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Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 1080 UB Home Theater Projector Review

LCD Home Theater Projector Review & Buying Guide

By Anthony Marsh

Manufacturer: www.epson.com

Epson 1080UB Home Theater LCD Projector

When only the best will do, the Epson 1080 UB brings you all that HD glory compliments of stunning 1080p images that feature some of the deepest blacks ever seen, and rich, vibrant colors that just leap off the screen. And with a comprehensive array of user options, competitive pricing, and virtually unsurpassed ease of set-up, this projector is one of the ultimate home theater machines.

Overview / First Impressions / Performance / Final Thoughts / Detailed Specifications

  • Rich, lush, life-like colors
  • Deepest blacks care of UltraBlack™ technology
  • 3 LCD chip technology with Full HD 1080P (1920 x 1080) native resolution
  • Powerful, out-of-box, picture presets
  • Piece of cake set-up with vertical and horizontal lens shift
  • 2.1:1 zoom lens allows you to set unit up in virtually any type of space
  • Sleek and shapely design brings great aesthetic-value to any room
  • Lightweight (12.3 lbs / 5.6 kgs.) for those who need portability
  • Backlit remote that offers useful, one-touch button control options
  • While pricing for this home theater video projector is certainly in the upper tier, like they say, you get what you pay for, and it does manage to offer substantial value for your dollar, with top-notch performance that’s essentially “critic-proof”


Epson 1080 UB Highlights:

  • Native 1080P (1920 x 1080) resolution
  • Up to 1600 ANSI lumens (Dynamic Mode)
  • Up to 50,000:1 advertised contrast ratio (Dynamic mode)
  • Includes Component and two HMDI inputs
  • C²Fine™ 3LCD (3-chip optical engine) technology
  • UltraBlack™ technology for the deepest blacks
  • Horizontal and vertical lens shift
  • Backlit remote control
  • Lamp life of up to 3000 hours
  • Two-year quick exchange warranty (includes priority, toll-free technical support), plus 90-day lamp warranty

MSRP: $2,999.99

When it comes to the hotly-contested home theatre projector wars, there are a few brands that can consistently deliver a winning product. One of them is Epson. And one of their models is the ferocious and awe-inspiring Powerlite Home Cinema 1080 UB, which has taken home theater entertainment, sports, and gaming to a whole new level.


Style & Appearance

Much like its younger siblings (the 720 and the 1080), the Epson 1080UB shares the same the stylish chassis. Usually, repetition can be construed as boring and bland, but let’s be honest here, when you have a smokin’ hot body (design) like Epson’s Powerlite Home Cinema series video projectors do, there’s no need to stray too far from the goods: sleek and shapely contours positively shine with the light-gray-come-pearl-white color case motif.

Getting Connected

Switching to the backside of the unit, rear connections are nicely laid-out, color-coded, and labeled for ease of use and input. They offer two HDMI 1.3 inputs (well done), one Component, one S-Video, one Composite, and one Analog RGB.

Epson 1080UB Home Theater LCD Projector Rear Inputs

Remote Control

The remote control for the 1080 UB gives new meaning to the word “control.” In addition to all the standard remote control functions that you know and love, you also get one-touch button access to all of the picture presets, as well as gamma and color temperature control. For once, we get a remote with real, legitimate, and tangible user-value. An added bonus of sublime goodness: the remote is backlit, but thankfully, not blindingly so.

Epson 1080UB Home Theater LCD Projector Remote Control

PERFORMANCE – Epson LCD Projector


In terms of throw distance, the 1080UB LCD home theatre projector offers you one of the best in the biz. Making full use of a 2.1:1 zoom lens, at less than 10 feet back, you can project a 100-inch image with relative ease. Flipside, this broad range allows you to project the very same image size from as far back as 21 feet. Essentially, no matter what the dimensions or obstacles of your particular room, the Epson 1080 UB is quite likely able to accommodate it without flinching. And with both vertical (96%) and horizontal (47%) lens shift, you’ll nary even have to break a sweat when projecting your image.

One other thing you’ll notice – or in this case, not notice – about the 1080UB is just how quiet it is during normal operation. Advertised at 24db of volume during usage, if not for the projected image on your screen, you’d quite likely have to do a double take to see that the thing was even on. It’s one thing to have a great image, but for me personally, it’s equally important to have a machine that doesn’t sound like a plane taking off while in use. The only thing I ever want to hear when I have my Blu-Ray player or gaming console hooked up to my projector is whatever it is I happen to be watching or playing – not the sounds of the unit working away internally to make things happen. Epson has taken this into account with the 1080UB and delivered a whisper quiet video projector that doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of what it’s projecting.

Out-Of-Box Picture

As I mentioned earlier, while the exterior design of the Epson 1080 UB, 1080, and 720 projectors are identical, as they say, it’s what’s inside that counts. This is where all that horsepower of the 1080 UB really takes over. Utilizing full 1080P (1920 x 1080) native resolution, as well as Epson’s ground-breaking 3LCD (3-chip optical engine) technology, this unit is so beefed up and buffed out that it should almost be illegal. What you’ll see right from the get-go is a superb, out-of-box picture. This projector aims to please with a virtual plug and play functionality that goes beyond much of the competition in the 1080P projector class. As always, though, a modest tweak here and there goes a long ways towards making something very good, great.

For testing purposes, I used two subjects: BBC’s Planet Earth and Spiderman 3 via a PS3 for HD playback, both on Blu-Ray disc. A starting point in going from very good to great would be setting your color preset mode to Theater Black 1 (which also happens to start the 1080 UB in low lamp mode to save all that precious bulb energy). Assuming you plan on watching in a dark room (the ideal way to go); this aforementioned preset will best accentuate an image that pushes blacks to their blackest.

I used some of the settings below:

Color Mode Theater Black 1
Brightness -1
Contrast +3
Color Saturation +3
Tint +2
Color Temperature 6500K

Epson promotes the 1080UB as one that uses UltraBlack technology for deep, rich blacks, and an extended color gamut to give you rich and vivid colors that jump off the screen. I can vouch first-hand for all of the 1080 UB’s under-the-hood goodness: testing showed an HD black level of 0.003 foot lamberts with a projected image size of 106 inches. In the archives of black level performance via a home theater projector and world history, this is possibly on par with the moon landing.


Despite a fine and powerful set of presets, like most video projectors, you can reap further performance rewards with some careful and artful calibration. With a color temperature of 6500 K, white balance was almost there at 20 IRE or greater, while the unit exhibited a slight red shift at 10 IRE, and a modest spike of blue at 0 IRE. Interestingly, once I clocked in to a color temperature of 7000K, this unit really began to take off and soar. Calibration was spot-on to anything at 40 IRE and above, while anything in the lower IRE range didn’t quite calibrate out, favoring a blue shift. When I say shift, I mean this in the most inconsequential and slightest of terms because performance, color gamut, and the richness of colors completely negated this lower IRE shift and color lean. Throw in ease of use, and a really good thing like the Epson 1080UB walks the line of greatness, with much swagger, confidence, and dexterity.

So, to calibrate or not? That is always the eternal question it seems, and without sounding like a fence-riding politician of the highest order, I’ll just say this: when you combine out-of-box performance with a bevy of numerous and potent image presets, you’ll have picture quality to rival most anything. Yet for those who want to wade their way through every conceivable nook and cranny to completely customize their viewing experience, calibration can be a worthwhile option. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and individual preference is just that.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Epson LCD Projector

For the critical and demanding eye, genuine quality always reigns supreme. Epson knows this and has crafted a machine with that very motto in mind. The 1080UB LCD home theater projector has so many gears worth of performance-value that you’ll feel like a revved-up Ferrari at the starting line. In short: if you’re serious about taking your viewing experience to the next level of  dynamic, 1080P class performance, you should strongly consider taking that ride with the Epson 1080UB.

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS – Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 1080 UB

Projection System Epson C²Fine™ 3LCD technology
Projection Method Front / rear / ceiling mount
LCD D7 0.74" wide, poly-silicon TFT active matrix (with MLA)
Resolution: Native 1080p (1920 x 1080)
Projection Lens F-number: 2.0 – 3.17

Lens Shift Range
Vertical ±96%
Horizontal ±47%
Lamp 170W UHE E-TORL™ lamp

Lamp Life
Up to 3000 hours
Screen Size (Projected Distance) 100" diagonal (wide: 9.8' – tele: 20.9')

Aspect Ratio: Native 16:9 (4:3 resize)
Brightness: (typical) Up to 1600 lumens (Dynamic Mode)
Contrast Ratio Up to 50,000:1 (dynamic), 4,000:1 (native)
Color Reproduction Built-in Y/C separation and I/P conversion
Powered by Pixelworks™
Adjustment Function Manual zoom
Manual focus

Zoom Ratio: 1 – 2.1
RGB Video Compatibility
Component video
Composite video
Analog RGB
Video I/O Video Input Signal

Terminal Inputs
2 HDMI 1.3
1 RCA (Component)
1 RCA (Composite)
1 Mini Din (S-video)
1 Mini D-Sub 9 pin (RS-232c)
1 Mini D-Sub 15 pin (Analog RGB)
Dimensions (W x D x H) 16" x 12.2" x 4.9" (406 x 309 x 124 mm)
Weight 12.3 lbs (5.6 kgs.)

Verdict recommendations are ranked from best to worst as follows:

Highly Recommended                      
Moderate Recommendation            
Take A Pass
Avoid Like The Plague

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