When I moved into a new house that had a small media room, I decided to purchase the Epson 8350 as my first projector. The room is small, approximately 15 feet from the screen to the projector and...
Very bright, outstanding placement options, very easy to operate day-to-day
Lens adjustment imprecise, difficult to align perfectly for all resolutions
When I moved into a new house that had a small media room, I decided to purchase the Epson 8350 as my first projector. The room is small, approximately 15 feet from the screen to the projector and not very wide (approximately 9 feet.) I mounted the projector at the back of the room on a shelf approximately 8 feet from the floor. I also purchased an Elite Screens ER110WH1 Sable Fixed Frame screen at the same time. I use an Onkyo HT-RC360 as my HT receiver and to switch inputs. The source data for my projector comes from an Xbox360, a cable TV tuner, and a sometimes a Wii. The first two output HDMI to my receiver while the Wii is limited to component video.
From a design aesthetic, I wish it were black instead of the white/grey but as it is over your head and rarely seen this isn't that important.
Setup: I couldn't have been easier to place the projector on the shelf, connect the HDMI and power cables, power it up, and be watching TV in minutes. Overall, setup was dead simple. You wouldn't have to mess with any settings out of the box if you didn't want to. I did play around with the menu, however I think I ended up changing nothing that I can remember besides calibration. Aligning the projector to my screen however has been a never ending challenge. The projector has a great range of options when it comes to placing the image and while this is one of its strengths the lens gears themselves are also one of its biggest downfalls. I can't figure out if its is caused by the plastic gear teeth or something else but it has been a bear to both get the picture aligned to my screen and for it to stay there. I'll get it right, then come back the next day and see the edges slightly off. I don't mind a little slop of and inch or so all around, but it often ends up multiple inches off the edges. Due to what turned out to be no fault of Epson, I had the projector replaced twice under warranty and all 3 projectors I have had did exactly the same thing in terms of challenges with lining up the lens to the screen. The screen is 110" diagonal at a throw distance of about 13.5 feet and well within the wide limits of this projector.
Remote/UI: Because I use a HT receiver to switch inputs, I don't use the remote for much except to turn the project on/off. It is reasonably laid out although the button for changing picture modes is labeled Color Mode and always momentarily confuses me since I don't use that setting very often. The onscreen UI is simple and effective but isn't especially well done. I've seen better on other projectors but this isn't that big a deal. If I have a complaint, it is that it takes 2 button presses to turn off the projector (one to initiate, another to confirm). I have used multiple Epson projectors around the office and this something they seem to always do. The names of the Color Modes are also a little unusual, they are Dynamic, Living Room, Natural, Cinema, and x.v.color. I'm not sure why they decided to apply what looks like marketing names to the levels but I would have appreciated more straightforward names.
Brightness: My room is relatively dark with just a french door on one wall that opens to another room. As a result I find this projector too bright on its highest setting. It sits on Natural most of the time even though the room is rarely fully dark and it works just fine. The black levels are fantastic overall. With the room fully dark and the projector on Cinema mode only my plasma TV has better blacks (and that includes my LCD TVs.)
Color: I did some very basic calibration using one of the well-known DVD calibration tools and I needed to change a few things but overall it looks great. Both XBOX360 and Cable TV look great. I'm not a huge snob when it comes to color calibration though, so your mileage may vary.
Bulb: I got approximately 2300 hours out of the lens that came with the projector before it failed. I purchased an OEM replacement and I will be satisfied with a similar lifespan although of course I hope for more.
Overall I am very happy with the quality of the project for the money. It seems somewhat marred by the one feature that sets it apart: the huge range of placement options is really appreciated, but the lens position controls seem cheap and don't always stay when set.
I mentioned that I had the projector replaced twice but it turns out that wasn't Epson's fault. Twice the project just died and wouldn't display valid HDMI; it would try a few times and finally give up and go to a blue screen. I falsely indicted the projector twice when it ultimately turned out to be the receiver. I honestly feel bad for having Epson replace it under warranty two times before I figured this out. I have to give them lots of credit for working with me and for making the warranty replacement service a delightful experience. Epson gets extra points from me for the good customer service (while Onkyo's is non-existent, but that's a different review..) On the other hand, I also know that the problem I have with the lens control is a design flaw - all three projectors had exactly the same behavior.