Review: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 6500UB

There are a few “holy grail” purchases for home theater. One is the format-agnostic HD playback device plus DVR that will record HDTV as seamlessly as a TiVo but doesn’t require a cable card (NOTE: This does not exist), another is a strong, over-the-counter bottle of painkillers to help get through this upcoming season of Heroes and Lost (NOTE: This also does not exist.). But the piece de rĂ©sistance of every AV nerd’s arsenal is a 1080p projector.

So when Epson sent us the PowerLite Home Cinema 6500UB, why wasn’t I excited? Well, like a boy offered a M242 25mm chain gun when he only asked for BB guns to plink cans with, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

The PowerLite is a beast. It weighs 16 pounds and is 17 inches across by 5 inches high – without the little legs. It has native 1080p using 3LCDs with 2 HDMI ports, RCA composite and component ports, S-Video port, and VGA-in. It outputs at 1600 lumens and blows out a 1920×1080 pixel image at up to 100 inches diagonal. Unless you live in a hangar, this is clearly too much projector for one man.

The projector costs $2,999 online with free shipping.

I plugged the projector into a Blu-Ray player and an XBox 360 and saw excellent picture from both. We did see a stark 120Hz “soap opera effect” due to frame interpolation before I changed the settings.

Once I removed that stumbling block, which others seemed to find as well, you’ve got yourself a mondo projector.

1080p projectors are now fairly common. However, this model has a striking contrast ratio, 75,000:1, and ultra blacks which offers a picture more like an LCD flat screen than a projector. Even during set-up you notice a definite sharpness around the edges of text and images on screen. This is to be expected from your average business projector but for a model specifically aimed at the home it’s pretty great.

Unfortunately, unlike the average business projector, this thing is huge. It requires some sort of mounting system to get it out of the way and is definitely suited more for a large, long room than the average New York apartment. Our house here in Brooklyn is pretty darn big but it’s still a stretch to call it usable.

The projector also doesn’t have built-in speakers, a minor issue of you were thinking of using this as a self-contained device in lieu of a full home theater setup.

Bottom Line
Overall, however, I’m totally down with a $3,000 1080p projector, especially with HDMI in. It’s cheap enough to look into as a TV replacement and it’s sharp enough to warrant a long look.