Viewing Review: high-performing budget HD projector - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
high-performing budget HD projector Edit
by Natros Combined Rating: 3.2
I purchased the Epson 8350 as a major part of my HT upgrade in early 2011. This projector has been my primary media viewing device for 2.5 years. It's currently paired with an Onkyo TX-NR809...
Pros Cons
  • good picture quality, adjustable lens, lots of connection options
  • lower than advertised lamp life, lamp flicker in ECO modes
I purchased the Epson 8350 as a major part of my HT upgrade in early 2011. This projector has been my primary media viewing device for 2.5 years. It's currently paired with an Onkyo TX-NR809 reciever and an LG BD570 Blu-ray player.

Setting up the projector is a breeze. Because the 8350 has an adjustable lens, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of projector placement, without sacrificing image quality. Keystone adjustment inevitably results in lost image size and accuracy, while adjusting the lens is a simple matter of rolling the horizontal and vertical adjustment knobs until the image is centered on the screen. When I bought it, the lens movement was one of the features I thought was nifty, but it’s proven to be absolutely invaluable. I've moved 4 times in the last 3 years, and it's never been a problem to find a useable site for the projector. The 8350 accepts a variety of inputs, including 2HDMI ports, VGA, Component video, S-video, and Composite video. I currently use my Onkyo to manage source switching, but I used to run devices on nearly every input, and never had a problem switching between them.
Image quality seems quite good, especially for the price point. I run the projector with a use Da-Lite screen I picked up; I don't know the exact specs, but it's nothing special. The 8350 comes with several preset lamp/color modes, and I find myself switching between them regularly. The “Dynamic” mode is by far the brightest, and is intended for daytime use. This is a very bright mode, and while you’ll lose a lot of subtle color detail, the ability to watch TV during the day is helpful. Very dark scenes will be washed out, so shows like “Buffy” are difficult to watch, but sports will work just fine. “Living Room” is still bright, but a less intense setting, useful around twilight or if you’re watching TV while doing something else (ironing laundry, for example). The best modes are probably “Normal” or “Cinema,” intended for serious viewing in low-light conditions. “Normal” provides pretty accurate color representation, while “Cinema” does the same while putting the bulb into a lower brightness mode to conserve power. These last 2 modes perform very well in low- to no-light environments, and I have little to no trouble making out details in dark movie/TV scenes.

I only recently got ahold of a good calibration disk, so I’m not an expert at gauging color accuracy. I can say that the default settings are quite good out-of-the box, and the more intensive calibration work I’ve done with the Spears & Munsil blu-ray has actually only resulted in moderate changes to contrast, tint, and hue. In some test patterns, some of the color channels seem as though they might be clipping, but that may well be the fault of my player rather than the projector. In any case, the projector provides a lot of controls for making adjustments, including independent adjustments of the RGBCMY channels if you choose. There are 10 memory settings for calibration adjustments, and the projector seems to remember the last-used setting for each source input, which is convenient if you don't want to constantly remember what settings went with which source.

My biggest complaint about the 8350 has to do with lamp. Although the advertised life is around 2000 hours, I got about half that. To be fair, I live in NM, a fairly dusty region, but I faithfully cleaned the filter and vents regularly, and still the bulb burned out after only about 950 hours of use (about 18 months for me). I purchased an aftermarket brand of replacement bulb, and since then I’ve noticed that the brightness flickers, particularly when in the ECO modes. It’s mostly noticeable on menu screens and other places with lots of bright, stable backgrounds, but it’s still somewhat irritating to me, and I’ll probably go back to an Epson-branded replacement bulb next time.

All in all, I’m very happy with this projector. I did a lot of homework on it prior to buying it, and I’ve been quite pleased with its performance. I’d love to spend the big bucks on a high-end projector, but given my lifestyle, budget, and the honest constraints of my living situation, the Epson 8350 has represented $1200 very well spent.
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