Epson Home Cinema 700 Projector - Physical Tour
4/19/2009 - Art Feierman
The Epson Home Cinema 700 is one of the smaller home theater projectors out there, but definitely not the smallest - which I believe is currently the Optoma HD65. Still, it is pretty small, and lightweight (6.2 pounds - 2.8Kg). I can't think of any 3LCD home projectors that are quite this small, only a couple of DLP models. The Epson Home Cinema 700 is finished in a shiny, slightly off white case. The projector has rounded edges and some mid-gray finish on the lower 1/4 of the projector to give it some style, but this projector is not going to win design awards for styling.
In the front, the zoom lens is recessed and mounted off center to the right (if you are facing the projector). Further to the right is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote. Directly below the lens is a small, slide out filter that requires occasional cleaning. Nearer to the center, mounted low is a bar that drops down the adjustable front foot. (There are also two screw thread adjustable rear feet.)
A curved, recessed door can be slid out to cover the lens when not in use. If you close that cover while the projector is powered up, it will automatically mute the image and sound.
Moving to the top, and looking down from the back, you adjust the lens focus and zoom by rotating their respective lens barrel extensions. The control panel is on the top, toward the front.
The back houses the inputs. back remote sensor and the power connector. In addition there is a small speaker back there, just below the left most inputs.
One interesting feature is the power down. This is also comes from its biz projector heritage. Once you shut it down, it can be unplugged in just a few seconds. The fan keeps running for a while after.
The Epson Home Cinema 700's control panel is pretty complete. On the left side is a large Power button (with its own indicator light. Right below are two indicator lamps - one for Lamp, one for Temperature. Moving to the right, next is the Source search button. Then you find the full menu navigation system: The four arrows in a diamond like layout with the Enter button in the center, the Menu button is between the left and up arrows, and the ESC button between Up and Right arrows. The left and right arrow buttons double as volume control up/down when not using the menus, and the Up/down arrows double for keystone correction. That leaves just one more, the HELP button, whose function is described elsewhere.
Home Cinema 700 Inputs
From a home theater standpoint, the Home Cinema 700 has a basic, but complete set of inputs. In addition there is an SD card slot for dropping in your digital camera (or other source with memory cards) pictures. If your camera (etc.) has a different card type, such as XD, or Memory Stick, you can get an adaptor. There is one HDMI (for digital sources such as most DVD players, cable/satellite boxes, etc. There is also one component video, one S-Video and a composite video. A second HDMI would have been nice! There are also two USB inputs, which the Home Cinema 700 can use for computer (and other) interfacing and presenting.
Epson Home Cinema 700 Menus
Epson hasn't really changed its menu look, and structure is several years. Overall, it's a pretty good layout, that I have always liked.
Text is large enough to readable from a respectable difference. The menu itself can be positioned in different locations.
The Color mode selection is located on the Image menu (typical) and gives a choice of 7 options. You can see the choices in the image below.
There are four main menus. In addition to Image, there are Signal, which mostly deals with aspect ratio, and controls relating to hooking up a computer.
The Settings menu has one key setting, the lamp brightness control (I prefer when that is part of the Image or Picture menu). It also controls keystone settings, volume control and offers the ability to lock the projector's control panel, a feature probably here, because it comes from the Epson Powerlite W6's feature set.
There is also an Extended menu, where you can decide to put in your own Logo to project when there is no source, projector orientation (front/rear, ceiling/table), Control of the USB ports and menu language.
Epson puts its Reset on a separate main menu, although some menus have their own resets of only their features.
Lastly, there is, as is typical of almost all projectors, an Info menu which keeps you apprised of lamp life, input source and other "useful" tidbits.
Home Cinema 700 Remote Control
Image coming! The first thing notable about the Home Cinema 700's remote control, compared to most others, is that it is not backlit. While backlighting would be a definite plus, Epson is counting on two things in skipping the backlight:
First, the Home Cinema 700 projector is unusually bright for a home projector, and is designed to handle some ambient light.
Second, Epson doesn't expect the 700 to end up in dedicated home theaters, but rather family rooms, bonus rooms, etc., where the ability to fully darken the room is uncommon. All that said, backlighting would have been a plus.
The Epson Home Cinema 700 remote control itself is a compact affair, with small buttons.
From the top:
The Power button is a small orange affair on the top left side of the remote control. YOu press once to power up, or twice to power down. Across from it (to the right) is a button labeled Search. Pressing it will have the Epson projector search the inputs and select the first active source it finds. Directly below those two buttons are six direct "source" buttons, including Computer, S-Video, (composite) Video, USB, HDMI, and one labeled Slideshow (slideshow lets you view images from the projector's SD card slot. That means you can take the memory card out of most digital cameras and plug it right in. Or, if your camera uses other memory cards such as XD, you can get an adapter. All considered, the Slideshow feature is a nice touch for viewing those family vacation, etc. photos.
The next row has three buttons, from the left, an A/V mute (mutes picture, and also sound (if you are feeding sound into the projector, which does have a speaker). The middle button freezes the image on the screen. The right one has no function (more on this below). The next row has (from the left) Auto (the projector sets up the image for you, Aspect ratio, and Color Mode (which lets you toggle between the many picture modes. To the right of those three is a Number button. You can see on the remote that many buttons have dual uses, and this turns on the Numeric mode, so that the buttons become a keypad instead of selecting features. The Numeric keypad can be used to input security codes, to lock the use of the projector. This is a fairly common feature on business projectors as a theft deterent, but rarely found on a home projector.
The next two rows are more business oriented than home. On the left there is a Page Up, and below it, Page Down, for advancing presentations, and right next to those two are a pair that allows zooming in or out of an image. There's also a green button with a ? on it. This brings up Epson's interactive help system. It's a nice touch, as instead of just answering questions it lets you make the changes without having to locate the right controls in the menu system. I've always liked it, but at the same time, it's rather thin, in terms of the areas of help. It would be much better if expanded to cover more topics. Below the Help button are the Volume up and down buttons.
All that leaves are the menu controls at the bottom. There's a small round Menu button to launch the menu system, and across from it, on the right, is the ESC button to take you back one level in the menus. Right below these two, you'll find the classic navigation system in an oval pattern with up/down/left/right arrows and an Enter button located in the center.
Epson claims a range for the remote of 19.7 feet. From using it, that's very believable. I had no trouble bouncing the remote's signal off of my screen, to the Epson projector for a round trip of about 23 feet.
That covers it for the remote. Not bad, definitely functional, but as they say - "nothing to write home about".
Home Cinema 720 Lens Throw
The Home Cinema 700 is graced with a basic zoom lens with a 1.2:1 zoom ratio. That gives you limited placement flexibility (actually typical of DLP home projectors rather than 3LCD like the Home Cinema 700). Epson expects most owners will place this projector on a (low) table, such as a coffee table, though some will ceiling mount.
To fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen the front of the projector can be placed as close as 10 feet 10 inches or as far back as 13 feet. These numbers are taken directly from the Home Cinema 700's user manual.
It should be noted, that the Home Cinema 700's LCD panels project a 1280x800 image, not the standard 1280x720 which is 720p. It is the only stand alone 3LCD projector I am aware of, that uses the 16:10 1280x800.
So that you understand, 1280x800 is referred to as WXGA (not 720p), and is the standard for most widescreen laptop computers. This goes back to the Home Cinema 700's roots as a crossover projector, sharing the same LCD panels as the virtually identical Epson Powerlite W6 projector, which is marketed as a business and education projector.
All considered, the Home Cinema 700 is a "crossover" projector, one suitable for typical business presentations but one with sufficient image quality to double as an entry level home projector as well.
Those of you buying a home screen for the Epson should understand that there will be a bit of overshoot above and below the screen, due to the extra 80 pixels of vertical height. That means you will have (for a 100" screen) a little less than 2.5 inches of letterboxing that is "off the screen". Most or all of that would hit the black border of the screen frame, depending on the screen. The overshoot will be the "blackest black" - in reality dark gray light. It is the same dark gray as the letterboxing you would have above and below a typical movie (2.35:1) when shown on a standard 16:9 screen.
Home Cinema 700 Lens Shift
The Home Cinema 700 does not have lens shift. Adding lens shift would increase the price. If you are interested in an Epson projector with greater placement flexibility, there's the Home Cinema 720, a projector for the more serious enthusiast, which is only a few hundred dollars more. Other 720p projectors with lens shift include the Panasonic PT-AX200U and the Sanyo PLV-Z60.
The projector has a small amount of offset. For that same 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the center of the projector's lens would sit 2.7 inches below the bottom of the screen surface. Or, if you are ceiling mounting, the projector mounts inverted, and would have its lens 2.7 inches above the top of the screen surface. All these numbers are from the Epson manual.
No surprise here, the Home Cinema 700 does not accept an anamorphic lens. Considering it is a very entry level projector, and that a typical anamorphic lens and sled costs 4-6 times as much as the projector, it is incredibly unlikely that anyone considering this projector would be thinking anamorphic lens.