Projectors

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8700 UB LCD Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8700 UB LCD Projector In Use

Terminator 2 on Blu-ray is not the very best transfer out there and unfortunately I don’t have the recently re-mastered version. Film grain is ever-present and color is somewhat flat. The Epson managed to do a decent job with this not-so-great material. Shadow detail held up well in the all-important dark scenes without an increase in image noise. I used the auto iris on its high-speed setting and saw no brightness pumping at all. I also did not hear the iris doing its thing, which was nice. Many projectors have an audible motor driving the iris and it can be annoying when the unit is mounted right overhead. Epson has provided a very quiet mechanism here.

Terminator 3 is the best of the transfers from James Cameron’s famous trilogy. While not reference quality, it holds up extremely well. Detail looked nice and sharp with great color. I especially enjoyed the makeup and CGI effects when Arnold Schwarzenegger had most of his face ripped off exposing the metal frame beneath. You really will believe he’s a robot from the future!  There isn’t too much dark material in the film but what there was looked great with nice deep blacks and well-rendered shadows. Explosions, which can sometimes look grainy or blocky, came off nicely without any moiré or other motion artifacts. This excellent video processing is thanks to the 8700 UB’s HQV chip.

Terminator Salvation is an extremely dark film with an almost monochromatic color palette. It’s easy for the image to look flat thanks to its subdued presentation. The Epson did pretty well here with excellent contrast performance. While it didn’t quite have the pop I’ve seen on more expensive projectors, it still looked quite excellent. Detail was decent with only a hint of softness which I attribute to the lens. Color and contrast were on par with projectors costing much more. Night scenes held up very well and the auto-iris worked seamlessly to increase dynamic range without any visible artifacts.

The Song Remains the Same is a vintage film from mega-band Led Zeppelin, shot in the mid-seventies. Quality is on the level of a good documentary which means soft and grainy. I still enjoyed the presentation on the 8700. Color was nicely saturated and flesh tones held up well even under the colored lights of Madison Square Garden. With the frequent flashing of stage lighting, I thought I might see the iris in action but it was seamless in operation. This is an auto-iris I can live with. It enhances contrast without hurting highlight or shadow detail and there are no visible artifacts.

To give the Epson a chance with the very sharpest and most colorful material, I chose Toy Story 3 from Pixar. Color was beautifully saturated and bold; just as the creators intended. I have yet to see a Pixar film that isn’t reference quality and the Epson had no problem looking fantastic. The image looked 3D even without those pesky glasses. Despite the high levels of saturation, color still looked natural with no loss of detail whatsoever. Seeing the best material on this projector really demonstrates what an excellent value it is.

During my viewing, I tried out the FineFrame feature to check out Epson’s take on frame interpolation. Even though I’m not a fan of the look the technology imparts, some displays do a better job than others. I can say the 8700 UB did not introduce any additional artifacts like frame tears or dropouts. Motion with this turned on became smoother as I increased the level (there are three choices). The lightest setting only reduced judder slightly while the most aggressive made things super-smooth. If you use your projector to watch sports, this would be very useful. For movie-watching though, I preferred the 4:4 pulldown option which repeats each frame four times for a refresh rate of 96Hz.