Epson Home Cinema 705HD - Review Summary
A bottom line summary of the Epson Home Cinema 705HD projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
1/22/2010 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 705HD: Bottom Line
Really into "home theater", and the richest possible movie viewing experience? The Epson Home Cinema 705HD was not built for you.
If, however, you want a bright, low cost projector for sports amd TV viewing, and/or you will watch movies, but are satisfied with a good picture, don't care about pure performance. If you think watching movies is fun and could care less about the equipment... If you want a rock bottom price, and all of those together, then the Home Cinema 705HD projector definitely deserves a serious look.
I should note, again, that the Home Cinema 705HD is virtually identical to Epson's entry level widescreen business projector, the W7. You might think of it more of a cross-over projector - for business and home - rather than a dedicated home theater solution.
Because we see this as a projector that will end up in a multi-purpose type room, we aren't particularly concerned about the higher than average audible noise levels. OK, it's not particularly quiet, but there are plenty of projectors costing several times its price that are just as noisy. That's my way of saying it really shouldn't be an issue for normal usage. If it is, drop the lamp down to low power, and the projector is still significantly brighter than most competition.
I love the lumens. I was able to open a lot of shades to really let some daylight in (sunlight hitting the carpet), and still have a watchable image. Here's a shot of the room, a football player on the screen. You can see the image is definitely being washed out somewhat, but that's better than any other projector anywhere near its price can do.
I should note, that my screen is a Firehawk G3. Its nature, as a high contrast gray screen, is that this picture was taken from the worst place possible angle. The bright light from the windows/doors will mostly bounce back off the screen at the same angle (right at the camera). The picture on the screen looked much better when viewing straight back from the center of the screen.
At one point, I viewed only the HC705HD for about three days in a row. It took a while, but for a lot of viewing I really didn't mind the entry level performance, and I'm as spoiled as anyone, as an owner of the RS20 JVC projector. It certainly isn't for me, or any other hard core enthusiast, but I can see a lot of people enjoying it. It performs as advertised!
Last year, I objected a bit to the price of the older Epson Home Cinema 700. I felt that while a respectable value, it was priced too close to more feature laden projectors of higher performance, due to a spread of less than $200.
This year, the Home Cinema 705HD is less expensive than last year's, but the same issue exists, to a lesser degree. As an enthusiast, I'd find the $200 or $300 for a higher performance (but not brighter projector) if it were me, but, I fully appreciate the fact that a whole lot of people just won't care about a few extra non-critical features, or a bit higher performance. They will be just thrilled when they see this Epson project on a screen (or wall) in their house. Certainly, my teenage daughter's friends are pretty oblivious to the varying picture quality as they come back frequently to watch movies, and rarely notice any difference from one visit to the next, even though, one time they're watching a great $8000 projector, the next time, perhaps a very good $2500 one, and, most recently, this $749 projector. If these kids had any problem with black level performance, they certainly didn't indicate it!
Of course the Home Cinema 705HD's black level performance is probably better than 80% of say LCDTVs of just 2 years ago (and millions of those were sold, with few complaints).
The Home Cinema 705HD is very bright, and, in part due to that, it really does well on sports and other general viewing. The Epson, though, comes up short on black level performance for serious movie enthusiasts.
One last time: The 705HD isn't for the home theater enthusiast. Epson might say, "hey, for the enthusiast, we have at least 5 different models" (all more expensive than the 705HD). It's for folks that think watching sports, TV, and movies on a really large screen (or wall) to be a cool, fun thing! Plus, with the low cost, long life lamp, many people will never need to replace it, unless they are heavy users: 8 hours a week = 16 years at full power, and 20 years with lamp on low.
It's low price should make a great entry level projector for a lot of folks. (The football scrimmage shot was taken with more than a little ambient light in the room.)
Finally, it makes an excellent, low cost, crossover projector, one you can buy for business usage, and have it double as a very respectable home entertainment projector. Or, of course, the other way around - buy for home, take to work when needed! Buy one, use it for both, and take the appropriate tax write-off.
This year's Epson Home Cinema 705HD positions better than its predecessor, the 700 did last year. This is thanks to the lower cost, and the brighter image. Other improvements are there, but those two improve the value proposition compared to Epson's entry last year. Although not without competition, it's a pretty darn good entry level home entertainment projector, if you ask me.
Home Cinema 705HD Projector: Pros
Extremely bright home entertainment projector, in both "best", and "brightest" modes, able to handle a fair amount of ambient light or a very large screen - better than the competition
Looks very good on sports and general HDTV viewing
Home Cinema 705HD Projector: Cons
- Unimpressive black level performance, not really designed for a dedicated home theater
- One of the audibly noisier home projectors
- Dynamic iris also adds a little to the overall noise, with a soft whirring/click sound
- Limited placement flexibility (1.2:1 zoom lens, no lens shift) suitable for table top or ceiling mount, but not rear shelf mounting
- Less expensive compared to a few higher performance projectors, but not dramatically so
- Remote is not backlit
- Sports an occasional motion artifact or two when processing fast changing content, but barely visible
Home Cinema 705HD Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Placement flexibility - if compared with the DLP projectors out there (the other 3LCD projectors are all much more flexible)
- Documentation - actually pretty good, but not great
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