As some of you have noticed, we have not yet given an Editor's Choice Award in the 1080p category. The reason is ... well, we are in a holding pattern. We are waiting to see if Epson can fix the most annoying bugs in the Home Cinema 6500UB. The 6500 UB delivers a vibrant, high contrast, crowd-pleasing picture, no question about it. However, the initial defocusing problem was disturbing, and frame interpolation (FI) has never performed as well as it does on the Panasonic AE3000.
Since the 6500UB's release, Epson has resolved the defocusing issue so that is no longer a concern. As far as FI is concerned, Epson product management says that they will issue an improved FI system, and that it will be downloadable. We are still waiting to see if and when a new version of FI appears, whether it will work better than the original, and whether it will indeed be downloadable.
At this point, we can say that if Epson can come up with an FI system that matches the performance of the AE3000, we'd probably give the Editor's Choice Award to the Home Cinema 6500 UB based on brightness, black levels, and overall image appeal to the consumer. Meanwhile, if we were to issue the award today, it would go to the AE3000 for three reasons. First, with Blu-ray in 24p output with FI activated, the AE3000 delivers a virtually judder-free image that is superior in smoothness and stability to the 6500UB. And for most subject matter, the digital video effect produced by FI is not nearly as pronounced on the AE3000 as it is on the 6500UB. Second, color is more precise on the AE3000 in its Cinema modes, which video purists will appreciate. Third, since many users are going with 2.35 CIH format screens these days, the AE3000 offers a creative, money-saving alternative to the expense of an anamorphic lens, whereas the 6500UB does not.
So as we ponder these issues, we wonder what your thoughts are. Do you care about frame interpolation? Would you buy a projector without FI, or with an FI system you wouldn't want to use? How about 2.35 screen format? Does the AE3000's ability to auto zoom to fill a 2.35 screen appeal to you? Or is this feature something you'd never use, and thus irrelevant in your selection of a projector?
By the way, currently in the review cycle are the JVC RS10 and RS20. The new Elite Starbright ambient light screen just arrived yesterday, and we'll be looking at that very soon as well.