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Epson PowerLite Pro Z8000WUNL Review

Apr 7, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

A flexible high-brightness projector for large-venue installations.

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Epson PowerLite Pro Z8000WUNL

What do most AV professionals look for in an installation projector for auditoriums, lecture halls, and houses of worship? Certainly they want enough brightness to fill their space, and strong color and image quality. Flexible connectivity, a choice of lenses, and easy setup features can all be very important to facilitate installation, and ease of use can decrease the need for hand-holding once the system is up and running. What about reduced maintenance? That’s harder to quantify as a buying criterion, but it’s critical to calculating overall cost of ownership.

Epson has promoted its new PowerLite Pro Z800WUNL as the company’s “brightest projector to date” at 6000 lumens, and as the “first 3LCD projector with a native WUXGA (1920x1200) resolution.” And sure, those are impressive numbers that tempt headlines. Yet “first” and “brightest” are temporary claims that are sure to be quickly outdone. The real value with the Z8000WUNL comes from backing up those headline numbers with the features and reliability aimed at professionals working with projection systems every day. That starts with flexibility during installation.

The Z8000WUNL’s chassis has two very obvious features: the two large handles on the top to facilitate physical placement and the center front lens housing that allows for easy positioning in front of the screen. Powered zoom and focus are paired with ±70-degree vertical ±20-degree horizontal lens shift, as well as another ±30-degree vertical and ±20-degree horizontal keystone correction, to help make that installation and setup even more flexible and ultimately allow the projector to fit the room rather than the other way around. A Quick Corner feature allows you to effectively adjust both horizontal and vertical keystone correction at the same time, making off-axis setup, if not ideal, at least tolerable. The Z8000WUNL can even be installed at 90 degrees pointing either at the ceiling or the floor.

Six bayonet lens options offer even more installation possibilities: Those lenses range from the fixed rear-projection lens and 1.37X short-throw lens all the way up to a 1.4X long-throw, 5.83-to-8.18:1 zoom lens. All optional lenses carry an MSRP of $2,899 except the standard (F=1.65-2.51) lens, which is $1,399. Lens installation is also straightforward, with just a couple of screws to remove the plastic cover and a simple lever release for the lens.

Interestingly, Epson has put all of the connection ports on the front of the chassis. But they’re not obvious to the lay person because they’re hidden beneath one of those cosmetic plastics covers on the front of the chassis, to the right of the lens mount. There’s a large, removable plastic tab on both the top and bottom of that plastic cover so you can cable either up and over or down and under while still keeping the install clean. The Z8000WUNL has both analog D-sub 15-pin and 5X BNC RGB, as well as digital DVI-D and HDMI inputs. The BNC jacks can, of course, also accept analog component video up to full 1920x1080.

There is also a 15-pin monitor output and both serial RS-232 and RJ-45 control ports. The Ethernet port offers remote administration and control of the one or more projections, and Epson includes remote administration software. A more intriguing control feature is Epson’s Direct On and Direct Off, which allow the Z8000WUNL to be turned on and off by a simple wall switch. Turning on may not be so special, but cooling down by a switch is, and it’s an indirect result of Epson’s new cooling system, which is efficient enough to allow the projector almost immediate cool-down on power down.

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