The Epson HomeCinema 8350 is the company's newest entry level home theater model, priced now at just $1,299. It replaces last year's HomeCinema 8100 which was at $1,499. Maximum brightness has been boosted from 1800 to 2000 lumens, and contrast is up from 30,000:1 to 50,000:1. This all sounds like incremental improvements and a modest price reduction...nothing to get overly excited about, right?
Wrong. The 8350 now uses the same inorganic C2Fine D7 LCD panels that Epson has been using in its higher priced and higher performance 8500 UB and 9500 UB, but not in the 8100. The result is that the 8350 has a more substantial increase in picture quality over the 8100 than the modest spec changes would lead you to believe. And while the 8100 was an excellent value at $1,499 by last year's standards, the 8350 is a much stronger offering yet.
When the 8350 is set for maximum brightness, black levels are not very impressive. But when it is tuned up and calibrated for maximum video quality, it produces a stunning picture; a very sharp image with excellent color balance and saturation, and remarkable depth and tonal range.
Today is Day #2 of the CEDIA show. The Epson HomeCinema 8350 is a sleeper, lost in the noise at the moment. Everyone's attention is riveted on the dramatic LCoS-based 3D 1080p product releases from JVC, Mitsubishi, and Sony. People are buzzing about Epson's move to reflective LCD to augment the higher end of their line. And people are shocked and dismayed that after all the hype over cheap 3D-ready DLP projectors this past year, DLP shows up at this CEDIA with very little happening in the 3D 1080p category.
It is no wonder that the lowly Epson 8350 gets hardly a glance. But keep an eye on it, for it is a great deal more formidable than it looks. After the dust settles and buyers focus on the best value for the money, the Epson HomeCinema 8350 at $1,299 is likely to be the #1 top selling home theater projector released at this show.
posted Thursday, Sept 23
2:00 PM, 9/23
Sharp jumps into the 1080p resolution 3D projector market with the XV-Z17000. Rated at 30,000:1 native contrast ratio and 1600 lumens bright, this DLP unit will deliver 3D via IR Link and DLP Link technologies. Sharp has no comment on price just yet. It won't be available until sometime during the first quarter of 2011, so they have plenty of time to evaluate the competitive landscape before making any decisions.
A few more notes.... Vivitek is announcing two new 1080p models far in advance of expected availability. Both are unique. The H9030FD is a very short throw DLP projector with LED-lamp and estimated 20,000 hours lamp life. It carries a 50,000:1 contrast rating and a brightness of 1000 lumens. It is 3D enabled, and it should be shipping sometime next summer. Price and other details are not available.
Vivitek's future D8300 is another 1080p DLP model, but this one is a much brighter 6500 lumen unit for larger venues. This one is not LED or 3D ready, so a different concept entirely. It is not expected to ship until a year from now, and no price info is available.
projectiondesign is touting the world's first superwidescreen projector, with a native resolution of 2538x1080. Based on DLP chips of that resolution, the avielo optix SuperWide 235 is the first digital projector to come in a native 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Since it eliminates the need for an anamorphic lens, it promises a sharper image than one can get with the A-lens option. There is little information available at this time, including contrast or lumen ratings, 3D compatibility, 3-chip or 1-chip design, price or availability. We will update when more info is available.
Sony just announced another model, the VPL-VWPRO1. This one is not 3D-enabled, but it is SXRD 1080p at a lower price than we've seen before. 1,300 ANSI lumens, and an iris-assisted contrast rating of 85,000:1. It is bundled with an additional lamp, and will be available in early October for about $3,400.
JVC gets aggressive and goes after the higher volume consumer market announcing the DLA-HD250 from JVC Consumer and the DLA-HD250Pro from JVC Professional. This is the first time a D-ILA product has dropped beneath $3,000. It is rated at a native contrast of 25,000:1 and 1,000 ANSI lumens brightness. Keep in mind that contrast is native, not enhanced by an auto iris.
The DLA-HD250/250Pro features a 2x motorized zoom lens with auto dust cover, as well as on-screen, customizable gamma control and quiet (19dB) operation.
Sony debuts the VPL-VW90ES, for 3D in full 1080p with SXRD 240Hz panels which can reduce the image crosstalk or distortion. Contrast rating is an iris-assisted 150,000:1. This unit will be available in November for about $10,000.
As previously mentioned here, Mitsubishi is showing its new flagship Diamond 3D projector, aka the HC9000D, based on Sony's SXRD technology. Rated at 120,000:1, and 1000 lumens, it features a 1.8x powered zoom/focus, powered lens shift, and what appears to be a very solid frame interpolation capability. No price is yet available on this model. We will be looking for it later this fall in the Nov/Dec timeframe.
Digital Projection is showing the world's first 3D projector based on single-chip DLP technology, the M-Vision Cine 400-3D. It is rated at 5500 lumens, so it is made for a much larger than average home theater. The company says it will be available for under $20,000. IF you don't happened to have that much cash on hand to drop on a projector, but want 3D 1080p, all of the LCOS based models from JVC, Mitsubishi, and Sony are or will be more aggressively priced. So far the least expensive is the JVC RS40, at $4,495, and the priciest is JVC's RS60 at $11,995. Sony is at $10,000. The Mitsubishi Diamond 3D is not yet priced.
JVC is releasing SIX new models, and all of them are 3D-enabled. Three are the Reference Series DLA-RS60, DLA-RS50 and DLA-RS40, to be marketed by JVC’s Professional Products Group, and the other three are identical units sold as the Procision Series DLA-X9, DLA-X7 and DLA-X3, to be available through JVC’s Consumer Electronics Group.
The flagship units are the DLA-RS60 and its counterpart, the DLA-X9. These units carry a 100,000:1 native contrast rating. Native means it is not enhanced by auto iris or any other electronic means, so this is indeed a very significant rating. These units should ship at the end of November, with a price of $11,995.
The mid-line models are the DLA-RS50 and DLA X7. They have native contrast of 70,000:1, and are priced at $7,995.
Entry level units in the JVC line are the DLA-RS40 and DLA-X3. Contrast ratings on these models are native 50,000:1, and they are priced at $4,495.
All of these new units are rated at 1300 lumens, which is notably brighter than previous models. They all have JVC's Clear Motion Drive frame interpolation. The 3D hardware which includes active shutter glasses and emitter, are optional and not included in the base prices. All models are expected to be available by late November.
Epson will price its new home theater models as follows: The entry level HomeCinema 8350 will be at $1,299. The ProCinema 9350, following the pattern of years past, will be $1,000 higher at $2,299. The HomeCinema 8700 UB which replaces the 8500 UB, will be at $2,199, and its counterpart, the ProCinema 9700 UB is $3,199. These models should be available within the next couple of weeks.
Epson's new reflective LCD models with the highest contrast performance yet are the HomeCinema 21000 at $3,299, and the ProCinema 31000 at $4,499. Both of these models are rated at iris-assisted 500,000:1 contrast. The ProCinema 61000 (rated at an iris-assisted 1 Million:1 contrast) is at $6,999. Epson does not expect to ship these units until December.
Mitsubishi is showing the new HC4000, their replacement of the entry level HC3800. Contrast has been boosted, and they claim an ANSI contrast of a whopping 750:1 on this model. The official price remains unchanged at $1,495.
If you are awaiting news from Panasonic, you'll have to wait a while longer. Panasonic is not releasing any new product information at this show. We have no information on what might be coming from Panasonic, or when. But keep in mind that last fall the company waited until October 9, four weeks after CEDIA, to announce the AE4000. So another October announcement would not be a huge surprise.