Epson Home Cinema 700 Projector Review

This is a small, lightweight projector. Most, as noted, will place it on a table top for typical use, though many will ceiling mount it. The Home Cinema 700, unlike most 3LCD projectors, is not designed for shelf mounting in the rear of your room.

This is one of those projectors, that are no fuss: Hook up the wires, turn it on, and watch that sporting event, movie, or general HDTV/TV content. If your room has more than the slightest amount of ambient light, this projector is designed for the job. Only a couple of projectors can push out more lumens than this low cost projector, and most projectors we’ve reviewed are no match at all in brightness, when comparing “best” modes, and few have more than 2/3 of its brightness in “brightest” mode.

If you just want to watch while the wife has some lights on, and is reading, that’s really not a challenge for the Home Cinema 700, in fact that’s what it’s particularly good at.

So, in summary – the Home Cinema 700 is a really good projector for ths same sort of folks who typically just go out and buy a TV, or a basic LCDTV without worrying about technical performance, adjusting their sets, or the last 5-10% of picture quality. It’s for just having fun, having a large projection system instead of a tiny, say, 40″ LCD TV, most of which cost about the same or more. The kids won’t care, and most people won’t either. The only downside for that type of buyer, is that some of them might ultimately get the “bug” – become an enthusiast, in which case they might wonder why they didn’t spend an extra $200 – $300 for something with a bit more performance – most specifically, better black levels.

Defining the right owner - a cautionary tale:

I have several friends that spend a lot of time watching movies, music videos, and sports (some general TV programming, too) at my place. While some pay attention to the projector I am running that evening, and are getting pretty good at noticing the differences from one projector to another (and often ask questions), not all do. One of my friends came over a few nights ago (we’ll call him Jim). I had the Home Cinema 700 running a movie, with modest ambient light engaged. I was agonizing over the black levels, and decided to have fun. I froze one image (a good one for noticing black level performance), and asked him to study it. Two minutes later, the Epson was off, and my JVC RS20 was powered up, and projecting. To my amazement (even though I had mentioned black level aspects of the 700 to him shortly before, and pointed out areas of the image), his first reaction was: “the other projector was better”. The “other projector” being the HC700. Now the JVC RS20 (considered the best under $10K projector by most reviewers) is easily, no, make that is drastically superior to the HC700 in every aspect of picture quality (especially black levels). The thing that caused him to think the HC700 was the better projector, however, was the brightness of the Home Cinema 700. When we did this, the room wasn’t fully darkened (after all, that’s the Home Cinema 700′s strength). To Jim, the JVC, putting out barely half the lumens, just didn’t look that good, and in fairness was washing out, just a very little. Still, the black levels, even with the ambient light, were obviously (and again, drastically), visibily better. No matter, the bright image won the day for Jim.

Now, my friend Jim is probably typical of the large majority of people who buy TV’s and LCDTV’s but not typical of the majority of home theater projector buyers. Why? He’s the type who thinks having a 100″ screen, is great, but picture quality is purely secondary. Getting the idea? The Home Cinema 700 does just fine for him. He’s really into sports, and the HC700 appealed to him for that, in particular.

Now, if you are the type who researches each projector looking for the best combination of color accuracy, black levels, shadow detail, etc., you are very “un-Jim-like”, and are more typical of the traditional home theater projector owner. Keep in mind though, that Jim is definitely the more typical consumer out there, and those people buy (between them) many millions of TVs and LCDTV’s a year, compared to the few hundred thousand folks that buy projectors for their home. In other words, as projectors become more mainstream, the market for projectors like the Home Cinema 700 will grow disproportionately, compared to the enthusiasts share of the market. Other products that fit this category, include home theater in a box type models – projectors with full sound, built in DVD players, etc. None are truly high performance, but the manufacturers do sell a bunch of them.

Want a projector you can pack up and take to your cabin (and it does have a small speaker in it, for basic sound), or take along on your summer vacation, or, want to watch it in the family room tonight, but the kids want it in their room tomorrow, or, perhaps you need a projector that can double as a business projector. That’s the Home Cinema 700 appeal.

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