One of the movie’s chapters deals with different styles of dress around the world, and the colorful garments and adornments of a group of villagers from somewhere in Africa just leaps off the screen. At the same time in other scenes, skin tones are never garish or over-driven, a testament to the Epson being able to exactly match the color gamut as defined in the HD standard.
Rich and sumptuous, the blacks need no assistance from the dynamic contrast or motorized iris functions. While Epson claims that the motorized iris is twice as speedy as in past offerings, there’s still noticeable lag when there’s a scene break from a darkly lit scene to a bright one. Best to leave it off. With smaller screens, turning the lamp output to the lower setting reduces overall brightness by around 20%, improving blacks and saving some energy.
Filmed all over the world, the movie takes the viewer on a global journey that includes a stop at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Here the camera lingers behind a military guard who’s looking out over the square, and the Epson has no problem displaying the crisp details of the back of his uniform, even though the subject is lit mostly from the front, not the back.
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: United States Of Tara (Showtime via Dish Network)
With a three-panel projector, any mis-convergence can cause noticeable color fringing, especially with sharp white text and graphics. From a normal viewing distance, the Epson delivered crisp white detail, with no discernable fringing, even at the screen edges.
Here, the Epson delivers a natural color palette, with vividness when called for, and a more reserved one in the many shadowy and dimly lit interior scenes.
An outdoor scene in a driveway has an actress sitting in a jet-black Audi sports convertible, and she’s wearing a white tennis outfit trimmed in black, and the Epson renders both beautifully.
Another scene has two male actors in a BMW Mini, and the Epson allows me to see details of the car’s interior easily, including the dark gray headliner and dark tinted moon-roof.
While not the top of Epson’s range of 1080p home theater projectors (their Pro Cinema 9500 UB holds that distinction), the Home Cinema 8500 UB shares all of the most important features and key components, at a price that’s two thirds that of its bigger brother.
No doubt helped by the THX certification process, the HC 8500 UB in THX mode puts forth a flat out gorgeous picture, and it’s a champion performer on the test bench too. While the Dynamic and Living Room picture modes allow a much brighter image (almost three times as bright), the THX mode is the one to select, and thanks to Epson’s own E-TORL high efficiency 200 watt lamp, the HC 8500 UB still delivers a sufficiently bright image for screen sizes well above 10 feet diagonal in the lower output THX picture mode.
While I do wish that Epson would address the sloppy-handling lens shift controls (I’ve griped about this before, as a predecessor model had exactly the same fault), it’s the picture quality that ultimately counts, and here Epson has another class-leading winner, and at a most reasonable price too.
Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB
Practical Screen Size Upper Limit (10 Foot-Lamberts, 1.0 gain): 145” diagonal 16:9
Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Has Mode 1 Scaling (vertical stretch for external anamorphic lens compatibility)?: No
Video inputs: 2 HDMI, 1 component, 1 S-video, 1 composite, 1 RGB PC
Other connections: 1 12V trigger output, 1 RS-232C serial port
Dimensions (W x H x D): 17.7” x 5.4” x 14.2”
Weight: 16.5 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years parts & labor; 90 days on lamp