Sheridan thanks for the response (you too, bhoier).
I certainly appreciate the information on bulbs and their inconsistency. I can understand that and figured a bulb is a bulb. However, I have to say that spending 300+ dollars on a particular bulb should certainly come with a little more assurance than a GE 60W bulb I place in my lamp. Maybe I have too high expectations. :-D
I will say though, that the single greatest concern that kept me away from pursuing a projector was the bulb life. Without a doubt. I had friends that had projectors and went through all sorts of techniques to extend the life of their bulbs. Some had TVs behind a screen that could be stored away, and they watched TV on a plasma and movies on the big screen. That made sense, but definitely did not appeal to me. I wanted to be able to watch sports, TV, movies, video games, etc.
So maybe I'm just a sucker and Epson threw out good bait to hook me. When I saw "Bulb life up to 4000 hours" it certainly pulled me in. I figured, on average, I would use my projector about 850 - 1000 hours a year. So even if I was skeptical and expected HALF of the advertised rating (2k hours) I would be looking to replace my bulb every 2 years. I thought I could live with that and took the plunge.
Like I said I love, love, love my projector. I was so happy I made the move. However, when I'm told 4k and I get less than 1k in the first bulb and about 1100 in the second one, well, I think that's a bit of a problem. Maybe I'm being too picky and I need to reconsider the entire projector investment.
At any rate, I would appreciate further feedback from people like bhoier that have used projectors that give them much better bulb life. If this next bulb goes out in less than 2k hours I will definitely be looking long and hard about changing brands or getting away from projectors if I can't have much more of a guarantee than what Sheridan provided above.