Epson Home Cinema 705HD Projector Review
January 2010 - Art Feierman
This is an in-depth review of the Epson Home Cinema 705HD, a low cost 720p resolution home entertainment projector.
It has just been posted, and will be further proofed and, as usual a few additional images and comments will be added over the first two weeks.
Epson Home Cinema 705HD Projector - Overview
I know what your are thinking - "Not another Epson home theater projector review!" Sorry, I can't help it. The problem is, Epson has far more home theater models than than anyone else. In addition to their big Home Cinema line including this projector, the Home Cinema 705HD, there's the slightly differentiated Pro Cinema projector series. Don't, of course, forget their all-in-one MovieMate line, and the fully integrated Ensemble HD systems, essentially 3 extremely high quality "Instant (high quality) Projector based Home Theater Sysems". There's no escaping Epson. (Well, so far, no pico projectors from Epson.) They simply have more projectors with more differing features, at more price points than anyone else, and probably more than their two or three biggest competitors combined. Gee, Panasonic has 2 projectors, Mitsubishi has 4, Sanyo has 3 (one may be discontinued as of this writing), and so on.
The image above was taken with a fair amount of ambient light in the room with partially open window shades, and a south facing sunny view!
Last spring we reviewed the Home Cinema 700 which was essentially a cross-over projector, also suitable for business. It was so cross-over, that Epson sold a "business" version and a home verison that were identical but for the model numbers. This time around, again there is a business version, the Powerlite S7, although it sports some slightly different specs.
The Home Cinema 705HD is a small, lightweight, kick-ass projector. You can just put it on a table when desired, or you can ceiling mount it. It's really bright compared to just about everything else out there, although the venerable Panasonic PT-AX200u is competitive.
The Epson 705HD projector is a fine little family room projector. It's not an enthusiast's projector (something I'll repeat many times), but for people who basically don't care about the equipment, just what it does. I watched the New Orleans Saints soundly defeat (in a really good game) the Cardinals, with the little 705HD. I had window shades open more today than on any other sunny day, with any other projector, in at least a year. In fact here are a couple of shots to indicate room brightness, and the picture! More importantly, I didn't have any problem watching this mere 720p projector, it looked great. My pricey JVC, by comparison, even with its 1080p resolution and superb color, couldn't begin to deal with the room as lit, today.
And the Epson's ability to do that on a really large screen just takes all the fun out of owning a 50 inch LCDTV. At less than $750, perhaps your wife WILL let you have one.
The Home Cinema 705 is one concept in an entry level projector. Its the casual projector, fitting somewhere in between an all-in-one projector like the recently reviewed MovieMate 60, or feature laden 720p projectors like the Panasonic PT-AX200U and the Optoma HD71.
It is primarily the brightness of the Home Cinema 705HD projector that earns it our Hot Product Award. Epson has produced an extremely bright home projector with good color, and lots of punch.
Ultimately, the 705HD is the direct descendant of the 700. What I said in these paragraphs below, about the 700, also apply to the 705HD.
"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 705HD, in fact that's what it's particularly good at."
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 705HD appeal.
Epson Home Cinema 705HD Projector Highlights
- Ease of use
- A home entertainment projector, rather than a home theater projector
- Designed as a very bright projector suitable for family rooms and bonus rooms. This projector is not really designed for a dedicated home theater, nor the movie/home theater enthusiast
- Can double as a viable, entry-level widescreen projector for business (and has a speaker built in)
- Extremely long life (and low cost) lamp for lowest cost of operation
- Limited zoom lens range of 1.2:1, limits placement flexibility
- Two year warranty - with overnight replacement - a great warranty
- Limited color controls - only the most basic calibration possible
- Can be ceiling mounted, or set on a table top, but is small enough/ light enough to take it with you, or move from room to room
Specs for Epson Home Cinema 705HD
MSRP: $799 MAP: $749
Native Resolution: WXGA (1280x800) 16:10
Brightness: 2500 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 5000 hours low power (eco-mode), 4000 hours at full lamp power
Weight: 6.2 lbs. (2.8 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor, with replacement program both years
Click for more detailed specifications: Epson Home Cinema 705HD
Epson Home Cinema 705HD Special Features
Projector Lamp Life
The Epson Home Cinema 705HD sports a 200 watt lamp. They rate it a most impressive 4000 hours at full power, and 5000 in eco-mode. That's about as good as it gets, and is about twice the average. Epson shows a list price of $249 for the lamp, while most lamps are $300 - $400. Even if you run a very hefty average of 8 hours a day (normal TV usage), you'll get more than two years out of their particularly affordable lamp.
This means that your long term cost of operation will be significantly lower for the Home Cinema 705HD than most competing projectors. If one considers, that compared to the popular Panasonic PT-AX200U, which is more expensive, their lamp is rated only 2000/3000 hours, and costs $349 I believe. Thus, at full power, to get all the way to 8000 hours (8 hours a day, for 4 years), and have a lamp with 200 hours left on it, you'll end up with buying 4 additional Panasonic lamps ($1396 MSRP total), or, for the Epson, one lamp ($249 MSRP total). The Panasonic would then have a new lamp in place, with 2000 hours left, and the Epson would have 3000 hours on its (2nd) lamp, with 2000 hours remaining. All of a sudden, the $250 price difference between these two projectors, turns into, over that period, to be a cost difference of over $1250 - the Panasonic will have cost 2x as much (excluding electricity costs).
Doubles as a Widescreen Business Projector
The 705HD's combination of small size and light weight, plus native support for 1280x800 resolution (the most popular for widescreen laptops), as well as a wide range of other resolutions, all the way up to UXGA (1600x1200), inherently makes it suitable for presentations as well. In addition, its brightness is similar to most entry level business projectors (typically 2000 - 2500 lumens). The Home Cinema 705HD bright enough to be a dual use projector. It has both HDMI, and a classic analog computer input, suitable for interfacing with a computer.
Audio Built In
Finding a speaker on a home theater projector is certainly uncommon. But, it can be handy. In the past BenQ has offered a speaker on a couple of models, but generally, home theater projectors (other than, of course, all-in-one projectors) come without audio. One of the Optoma entry level projectors also has a small speaker if I recall correctly.
Having the audio on the Home Cinema 705HD can be handy, especially if you plan on moving the projector to different locations. True, it's not overly powerful, nor will it have real hi-fi sound, but, in a pinch it can provide you with sound, while playing a game console, or watching some TV, in a room without an audio setup (including your backyard). It will work for movies too, just don't expect sub-woofer calibre bass.
SD Card Slot No More
Last year the older Epson had an SD card slot. This year, though Epson came up with a better solution. Gone is the card slot, and, instead, there's the already mentioned HDMI input - a really important improvement, and to replace the SD slot:
A second USB port can be used for presentation purpose, but, in addition, it replaces the SD slot. So, just get yourself a basic $5 - $20 USB card slot device (mine has 4 different card sizes, including XD, SD... which I got for $9.99 somewhere). Basically you can plug the little adapter into the USB and feed the projector your favorite memory cards that way. Actually I do find it handy to plug memory cards into projectors. We do it here, on occasion with our Epson Ensemble HD system which has the ability too. It's all very "integrating". From the USB, you can show .jpg images using the Epson 705HD's built in media player. I believe it is still images only, not able to do videos. (For videos download to your computer, or DVD player and run from there into the projector.)
There are other odds and end features, of less import. For example, there's a door to cover the lens that shuts down the lamp when you want to take a break. There's also a heavier duty security bar, in addition to the usual Kensington lock slot.
And, there are two timers. One let's you have the projector turn off if it sees no active signal for a period of time, and the other, a pure power down timer. You can tell it to power down the projector anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes after setting the timer - perfect for those who like to "crash" - fall asleep while watching a movie, or a music DVD. (That would be me!)