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Issues with the Epson

In case you have not been tuning in lately, we've been trying to resolve an issue with the Epson 6500UB and 6100 before proceeding with the reviews. The issue is that they tend to fall out of focus during the first half hour of a viewing session, if they have been started up at room temperature. Epson maintains that this may occur during an initial break-in period, but that they will stabilize with time. We have been putting our test units through a series of power up and power down cycles, and putting some hours on them to see if the defocusing issue is resolved with normal use.

What we can say so far is this. First, there seems to be a variance in the degree to which any given unit is susceptible to defocusing. The first of the two 6500UB's we received showed the most severe defocusing. If you focused it upon start up, after about 30 minutes it was obviously blurry.
The second 6500UB does the same thing, but it does not defocus to the same degree the first one did. We have also received a 6100, and that unit shows the same tendency to defocus as the two 6500's. The severity of the issue on the 6100 falls about half way between the first and the second 6500UBs...not as bad as the first one, but it loses more focus than our newer 6500UB.

We are puzzled as to why there is a noticeable difference in the degree to which defocusing occurs on these three units. We have asked Epson whether there are any physical differences that could account for it, but have not yet received a response. If there is nothing different in the design, perhaps these differences are simply due to manufacturing variances.

At this point we have 65 hours on the 6500UB, and about 30 hours on the 6100. So far we are not seeing any significant mitigation of the problem. However, it is possible that we will see improvement as we accumulate more hours on the projectors. We will continue to run these units to see how they may settle in.

As we've been exploring this, we wondered whether other projectors might be susceptible to the same problem, and perhaps we just had not noticed it before. So we went back to retest several 1080p projectors we have on hand, including the BenQ W20000, the Panasonic AE3000, the Sanyo Z3000, and the Mitsubishi HC6500. We were happy to see that the BenQ 20000, the Panny AE3000 and the Mits HC6500 all remained in perfect focus after one hour's runtime. The Sanyo Z3000 had shifted just a hair from perfect after one hour, but you'd need a microscope to measure the difference. The tiny shift would never been noticed by anyone, and it is not enough to have any impact on the Z3000's picture quality or sharpness. So the bottom line is that none of these four projectors have any tendency to defocus in the manner we are seeing on the Epson models.

If you have any personal experience as an owner of any of the new Epson home theater models--either good or bad--I'd like to hear from you.

Stay tuned....we will report more as we learn more. This is an interesting mystery.

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