Posted on February 4, 2016 By Art Feierman
The HC1040 projector is geared for “bright rooms” – doesn’t need a cave to enjoy sports, HDTV and movies
Epson’s Home Cinema 1040 is one of Epson’s rapidly expanding class of what I have dubbed “Bright Room” projectors. For the vast majority of the sixteen plus years I have been involved in either selling home theater projectors or writing about them and reviewing them, home “theater” projectors were just that – projectors designed to work in fully darkened or nearly so rooms. Call those home theaters, man caves, etc., projectors with high quality pictures required the proper space.
It’s only been the past few years that projectors have gotten bright enough to move out of the theater, and into rooms where they can compete against LCDTVs. Now most of these new, brighter projectors have been sub-$1000, and called home entertainment projectors. While they are no serious match for a good $2000 – $3000 home theater projector in a fully dark room, they will dazzle when used properly in most rooms that aren’t ridiculously bright.
The Home Cinema 1040 is a dictionary definition, good example of these projectors. We recently reviewed another in this Epson series, the HC1440 which is almost twice the price, has a few more features and is even brighter.
One of the keys to projectors making the successful transition into living rooms, bonus rooms, and family rooms is having a projector screen that is designed to “reject” a lot of ambient light.
You can get a good experience with the 3LCD HC1040 projector shining it on a near white or white wall, but choosing the right screen whether pull down, motorized or fixed takes the picture quality significantly. Keep that in mind.
So what do we have here? 3000 lumens – both color and white (that’s important, discussed in special features). If you are new to projectors, let me put it this way. If you have a dark dedicated home theater, you need about 450 lumens to properly light up a 100″ diagonal screen, so we’re taking about over 6.5 times the brightness. In the past we simply referred to any home projector capable of 1500 lumens as a light cannon. Well, the game has changed. No longer are you limited to spending $2500-$3500 for a 75″ LCD TV, you can have a 100″ or 120″ projector and screen combination for roughly half that! It’s way more fun.
The Home Cinema 1040 is full HD resolution – aka 1080p which is 1920×1080. It has a built in speaker – great for those moving it from room to room or hauling its massive sub-six pound weight with you on vacation. Of course, ideally you want a good sound system.
I should note that the HC1040 not only offers two HDMI ports – the current best way to interface with Blu-ray and DVD players, satellite and cable boxes, but one of the two has a feature called MHL. MHL is great if you have “cut the cord” so to speak – no players, no satellite/cable. Millennials are famous for their cord cutting skills but many others are doing the same. With MHL, you can plug in a streaming stick like Roku or those from Amazon (Fire) and Google, and watch streaming content from the web, from hundreds of channels, the best known ones being Netflix and HBO Now.
Cost of operation is ridiculously low thanks, first, to a long life lamp rated 5000 hours at full power (that’s 20 hours a week for 5 years), plus a 2 year warranty (and two years of concurrent replacement program, so that if there’s a warranty issue, you are back up and running in 2 business days. Sweet. (No waiting weeks for a repair.)
In the course of this review I’ve mostly run the HC1040 in my theater, but for sports viewing, and general TV, I’ve got enough brightness to leave all my rear lights on at night, and have my window shutters partially open letting in the daylight, the rest of the time. That’s what 3000 lumens buys you. You’ll also see some pictures taken in my living room, which is seriously bright, but where I have one of those screens designed for the job. You’ll be impressed by the photos of the projector working that room.
With a $799 list price, the Home Cinema 1040 isn’t the least expensive bright room projector around, but it is one of the lowest cost 3LCD projectors, and that gives it a distinct advantage in brighter rooms compared to the DLP competition.
Although sporting less features than its big brother, the HC1440, or Epson’s similarly priced alternate, the highly reviewed Home Cinema 2040 (and 2045), the HC1040 offers a much lower cost alternative to the HC1440, and 50% more brightness than the HC2040.
Something to consider when considering this projector is that Epson, who serves up far more different projectors than any other brand, is giving you a real choice, at this price point.
Trivia: I just took a quick count on the Epson website – hard to believe, but their HD projectors start at 720p and $499. Eighteen different models between that price and $1999. (They have plenty of more expensive ones too, of course.) In fairness, 5 are end of life models who’s replacements are shipping, so will go away as supplies run out. Still, that’s 13 projectors targeting the home market, spread out over a $1500 range.
Depending on your room conditions and your viewing habits, you have two Epson projectors at exactly this price point to choose from. (and several others near this price point.) The trick is to figure out which Epson best serve’s your needs. Choose wisely! Our goal is to help you do that. I figure Epson’s strategy is that with enough different models they will have the best choice for most folks. Their 44% marketshare indicates that their strategy must be working. OK, I digress, let’s turn the page and consider some of the features in more detail.
Another question: Is this (Epson Home Cinema 1040) the same model as Epson EB-U04 in Europe?
Thanks for the review!
Hi again culdesac, I don’t have a formal “conversion” list of models between US and EU… But they appear to be the same projector except that there are definitely cosmetic differences. I took a quick look at the specs page for the EB-U04 projector and they appear to be the same as the HC1040 here.
So, overall, I’d say 98% yes… same projector. -art
Thanks again for your response. What a pain in the ass is that! (To rename a USA model differently in Europe/other parts of the world… Also to price them differently! That applies to all the industry)
If you don’t mind, I leave here the link to the official specs of the “European” model (EB-U04) for those interested:
It’s a common practice. Distribution systems in Europe – types of dealers, who’s got the marketshare are very different in the EU than in the US. In the US it isn’t uncommon for a manufacturer to sell two virtually identical projectors, under two different model names, through two different distribution channels. That works for Epson in the US. By slight differentiations they avoid some channel conflict, making it, for example, more profitable for, say the “local installing dealer” to sell one version while online sells another version (typically for less). The local guy needs higher margins to survive, so if they are offered the same model as is sold online, they would pass and choose another brand more “local dealer” oriented. This isn’t much different than BestBuy, Walmart, and Target selling essentially the same LCDTV under 3 different model numbers so that there’s “no price matching” issues.
Having been a dealer and appreciating the advantages of different channel marketing, I mostly approve, even though I was the typical larger “online seller” at the lower prices, because I also have retail store background as well. -art
A-ha… very interesting to know. Thanks for explaining it. Finally I got this projector, I mean the European version (EB-U04). I hope is as good as his “american brother” 😉
It should be. “It’s only marketing…” differences, anyway… The main thing is: Enjoy! -art
I currently have the Epson EH-TW3200 which I believe is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350. I am looking for a projector that handles daylight better. Would this one work better?
Definitely a real step up, but if you really are having a problem with ambient light, let’s consider: 1800 lumens max (if I remember correctly for the 8350) vs 3000 lumens. Practically speaking, Epson’s usually drop about 30-35% going from full to Eco mode on the lamp. So, you would get two jumps in brightness, each about the equivalent of going from eco to full power.
But! You’ve had your TW3200 a reasonably long time. If you have more than 1000 hours on your lamp, your projector’s lamp has already lost about 25% or more of it’s brightness so it may well be that at full power (and Dynamic mode) you are only getting perhaps 1200 lumens out.
Going from 1200 to 3000 lumens, if that’s the case, is pretty huge. Remember though, your projector has slightly better blacks, more zoom range, and a couple of extra features. Fair enough since the 1040 isn’t as expensive as the 8350. The 1040 is about the brightest thing around – until you spend about double on the HC1440, with it’s 4400 lumens! Now that is the definitive sub $2000 light canon. -art
Thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated! I like the higher lumens, but a bit skeptical on the other aspects of image quality when it is dark. It is quit a difference between 1040 and 1440. I would guess the 1440 gives me better image during the day as well as when it is dark. Both seem not to have a lens shift which could be helpful in some situations.
2040 I also looked at but the lumens are lower again, not a big jump.
Guess either 1040 with good daylight but some sacrifices or spend a bit more on 1440 and get even better daylight. Guess it has additional improvements over the 1040 that justifies the higher price
I think I either would go with the HC1440 with the high lumens or the HC3500 with lower lumens but higher contrast. Not sure how much difference that makes as I also watch during the late evening when it is dark outside. Also the HC3500 has lens shift. I can get them both around the same price. How much better is the HC1440 during the day and how much better due to contrast is the HC3500 when it is dark outside?
I have an Optoma HD180 that’s been very good for a number of years…as my Home Theatre.
I’m looking for a new machine now …Would the Epson 1040 at $549. be a good buy for me? It seems to be an upgrade on Lumens. Are the EPSON Projectors as good and as reliable as the Optoma’s? Any Bad Features?
If you are watching in a really dark room, the Optoma has better black levels, which makes a difference on dark scenes. That’s an advantage of DLP over LCD, and the one thing, that I really prefer about DLP. As to reliability, and warranty/support, those are both strengths of Epson I would say. In fact, should you have a warranty issue, they ship you out a replacement, and pay to get your broken one back, for both years of the Epson 2 year warranty. (Optoma has a basic 1 year P/L warranty).
Out of the box color will be a strength of the Epson – more accurate, and you will get a signifcant jump in brightness (almost 2X) which is very noticeable, but not “night and day” (think 2 100watt lights on in a room instead of just one). So, if you have a really good room and are an enthusiast, then I probably wouldn’t look to the HC1040, but then without spending a whole lot more, you aren’t going to be buying a whole lot of improved picture, rather more lumens and maybe a feature or two.)
Bottom line. Go for it if so inclined, but you are spending for a new warranty, and a different, but definitely not a jump up in picture quality. If you need the extra brightness though (and remember, your lamp after a few years, is probably no more than 70% of its original brightness), that’s a valid reason. -art
Thank You Art…another Question Please?
I use the projector strictly for movies …I have a Dark Room with a “Throw” of about 13 1/2 ft. …I collect Movies (BlueRay, DVD & VHS) and I use a BlueRay Projector and a VCR/DVD combo PLUS an older Receiver Surround system… No HDMI’s on the Receiver & VCR Combo.
If my choice is between the Epson’s 2040 & 1040 which would you recommend as the best unit for quality & also ability to hook-up my present equipment??? Is there any other machine in the same price range you would prefer?
Many thanks…I’m a Senior and need all the help I can get…
I have a simple questiom abbout the wireless connection USB key, so what the model for this projector?
Hi, not sure what it is, that you are asking? -art
Quick question… I had an Epson 1080p projector a few years ago and loved it. It had an adjustment so I was able to leave it on my nightstand and move the screen image left and right quite a way. How far off center can a projector like this one be and still atain a proportionate picture? If keeping a model 1/4 of the room off center will not work, what is my next best option by $$$ thanks in advance.
Hi David. Since you didn’t mention which projector… But the more expensive Epsons have lens shift, those “dials” on the top of the projector that you adjust to move the image. The other way is keystone correction which all projectors have.
There’s usually a lot of keystone, but most Epson’s that have lens shift, have a lot of it. The HC1040 has only keystone correction.
You’ll need to look at the manual (which you can download from Epson) on the 1040 to figure out how much keystone correction. Lens shift has less detrimental effect on the picture but both are usable if needed. A projector with both lots of lens shift, and lots of keystone correction gives you the most flexibility. In the Epson lineup, you’ll need to go to the new 3xxx series. That is the 3100, 3700 or 3900 as they have both lots of lens shift, and keystone correction too.
But the 3700 is in the price range of the 1440 not the 1040, that is, just below $1500. The Home Cinema 3100 though, is about $1300. Still a lot more.
Very few of the DLP projectors (under $2000) have lens shift, and those that do have very little shift. -art
Thank you for that complete answer. I had a home cinema 6100 I used in my bedroom and loved it. Trying to reproduce with the updated versions without overspending. Need shift so may look into pre-owned models
David, if looking for used, try to find yourself one of the Epson UBs ie. 5030UB or 5020UB. -art
Quick question. I just recently got in the market for a projector and I am going to have it in my garage. The primary use will be for watching football and other sports. I am choosing between the epson home cinema 1040 and a used Optoma th1060p. Which projector would you choose? The optoma is $175 and the epson is 599
Hi Matthew, wow, you found a pretty obscure Optoma I had to look it up. It is a commercial projector that hit the market 6 years ago, and was discontinued 3 years ago. I’m assuming it’s used. It’s got more white lumens at 4500 than the Epson’s 3000, but the Epson is likely to have more color lumens (since the TH1060p has a clear slice on it’s color wheel. Still both should perform very well for your sports viewing.
When you balance the lower price, of the Optoma you’ll want to know how many hours on the lamp. Optoma lamps typically cost a good bit more than Epson ones, and equally important the Optoma is rated 2000 hours at full power on the lamp. The Epson is 5000 hours at full power. So, if you are watching a lot of sports, over 2-3 years, you might just need to buy two extra lamps for the InFocus while you would still be on the original Epson lamp.
If you want a real replacement (there are always low cost lamps, but they can be a crap shoot – The Epson lamp’s probably going to be about $150, while the Optoma $210-$250. I figure the Optoma is used, so no warranty, vs 2 years with overnight replacement program.
The Optoma being a single chip projector has the advantage of being a touch sharper due to no pixel alignment issues (which exist on all three chip projectors, like 3LCD models), but there may be a trade-off – which is whether you are rainbow sensitive. Typically commercial DLP projectors don’t have as fast a color wheel as on home models, and Optoma’s not known for using the fastest, even there (BenQ ususally outdoes them).
But both should create “knock your socks off” sports. Neither, to my knowledge, supports 3D. Good hunting. Seems like pay more now, or pay more later… -art
I think I will go with the Epson with the 2 year warranty. When I typed in the optoma the retail price when it was available was very high. This is what caught my attention and made me think it would be considerably better quality than the much cheaper epson.
Hi again, Valid point, of course. However, 6 years is a long time in terms of projector progress. If you look around, you can find new DLP projectors with say, 3500 lumens for way under $1000 today (and longer lamp life). -art
Got the Epson, looks amazing! One more question tho. I have it in my garage. The garage gets up to temperatures between 90-110 degrees in the heat of the summer. What should I do to combat this? Or will the projector be fine running in those temps
The projector should shut off automatically if it overheats. If it’s really hot in there you can try using high altitude mode, which increases fan speed. Look at the specs, they will likely give you a maximum operating range. -art
Hi , our senior citizen care facility is trying to decide which one Sony VPL CW275 or Epson Powerlite L1405U will be a better option as far as sharper image and better contrast since we have to run movies while light is on for patient safety . Your input is highly appreciated!
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