. The projector has very low fan noise (just 22 dB) to keep your attention on the screen and not on the projector. There is no excuse for any modern home theater projector to be noisy and Epson has made sure of this with the Pro Cinema 9350 design.
The Epson Pro Cinema 9350/9700 UB User's Guide combines both models into one manual making it somewhat challenging. Sections are noted with (Pro Cinema 9350 only) or (Pro Cinema 9700 UB only), so it is up to the reader to parse through the information. I would have preferred to have two sections of the manual - one for each projector. However, since there is so much in common with these two projectors, they saved printing costs.
The Epson Pro Cinema 9350 is an excellent mid-priced home theater projector with a street price around $2000. Performance is impressive right out of the box and the features list makes this design attractive. The ISF certification means you will get a projector capable of producing an accurate image with all of the necessary adjustments to support a full ISF calibration. As an ISF calibrator, this was great to see in the design. This Pro Cinema 9350 had plenty of light output even with a 92-inch (0.8 gain) Screen Innovation Black Diamond II. The result was a video system that provided a cinematic experience at a reasonable cost.
- Kevin Nakano