Epson Home Cinema 710HD Projector - Performance
7/23/2012 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 710HD Brightness
As is normally the case, I spent only a brief time with the Epson Home Cinema 710HD projector before Mike picked it up to measure and calibrate it. When it comes to brightness, the 710HD definitely performs being one of the brightest home projectors we've played with in the last year.
OK, let's look at some numbers.
HC 710HD Lumen Output at 100 IRE (center position on zoom):
Lumen Output at various modes at 100 IRE:
Living Room= 1767@8856
There's not a whole lot of difference in brightness between three of the modes, and by any home projector measure, even the dimmest -Theater is more lumens than all but a few projectors can output in their brightest modes. That is, we have a genuine light canon here, one that is geared to be a great match for less than ideal rooms - like that livingroom or bonus room, or maybe even a spare bedroom. I'm talking rooms not optimized like a "home theater" cave would be.
Of particular note, relating especially to all the images I've dropped into this review, is that we did most of the photos with ambient light coming in through my room's mostly opened shutters, with the Home Cinema 710 HD set to Livingroom. It's not that it's brighter than Theatre mode, as it is not significantly so. The warmer 8,000+ range color balance tends to cut through the ambient light a lot better than the warmer Theater mode. Images in the review are mostly shot in one or the other. We did also do a number of Dyanmic mode images, and will typically indicate which those are.
Effect of zoom on lumen output:
Since the HC 710HD has only a 1.2:1 zoom - that is, only a 20% difference in image size from wide angle to zoom, we measureat mid-point on the zoom, which in this case, due to the limited zoom range, means only a slight difference in brightness:
Effect of Zoom on Lumen Output (Dynamic Mode):
Zoom out (wide) = 2553
Mid-zoom = 2513
Zoom in (tele) = 2435
As you can see, the drop in brightness from widest angle (projector closest to the screen) to telephoto, is less than 4%, which is essentially, barely detectable. All else being equal, if someone was showing your 2553 lumens on the screen, and you closed your eyes for 5 seconds, and when you reopened them, if the brightness was down to 2435 lumens, there is virtually 0 chance you would notice any change at all.
HC 710HD Eco-Mode vs. Full Power
Lumen Output of ECO Lamp setting (Dynamic Mode):
Dropping to Eco-mode costs you about 22% of brightness. The trade off, for when you don't need every last lumen, should translate into two benefits. The first, is a much quieter projector, going from louder than most at full power, to quieter than many far more expensive dedicated home theater projectors, when they are running at full power.
The other benefit, besides a quieter projector is an expected extra 1000 hours of lamp life for running in the "Eco" - low power mode.
Epson Home Cinema 710HD Color Balance
Color Temp over IRE Range:
Theatre Mode (Lamp high, Auto Iris off):
30 IRE – 7646
50 IRE – 7262
80 IRE – 6948
100 IRE – 7205
Even in theatre mode, the Epson 710HD projector is just a bit cool, that is, a little thin on reds, but it is slight. Calibrating the Epson projector gets you about half way from this starting point, to where you want to be - which is all numbers around 6500K.
All considered, Theatre mode produces a very nice, and reasonably well balanced grayscale balance (color balance). That is, Red, Green, and Blue are all in the right proportions for the most part, without any glaring issues such as too strong greens. Calibrated, this projector is even better when it comes to color.
Epson Home Cinema 710HD Sharpness
Focusing the HC 710HD projector, and you get the feeling that it's very sharp. Get up close and the pixels are really sharp, but practical sharpness is more a function of resolution. This is a 720p HD (1280x720) projector ( actually the slightly larger 1280x800) WXGA. The resolution of projector is the important factor here. Allow me to explain, if you are not familiar. the difference between a 720p HD image, and a "Full HD" 1080p image, lies in the 1080p image having 2.25 the number of pixels - 2.25 times the detail, when the source material is 1080p. That's a big difference, so you cannot expect any 720p projector to provide the detail and clarity when watching 1080 source material. It does make a very real difference.
For perspective, there is that same 2.5 times the resolution when you go from standard DVD resolution to 720p HD, that too is about a 2.25 times difference. Ultimately, that says that a Blu-ray 1080p HD movie is about 5 times the resolution of a standard DVD movie. This Epson Home Cinema 710HD is half way between. It easily looks sharper than any lower resolution projector, but will also never appear as "sharp" as any properly functioning 1080p projector when both are running 1080p content!
Comparison images: We take a close up look at the Video icon from the Sony PS3. Below you can compare with 5 other projectors, a mix of DLP and LCD projectors.
Top left: Epson Home Cinema 710HD , Top Center - Acer H6500, Top right Mitubishi HC4000.
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AR100U (3LCD), center: Optoma HD33, Right: Epson Home Cinema 8350 (3LCD)
Epson Home Cinema 710HD: Bottom Line Sharpness
Sharpness and clarity are very good for a 720p resolution projector, whether watching Blu-ray movies, 1080i or 720p HDTV. If choosing between this projector and other low cost 720p projectors, I'd say the Epson is just fine. There is some minor misconvergence, something you'll find on every 3 panel projector whether 3LCD or 3 LCoS panels.
At normal seating distances the Epson 710HD looks just fine. Want a real improvement - you won't get anything dramatic, from choosing a single chip DLP with the same 720p resolution. No convergence issues with those DLPs, but the real difference is the move up to 1080p. With 1080p projectors starting to sell for less than $200 more, that's your move for more sharpness, not a different 720p projector.
I will note that being both 720p, and being 3LCD in design, the pixel structure may be very visible at times. (Still nothing compared to watching an old pre-HD TV.) You'll easily spot the pixel structure, for example, when movie credits (white on black) are scrolling by. You can even see the pixel structure in most of the HDTV images in this review, however that's due to a large part, in my pausing to shoot. Since most HDTV is 1080i - interlaced, coming from DirecTV, when I pause, it pauses on only 1 of the two interlaced frames, essentially giving up half of the resolution. That's why those HDTV images look a bit jaggy here. Just compare one of the HDTV images to any of the movie images, and you'll realize this isnt' the projectors issue, but the way DirecTV handles a paused image.
The Epson Home Cinema 710HD is pretty clean when it comes to like leakage (very unlike the last sub-$1000 projector we reviewed, the Acer H6500). This is a projector best in a family room type environment, where it's sheer brightness is designed to handle a decent amount of ambient light and still let you enjoy it.
The small amount of ambient light that leaks out the front vent is very minor. A real non-issue. Perhaps in a classic theater with dark surfaces everywhere you might notice a tiny amount of light fromt the vents reaching the screen, but even then, minor. In any other type of room, no problem at all.
No overt issues with image noise. That's not surprising 720p resolution home projectors have been around for about a decade now. Manufacturers have consistantly brought out projectors that are pretty clean, from an image noise standpoint. Also to note, LCD type projectors seem to have less mosquito (general background) noise than the DLP competition. (That holds true, in general, for the more expensive 1080p projectors as well.)
We rarely play with noise filters - the Epson has some Noise reduction controls- options should you find a some source that seems a bit too noisy.
At full power the Epson Home Cinema 710 is a bit of a screamer. They claim 37db, which is more in the range of small business projectors than home models. Most lower cost home projectors have noise levels at full power between 30 and 35 db. Most more expensive projectors - at full power tend to be at 32 db or less, with many under 27 db and a couple down around 20-22. The recent low cost Acer we reviewed was at 35, also a bit noisy. Remember again, this is a fun projector - not a critically aclaimed home theater projector. In the living room, family room, bonus room, backyard at night...I don't think most anyone is going to be overly noise concerned. If it is too loud though, drop the projector into eco-mode, which in this case is a big decrease in noise level - to a claimed and very 29 db, which is probably lower than about half of all home theater projectors running at full power, and very reasonably quiet. Remember, this Epson in eco-mode is brightner than all but a handful of projectors running at full power, and far brighter than many designed for dedicated home theaters. Regarding 29 db. We've tested several $5K+ projectors that noisy, or noisier, at full power.