My colleague, Llanor Alleyne, and I were treated to an impressive video demonstration today from Epson, in a warehouse district on the westside of Manhattan. The star of the show was the companys new PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 3LCD front projector, which also comes in a Pro model with special features and pricing for custom installers.
By staging the demo in a specially built room within a room, with standard eight-foot ceiling, dark walls/ceiling, ceiling-mounted projector, and in-wall equipment rack, Epson was nearly able to replicate the true home theater experience provided by top custom installers around the country. A set designer built the room over the span of a couple days, and systems integration was provided by New York Citys Kerry Bright of Bright Home Theater. This presentation sure beat the typical bland, window-filled hotel suite in Midtown Manhattan that usually hosts these types of events.
Epson’s new consumer projector (and its “Pro” counterpart) is designed to achieve true 1080p resolution by using 1,920 x 1,080 pixels on each of the projector’s three LCD chips. The technologys visual benefits were clearly evident (no pun intended) with live HD content from a local Time Warner cable feed, as well as a 1080p clip from the movie, Crank, from a Sony Blu-ray player, and another couple scenes from Seabiscuit, shown on a second-generation Toshiba HD DVD player.
Llanor and I were both impressed with the excellent contrast ratio provided by the consumer projector model, especially in Scene 13 of Seabiscuit where William Macy is shown in his radio announcers booth. There, the depth of field was the best Ive seen. The microphone in the foreground and objects in the background were visible in sharp detail, providing a layered, nearly 3D, appearance.
Ive said it before in Residential Systems, and Ill repeat it here: Seabiscuit is great demo material for home theater. The cinematography offers a rich color pallette and theres both emotional resonance as well as straight-out action to put any new video or audio equipment through the paces.
Next, we moved into a higher ambient light environment where the new PowerLite was set up in a table-top configuration for a true-to-life gaming experience. In this setting, we tried our hands at an X-Box 360 auto racing game. The resolution held up well even on an entry-level projection screen, and under less-than-ideal lighting. The projector was great, but Llanor and I both demonstrated why the world is better off with us living as non-car owners living in New York City.
The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080, with its elegant pearlescent finish and compact size, is priced for retail at $2,999. The Pro version with special dealer pricing is offered in black and features ISF certification, locking menus, an extra bulb, an extended warranty, and a $300 customer rebate on any screen priced over $300.
According to Epsons senior product manager, Aaron Marinari, both projectors offer HDMI 1.3 connectivity with Deep Color support on 1080p native resolution projectors, and 12,000:1 contrast ratio contributes to increased visual depth via Epson’s C2Fine technology. An exclusive AccuCinema lens system takes advantage of 14 lenses, including two aspherical lenses, to maintain superior picture integrity across the entire image from corner to corner. The projector’s lens shift capability (96-degree vertical, and 47-degree horizontal) makes it more adaptable to a wide range of room sizes and install situations that may require unusual setup angles.
It was a great demo, and especially at its price, a great new addition to the competitive video projector landscape.