I snatched up this projector as soon as I could after it was introduced (October 2010). I felt confident buying a brand new product because this projector is an evolution of the highly regarded 8100 from last year. The 8100 brought 1080P resolution to the mainstream of the home projector market. For the same price or lower, the 8350 improves upon the 8100 in several areas. First, it has inorganic rather than organic LCD panels. This feature suddenly became important to me when my six year old Sanyo PLV-Z2's blue panel gave out. I found out that (eventual) blue panel failure is a common problem with the old Sanyo's organic panels. Inorganic panels are more stable and heat-resistant. In addition to the inorganic panels, the 8350 is brighter than the 8100 and it has a higher contrast ratio (black/white).
Since most people (including me) won't be comparing projectors side-by-side, I'll tell you what's likely to be important to somebody considering a home theater projector purchase. Placement flexibility is very important to home projector buyers on a budget. If you have to pay someone to do a ceiling installation, you can pay half this projector's list price just for the installation. The Epson 8350 has a long 2.1 power zoom lens and vertical and horizontal lens shift. What this means is that you can likely put the projector on a bookcase shelf at the side of a room 10-15 feet away from your projection wall or screen and skip any formal installation whatsoever. The second important feature is brightness. Unlike my old projector, the new Epson is bright enough to project a good picture with room lights on. It can easily substitute for a 60 inch flat panel television, with modest light control measures. With the lights off, you can crank the image up to 200 inches if you have the space. (By the way, I've never bothered with getting a screen. I don't even use a white wall. I project onto a tan wall, and the picture is fine.)
The biggest marketing feature of this projector is its 1080P native resolution. It looks good. I was a little surprised that 1080P didn't make as much of a difference as I expected, but it looks good. I didn't really have to make many changes to the default settings to get a picture of my liking.
I have only used the projector with HDMI input. Other inputs are available - see the product description for details. Kudos to Epson for including a LIGHTED remote. I don't know why all projector remotes aren't lighted. The projector is very quiet. The advertised lamp (bulb) light is 4,000 hours. That will mean several years of use for an average buyer. There is one feature that's not particularly convenient, and that is size. This projector is surprisingly large. You really notice it in the store if it is positioned next to business-class projectors. In the business niche size (small) and light output/dollar are key features. Business projectors don't have the lens shift and zoom flexibility of the 8350. Business projectors typically have lower resolution, and they are louder than the 8350. If you are looking for a projector to carry with you to business meetings and to sometimes use at home for movies there are probably better (lighter and cheaper) choices; however for home use the Epson 8350 is hard to beat.
Finally, I want to remind people who have never purchased a home theater projector that you have to have a source for the picture to be fed to the projector. I use a Playstation3 and a stand-alone HDTV tuner (hard to find except online) plugged into an Onkyo home theater receiver. You should budget for a home theater receiver (receivers with speakers are called "home theater in a box" or HTIB) that has HDMI in and out, preferably at least 3 inputs and 2 outputs. It's best to rig things so that everything goes into the receiver, and then one HDMI cable goes from the receiver to the projector. It is a lot cheaper to get your HDMI cables online.
In conclusion, the Epson 8350 can be thought of as a tweaked "next year's model" of the 8100. Since the 8100 got the core features right, not much improvement was needed. Epson apparently controlled the inventory of the 8100s pretty well. After the 8350 was released, I looked for blow-out deals on the 8100 and didn't find any. You can pay just as much for the outgoing 8100 as the 8350. You might as well get the newer model.
SUPPLEMENT 12/28/2010 - Using a projector for motion gaming.
I've had people ask me how you can use a projector to play Wii games. Remember, with a home theater projector, the projector is (usually) behind you, not in front of you like a television, so you can't put the sensor bar on the projector. The answer is quite simple, and that is to use an audio-video receiver or a dedicated HTIB receiver. You plug the console into the receiver just like you would plug it into your television. The receiver will either be in front of you or close enough to the front that you can run the game's sensor cable to game console without any improvised wiring. Wii games are quite fun blown up to wall size, even though the Wii is not a high definition device. PS3 games and BluRay movies on the Playstation 3 look fantastic. I don't have an XBOX 360, but if you want to give me one, I'll be happy to write about it.
UPDATE 5/17/2011 - FIRST LAMP DIES. My first lamp (bulb) just burnt out. If this becomes a repeated thing, it will justify a lower rating. The lamp had under 700 hours, well under the 4000 hour rating. It seems like the official Epson replacement lamp is hard to find in stock, but I just ordered a third party replacement lamp, the Electrified ELPLP49 / V13H010L49 Replacement Lamp with Housing for Epson Projectors - 150 Day Warranty which is apparently in stock. Once I get a chance to install it, I will update this review.
UPDATE 5/19/2011 Right after I put in the order for the replacement lamp, I remembered reading on AVS Forums that some projector buyers from various manufacturers who experienced premature lamp failure sometimes got goodwill replacements even when the lamps were technically out of warranty. I emailed Epson about the problem, and in less than 24 hours, they responded via email that they would ship a replacement lamp. I'll never know whether Epson was influenced by the fact that I have publicly described my experience with the projector here ever since I got it. I'm sure it didn't hurt. It was a show of good customer service by Epson, nonetheless. I cancelled my Electrified replacement lamp before it shipped. I'll update when I receive the Epson replacement lamp. Remember, whatever projector you buy, if the lamp fails prematurely, go ahead and call or email the manufacturer and ask for a good will replacement. I'm sure you can't go to the well repeatedly, and most of them handle these on a case by case basis.
UPDATE 5/30/2011 Epson promptly sent me a replacement lamp as they promised. I installed it, and it works fine. 5 STARS FOR EPSON CUSTOMER SERVICE on this. The lamp wasn't technically under warranty but they replaced it as a customer satisfaction gesture. In comparison, the last time I had to call Sony about a warranty repair, they gave me the third degree.