Jump To:

Go Back Print Page



Epson 8100 Home Theater Video Projector Review
By Mike English

Verdict: Qualified MAYBE! Epson’s newest 1080 home theater projector carries over much of what has set Epson apart in the marketplace. While other manufacturers have been improving their game Epson seems to be content to stay the course and introduce more of the same. Picture performance is good, black levels are good, but the picture lacks depth and Colors lack punch. Tremendously installation friendly 2:1 throw, with large horizontal and vertical lens shift allow placement virtually anywhere. Unfortunately we may also be seeing the start of another 1080UB convergence debacle.

Epson 8100 1080p Video Projector

MSRP: $1599.99

Epson 8100 – 1920x1080P, 3LCD, 1800 ANSI Lumens, 36,000:1 Advertised Contrast Ratio, 22 dB (Low Lamp Mode), 4000 Hour. Epson 8100 LCD response time and aperture information unavailable.




Well laid out Menu system

It’s big. Real big.

Significant horizontal and vertical lens shift

Color offset is back – see below

Good out of box performance

Frustrating, cheap feeling lens shift. You’ll probably only ever use it when you’re installing the projector.

Back lit remote

Buy a small flashlight – you’ll need it to find the button on the remote to activate the backlight.

Very bright in Dynamic mode

Picture looks digital and noticeably pixilated compared to D-ILA or DLP

Good presets

No real improvements over previous model. 8100 is reportedly same as 6100 with improved iris.

Substantial price reduction compared to previous model

As an LCD with an open light path, the 8100 can be prone to dust blobs when used in a dusty environment

Installation friendly 2:1 Throw Ratio


Great connectivity, although you should be using a good HT receiver anyway!



Epson’s new 8100 is big. Real big. It’s not heavy, it’s just, well, bloated, especially in comparison to older models like the 1080. It will occupy a substantial section of your ceiling (for a video projector) or table top.

Epson 8100 Video projector and Mitsubishi HC3800 Projector
The HC3800 and 8100 side by side for comparison. The HC3800 still has it’s plastic shipping film attached – you would remove this before installation.

Click Here to Read the Shootout Review of the Epson 8100 vs the Mitsubishi HC3800

Aside from it’s size, it’s still essentially the same projector that Epson has been marketing for the last few years. The menu system dates back the 1080, and while it was groundbreaking then, it feels a little tired now. It also showcases a significant limitation of the unit, but more on that later.

Out of box picture performance was everything you would expect – solid easy to switch pre-sets, with acceptable picture quality, although the picture lacked “pop” and dimensionality. I’m not sure if Epson projectors have always looked this way, and the rest of the world has simply caught up, or if this is particular to this model.

Set up
As always, set up is a breeze. The 8100 offers significant lens shift and throw ratio, which is important if you’re planning on traveling with this projector. I typically set up the projector on a table top for evaluation and calibration, and the lens shift and throws make this a very easy unit to set up. It’s worth mentioning that the lens shifts are a quite loose – a horizontal adjustment results in a vertical “bump”, and vice – versa. While it may have been our test unit, the lens shift capabilities, while very versatile, feel cheap. Bottom line? It does the job, but it takes some back and forth to do it.

Like all Epson Home Theater projectors, the menu system for the 8100 is well laid out. Epson has been using this menu layout for years now. While you could say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, it’s getting a little tired. It’s reminiscent of DOS, if anyone remembers Microsoft’s old operating system. I’d like to see Colors added, something less dry and industrial looking. It’s a small complaint and by itself it certainly shouldn't’t stop you from considering this projector.

The real problem is that the menu system emphasizes a “chromatic aberration” particular to these new Epson projectors. It reminds me of the old convergence problem Epson had with the 1080UB.

Houston, We Have a Problem…

A few models ago, Epson had a convergence problem on their flagship 1080UB that was easily seen using nothing more than the test pattern included with the projector. This convergence problem was a misalignment of the LCD panels inside the projector resulting in a distinct horizontal separation between the red, green and blue sub-pixels. The result was a massive effort by Epson to replace every affected projector, or at least every affected projector where the customer complained, with an “improved” unit that addressed the problem.

The following year problems appeared with the 6100. The issue was that the projector would heat up, causing the lens to defocus. The fix this time around involved replacing the defective projectors with ones that had an improved focus ring that would not “loosen” at operating temperature.

This year, it looks like the 8100 is the lucky lottery winner.

Epson 8100 offset
Close up detailing a red, green and purple offset visible in the 8100’s menu

Color Convergence Problems
Press the Menu button, and up pops the menu. Epson’s menu interface is comprised of white text within long straight horizontal and vertical lines, ideal for showing these strange little Color offsets unfortunately. The Pattern button on the remote works well also, although you’ll see this best on a black background.

In the picture above, which is completely un-retouched, you see a distinct green and purple horizontal offset (left to right), and a clear vertical red offset (up and down). In the picture below you can see the same effect with a close shot of a 1080P Focus test pattern, but notice how the Color offset changes screen right to a horizontal yellow.

Epson 8100 Video Projector Offset Epson Color Offsets
Epson 8100 Color Offsets screen Left, and screen right

I can see this offset from 12 feet on a 199” screen when looking at the menu. It’s a small(ish) problem that’s more distracting than qualitative, frankly. By itself it’s not the end of the world. Chances are you probably won’t see this until you bring up the menu or use the Pattern button on the remote. It’s weird, I don’t like it, but you’ll probably never notice it while you’re watching a movie or playing a game.

Pretty Colors. What is it???
Bottom line is, I don’t know. To my eye it looks like an alignment problem with the lens or prism block. It could also be the electronics, or the LCD panels themselves. There are also regions of the image where the focus is a soft. It’s in these regions that the offset problems are at their worst, which has me thinking the problem is optical in nature.

Minor Color shifts aside, the Epson 8100 looks pretty good. As I’ve said, I get the impression Epson isn’t putting any money into improving the product these days, but they’re starting from a very strong position. Colors are accurate, even out of the box, if a little pastel-like. Grey scale performance is typical Epson, which means accurate and even. White balance is almost exactly D65 right across the board, although to get there I had to set the Absolute Color Temp to 8000 Kelvin. Setting white balance to 6500 Kelvin was too warm, even to the eye.

Epson 8100 showing Planet Earth
BBC’s Planet Earth on Blu-Ray

For movie watching I used a variety of material – BBC’s Planet Earth, Baraka, and Imax Super Speedway, all on 1080P Blu-Ray. Black levels were good, although the Colors lacked punch, even after calibration. BBC’s Planet Earth was good, not great, with flat looking picture and poor contrast, even after calibration. Super Speedway looked better, but because the Colors looked muted the images lacked the kind of realism I’ve come to expect from Epson home theater projectors.

The Numbers
I measured a perfectly respectable true dynamic contrast ratio of 1610:1 at 313 ANSI Lumens post calibration, using Theater Black 1 as a starting point. There is no such thing as a 36,000:1 contrast ratio, or anything close to it. On a happy note, Color and Tint settings were virtually perfect right out of the box, a first for a projector in this class. Black level performance was quite good, but Epson has always had good black levels in most of their Home Cinema projectors. In full on Dynamic mode, full bright, I measured a very respectable 1610 ANSI Lumens. This is ideal for challenging environments with a lot of ambient light.

The Bottom Line
The 8100 broke my heart a little. It’s a perfectly passable unit, meaning it does what you need it to do. It’s easy to install, and very adaptable to a variety of light conditions and install positions. What it isn’t, is great, in any sense. It’s a perfectly average picture overall, for Epson anyway. It seems Epson is relying heavily on what’s gone before, and instead of making their projectors better with each new generation, they’re making them cheaper. The world marches on and Epson’s competitors have upped their game, making serious in-roads in what used to be Epson country.

The 8100 is a perfectly acceptable choice if you need a lot of light output, or need to take advantage of the generous throw ratio or huge lens shift. Based on the performance of the 8100, even ignoring the Color offset problems, it’s hard to completely endorse this projector. On paper it’s a great unit; huge contrast, bright, great connectivity, but in actual use it’s a pretty ordinary projector, with potentially serious problems. It’s hard to say where all this is going. Given past performance, these Epson projectors are not getting better. I hope they’ve got something special lined up for their next foray into home theater, because the 8100 scores no higher than a qualified “maybe”.

Video Projector Reviews

JVC DLA-X30 Review
Boxlight Pro7501dp
Panasonic PT-AE4000U
Mitsubishi HC4000 Review
JVC DLA-HD250 Review
HC3800 vs 8100
Boxlight Projectowrite2
Epson 8100 Review
Epson 8500UB
Boxlight MP65E

More Projector Reviews