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Epson Bows Sub-$3,000 1,080p Front Projector

Epson unveiled today a pair of 3LCD front projectors with native 1,080p resolution, including a home cinema model with a $2,999 opening price point.

The PowerLite Home Cinema 1080, which will see broad retail distribution starting today, is being billed as the industry’s first native 1,080p 3LCD front projector priced under $3,000.

Like the PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080, introduced at International CES for custom installers, the new PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 boasts a 12,000:1 contrast ratio and 1,200 lumens of brightness.

Epson is using its proprietary C2Fine technology to increase the black level performance of the projector, to rank among the better front projectors at handling true blacks, according to Kevin Miller, front projector specialist/consultant and Imaging Science Foundation calibrator.

Miller, who was working with Epson to demonstrate the PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 for the press, had downgraded 3LCD technology in front projection in past product reviews for its black level weaknesses.

To assist in installations, the projector packages a 2.1x zoom using Fujinon optics, enabling the projection of up to a 100-inch screen size at projector placements as close as two feet, out to 22 feet from the screen. Image sizes of up to 120 inches are possible, Epson said.

“Not all of us have the luxury of having exact center line installations, so for that we offer vertical and horizontal lens shift,” said Aaron Marinari, Epson America senior product manager. “It’s important to maintain image quality, so by shifting the lens optically using a 14-segment lens design, we don’t lose any image quality and it prevents the flaring you sometimes get with less capable lenses.”

Inputs include HDMI version 1.3, making it one of the first front projectors in the market with such capability, according to Marinari. It will be able to reproduce x.v.YCC enhanced color spectrum software when such sources become available.

Epson will use the PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 to maintain its market share position, by offering a 1080p model that can move customers up from competitors’ 720p models that are now appearing at the $1,000 and up level. The PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 is expected to see distribution through a wide range of retail outlets.