Shootout: Three 1080p Front Projectors Page 2

Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080

Shootout: Three 1080p Front Projectors

The PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 is one of a pair of new 1080p LCD projectors from Epson. The company's PowerLite Home version lists for a mere $3,000 - an astonishingly low price for a 1080p model - while the PowerLite Pro reviewed here lists for $5,000. What does the extra 2 grand get you? In this case, a ceiling mount and an extra lamp, along with a 3-year warranty (the Home version carries a 2-year) and ISF-certification, which, as best as I can tell from limited info provided by Epson, gives calibrators some extra memory in which to store settings. And where the Pro has an appealing charcoal-toned case, the Home comes in basic white. But the biggest difference is that, whereas the Pro is sold exclusively by custom installers, the Home can be bought through traditional and online retailers. Otherwise, the two are essentially the same.

Along with its trio of 1080p-rez LCD display panels, notable features of the PowerLite Pro include an HDMI 1.3 input with Deep Color support (the first I've seen in a front projector), Auto Iris Control, variable gamma presets and custom gamma control, and an advanced color adjustment that lets you tweak hue and saturation levels for as many as six colors. The fully backlit remote offers direct button access to all video inputs, as well as keys for contrast and gamma. Depending on signal format, the Aspect button calls up display modes including Normal (for a 4:3 aspect ratio with black sidebars), Full, Zoom, and Wide. Only the Normal mode is available for HD programs, however, which get displayed in 16:9.

SETUP The PowerLite Pro offers plenty of setup flexibility. A 2.1x zoom lens lets you position the projector from about 10 to 21 feet away from a 100-inch screen, while the lens-shift controls permit up to 96% vertical and 47% horizontal image offset. All lens controls, including zoom and focus, are manual. With the projector's Low lamp setting selected, its fan was whisper-quiet.

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