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Epson 8345 Projector Review

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#1 of 17 Kevin Collins

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Posted March 14 2014 - 07:47 PM

Projector Review: Epson 8345

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When we met up with Epson at CEDIA last year, we spoke with Jason about the new line-up of Epson PJ’s and some of the existing PJ’s that have been in the Epson line-up.  While Epson has a vast array of PJ’s from entry level 2D and 3D all the way up to PJ’s specifically for the CEDIA channel, Epson always focuses on price to value performance. 

 

Many enthusiasts are looking to move to something significantly larger than a rear panel LCD can offer and they want to do that within a budget.  Previously “within a budget” meant being satisfied with a 720P projector and one that had poor performance characteristics.  The Epson 8345 is changing what performance an enthusiast can get for a very reasonable price. 

 

For $1099 and free shipping you can land an Epson 8345.  For essentially $1K you will get 1080P, vertical and horizontal lens shift, CMS and a dynamic iris!  While 1080P has been standard for some time, vertical and horizontal lens shift and dynamic iris has not.  My reference PJ, the Samsung 900, only has vertical shift and that was significantly more expensive.  When I review PJ’s, I have to either put a PJ on top of the Samsung or one that has horizontal shift on the side to have them both be able to hit the screen.  Theaters that are going in older homes are typically located in the basement where there are the support beams that always seem to be conveniently placed directly in the path the PJ.  Having horizontal shift solves that problem.   From a mechanics standpoint, horizontal and vertical shift are really slick features to have, particularly on a unit that is $1K.

 

Another bonus for a $1K PJ is dynamic iris.  Having a dynamic iris can help black levels in low lit scenes.

Cosmetic Overview:

 

The Epson 8345 comes in white with grey accents and measures in at 17.7" x 15.5" x 5.7" (W x D x H) with feet (something that is nice to have for surfaces that are not perfectly level) and weighs in at 16.1lb.

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The fan vents out in the front and depending on the brightness of the bulb measures between 22 dB – 28 dB.  If you have the 9345 in a box, then this won’t be an issue. 

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Features:

 

Mounting:  The projector can be ceiling mounted or can be placed on right side up using the adjustable feet to accommodate for unleveled surfaces.

 

Resolution:  1920X1080p

 

Connections:  2 HDMI (HDCP),1 Component, Composite, S-Video and PC (RGB)

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Focus:  Manual focus and zoom.  This can be a blessing or a curse.  It’s great to have electronic focusing as that allows focus to be done at the screen where focusing on the pixels can be done very accurately.  However, many projectors do not have course enough controls for electronic focusing and it is difficult not to overshoot the ultimate focus.  With the manual focus PJ’s I use a pair of binoculars to nail the focus to the pixel level with the manual focusing ring. 

 

24FPS support:  The Epson fully supports 24FPS, representing what is seen in the movie theater without the 3:2 pull-down judder artifacts.

 

CMS: For users that have purchased a product like SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 for Home Video they will be able to use that product in conjunction with Epson 8435’s CMS to calibrate a more accurate grey scale and color gamut then comes out of the box for the characteristics of their screen.  The CMS interface is easily accessible and thankfully keeps the menu on the bottom part of the screen so that it doesn’t interfere with test pattern readings. 

 

Contrast Ratio: Probably the biggest challenge for any PJ on the market is black levels.  This is something where JVC PJ’s have the crown, but they are significantly more expensive.  Measuring from my 9’ wide JKP Affinity screen I was able to get a 1538:1 on/off contrast ratio (12.3fl with 100 IRE pattern and .008fl with a 0 IRE pattern) after I calibrated the Epson 8345 in Cinema mode.  Using xvColor mode the contrast ratio improved to 1925:1 on/off, but at the expense of some clipping.  I did turn on the dynamic iris and was able to get the contrast ratio up to 15,400:1 for on/off. 

 

A dynamic iris works by constantly opening and closing the iris of the lens based on the light that is in the scene.   A scene that is primarily white, causes the iris to be fully open, a scene that is primarily black will cause the iris to close down thus providing a darker picture.  The iris is constantly moving in various increments during a movie.  While contrast ratio does improve with the dynamic iris, there are some side effects.  Some side effects are altered gamma and sometimes consciously being aware that the iris is closing by seeing the overall brightness of a scene going darker.  This feature can be turned on and off by the user via the remote control and the 8345 has two dynamic iris mode: normal or high speed.  For me, regardless of the PJ I am using, I always keep the dynamic iris off, either because I am conscious of the iris closing/opening or because the gamma is compromised.

 

Gamma:  One of the weaknesses of many projectors is an accurate gamma curve.  Another bonus with the Epson 8345 is granular controls to set the Gamma that is desired (a black, light controlled theater would be at 2.4) and then to adjust the gamma for each IRE level via the customized setting.

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Out of the box the gamma was lower than the 2.4 setting (recommended for a HT setting where the room is totally black), but with the fine granular controls it could be calibrated to be more accurate.

 

Gray scale:  Having an accurate gray scale is very important for proper representation of color.  A color temperature of 6500K (D65) across all levels of light output is ideal.  Out of the box, the 8345 was off a little, but I was able to calibrate it in the Cinema mode to be much more accurate.  If you don’t have the tools to calibrate the display then the x.v.Color mode is the best default, but it doesn’t allow for any calibration.

 

Color Primaries and Secondary’s: The most accurate readings for this is with the x.v.Color mode.  The down side is that nothing else can be calibrated in the x.v.Color mode and the x.v.Color mode clipped whites. I was able to calibrate all the primary and secondary’s, without clipping white using the Cinema mode, except for green, which I could not bring down from being overly saturated. Below is the default readings for the x.v.Color mode and they are fairly accurate. 

 

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Below is the closest calibration setting I could achieve in the Cinema mode:

 

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Picture Sharpness: I rarely come across at 3 chip PJ that has perfect convergence of the panels to provide an incredibly pixel perfect image.  Even with the high-end JVC’s it is a hit or miss proposition on how well the alignment is.  Of course there are pros and cons to single chip DLP’s and 3 chip LCOS/LCD PJ’s and one has to balance the differences out.  The 8345 had slight convergence issues that were easily detectable when looking at pixel on/off test patterns from the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark and Calibration Disc 2nd Edition.

 

Remote Control and On Screen Display (OSD): The 8345 comes with a comprehensive remote control and the OSD is very easy to use and doesn’t interfere with the ability to calibrate the PJ.  While it has a backlit option, I found it a little difficult to make out what the buttons were.   I did appreciate that there were buttons that were on the remote control that circumvented the need to go into the OSD.

 

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Observations with HD content:  While test patterns always are the hardest on any projector, viewing content, at the end of the day, is what really matters.  I viewed a series of Blu-Ray films from Cars, Harry Potter to Chronicles of Narnia.  Even the Spears and Munsil demonstration material looked good.  I constantly came away impressed with the performance of the projector for only $1K. 

Conclusions

The “perfect” projector doesn’t exist.  I’ve been looking for years and haven’t found it unless I want to move to the >$30K range.  The 8345 comes in with features that used to only be available at the high end price range but with a $1099 price tag.  Previously, this price with those features was unheard of. 

If you are looking to setup a budget HT and want to get the most performance for the price, I highly recommend the 8345.  You just are not going to find something better for this price. 

Pros:

Horizontal & vertical shift

Dynamic iris

CMS; gamma control

Incredible price to performance ratio

 

Cons:

Low contrast ratio

Convergence / alignment

Oversaturated greens with x.v.Color mode

 

 

Specifications:

Title

Value

Focus/Zoom

Manual

Supported Screen Size

30 to 300 inches / projection distance 2.85 to 62.83 feet (0.87 to 19.15 m)

Noise

22 to 28 dB

Native Pixel Resolution

1920X1080

Display 1080p/24FPS

Yes

Video Inputs

2 HDMI, 1 component, 1 S-video, 1 VGA, 1 composite

Other connections

 

Dimensions inches (WxHxD)

17.7 x 5.4 x 14.2 (not including lens protrusion)

Weight

16.1 lb (7.3 kg)

Warranty

Two-Year Projector Limited Warranty and 90-Day Lamp Limited Warranty

Price

$1099

 

Review System Components:

Toshiba HD-A35 HD DVD player

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player

DVDO iScan Duo (used for pattern generator)

Xbox 360 as Windows Media Center Extender

Oppo BDP-103 Blu-Ray Player

Anthem D2v

Da-Lite JKP Infinity 1.1

 

Test/Setup Discs:

Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark and Calibration Disc 2nd Edition

 

Calibration Equipment:

Minolta CS-200

Minolta LS-100

Spectracal CalMAN professional v5


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#2 of 17 Sam Posten

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Posted March 14 2014 - 07:57 PM

My nephews inherited my AE900u 720p PJ, definitely thinking of them upgrading them to something like this for their epic Xbox battles, thanks for the review Kevin!

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#3 of 17 Josh Steinberg

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Posted March 15 2014 - 06:58 PM

If this did 3D, I'd be really tempted to order even though I have nowhere to use it!

 

I used to have a 16x9, 480p Epson projector (I think it was the Powerline Home Cinema 20, or something along those lines), and had some great times with it.  Can't wait to one day go back to home projection.



#4 of 17 Kevin Collins

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Posted March 16 2014 - 05:40 PM

Hi Josh,

 

I will be reviewing a 3D Epson that they recently came out with shortly.  They seem to be constrained on getting that unit out for review. 

 

What is preventing you from using a PJ again?


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#5 of 17 Josh Steinberg

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Posted March 16 2014 - 07:35 PM

Looking forward to your eventual review Kevin! At the moment, I just don't have room for a PJ - but I'm hoping to move in a few months and hopefully I can figure out a way to make it work! I downgraded from my old PJ to first a 40" LED, and then traded that towards a 50" Plasma - and while they're great - I miss that experience of home projection.

#6 of 17 mattCR

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Posted March 16 2014 - 08:03 PM

I will be putting one up of the Sony ES-600 and a more 'budget' one of the Acer 6510


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#7 of 17 Josh Steinberg

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Posted March 16 2014 - 08:37 PM

Matt, I'll keep an eye out for those as well. Whether or not I get to actually pick up a new projector this year, it sure is fun reading the reviews and acting like I might!

#8 of 17 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted March 29 2014 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for the review. I'm starting to reconsider getting a good entry level PJ again. Was thinking to just go for a refurbed BenQ W1070 or 1080ST for maybe $300-400 less, but if this is a significantly better choice, would consider it as well.

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#9 of 17 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted March 30 2014 - 06:43 AM

Hmmm...  This unit is much heavier than the BenQ W1070/1080ST... although maybe still ok for very occasional lugging (w/ car) to places.  The spec seems to indicate much quieter fan noise (~1/2 as noisy to the human ear) at lowest settings... though I wonder if the BenQ's noise will be bothersome enough...

 

Not sure the picture will be bright enough if there's a bit of ambient light (from well off to the side)...  Also, is the native contrast ratio much lower than the BenQ's?

 

_Man_


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#10 of 17 Josh Steinberg

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Posted March 30 2014 - 06:35 PM

Somehow I wandered from this thread over the Epson's site, where I started looking at their 5030UB projector (which does 3D), and started drooling.. I don't think anything's getting bought this year if I'm being realistic, but it sure is fun going on mini shopping sprees in my head.



#11 of 17 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted April 05 2014 - 05:59 AM

Ended up just springing for a refurbed BenQ W1070 for my first foray into FP.  Should arrive some time early next week.  Hopefully, the fan noise won't be a dealbreaker...

 

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#12 of 17 RJ992

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Posted April 11 2014 - 08:23 AM

Ended up just springing for a refurbed BenQ W1070 for my first foray into FP.  Should arrive some time early next week.  Hopefully, the fan noise won't be a dealbreaker...

 

_Man_

 

Please post back with your impressions, as I'm considering this model myself.



#13 of 17 Sam Posten

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Posted April 11 2014 - 08:27 AM

Somehow I wandered from this thread over the Epson's site, where I started looking at their 5030UB projector (which does 3D), and started drooling.. I don't think anything's getting bought this year if I'm being realistic, but it sure is fun going on mini shopping sprees in my head.

 

As a 5020 owner I can give a hearty thumbs up for this series.  Can't go wrong with it.  2D OR 3D, it's great.


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#14 of 17 Josh Steinberg

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Posted April 11 2014 - 08:31 AM

As a 5020 owner I can give a hearty thumbs up for this series.  Can't go wrong with it.  2D OR 3D, it's great.

 

How does the 3D perform?  Any ghosting/crosstalk issues on "difficult" titles like Dial M or House Of Wax?



#15 of 17 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted April 24 2014 - 03:23 PM

Please post back with your impressions, as I'm considering this model myself.

 

I'm impressed, particularly since I'm currently just projecting on a white wall (that actually could use a fresh coat).  It's definitely quite bright projected at full zoom from ~8.5ft distance to ~100" (16x9) even in Eco mode -- bright enough to allow for some ambient light from our adjacent open kitchen/dining-room (or some bit of daylight leaked in from a very wide window of similar size to the image w/ vertical blinds in the afternoon) although the image becomes noticeably washed out particularly from middle-gray on down.  Blacks (particularly in the black bars for wider films) could definitely be blacker, but then, my only noteworthy reference points are decent RPTVs (like our 61" Samsung LED DLP) and plasmas, not other PJs, and I imagine this is about as good as you can get in this ballpark price range -- probably adding some black mattes will help a lot in this regard.  Still, given the size of the image (compared to what I'm used to), I don't really notice the not-black "black" bars most of the time anyway.

 

Fan noise is not bad for me so far.  I don't really notice it once I start watching something.  In Eco mode, It's probably a tad quieter than my new-ish Dell XPS PC, which is pretty quiet for a PC -- maybe also a touch quieter than my old 3rd-gen(?) PS3 (before Sony trimmed down the PS3 further and probably cut down some more on fan noise).  Maybe I'll eventually change my mind on that, but so far, it's alright enough.  Actually, if anything, if you were thinking to locate the PJ somewhere roughly eye-level or so not-far-off (like a few feet) behind you, the heat exhaust (that blows out front toward the PJ's right) will almost certainly bother you more than the fan noise -- quite toasty draft that.

 

I don't have things fully set up yet as I'm in the middle of reorg-ing the house, but given the results, I may just keep projecting on a white wall (from a short stand perhaps) for the forseeable future...

 

RE: potential rainbow effect issue (from the color-wheel-based DLP tech), I did notice some bit of it (I think) when I blink or turn my head very quickly, but otherwise, I don't notice it in my normal viewing, so it's a non-issue for me (and the rest of the family near as I can tell) -- our Samsung LED DLP RPTV does not use color-wheel OTOH, and never saw this issue on it.

 

_Man_


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#16 of 17 Jim517

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Posted April 25 2014 - 03:41 PM

Why are you guys posting about a different projector in the thread reviewing an Epson projector? :angry:



#17 of 17 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted April 28 2014 - 06:57 AM

Apologies.  IF a mod would like to split my OT comments referring to the BENQ W1070 off into its own thread (perhaps starting w/ post #12 or #15), please do feel free.

 

_Man_


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