Epson Home Cinema 700 - Performance
4/19/2009 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 700 Brightness
Since Epson markets the Home Cinema 700 primarily as a family room type projector that can crossover as a portable business projector, you have to expect it's pretty bright, and that is exactly the case. Only the Panasonic PT-AX200U comes close to this Epson projector when comparing brightest modes. (Although the Epson Home Cinema 720 isn't that far behind.
In "best" mode - in this case Theatere mode, it is definitely the brightest of any 720p projector we've reviewed in recent years. In Theatre mode we measured a dazzling 1217 lumens, which is more than double the average brightness for best modes. After calibration, brightness dropped an insignificant amount to 1201 lumens
At it's brightest - Dynamic Mode - the Home Cinema 700 outputs a whopping 1840 lumens even besting the Panasonic's 1699 lumens. Of course, as with all home projectors, the picture quality is better in "best" mode than in "brightest". Post calibration, lumen output dropped a whole 2 lumens (well within the measuring accuracy of our equipment - in other words - no change).
Here is the full list of Picture modes, with the measured brightness, and also the measured color temperature of white (100 IRE) For typical movie watching as well as TV/HDTV the ideal color temperature is 6500K, and you can see, that in Theater mode, white is right on the money:
Dynamic: 1840 lumens@5429K
Game: 1580 lumens@5777K
Living Room: 1158 lumens@7759K
Theatre: 1217 lumens@6517K
Sports: 1840 lumens @5430K
sRGB: 1298 lumens @6594K
Dark Wall: 1316 lumens@5702K
The projector has both High (lamp) power mode, and Low (lamp) power mode. We measured Dynamic at 1444 lumens in low power, a drop of about 21%. That percentage drop should be the same, regardless of which mode, so Theatre mode should do about 870 lumens, still much brighter than most of the competition when they are at full power. It should be noted that the Epson is much quieter when the lamp power is set to low.
Since the zoom lens has very little range, there is very little (actually surprisingly little) brightness difference across the range of the zoom:
Zoom out (wide) = 1849
Mid-zoom = 1840
Zoom in (tele) = 1825
See the Calibration page for more information, and the settings we came up with for the best performance after calibrating the HC700.
Bottom line: This Epson is intended for non-dedicated theater rooms, and as such, the expectation of more than a little ambient light. The Epson Home Cinema 700 delivers the lumens necessary to cope with moderate controlled lighting, making it a good fit for a family room, bonus room, etc.
Epson Home Cinema 700 Sharpness
Image sharpness is reasonably good for a 720p projector. More of an issue is that at normal viewing distances the pixel structure is slightly visible. This is typical of almost all 720p 3LCD home theater projectors. Some of the lower cost DLP based home theater projectors, however, definitely produce a sharper looking image. We're not talking "night and day" differences, but, you can buy alternatives that are a bit sharper.
Directly below you can compare the same zoomed in (cropped) DTS logo image taken with the Epson Home Cinema 700 (left), the Panasonic PT-AX200U (also 3LCD, but uses Panasonic's SmoothScreen technology) in the center, and a typical DLP projector, the Optoma HD71, on the right.
The Epson Home Cinema 700 is pretty clean in terms of light leakage. There is no significant (read "noticeable") amount coming through the lens. There is some side light escaping through fan vents, but it is minor and should not be an issue.
Home Cinema 700 Image Noise
The Home Cinema 700 does have a bit more image noise than most home theater projectors, but for the type of "casual" - non-critical home viewing that this Epson projector is designed for, it should be considered acceptable.
Home Cinema 700 Audible Noise
The Home Cinema 700 has to be considered a fairly noisy projector in terms of fan noise. It is, however, not "over the top", and audible noise should, like image noise, be fine for the type of non-critical viewers the projector is marketed to. While fan noise is louder than most, I can think of a number of projectors that sell for several times the price that are just as, or almost as noisy as this Epson.
Keep in mind that the Home Cinema 700 is very bright. Switch the projector to Low lamp power, and the projector becomes nice and quiet, and it is still brighter than almost all of the competition in their high lamp power modes.