Ok, I've read through the thread and I'll chime in.
I was lucky enough to win the new Epson 1080 HD ensemble system from an on-line home theater magazine that most of us probably read and enter to win their monthly give-a-ways. So here are my thoughts...
I spent several years building my system in my little media room. CRT rear projection TV, ISF certified, multiple receiver upgrades, multiple dvd-player upgrades, speaker and sub upgrades, we've all done this. I have assembled a pretty nice system. It never fails to wow friends and family and my house is where everyone wants to watch a movie or sporting event.
Now I win the Ensemble. I expected it to be decent, but not great. I put it in the basement and figured the kids would have movie parties down there and it would be a place to send them so I could have my little theater to myself. I also planned on having to add a little SVS to bump up the bass. Well, we're now fighting over the Ensemble.
Yes the sound is better in my room, but the sound from the Ensemble is pretty darn good. The sub doesn't need any extra oomph. I ended up buying a blu ray player for the system instead of adding an SVS.
Friends and family that liked my system are blown away by the Ensemble. Granted its the size of the screen that wows, but several of them are talking about putting one in their house. I've done my fair share of helping others with their HT, but this one is a no-brainer. Most people would be happy with the $5000 720 system. As far as installation- forget it. Simple. I wouldn't pay a dime to have it done. It comes with everything you need, cables, screws, cable management conduits, color coded. 5 hours max and you're up and running.
Remember this isn't for you, its for your tech challenged friends. This is a one box solution.
Here are the negatives. As with all HTIB's there really isn't a good upgrade path. The speakers, receiver, and sub are all a package and you'd have to ditch them all to upgrade (though you can add an extra sub to the mix without screwing things up). The receiver also cannot decode the new Dolby TrueHD or DTS-MA- sadly it also cannot accept an LPCM stream to let the player decode- you're limited to DD or DTS. That's about it, and as far as the typical joe 6 pack, those limitations won't mean anything.
If enough people see this system in action I think Epson will have a winner. And I'm sure the next model will include Blu Ray. I couldn't be happier with it.
Here's a few pics so you can see it in a real basement situation where 90% of the population would probably use it:
and one with Rock Band- best use of the system as far as my buddies are concerned. even with the lights on its usable:
If anybody has any questions about the system, I'll be happy to try and answer them. Overall, this is a great 2nd system or 1st system for someone that doesn't want to spend the time and energy that I enjoy spending on the hobby.