Epson Home Cinema 705HD - Performance
1/22/2010 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 705HD Brightness
Since Epson markets the Home Cinema 705HD 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 1571 lumens, which is more than double the average brightness for "best" modes.
At its brightest - Dynamic Mode - the Home Cinema 705HD outputs a whopping 2132 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 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:
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic = 2132 @ 6674
Living Room = 1895 @ 7261
Theater = 1571 @ 705HD6
Game = 1850 @ 7392
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) = 2148
Mid-zoom = 2132
Zoom in (tele) = 2120
See the Calibration page for more information, and the settings we came up with for the best performance after calibrating the HC705HD.
Bottom line: Outstanding brightness, matched by only a couple other projectors. And the least expensive of the very bright projectors. Brightness is perhaps the single most dominating attribute of the Home Cinema 705HD.
Epson Home Cinema 705HD Sharpness
Image sharpness is reasonably good for a 720p projector. That the pixel structure is slightly visible, especially on signage (i.e., stats and info overlayed on the game you are watching, or, text in movie credits). If you sit far enough back that will disappear, but the reality is, in the actual content, after a bit, you just don't notice it at all, anymore than you noticed the scan lines on your old conventional TV. 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) "monitor" image from Space Cowboys. The 705HD really does do a good job for a 720p projector. Below, from left to right: 705HD, Optoma HD65, InFocus X9, and, the Panasonic PT-AX200U. On the second line is one 1080p projector, for comparison, the Epson Home Cinema 8100 which sells for almost twice the price.
The Epson Home Cinema 705HD 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, and definitely not in a family or bonus room environment.
Home Cinema 705HD Image Noise
I had complained last year, that the older 700 had a bit more image noise than was typical. I don't have the same issue with the 705HD, but, I did notice one type of motion artifact when screen action is very busy, such as on some Transformer and Bourne scenes. I noticed it when looking for issues, but under normal viewing it only came into my attention a few times over many hours of viewing. I would say this is the type of artifact that would be ignored by the vast majority of people attracted to this projector.
Home Cinema 705HD Audible Noise
The Home Cinema 705HD 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 705HD is very bright. Switch the projector to Low lamp power, and the projector becomes a lot quieter, and it is still brighter than almost all of the competition in their high lamp power modes.