Epson Home Cinema 710HD Projector - Physical Tour
6/25/2012 - Art Feierman
Epson HC710 Appearance
The Epson Home Cinema 710HD is one of the smaller home theater projectors out there, although there are some smaller - mostly DLP models. (DLP type) even smaller, if that's important. This Epson projector 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 710HD is finished in a shiny, slightly off white case. The projector has a mildly interesting 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 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 projector's filter hides behind a door just to the left (looking from the rear), of the lens controls, and is easy to remove for cleaning or replacement. When it finally becomes time to replace the long life lamp, the door is situated on the top in the back right corner.
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 control panel is a well laid out, and logical affair. The Power button is to the left (press once, for on, twice to shut down). Then comes the source (input) search function. Above it the menu, and across from Menu, the Esc(ape) button to back you up a level in the menus. In the center of the control panel are your four arrow keys in a round configuration, with the usual Enter button in the center.
When not navigating themenus, the left and right arrow buttons double as volume up and down (in fact, as you can see, that's how they are labeled - no arrows in sight). The up and down buttons control manual keystone adjustment. That leaves only the Epson Help button, which brings up interactive help, for things like getting better color, adjusting sound, etc. Unlike most help functions when you find the right question, you can directly affect changes from there, and not have to separately
Home Cinema 710HD Inputs
From a home theater standpoint, the Home Cinema 710HD has a basic, but complete set of inputs. Unlike last year's Home Cinema 700, the 710HD lacks a card slot, but still allows you to play memory/flash cards, usin a USB adapter. It works just fine. 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. As I always say - a second HDMI would have been nice! There are also two USB inputs, one which the Home Cinema 710HD can use for computer (and memory card) interfacing and presenting, and one strictly for servicing the 710HD.
Epson Home Cinema 710HD Menus
The last batch of images is being processed as I write this. That batch includes fresh menu images. The ones below, and the desriptions, for the moment are from the older Epson Home Cinema 705 that this 710HD replaces. Interesting is that the newer projector lacks a color saturation control, but the older projector had that control
Epson hasn't really changed its menu look, and structure is several years. Some projectors have more features or different ones than other projectors, but once you're familiar 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 710HD Remote Control
While Epson is using the same physically shaped remote control, it has some different 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, etc. That means you can take the memory card out of most digital cameras and plug it right in to the USB adapter.
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. Gone from last year's remote is the numeric keypad, used for things like security including locking the control panel - basically the type of feature not needed in a home projector.
There's also a green button with a ? on it. This brings up Epson's interactive Help system, as discussed on the first page of the review. It's a nice touch, as instead of just answering questions it lets you make the actual changes without having to leave the help 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, but it's more interactive help than any of the competition offers.
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 almost 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 25 feet.
That covers it for the remote. Not bad, definitely functional, but as they say - "nothing to write home about". Buttons could be larger, and hey, this may be a bright projector for the home, but a backlit remote is always appreciated by users.
Home Cinema 710HD Lens Throw
The Home Cinema 710HD 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 710HD). 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 710HD's user manual.
It should be noted, that the Home Cinema 710HD'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 710HD's roots as a crossover projector, sharing the same LCD panels as the virtually identical Epson Powerlite W7 projector, which is marketed as a business and education projector.
All considered, the Home Cinema 710HD 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 just 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. OK, I got carried away. It really shouldn't be a concern, and there are, for those curious, a number of other low cost home theater projectors using 1280x800 chips, both LCD and DLP.
Home Cinema 710HD Lens Shift
The Home Cinema 710HD 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.