September 22, 2008
I got an email the other day from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a long time. We caught up with each other about a few things, and then he asked me: What’s the best projector out there for under $1500? Wow, that’s a good question, isn’t it? A couple of years ago the level of quality you’d be able to expect from that price was much different. Today, it’s almost amazing what consumers are getting for their money. I told him I was reviewing the Epson Home Cinema 720 LCD projector and that if it even remotely resembled its “bigger brother” the 1080 or 1080UB it would be high on my list. As I launched into the review process I found that some consumers might just do very well to eschew 1080p - especially if they are using smaller screens or sitting back more than 2x the screen width.
Hey, This Projector Looks Awfully Familiar…
It was hard for me to find any tangible differences between this projector and the stock Epson Pro Cinema 810 (sans HQV external video processor, of course.) Epson has loosely indicated that it is using a next-generation LCD panel in the new HC 720, but from the specs alone it’s impossible to tell. Even the difference in HQV scores could possibly be attributed to by a slight difference in implementation of the same processing circuitry. In either case, both are excellent projectors and we noticed some exceptional color and black level potential on the Home Cinema 720.
There are two things consumer should know. First, Epson recently stopped selling its Pro Cinema models online. Second, this is the first model to come to market that gives a consumer model number to the Pro Cinema 810 (720p) projector. Am I saying they are exactly the same? No, no, no… yes. OK, so there are possibly tiny little differences (aside from the fact that the 810 is black), however for the most part, Epson has brought the $1599 pro model to consumers - and for even less money. To put it bluntly, the incredibly low cost of entry for the new Home Cinema 720 makes it a veritable steal.
Let’s pop the hood. Underneath the Epson you can find easy access to the lamp replacement compartment. While the lid comes off without any screws, its location means that you’ll need to remove it from any ceiling mount before you can replace the bulb. We prefer rear- or side-entry locations for bulbs, but this isn’t the end of the world. The two front feet screw down for angling the projector upwards from a tabletop location. Epson didn’t include a “quick drop” mechanism, so you simply unscrew… and unscrew… and unscrew… until the height is correct. Obviously, the better installs for this projector will have the unit on a level platform so that the lens shift, and not manual or digital keystoning, will be sufficient to hit the screen perfectly.
Read the complete review at Audioholics.com