Well, welcome to 2008! We hope you all survived the holidays. I came down with an unexpected bug that had me out of commission for a while. However, I'm back in the saddle and ready for the CES convention that starts Monday here in Las Vegas.
I was hoping we'd get the Epson Cinema 1080 UB and Cinema 720 reviews done by today, and I know you were too. But due to a combination of illness, vacation, and just simply too much side by side testing to do, we are not making the schedule. And to complicate things, CES constitutes a huge distraction for us next week. We've got a lot of meetings with vendors lined up to hear what they have planned for 2008.
Therefore, I will give you some brief thoughts on the Epson products here, and save the details for the final reviews. First, Epson has clearly taken their home theater projectors to a new level. Not only are the Pro Cinema 1080 UB and Home Cinema 720 projectors large steps ahead of their previous models, but they are without a doubt the most competitive home theater projectors we've ever seen from Epson. With these models, Epson enters the top ranks in overall home theater industry price/performance - in our opinion for the first time.
The Cinema Pro 1080 UB has excellent black level, contrast, and color saturation for the money. It is appropriately priced above the Panasonic AE2000, for its image quality in terms of these key parameters is a clear notch above the AE2000 as well. Conversely, the 1080 UB is priced well under the JVC RS2, and this is also as it should be. The RS2 is the superior projector in terms of black levels, contrast, and saturation. For the premium dollar you spend on the RS2, you get visibly better performance. So as we've seen before, you can safely discard the official contrast ratings (50,000:1 on the 1080 UB vs. 30,000:1 on the RS2) as reliable guides to relative contrast performance.
We have not yet had the opportunity to do side by side testing between the Epson 1080 UB and the JVC RS1. This will be an important section in the review since these two models are more closely matched in price and performance. The fact is, you can get either one of them and end up with a magnificent home theater set up.
As far as the Epson Cinema 720 is concerned, this is a beautiful 720p resolution product that represents a significant improvement over the Cinema 400 in contrast, saturation, and color accuracy. Bill will have more to say about this in the review, but the Cinema 720 is highly competitive at its current street price level. Epson fans can order this one today without any fear of not getting top performance for the dollar spent.