Are we to conclude from the above posts that by April 2010 Epson will have a special European version with 300,000:1 contrast (using the same 5000:1 D7 panels) and people will trade their JVC 990 for it... ;-) I'd like to keep the science in the audio-video science forum. It seems that in the $2600 price range, we have started the debate which will run for at least the next 6 months: 8500UB vs. HW15. If Epson can deliver an independently measured 200,000 or 300,000 CR with a calibrated PJ, using the old D7 panels, and the same optics, I'm sure they'd like to explain how they did it. Must be one heck of a dynamic iris, maybe even a dynamic shutter...
My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that both these PJ have the same panel as their last years model. I believe Sony changed the optics, while still keeping them sealed; I believe Epson did not change the optics, and they remain unsealed. Both PJ seem to have changed and increased their dynamic iris.
For native, or non-iris numbers, for the Epson we can look at last years numbers, though even a year later they seem unclear. Really for both PJ what we want is to stop the iris down and actually measure it. I'm a little annoyed at Epson for what seems a practice of muddying the waters on CR. At least JVC gives accurate numbers, and actually the Sony HW15 seems to live up to its published specs in a recent review. I would be tempted to conclude that this is because JVC has nothing to hide but Epson does.
The price of these two units will be similar. There are also other factors like the Sony's sealed light path, or the Epson's FI, that may decide on your choice. I notice even JVC added FI this year. Interestingly, in a nod to the purists, JVC does not do FI on 24p... we should confirm if the new Epsons do.