"unusual number of user comments expressing frustration with premature lamp failure".
That is the reason Epson came up with their VERY unusual lamp guarantee for that 8100 model only.
No other PJ manufacture will do what you are expecting Mits to do with the hrs on your lamp, the ONE exception, the 8100 epson. And not any OTHER epson, just the 8100 model.
As mentioned, they're doing it to save their ass, the 8100 did NOT have this unusual guarantee when it came out, but kudos to you for finding it. Epson only has this 'strong biz ethics' on this one model. Mits also has great CS and it wouldn't surprise me one bit that if the HC4000/3800 had the same horrid lamp issues that the 8100 epson has, they might of also made a similar offer, after the fact (as epson has done).
So there is your answer, buy the 8100 epson
Or even better, get a big flat screen instead. Much more reliable on the whole for the average consumer than ANY projector, period.