Epson Pro Cinema 1985 WUXGA 3LCD Projector
  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value

The Epson Pro Cinema 1985 is all about delivering a bright, high resolution (1920x1200) picture in ambient light. Though it carries the name "Pro Cinema," it is really more of a hybrid cinema/business design that could find good application anywhere ambient light is an issue, from sports bars to corporate conference rooms. It lacks 3D, detail enhancement, and frame interpolation, three features that are now common in cinema projectors including many of Epson's models. Meanwhile, it incorporates an array of business features like its native 16:10 aspect ratio, a pointer on the remote, digital zoom, a front foot for quick elevation in portable set up, auto-keystone, A/V muting, and an onboard speaker.

So the 1985 is essentially a commercial business projector with better video capability than you'd typically expect on a business projector. Whether your need is for big screen sports presentation in a pub or casino sports book, or detailed financial spreadsheets in the boardroom, the Epson 1985 is definitely a projector to look at. It delivers high image brightness and HD resolution in a small, easy to install package at a modest price.

Picture Quality

The Epson 1985 has a variety of color presets depending on whether you want more brightness and less color fidelity, or less brightness in exchange for more accurate color. The Dynamic preset shows the most bias toward green and is also the brightest option. The Presentation and Sports modes show less of a greenish tint than Dynamic, but still manifest a moderately green bias.

The two modes that show the most accurate color balance are Theater and sRGB. Essentially, Theatre is an enhanced version of sRGB, with higher brightness, and better saturation and contrast. Appropriately named, the Theatre mode will be the best choice for users wanting to get the most satisfying video picture from the 1985.

At full lamp power, the Theatre mode produces about 3000 lumens, and in eco-mode it is about 2000 lumens. By comparison, the Epson 5030UB's Living Room mode, after color balance adjustments, measured 1550 lumens, although with much higher contrast and superior black levels. These two projectors sell in the ballpark of the same price, and offer you the choice of a brighter but less refined picture on the 1985, or the less bright image but better picture quality on the 5030UB.

In all of the 1985's presets the Sharpness control defaults to 0. However, the Sharpness control is on a scale from -5 to +5, so 0 is the midpoint of the enhanced sharpening algorithms. The -5 position is where sharpening is fully off. In viewing video, we agree with the designer's choice to set Sharpness at 0, as the picture appears too soft with no sharpening applied. However, when viewing spreadsheets and complex graphics, the sharpening algorithms add a harshness that we don't care for. For this type of subject matter, you get the cleanest picture with Sharpness set to -5.

The 1985 is an excellent projector for boardroom/conference room display of text, spreadsheets, graphics, and Powerpoint presentations. And its video is plenty solid for commercial use in varying degrees of ambient light. With lights off, depending on the size and type of screen, it may lack the dynamic range to deliver a satisfying image with lower than average light level material such as night scenes in movies.

The weakest aspect of the 1985's image is black levels and shadow detail/separation. This weakness becomes most noticeable when the projector is used on a very large screen with movie material that contains a lot of dark scenes. Accordingly, this product is not recommended for home theater use.

If the anticipated subject matter is sports programming for pub and casino sports book presentation, the modest black levels on the 1985 are much less of a limitation since the average light levels in sports programming material are above average and there is very little "dark scene" presentation. Moreover, the brightness of the 1985's image boosts visible contrast. The use of an ambient light rejection screen will also add significant pop to the end result, making the picture look like a very large screen high contrast TV.

Professional installers will want to experiment with the variables of screen size, ambient light rejection screen materials, and anticipated ambient light to determine the optimal solutions for the commercial installations they are working with. But in the hands of pros who know these products, the Epson 1985 is capable of being set up in commercial venues to produce a bold and dramatic video image, such that it's less than stellar black levels are rendered irrelevant.


Key Features

Very Bright Picture. With lumen readings as high as 4400, and Cinema calibration readings around 3000 lumens, the 1985 delivers a very bright picture for its modest 10-lb form factor.

WUXGA Resolution. High 1920x1200 resolution ensures excellent detail reproduction for everything from detailed financial spreadsheets to complex graphics to 1080p video.

Wireless connection. Provides wireless streaming from computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

3LCD Light Engine. Three chip light engine design ensures that color brightness is 100% of white brightness.

Split Screen Capability. Simultaneously projects two images, video or still, side by side, from two different sources.

Small and portable. Though it will most likely be used in fixed installations such as conference rooms and sports bars, the 1985 is small enough and light enough, at only 10 lbs, to be used in transportable applications as well. It also has convenience features for portable conference room use such as a front foot elevator and automatic keystone correction which engages when the projector is tilted.

1.6x manual zoom lens. Provides good versatility for projector placement, and as a bonus, loses very little light at the telephoto end.

Reasonably good onboard sound. A single 16-watt speaker provides onboard audio sufficient for small to mid-size conference room if needed.

Remote network monitoring and control. Remote network control includes message broadcasting and built-in schedule functions.

Epson 1985 Rear Connection Panel


H+V keystone. Horizontal keystone is +/- 20 degrees and vertical is +/- 30 degrees.

Lamp life and price. Epson estimates lamp life at full power to be 3000 hours in Normal lamp mode and 4000 in eco, but may vary depending on operating conditions. Replacement lamps are priced at a notably low $149, following an apparent trend toward much more aggressively priced lamps from Epson. (The Epson Home Cinema 2040, available at this writing for $699, has a replacement lamp price of just $79.)

Warranties. The Epson 1985 comes with a two year limited warranty on the projector and 90 days on the lamp.

Performance

Brightness. The Epson Pro Cinema 1985 is rated at 4800 lumens. It has a total of seven factory programmed color presets that on our test sample range from 4414 lumens to 2113 lumens. There are no separate "user" modes, but all seven presets can be fully calibrated by the user, so in essence it has seven user modes with suggested starting points. With the lamp on full power and the zoom lens set to its widest angle position, our test unit produced ANSI lumens readings as follows:

Epson ProCinema 1985 ANSI Lumens

MODE
Normal Lamp
Eco mode
Dynamic
4414
2957
Presentation
3372
2259
Theatre
2956
1981
Sports
3640
2439
sRGB
2351
1575
Blackboard
2113
1415
Whiteboard
2460
1648

Zoom lens effect. The 1985 has a manual 1.6x zoom lens that will curtail light output by up to a modest 15% as you move from its brightest, most wide angle position, to its most telephoto (longest throw for a given image size). This is less light loss than is typical for zoom lenses of this range, which in some cases can reduce light up to 30% or more.

The projector's optional eco mode reduces light output by 33% in all color presets. This mode reduces fan noise and increases lamp life, along with its brightness reduction.

Brightness Uniformity. Uniformity on our test sample measures 81%, which is good but not excellent for a video projector. The illumination is remarkably uniform over about 75% of the image from the left toward the right, and then fades a bit on the right side. The fading is not anything most viewers would notice while watching video/film content.

Input lag. The Bodnar meter reports an input lag of 72 ms when the projector is in Fine mode. Fast mode shortens the lag time to about 35 ms. In fast mode the image quality is compromised in very subtle ways. There is a slight reduction in clarity and an increase in digital noise. But if you did not have the Fine picture to compare it to, you'd still be perfectly happy with the picture in Fast mode. This is a substantial improvement over earlier generations of Epson units, on which the Fast mode caused an obvious degradation in picture quality. Bottom line, gamers will want to opt for the Fast mode since the gain in speed is worth far more than the very slight diminishment of picture acuity.

Fan noise. In eco-mode, the audible noise on this projector is low in pitch and remarkably quiet for a projector of its lumen output. You could easily use it in a small conference room and have the noise be largely unnoticeable. When putting it into full lamp power, the pitch and sound pressure both increase to the point where it could be distracting in a small conference room.

High Altitude Mode is required at elevations above 1500 m, or about 5000 feet. In this mode both the sound pressure and pitch are incrementally increased over normal mode. At this level, the noise would be overbearing in a small conference room. However, considering the amount of light being produced, the fan noise is not as loud as we would have anticipated.

On-board audio. The 1985 has a single 16-watt speaker which is reasonably loud and serviceable for small to medium conference room use. It has no distortion when driven to its maximum, but it's all about that treble, no bass. The sound is clear, but somewhat thin and lacking in depth. No surprise for a small speaker, but we've heard onboard audio on small projectors that does have a bit more depth in the bass.

Set Up

The Epson 1985 will thrown a 120" diagonal 16:9 image from a distance of between 11' 8" and 19' 4", give or take a couple inches. With this size screen, if you choose to place it at 11' 8", image brightness is maximized. If you set it all the way back at 19 feet, image brightness is reduced by a modest 15%. If you put it at 15.5 feet (the midpoint of the zoom lens), brightness is reduced by about 7.5%. This is not much lumen loss, so image brightness is a minor issue in deciding your optimum throw distance.

Since this is a bright projector, it will accommodate screen sizes much larger than 120", so use the Projection Calculator to determine your actual throw distance options based your desired screen size.

The 1985 has an upward throw angle which positions about 92% of the image above the centerline of the lens, and 8% below it. There is no vertical lens shift, so unless you want to use keystone adjustments, make every effort to install the projector perpendicular to the screen, and position the projector at just the right elevation to fill your screen without needing to tilt it.

Epson 1985 remote

This lens configuration is designed to be used most efficiently either table mounted or inverted and ceiling mounted. As is typical with this design, placing the projector on a rear shelf and projecting over the heads of the audience will be problematic. You would probably need to tilt the projector downward to position the image properly. This will require keystone adjustment, and depending on the height of the shelf relative to the screen it may require more than the maximum allowable tilt, which is 15 degrees. Also keep in mind that the manual stipulates a clearance of 20 inches between the rear of the projector and the wall. So this is not a "bookshelf" projector.

Installation Trade-offs

Ideal throw distance. Where is the ideal placement when you've got a 1.6x zoom and you can choose to ceiling mount it anywhere between about 12 and 19 feet to hit a 120" screen? The trade-offs are these:

1. If you place it at 12 feet, you get the maximum light output from the projector which is good if you need it. The downside is that in this position it throws the widest angle cone of projected light, and light striking the screen toward the sides of the image will tend to bounce off away from the center viewing position. So it is a bit less than ideal for even screen illumination.

2. If you place it at 19 feet, you reduce the maximum light output by 15%, but if that is already bright enough it doesn't matter. The advantage is that you narrow the cone of projected light, providing a more even illumination of the screen since light hitting the sides of the screen does not bounce off at as much of an oblique angle.

3. If you place it at 15.5 feet, you get equal trade-offs of the above. Also, in theory the midpoint of the zoom lens is its optical sweet spot, but it is doubtful that a WUXGA resolution image is going to tax the optical resolution of the lens enough for you to notice.

Plan for lamp degradation. In planning your installation, keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is to anticipate that high pressure lamps will lose 25% of their brightness in the first 500 hours of operation, then degrade more slowly after that. With this in mind, many people select their screen size and screen gain assuming they will use the projector's eco-mode for the first 500-750 hours, then switch to full lamp mode for the remainder of the lamp's life. By following this strategy you can even out the average light levels on the screen over the lamp's entire life. On the other hand, since the replacement lamp at $149 is so cheap relative to the projector, if you need the full light output you can simply replace lamps more frequently than the estimated full lamp life to keep the unit operating at its brightest potential.


Limitations

Not the best choice for home theater. The 1985 is for ambient light applications with subject matter that is of average light levels and higher. Black levels and shadow detail separation are weaker than you would get with a home theater projector. This is most noticeable in movie subject matter that has much lower than average light levels. In a dark home theater you are better served by a home theater projector that is less bright, but has deeper blacks and better shadow separation.

Fan noise. The audible noise in Normal (full) lamp mode is enough that it would be distracting if placed on a table in a small conference room. Plan to operate in eco-mode in this situation, or ceiling mount it as far from the table as is possible.

No lens shift. It would be nice to have a bit of manual lens shift on this unit, but it isn't there, so plan the positioning of the projector relative to the screen very carefully. The fixed throw angle positions about 90% of the image above the centerline of the lens, so if it is used on a conference table it would most likely need to be tilted upward.

No 3D capability. It's not likely that anyone would want to set this up for large audience viewing of 3D, but you can't do it even if you wanted to.

No frame interpolation or detail enhancement. Since the 1985 is a "pro cinema" projector it is surprising that it does not have the video processing features that have appeared for some time on other Epson models including the Home Cinema 5030UB and the entry level Home Cinema 2040.

Anamorphic lens compatibility. There is no vertical stretch aspect ratio. It would be rare for someone to want to use an A-lens with this projector, but if they did an external video processor would be required to accommodate the vertical stretch.

Conclusion

The Epson Pro Cinema 1985 is a combination video/data projector designed for use in ambient light. It delivers a bright, clean, sharp data image and, when set up to optimize its strengths, a sparking video picture as well. At ten pounds, it is compact, easy to install, and reasonably transportable. It is ideal for the display of football, NBA, hockey and other sports content as the average light level in the picture is consistently high, and thus the need for a lot of shadow separation and deep blacks is not required to make the picture pop.

Weakness in black levels means that we would not choose the 1985 for large scale cinema installations where the viewing room is dark and the subject matter is movies. Quite simply, this is not where its talents lie.

Overall, the Epson 1985 is an attractive video/data projector that will be ideal for sports bars and other commercial venues when installed by professionals who can optimize the variables of screen size, screen materials, and ambient light in the installations they are working with. At a retail of $2,499 it is a solid value when deployed in applications for which image brightness and detail definition are primary objectives.


For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson Pro Cinema 1985 projector page.

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