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Epson Home Cinema 1080UB LCD Projector  Print E-mail
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Written by Pat Pilon   
Monday, 26 January 2009
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Epson Home Cinema 1080UB LCD Projector 
Page 2

Performance

Depending on the type of material being viewed, Epson offers seven Color Modes, each with their own strengths.  Dynamic is about as bright as you can want in a home theatre projector.  Epson boasts a 1600-lumen max output in their spec sheet, and the projector dishes out this level with Dynamic mode.  It’s mostly used for television viewing with a fair amount of ambient light.  I used the setting once during a bright sunset.  The fan roared to life, about three to four times the volume as it normally runs and the unit overheated in about 10 minutes.  

Living Room and Natural offer bright pictures with slightly different color schemes.  Living Room is slightly brighter and should be used when a little light is seeping into the room, whereas Natural has slightly more accurate colors, although slightly dimmer.  I find both settings too bright, and rarely use the projector with ambient light anyway.

When watching a feature length movie, Theatre, Theatre Black 1 and Theatre Black 2 are more appropriate.  The difference between the three is in the color temperature and brightness settings.  While Theatre is slightly darker, the colors in Theatre Black 1 are slightly more accurate.  The latter is my preferred setting for both films and games.  Theatre Black 2 is calibrated for black and white films, as the color temperature is a bit cooler, giving the black and white photography slightly better contrast.

The final Color Mode is X.V.Color, which is used by appropriate components via the HDMI ports.  However, no Blu-ray discs support this color space.  I’ve used this mode when playing an Xbox 360, but I find the picture much too dark for gaming, especially titles in the survival horror genre, where darkness prevails.  

If the colors in any mode are not to your satisfaction, then every mode can be altered through the Image settings in the Main Menu.  There are options to change brightness, contrast, color saturation, tint and skin tone levels.  Vertical and Horizontal edges can also be sharpened through the menu’s Sharpness option.  For videophiles, the Gamma, RGB and RGBCMY levels can be tweaked as well.  Casual movie buffs may not spend much time altering these settings, but for those discerning about picture quality, the wealth of image modification options are certainly vast.

Epson states the static contrast ratio to be 4 000:1, and the dynamic contrast ratio to be a whopping 50 000:1.  Watching ‘Wall-E’ on Blu-ray is spectacular, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB brings the picture to life.  With its dynamic iris turned on, darks are deep, with shots of space looking inky black, while still giving the small white stars in the distance their due brightness.  The lighter scenes have nice detail while keeping colors accurate.  Scenes in the vast highway shopping malls show terrific detail, and on my 100-inch screen, it feels like being in the movie.  Color saturation is spot-on and the color transitions are smooth and accurate.  In short, this is a stunning transfer, which the projector replicates with great aplomb.

I tested a decidedly less stunning picture, the region 2 (PAL) release of ‘Life on Mars: Season One’ from the UK.  The style is dingy and replicates 1973 Manchester for television viewing.  The transfer, though not up to ‘Lost’ standards, is appealing in its own right.  The series was shot on 16mm film and the transfer keeps the grain intact.  The Epson Home Theatre 1080UB has no trouble keeping the presentation as gritty as possible.  In fact, the 1080perfect Video Processing does a terrific job in scaling the picture.  The difference in seeing this show shown by the projector and seeing it upscaled to 1080p by Oppo’s flagship, VRS chip-infused DV-983H is almost negligible.  There is a slight difference, but it is quite minimal.

I’m something of an avid gamer and couldn’t resist testing two games with opposite design and style, Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge.  Dead Space is a third-person shooter survival horror title from Electronic Arts.  The ship within the game is dark, dreary and very creepy.  The Epson Home Theatre 1080UB replicates the atmosphere very well, giving you discernible detail in all the dark corners of the ship.  The bright green life bar and ammo indicator are still clearly visible as well.  Thankfully, thanks to the UB technology, black corners are black, and not some sort of dark grey, which keeps the heightened level of suspense at a fevered pitch.  Mirror’s Edge, also from Electronic Arts, in sharp contrast, is a stunningly bright game.  The levels are open, often outdoors, and very white.  The buildings and sky show very little detail, but there are still slight shadows and textures, which the projector shows as it was intended.  The scenes are never blown out and the edges remain sharp and distinct.

Conclusion


The Epson 1080UB is a terrific machine and is a great value all around.  The only real drawback is the lack of anamorphic lens support.  The strange color temperatures are not much of a problem because they can easily be fixed.  The unit may also run louder than other LCD projectors, but as long as it is not sitting directly over your head, it’s not overly distracting.  The positives far outweigh the negatives with this projector.  The breadth and wealth of setup options and the terrific picture quality for all media make this an easy recommendation.

Manufacturer Epson
Model Home Cinema 1080UB
DVI Input No
HDMI Input Yes
# of HDMI Inputs 2
HDMI Version 1.3
# of Component Video Inputs 1
Native Resolution 1080p





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