Epson 1080 UB: Brief Initial Viewing

Of course, once I got it out of the box – my first priority was getting it hooked up to see what it looked like. Here is the projector in a very temporary mounting on a TV table.

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The vertical lens shift has quite an amazing range, this combined with the horizontal shift opens up a lot of mounting options. The zoom and focus rings move smoothly, and its easy to dial in a nice sharp image.

Black Level – Initial impressions

The projector seems to come with some home theater friendly factory defaults, which is nice to see. I did change from Theater Black 1 (default) to Theater Black 2. Switching the input connection from SVideo 480i to component 480p seemed to help the black level. I also enabled the dynamic iris which appears to be off by default. I did not bother to calibrate even the basic brightness/contrast – which will again improve things.

With the CRT projector, an all black screen (which often happen at the start of a film) would plunge the room into total darkness. As configured above, the 1080UB gives me a full screen gray rectangle for all black. It will take me a little time to get used to this, and I’m sure further tweaking will help improve this.

During movie playback of a 2.35:1 film, the black bars above and below are pretty good. You do get a shadow if you hold your hand up to block the light – but it is faint. Not as good as my CRT was, but close enough that I’m pretty happy with the performance.

Near black detail is better than my CRT was. This is certainly due to some of the black crush issues I was having with the CRT video chain.

General initial viewing impressions

The colours are quite different than my CRT, I look forward to measuring and calibrating this projector. The 1920×1080 resolution is awesome, I can see pixel structure from ~4feet but nothing from my closest seating distance. The panel convergence seems pretty good – less than 1pixel I believe – blue is the most off, and humans can’t see blue very well anyways. I think I spotted a very small dust blob (less than a pixel in size) – might just be something to learn to live with, I could only see it inches from the screen.

The resulting picture has plenty of wow.

Summary

I spent less than an hour watching the new projector – it still needs a bit of a break in period to burn off that new electronic component smell. Overall, I’m very pleased with the purchase – and I’m really glad that I don’t have the CRT to A/B compare since I certain that I’d have some buyers regret if I started down that path. The UB doesn’t provide CRT like black level – but it does not disappoint. Its a nice shiny new toy, and I’ve got lots to do before it is fully tweaked – so call me a happy camper.

Epson 1080 UB unboxing

Allow me to geek out a bit here and share some of my excitement on receiving my new projector!

The Epson 1080 UB was announced at CEDIA expo 2007 in September, and then again at CES 2008. It has made a brief appearance on the epson.ca website, and seems to have disappeared again. Mine arrived today from Quebec Acoustic – ending the long two weeks we had a dedicated home theater with no projector in it.

Without further delay, here is the unboxing of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 UB.

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Much, much smaller than my CRT projector – a scant 20lb shipping weight.

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Note the use of folded cardboard as a packing material. The box was well packed.

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Not much in the way of accessories. Power cord, manuals, and a remote.

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A foam yellow band holds the lens in place for shipping.

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The back panel with the various connection options.

Initial impression of the physical unit. While I did consider the “Pro” version which comes in black, it wasn’t worth the $1000 premium you pay. The Home and Pro versions are effectively the same core unit, so the performance should be identical The white with silver accent actually looks pretty nice in person. The projector is only 12.3lb (5.6kg), but takes up a bit more space than I expected.

Viewing impressions are certain to follow.

“So, you’re buying another one…right?”

This was a common response from good friends of mine who were reacting to my statement “I sold my projector”. I suppose that the reaction would have been different and I said “I’m buying a new projector”, but I wasn’t.. until now.

In my Ampro Resource blog, I documented my 2nd CRT projector (my 1st being an Electrohome ECP 4100). Back in 2003 I had the upgrade bug and went from the 7″ air coupled ECP to the 9″ liquid coupled Ampro.

Early in 2005, I was finally getting to the final stages of finishing our basement – and was about to become a Dad. The idea of hoisting the 165lb Ampro onto the ceiling and the general care and maintenance of the CRT projector seemed like it was going to be more work than I was willing to put into the hobby. At the time, the Panasonic AE700 was my ‘choice’ projector. I narrowly avoided buying one, only dissuaded after seeing one in sub-optimal conditions at a local store. For the price, the image quality was far below what I had with my non-tweaked CRT.

At the end of 2007, the upgrade bug was back. I have less and less time to tinker with home theater stuff and 1080p projectors have dipped to the sub $3k price point.

Short version of the story: I’ve placed my order for the brand new Epson 1080UB – and am now playing the waiting game. Oh yeah, and the reason I sold my CRT before buying a new one – was to make sure I couldn’t back out at the last minute.. again.

Details on my buying decision etc, follow..

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