I`ll try to cut it short.... I began to research projection screens online, well make that one: Optoma`s 750GT. I was going to blind buy it last Wednesday, but Best Buy was sold out which was different from the store inventory check I did prior to leaving the house. In hindsight I'm glad they were sold out as the 750GT wouldn't have worked for my room settings, having done research on 5 more models a few days later and learning more about important features like lens shift + zoom.
Fast forward to yesterday, I am at Visions Electronics and it was a quiet day for them. I saw one other customer browsing, with employees far and few between. Anyways I was approached by a seemingly nice guy, yet he was condescending and all "know it all". I told him about my research on the Epson 8350 and that I was here today to buy one. He asked me for my room settings, light control, if I had a projection screen, ect. "I plan on shooting the image onto my wall", I replied. He tells me sternly the colors will wash out and look like crap. I said, it won't--"I have read reviews and done my research, and it'll be fine". "Oh, that's BS! Where are you reading these reviews? That's pure crap".
I had a feeling that he was trying to talk me into getting a screen. I lied and said I'll buy one later on, but not today. I've made this point 3 times since demoing Transformers 2 in the A/V room. At the checkout, my debit card was declined as $1000 was exceeded. I had used in tandem, my $520 store credit I got from buying my unused Polk TSi100s and barebones receiver, to help pay for this.
It turns out the guy charged me a 100" screen, without notifying me. He came to help the receptionist/cashier and I told him I'm not buying a screen today (4th time!). Forgot to ask for an HDMI cable, he grabbed one and tossed it onto the table and said "you won't find one cheaper than this" and walks away. 24 hour in hindsight, I wished I dealt with the same employee who helped me pick out the Polks.
After unboxing, reading the manual, I set up the projector and was ready to connect to my Acer Core i5 laptop,... Sexy looking device that wasn't tiny nor large. The black on white looks splendid and kinda reminds me of a nice car like an Audi R8 or Nissan GT-R
Acer (Core i5, ATI Radeon HD5470)
1. Pirates of the Caribbean (MKV, 1080p rip, 12 GB file)
2. GI Joe (H264 MP4, 720p rip, 2.04 GB file)
3. Tron Legacy (WMV HD, 1080p rip, 15.4 GB file)
Before going on to the experience, I was VERY impressed at the zoom, and lens shifting. I have the 8350 on a 36" folding table and the lens is exactly 10 ft. from my wall, facing it directly. The wall is semi-gloss ivory paint, slightly dirty from dust and old specs from soda or something. It made the image stretch to 8-8.5 feet diagonally with absolutely no visible loss of quality. I can read out text on my Windows 7 desktop. My couch is a long one, adjacent to the wall (I was lying down the whole time). I stood 2 feet away and saw the pixels of the screen which I thought was cool. I measured one pixel to be around 0.80-0.85 millimeters.
Onto the testing/viewing/experience:
I opened up Rise of The Cobra (720p) in VLC player. It was bright last night so the sun didn't set, and the screen was washed out, bright colors were not the best, but you can still see everything depending on the scene. I chose "Dynamic" for color mode as it's brightest and the other modes wouldn't work in the room's lighting at that time. Dark colors like black didn't show up on the wall whatsoever (I would say maybe 5%, all I seen was my drywall, lol) I was still amazed at the sheer size of the screen, and knew the colors should look great in 2 hours when it gets dark outside. For a low bitrate rip, GI Joe looks like watching a 640 x 360 AVI movie rip on a 720p LCD TV. Which means VERY watchable and decent quality but nothing amazing. Movie was boring and I had to stop it 1/3 in.
I'm lying down on the couch and my eyes are 6.5 feet from the wall as I'm almost 6ft tall. Absolutely, no eye strain, no moving head side to side constantly, screen wasn't "too big" for my viewing distance---everything opposite of what that salesman had"educated" me on. Pure heaven for me in terms of viewing position.
Now, it's time to try a rip closer to an actual Bluray due to its much higher bitrate, Pirates!
Never having seen this film before, the film had a lot of noise/grain which I liked alot. I had goosebumps from the very first scene with the little girl singing on the ship. At this very moment, I had goosebumps all over and my heart raced. THIS was the same feeling I had when I first went to a movie theater. The motion, colors, grain, size, detail in everything--this pure epicness reminded EXACTLY of going to Cineplex Odeon. WOW!
Dynamic mode was still on, and the sky was getting darker. No problem with washed out/"missing" blacks this time. I didn't really enjoy this movie, but I guess it was okay. Great movie to see the reds, blues, blacks and whites. Sitting 6.5 feet away, everything was so immersive and fun. I see imperfections to faces, details in everything, and with the really bright scenes, the entire room lights up, The rainstorm scene was awesome-- my room flashes like a real lightning storm is happening. I knew blacks weren't a strong point, but I knew it was still quite good. Scenes that were dominantly darker, blacks were black and the skin tones popped out, In scenes with sunlight and shadows, the blacks weren't that dark. Film still looked spectacular even in these weaker moments. Motion is fluid, and smoother than my laptop. Motion had "judder" on my Acer which I had always never noticed until yesterday. I did some comparisons--head turned to my laptop, back to the screen, back and forth-- no question, the 50,000:1 contrast ratio dominates and makes my Acer looks ridiculous. Blacks are all gray on my laptop, and it felt like watching a HDTV show instead of a movie. Essentially, because of this projector, I cannot go back to watching movies on my Acer. It would be a disservice for myself and to the 8350. I do have to thank this film for showing me how capable and amazing this projector is.
It's getting late, but I had to test the blacks on one of my favorite films, TRON Legacy
Now, this would be the only film I have seen in theaters (not in IMAX or in 3D). I enjoyed it, loved the lights in a movie that takes place 95% in black/darkness.
Dynamic mode was still on and blacks were quite washed out. I toggled between the preset modes, and chose with Natural. HUGE difference this had made, and now my worries of Tron not being awesome are quickly disappearing. I got goosebumps in the same moments I got on Christmas when have first seen this. The motorbike tunnel scene, the first time someone got "derezzed", the first race/battle scene...all were amazing. Motion is smooth as silk here (not the lifelike 120 Hz soap opera smooth), very realistic and is EXACTLY the same as in the cinemas. Awesome. The lights on the black suits were bright and nice, and the blacks were extremely good. However, in some scenes where the dominant color was fluorescent white and neons, blacks were slightly weaker. Again, going back to my laptop--night and day difference. Actually, the difference is more like modern day and 1500's. IMAX scenes were glorious and transitioned 100% perfectly. Holy crap, did these IMAX sequences look epic and grand.
I will be honest, I didn't know what to expect with Tron, but I cannot wait to watch The Dark Knight and Iron Man later tonight!
As a note, my speakers were only Harmon Kardon Soundsticks placed to my right side and behind me. Wires weren't long enough to be situated properly, but sound really helped with the overall experience. I suggest to NOT use the Epson's speakers as I'm sure they will sound horrible as to be expected, and thus taking away from the experience greatly. I myself, will be getting a surround system and set them on the floor, out of view. Fan noise was VERY quiet and only noticed it 4 times during near silent moments in all of my films I have seen yesterday (Epson is 3ft behind my head, LOL). But it sure gets very warm. Walk past it from 2 feet away and you can feel a little heat wave. Best part is there is never a glare or reflection or shadow, unlike a glossy screen or a matte one. Felt at times I'm watching movies on a custom, 96" LCD TV with no bezel. I only saw pixels when I'm 3 feet or closer away, which I only did to try to find imperfections. 6 feet+ away from this and you'll see no pixels.
I will finish this by saying I'm glad I chose this over all the 60 and 65" LEDs, Plasmas, and LCDs I had looked at. Those are nice and similarly priced to my $1400 Epson, but I never felt immersed, since you can see the bezel, stand, and it's just too small. Oh, and I wouldn't suggest watching anything less than 720p as this projection is great at showing flaws of lower/low quality source materials. Feed it quality material and be amazed. I am more impressed with this than any TV I have seen in my life, including the one at Visions that had a $6400 pricetag. Strongly recommended and I'd advise you to get this over any TV if you're in the market for one.
Sorry for the long post, hope some of you benefited or enjoyed this!