Received my 8500 from Focused Technology (they were great to deal with) on Christmas Eve and am finally getting around to posting my experience thus far. Needless to say I've been watching a LOT of movies!
First off, to put this in perspective, I've upgraded from a Sony VPL-HS20, Circa 2004 so needless to say the upgrade is HUGE. Funny thing is, I paid $3000 for my HS20 and $2500 for my 8500UB, technology remains the one thing that seems to get better and cheaper at the same time. Sent off my $200 rebate so hopefully that will work out ok, I've had my issues with rebates in the past.
Anyway, mounting and setup was a piece of cake... I use a Chief mount so bought the universal adapter plate and setup that up. Should prove useful when I upgrade in the future. The one thing that I encountered that had me scratching my head for a bit was the fact that there is no geometry adjustment in the Epson. My Sony naturally was mounted at an angle pointing more or less directly at the screen. The Sony also has a centered lens. Placing the 8500 in the same position as the sony I was able to get the screen filled and positioned with lens shift fine, but had a significant trapezoid with no way to adjust it. It then dawned on me that lens shift takes care of all of that..... just mount the Epson perfectly level and you get a perfectly straight picture. Pretty cool!
Out of the box, THX mode... I'm simply blown away. Now I've gone from a 1080i 1100:1 contrast to a 1080p 200,000:1 contrast so of course major major jump, but the difference is no less drastic than moving from a picture tube SD set to an LCD HD set. I've gone back and watch a number of my 'dark' movies and am having quite a difficult time wiping the grin off my face! It's fantastic!!! Smooth, sharp, no screen door effect, inky blacks, fantastic shadow detail. Even the wife has been ooh'in and aah'in over it!!
As far as fine tuning and adjusting the picture... I've not touched a thing though I know there is room for improvement with some calibration etc. I've played with the Frame Interpolation setting some and love it on CGI Animated films... but just as I've experienced with my 7000 series Samsung LCD... do not care for it on films.
One thing I've noticed is that I do not have the option for the 4:4 conversion... it's grayed out. This may be due to my source, I'm driving this with a Networked Media Tank (ie Popcorn Hour) so it may be sending a signal that does not allow for (or need) the 4:4 pulldown. I should say the HDMI signal is first going through a Denon 3310CI but I've turned off all video processing from it, should be in 'passthrough' mode.
I do not have a gaming console (well I have a Wi, but no 'real' consoles) so can not comment on performance there as far as lag etc. I am tossing around the idea of picking up a PS3 to have a physical blu-ray player as well as a little gaming, but I've heard from a picture quality standpoint they are not the best choice for blu-ray? Speed wise they are supposed to kill any stand alone player as far as loading blu-rays, menus etc. Have also considered the Samsung that can do the Netflix streaming, that might be nice to have.
As far as noise, I'd say it is quieter than my HS20 but I have noticed the iris sound people mention.. that coffee maker sound etc. It's subtle and can easily be 'tuned out' but it is there and 'different'.
My next step is going to be to start tweaking some settings. I may go ahead and spend the $ on a pro calibration as well.