Compare Projectors - Epson 8100 vs. Epson 8500UB

March 14, 2008

/ By Jennifer Stringfellow

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Budget allowing you might find yourself in a position of deciding whether the Home Cinema 8100 will do the job for you, or whether the additional features and performance of the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, is worth the roughly $700 to $800 selling price difference. This is a relatively short comparison, since there are few "difficult decisions". Why? The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB has every feature and benefit of the 8100, and they are almost identical in brightness, so it's really a question of whether the extras are worth it. That's right, none of those pesky trade-offs, such as this one is brighter, and this one has better blacks... Let's get started.

Home Cinema 8100 vs. Home Cinema 8500UB - An Overview

To start with the two Epson home theater projectors look almost identical. There are a few differences however. For openers the end caps (left and right sides) of the projector case are different shades of silver/gray. Well, that's a biggie. All you need to decide. Thanks for reading! (Ok, only kidding!).

They have the same zoom lens, same inputs, in fact the most visible difference besides those end caps, is that the Home Cinema 8500UB has more stickers listing features on the unit, when you take it out of the box. Well, the stickers don't matter, but some of those features do, quite a bit.

The defining benefits of spending the extra on the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, are as follows:

  • Significantly improved black level performance for superior handling of dark scenes
  • Creative frame interpolation smooths out fast action - ideal for sports, most HDTV, but not necessarily what you want for movie watching
  • Faster non-creative interpolation - drops in additional "same" frames, which helps with one type of motion blurring

That's not a whole lot of differences, but then, these projectors in most ways, are identical. The thing is, the first two items above make huge differences in overall performance. At the same price, there's no reason why anyone would choose the less expensive HC8100.

The "average" consumer looking for a projector is likely to be well satisfied by the HC8100 projector, but those of us who are enthusiasts, hobbyists, or just more into performance, would, if they got to compare the two on the same content, would likely to be shouting from the rooftops about how much difference the black levels of the 8500UB would make on those darker scenes found in most movies. They would also likely be shouting (though more quietly) about the benefits of CFI on sporting events, and even, on some movies. Too most of you who are first time projector owners, the Home Cinema 8100 should please you. Over time, as you become more critical (if you do) and seek more overall picture quality, you would quickly appreciate the significant jump in overall picture performance by going to the 8500UB.

Personally, I'm a huge fan, of the 8500UB, not just for the black levels though that is the key reason, but because of the blend of good best mode brightness, combined with much brighter than most, brightest mode performance. That combination is what you need for a projector that will work well for both movie viewing and HDTV and sports. I say to all who can here me. If it comes down to these two, and the budget allows - spend the extra, it puts you in a whole higher class of picture quality. I'd like the CFI, but that's not critical. I'm still getting by fine with neither of my own projectors offering CFI (JVC RS20, and the Epson 1080UB - that would be the 8500UB, but two generations earlier - the one before they added CFI.

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