Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 UB front projector Page 2
I can't imagine that anyone - whether a professional or a do-it-yourselfer - would have any trouble doing basic configuration of the Pro Cinema. The horizontal and vertical lens-shift controls give you a lot of leeway in positioning the projector without having to rely on keystone adjustments (which reduce picture resolution). That the zoom, focus, and shift controls are manual and not motorized doesn't bother me, since you only have to set them once - but you might need a step stool to access them in a ceiling installation. Also, the lens-shift controls aren't as easy to adjust as they could be, so getting the picture centered takes a bit longer than it should.
I placed the Epson on a table that lifted it to a level even with the bottom of my 72-inch-wide Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130 screen. The projector sat 9 feet from the screen, but I could have put it much further back, thanks to its 2X zoom lens. It's nice to have such flexibility, especially if you want to mount the projector on the wall opposite the screen - although running the lens at the full telephoto setting does cut down the light output.
Even without professional installation or any sort of calibration, the Pro Cinema's picture looked pretty impressive. With the projector at its factory settings, the detail and depth blew me away; the word that came immediately to mind was "punchy." I quickly figured out that the Cinema Night mode offers the more accurate color, so I used it for most of my testing. (The Cinema Day mode delivers a brighter but less true picture.) A minute or two of basic adjustments to brightness, contrast, and color brought the performance to the point where I wondered if there was much more to be gained by plunging deeper into the picture-setting menus.
I did notice that some of the characters in the Blu-ray Disc of The Fifth Element looked like they'd just run a couple of blocks in 90° heat. Measurements taken with a color analyzer told me that the color temperature was running about 400 K lower - and thus slightly redder - than the 6,500-K preset I'd chosen. Tweaking the offset and gain controls for red, green, and blue brought it close to perfect, with a maximum error of about 70 K. My efforts paid off in rich but not overhyped color and pleasingly natural skin tones, no matter which of the movie's wide array of characters appeared onscreen. (Incidentally, I found that the Pro Cinema's unusual skin-tone adjustment made such a barely noticeable difference that it really wasn't worth fooling with.)
The blacks looked excellent for an LCD projector, if not as deep or dark as I've seen from the best DLP models. The auto-iris feature helps; in dark scenes, the blacks are deeper than I've ever seen from an LCD projector. I thought I might see some "pumping" in dark areas of the picture as the auto iris adjusted to brighter or darker scenes, but the effect ranged from subtle to unnoticeable.
Let's finish with a brief list of what the projector does and doesn't do. It accepts 24-frames-per-second video signals from Blu-ray Disc players. Its noise reduction offers three level settings and works well without a big loss of detail. And it flunks the film-detail test on the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark Blu-ray test disc, but I didn't notice any problems with standard program material.
Competition is fierce among $3,000 to $5,000 projectors, but Epson's Pro Cinema 1080 UB performs about as well as the best. The only significant feature it's missing is a stretch mode for viewing 2.35:1 aspect-ratio video on an ultra-wide screen, but the lens option you'd need for that costs $1,000 to $2,000 more than the projector itself. I'd be thrilled to have my home theater take flight with this projector - in either coach or first-class.