Ease of Use
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350
DIY Home Theater
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|Weight:|| 16.1 lbs|
|Lens Shift:||H + V|
|Lamp Life:||4,000 (eco)|
S-Video, Composite, Component, VGA In, HDMI 1.3a (x2), RS232
480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350
1080p Home Theater Projector
October 4, 2010
Zoom and Light Output. The Home Cinema 8350's 2.1:1 zoom lens is a great feature for placement flexibility. However, if you use of the telephoto end of the lens (the setting that produces the smallest image for a given throw distance), lumen output drops by 39% compared to what you get with the lens set at maximum wide angle. This light loss is typical for a 2x zoom lens, and it needs to be taken into account when choosing your throw distance and screen size. For example, Cinema mode delivers 556 lumens with the lens at wide angle, but only 340 lumens with the lens at maximum telephoto. 340 lumens is fine for a 100" diagonal screen in a dark room, but with larger screen sizes you may want to think about ceiling mounting to get the projector closer to the screen for maximum lumen output.
On the other hand, this does not mean you should simply use maximum wide angle at all times. Telephoto does have the advantage of focusing the light coming from the projector into a tighter cone, which will result in more even screen illumination. And as far as sharpness is concerned, the optical sweet spot of any zoom lens is in the middle of its throw range. So these things should be taken into account as well. All long zooms present the user with trade-offs between brightness, optical precision, and ideal screen illumination.
Black level. Out of the box, the Home Cinema 8350's black level is set for ambient light viewing. It can be improved very easily by enabling the auto iris (which is disabled by default) and enabling Epson Super White. You can also change Gamma from 2.2 to 2.3 or 2.4; our measurements indicated that the 2.2 preset was actually closer to 2.0, so this adjustment brings the projector more in line with established standards. But even after this adjustment, black level is not quite as deep as that of more expensive 1080p home theater projectors. To be fair, black level has gotten so good recently that it is hard to tell the difference without a side-by-side test, so this is not an issue that a user is likely to notice.
Heat dissipation. The good news is that the 8350 has a 2.1x zoom lens and lens shift. This means that in many instances, installation on a rear shelf or in a bookcase is easy. People buying a projector in this price range generally do not want to undergo the extra expense of ceiling mounting if they can avoid it. But be aware that installation in a bookshelf can be hazardous if there is not sufficient clearance around and behind the projector for the dissipation of hot exhaust and radiant heat from the case. If you install the unit in a constricted space that compromises heat dissipation, you will have premature lamp failures.
Manual zoom/focus. No 1080p projector in this price range has powered zoom/focus, and the 8350 is no exception. Its 2.1x zoom range will let you use it for Cinemascope 2.35:1 screens if that is what you want to do. However, the lack of powered zoom and lens shift means that you need to adjust the lens manually when switching back and forth between 2.35:1 and 16:9 material. For this type of use, you will want to make sure to place the projector in a very easy to reach position, perhaps on a table between the seats, or on a shelf directly behind the seats, so zoom/shift adjustments can be made with relatively little bother.
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