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The Epson 8100 was my first foray into projectors, and I picked it up for a steal... a very good HD projector at an even thousand dollars (plus tax). When I first got it, I couldn't wait to check...
Great Picture, Quiet, Great Price
The Epson 8100 was my first foray into projectors, and I picked it up for a steal... a very good HD projector at an even thousand dollars (plus tax). When I first got it, I couldn't wait to check it out. So I took it out of the box, set it on a chair, and hooked it up to my friend's blu-ray player. Even projecting on a wall painted light blue, I was amazed at the quality (the first thing showing was Star Trek's main menu).
I have since installed it hanging from the ceiling in the home theater room that I built, and it casts an excellent picture on my 120-inch 1:0 gain screen in a room with zero ambient lighting.
Admittedly, the adjustment knobs can be a little tricky; their tension towards the middle setting make it so that getting it exactly where you want it can take a few minutes if you have it off to the side. However, that is something you should only have to set once (or very rarely), and you would never know that my projector sits on the ceiling and significantly off-center by looking at the perfectly clear rectangular picture centered on the screen 12' away.
The various inputs on the back have been quite useful for me, especially when I was using a laptop that did not have an HDMI out. Since receivers don't tend to have a VGA input, being able to connect my laptop directly to the projector was great for watching things online that I couldn't watch without my laptop. Perhaps the extra inputs are not as useful to most people who just want to connect the projector to their system and never mess with the inputs again; but I found them quite useful.
Setup is very easy, and the menu is very clear. Being able to pull up the grid lines with a single button on the remote has been very useful for realigning the projector on those occasions that I have bumped it. I actually had set it up before I had completely finished the HT room, and have bumped it a number of times, and even taken it down three or four times. Still working great, and giving me a great picture for movies and football!
The color levels were near perfect straight out of the box, and I haven't had to do much to it at all beyond install, plug and play. Although I admittedly do not have a great deal of experience with many projectors, I have been very happy with the color, detail, and black levels... and have thoroughly enjoyed watching movies that I feel would test a projector, such as the Dark Knight Trilogy, and the new Transformers and Star Trek films. On the other end of the spectrum, cinematic movies such as Lord of the Rings are beautiful, and Avatar was truly breathtaking. Anyone who has asked me about the quality of this projector has been absolutely impressed when I've shown them Avatar on Bluray.
I am coming up on my fourth year of regular use, and have never experienced any issues with banding, artifacts or any other issues other than the bulb's longevity. Despite the manufacturer's claim that they last up to 4000 hours, mine gave out at around 1400 hours. Replacement was very simple, however. Oh, and don't forget to clean out your filters periodically, as well. Mine haven't gotten very dirty, but it's something that I didn't know when I first bought my projector.