Review: Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB

Last spring I reviewed Epson’s PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 and looking back on that earlier review I was impressed with the quality and price point ($2999) of that unit.

This year Epson sent me the new version, the Home Cinema 1080UB. UB stands for Ultra Black and this projector is also priced at $2999. So the question one would ask is: how much of an improvement (if any) is this model over last year’s model?
Epson is the biggest manufactures of HD projectors, so it’s not for nothing that Epson is the big boy on the block. It makes sense; Epson also makes the LCD panels for their own projectors. That gives them a leg up over Sanyo, Mitsubishi and Panasonic because those guys all use Epson LCD panels in their projectors.

What is so good/improved about this HD projector? The UB has the projection industry’s best contrast ratio of 50,000:1 (up from the PowerLite’s 12,000:1). The resolution is true native 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) and it doesn’t get any better than that. The Home Cinema 1080UB uses a 3LCD optical engine with D7 chip set with C2 fine and Epson’s new Ultra Black technology. The UB can project an image up to 120 inches, which is more than 8 times that of a 40-inch TV. The 1,600 ANSI lumens (up from last year’s 1,200) provides a very high brightness level, which is extremely helpful for rooms that have ambient light.
There are two HDMI inputs (1.3) which is an improvement over the previous single HDMI input. There is no HDMI output, so no audio output from the projector, but in all fairness that isn’t such a big deal and there are many workaround solutions for that. Being that the HDM input is 1.3 it supports x.v. Deep color, but that is more future proofing as hardly any content is created and nothing is broadcast using x.v. at this time.

Out of the box, I put the UB on a shelf above my couch. This wasn’t difficult because it only weighs 12 pounds at 16” wide and 12” deep. I turned it on. Yes there is noise, but it wasn’t intrusive and how much noise you hear depends on which brightness setting you select and the projectors proximity to you, the viewer. There are 6 brightness modes making the stated noise output ranging from 24db to 31db. Bottom line, it runs pretty quiet. All the modes and settings are accessible from the remote control.
I have it positioned straight on so there is a minimum of cropping and shifting of the image. The lens shift is very intuitive and it’s the same as the earlier model which works much like the lens on a SLR camera .That range is 96-degrees vertical and 47-degrees horizontal making adjustments very flexible. Common sense dictates that you use any projector as straight on as possible, but for those who can’t the UB gives you a lot of leeway. I’m projecting it on to EliteSCREEN’s Cinetension 84-inch drop down remote controlled screen. While it’s true, I don’t have it opened all the way up to 120 inches this is more than enough to get the feel of the Home Cinema 1080UB. I’m watching a Blu-ray DVD and it looks great. Colors are rich while not being over saturated.

Epson makes a Pro Cinema version of the UB and it’s basically the same projector. The Pro and Home are priced differently and feature a few different options:

  • The Home version is white and the Pro model is black
  • The Pro comes with a ceiling mount and a spare lamp, the home doesn’t (the lamp lasts between 2000 -3000 hrs and costs $349)
  • The Pro has a 3-year warranty, home a 2-year warranty
  • The Pro has (ISF) Imaging Science Foundation certification
  • The Pro is sold by installers and the Home is sold by regular Home Theater stores and online.
  • The Pro is $3999 and the Home is $2999

    Ok, I’m impressed, really impressed. I almost never write such rave review, but the 1080UB is really that good. It is bright, sharp and the colors are rich. The best way to view HD content is with a front projector and this is the best projector under $2999. And Epson is offering a $200 rebate, so the real price is $2799. I’d say the UB is an overall 20% improvement over the PowerLite and remember. I liked the PowerLite.