Normally when we talk about home video projectors as opposed to home theater projectors, we're referring to small, inexpensive units built for use in ambient light where traditional home theater projectors aren't bright enough to put up a satisfying image. These projectors have also been called living room projectors or home entertainment projectors, and they are usually brighter and lower in resolution than a home theater projector.
The Epson Pro Cinema G6900 is a big step up from the traditional home video projector, being larger, brighter and higher in resolution. The Pro Cinema G6900 is rated at 6,000 lumens, and its WUXGA (1920x1200) resolution is much higher than typical home video projectors. With a pile of useful features and a good quality video image, the Pro Cinema G6900 may be an ideal solution for larger than average screens in ambient light.
Since the Pro Cinema G6900 is made for ambient light situations there is a focus on light output and color saturation, while black level takes a back seat. In ambient light a projected image's black level is always compromised, so extra lumen output is needed to produce the sparkling image everyone wants. The G6900 accomplishes this with several preset color modes that produce up to five times the light output of many home theater projectors.
Color accuracy is quite good without any calibration, even in the projector's brightest modes. The native WUXGA resolution LCD panels can display 1080p video without scaling, only leaving small black bars at the top and bottom of the image. What's more, the Pro Cinema G6900's frame interpolation system can eliminate judder from video signals and reduce it significantly in film. And when room lighting permits, the auto iris can deepen black levels significantly, so movies watched in the dark benefit from improved contrast.
The Pro Cinema G6900 is compatible with interchangeable lenses, but the projector is sold both as a bare body and as a package with the Standard Zoom lens. The Standard Zoom is a 1.82:1 lens with manual adjustments that can display a 120" diagonal 16:9 image from 11' to 20' of throw distance. The projector also has manual lens shift in both the vertical and horizontal, allowing for approximately 70% adjustment in either direction vertically and almost 40% adjustment to the left or right.
Due to this flexible lensing, the Pro Cinema G6900 can be installed either in a ceiling or rear shelf mount. A low table mount is also possible, though living rooms tend to be higher-traffic areas than theaters and you should consider placement to avoid both accidents and common walking paths which intersect the projection axis.
Image quality. Though it was originally built as a presentation projector, the Pro Cinema G6900 is successful as a home video projector due to its excellent image quality. Even in the projector's brightest modes, the Pro Cinema G6900 has well-saturated color, detail that is sharp and clear, well-defined shadow detail, and a balanced, natural look. Features such as an automatic iris and frame interpolation are icing on the cake.
Frame interpolation. The Pro Cinema G6900 has a frame interpolation system very similar to that found on Epson's home theater projectors. Setting frame interpolation to "Low" smooths out judder in 24p film without adding digital video effect, creating a smoother picture without objectionable artifacts. The "High" setting is a good choice for video and content that runs at 30 or 60 frames per second. This removes nearly all judder from the image.
Connectivity. No matter what device you need to hook up to the Pro Cinema G6900, the projector can handle it. In addition to the dual HDMI inputs, the projector also has a DisplayPort connector for your home theater PC, BNC component for your legacy DVD player or game console, both wired and wireless (with adapter) networking, and HDBaseT. HDBaseT, if you haven't heard of it, is a new connection that combines the functions of HDMI, ethernet, and RS232 over a single cat5e or cat6 cable. You'll still need transmitter hardware, but the receiver is built in to the projector itself.
Arc correction. Normally, curved screens are used with anamorphic lenses to increase brightness and reduce pincushion distortion. But if you happen to have a curved screen and want to use the Pro Cinema G6900 on it without an anamorphic lens, the projector can alter its image to properly fit the curved surface.
360-degree projection. Personally, I've always wanted a projector to shine onto my bedroom ceiling so I could lounge in bed and watch movies. While the Pro Cinema G6900 is a touch overpowered for the average bedroom, the projector's 360-degree projection feature means it can be positioned in any orientation without overheating or prematurely aging the lamp. You could just as easily shine an image down onto your floor, which might be fun for multiplayer video games.
Scheduler. The problem with using a projector as a TV is that people retain their poor TV habits -- they leave the projector on all the time, even when no one's using it. To prevent this, you can use the Pro Cinema G6900's scheduling feature to shut off the projector at a specified time. You can also set different times for each day or the week or even specific calendar days. In addition to on/off control, the scheduler can change sources, lamp power, adjust the volume of the onboard speaker, and mute both picture and video.
Low fan noise. The Pro Cinema G6900 isn't quiet on an absolute scale, but it's certainly quiet for a 6,000 lumen projector. There's no whining noise or high-pitched component to the sound, just a steady, low rush of air.
4 year warranty with overnight replacement. When it comes to projector warranties, four years is above and beyond. The warranty also includes 90 days of coverage on the lamp.
Light output. The Pro Cinema G6900 is rated at 6,000 ANSI lumens. We obtained a reading of 6021 lumens using the projector's internal test pattern and Dynamic mode, which is the projector's brightest. However, switching to any external source reduced light output in Dynamic to a maximum of 5012 lumens, with brightness uniformity of 85%.
On many projectors "Dynamic" mode is an over-green, over-bright, under-saturated image mode that maximizes light output at the cost of image quality. On the Pro Cinema G6900, though, Dynamic mode still has respectable color saturation and contrast performance despite its high brightness. If you're using the Pro Cinema G6900 in a well-lit room and need the extra output, there's nothing wrong with using Dynamic mode to get it.
Presentation mode produced 3922 lumens and has a bluish tint, which can be useful when dealing with yellow ambient light. Presentation mode has superior color accuracy and black level performance to Dynamic mode, and can be useful when room lighting is not as severe.
Theatre mode, at 4049 lumens, has better color saturation and accuracy than both Presentation and Dynamic modes as well as a default gamma calibration that brings out more shadow detail in the darkest areas of the image. You will note that Theatre mode is slightly brighter than Presentation mode, though not enough to make a difference in visible image brightness. In a room with less ambient light, Theatre mode produces its best image with the auto iris engaged and the lamp set to low power, which reduces light output to 2632 lumens.
Sports mode, at 4285 lumens, has the same blue bias as Presentation and is appropriate for live television and video content.
Any image mode can be reduced in brightness by switching to ECO lamp mode. ECO mode reduces lamp power by 36% and can bring the Pro Cinema G6900 to a more appropriate level of brightness for smaller screens or rooms with reduced ambient light.
Contrast. Though black level is not the projector's strongest suit, the Pro Cinema G6900 produces a well-balanced image with sufficient contrast for viewing most film and video. The default gamma does a fine job of preserving shadow detail, though we did boost Brightness by a point or two to prevent crushing of very deep shadows. The automatic iris is useful for deepening black level when room conditions allow.
Color. Even in its brightest modes, the Pro Cinema G6900's color is well-saturated. Color light output matches white light output, so that color-rich images are balanced, bright, vibrant and engaging.
Sharpness and Clarity. The Pro Cinema G6900 is native WUXGA. While WUXGA is not a video resolution per se, you can simply think of it as a 16:10 version of 1080p. In other words, you can still display 1080p film and video content natively on the Pro Cinema G6900, leaving small black bars at the top and bottom of the image. Since scaling isn't required, you still get the benefits of a 1:1 pixel match -- namely, sharpness and clarity of detail.
There is significant digital noise present in Dynamic mode when watching film or video. This noise is much less evident in the projector's other image modes, so it is best to use Sports or Theatre mode if you find the digital noise objectionable and you can afford the reduction in light output.
Input Lag. Straight out of the box, the Pro Cinema G6900 measured 92.3 milliseconds of input lag, or five and a half frames on a 60 FPS signal. Like other Epson projectors, the Pro Cinema G6900 includes an option to use either "Fast" or "Fine" image processing. Fast processing reduces input lag to 40 milliseconds, or just over two frames.
Contrast. The Pro Cinema G6900 is rated at 5,000:1 contrast. While dynamic range in bright scenes is plenty strong, scenes heavy in shadows and mid-tones tend to lack snap due to the projector's lackluster black level, and the greater the ambient light the more the picture is compromised. Pairing the Pro Cinema G6900 with a contrast-enhancing screen material is an excellent way to mitigate this problem.
Zoom lens light loss. Almost all zoom lenses reduce the amount of light that reaches the screen as move toward the telephoto end of the range, and long zoom lenses (those with zoom ratios at or above 1.5:1) can reduce light output significantly. Using the Pro Cinema G6900's Standard Zoom lens, light output is reduced by 35% at maximum telephoto (the smallest image for a given throw distance). In other words, maximum light output in Dynamic mode falls to 3260 lumens. That's enough of a drop that you might want to consider mounting the projector closer to the screen or using the next lens in the lineup rather than trying to make do with the Standard Zoom.
Input lag. With 92.3 ms (around five and a half frames) of input lag using Fine processing, film and video may have visible audio delay if a correction circuit is not used. Fast processing is an option, reducing delay to 40 ms, but that setting also decreases image resolution. We would not recommend the Pro Cinema G6900 for gamers who need super-fast response times, but casual games should still be playable as long as exact timing isn't a requirement.
WUXGA. WUXGA is a 16:10 version of 1080p, just as WXGA was a 16:10 version of 720p. When viewing 16:9 film and video, you'll have small black bars at the top and bottom of your image. On the other hand, this does allow you to connect a computer or other data source and use the projector's full WUXGA resolution.
Black case color. The Pro Cinema G6900 comes only in black. That may be what you want, but in rooms where ambient light is normally present you may prefer white. If so, Epson has another projector, the PowerLite Pro G6750WU, which comes in a white case and is virtually identical to the Pro Cinema G6900 in design and performance -- the G6750WU has the same 6,000 lumen output, 5,000:1 contrast, excellent color, and WUXGA native resolution. It features the same automatic iris and frame interpolation system, and it has the same lensing options.
There are two differences between the G6900 and the G6750WU. The G6750WU lacks advanced edge blending, and it lacks HD-SDI, making it more difficult to connect some professional video equipment. If neither of those things are relevant for your needs and you prefer a white case, the G6750WU may be the better option for you. One additional benefit is that the G6750WU costs $500 less than the G6900.
Taken as a whole, the Pro Cinema G6900 is an impressive projector. High light output and great color performance create a sparkling, commanding image, even in rooms with lots of ambient light. The connection panel is packed tight with digital connections ranging from HDMI to DisplayPort to HDBaseT, allowing the Pro Cinema G6900 to connect to almost any device imaginable. The Standard Zoom lens and extensive lens shift make the projector easy to install, and interchangeable lenses ensure that even those who can't use the Standard Zoom can still fit the projector into their homes.
All in all, the Epson Pro Cinema G6900 is a powerful, highly capable projector that brings the big-screen experience to your living room in a way that was not previously possible. Video and film can now be displayed on very large screens regardless of ambient light. When paired with an ambient light rejecting screen surface, the Pro Cinema G6900 becomes even more capable, and the end result looks like the biggest television you'll ever own. At $6,499, the Pro Cinema G6900 is a great way to bring the big screen out of the dark.
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