Epson Home 20 Projector Review - Overview
6/20/2006 - Art Feierman
Epson has been the world leader in designing and building poly-si LCD panels for projectors, for quite some time. They provide these LCD panels to most of the world's LCD projector manufacturers. It's no surprise, therefore that Epson's entire projector lineup uses LCD technology, while many other manufacturers offer product lines with both LCD and DLP technology and in some cases LCOS technology.
The Epson Home 20 home theater projector is no exception. The Home 20 is Epson's very affordable entry level home theater projector.
As of this writing, it is also (I believe) the least expensive dedicated home theater projector on the market. With a normal selling price of $999 or less, and a current $200 mail in rebate, users can purchase an Epson Home 20 for less than $800! And if that wasn't enough, it also currently comes with an 80" diagonal screen, for that price!
In many ways, the Epson Home 20 shares features and capabilities of their more expensive Cinema series projectors, but it is a lower resolution (480p) projector with 854x480 resolution (WVGA), typical of entry level projectors. It is also the leading LCD "powered" entry level projector, in an entry level market that more and more dominated by DLP projectors.
The Epson offers particularly good color out of the box, and appears to be solidly built. (Epson is known for exceptional reliability, and also excellent customer support. On the downside, being a lower resolution LCD projector, it has more visible pixel structure than the competition, which we will explore in depth, thoughout this review.
Here are the vital statistics on the Epson:
Epson Home 20 Home Theater Projector Specs
Technology: LCD projector
Native Resolution: WVGA 854x480
Brightness: 1200 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1
Lens shift: Yes, Vertical and Horizontal
Lamp life: 2000 hours, 3000 hours in Theater Black 1, 2 modes
Weight: 7.8 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years parts and labor, with overnight replacement
Physical Tour of the Epson Home 20 Projector
As usual, we'll start at the front. The Epson has an off white "Pearlescent" finsih with silver trim. The recessed zoom lens is mounted off center (controls on top), and offers a 1.5:1 zoom range allowing flexible placement. This compares extremely well against most of the competition, which are DLP projectors and typically have only 1.15:1 or 1.2:1 zooms (15 or 20% range, vs. the Epson's 50% range). The lens is fairly short throw, so to fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 projector screen, you can place the Epson (measured to the front of the lens) as close as 8 feet 2 inches and as far as 12 feet 4 inches (approximate).
The front Infra-red (IR) sensor is located in the middle. There are two screw thread adjustable feet at the bottom front.
Moving to the top of the projector, above the lens are two rings for adjusting the focus and the zoom. to the left and right of those, are the vertical and horizontal lens shift adjustments.
The Epson Home 20 allows 50% vertical (the projector can be anywhere from even with the bottom of the screen to even with the top (measured to center of the lens), and 25% horizontal. The range of vertical lens shift makes the Epson Home 20 more than suitable for wall mounting in the rear, however, the relatively short throw zoom lens, will not allow that in many rooms. For example, with the provided 80" screen (current promo), the front of the projector would have to sit no further from the screen than about 10 feet back which would put the back wall less than 12 feet from the screen. With a 100" screen, the back wall will need to be no more than about 14 feet back (unless you want a shelf sticking way out from the wall)!
Behind the lens controls is a well laid out control panel. Looking from the rear, there are a large Power button on the left and next to it, the Source button. Moving to the right is a pretty standard layout with a Menu button, four arrow key buttons and the Enter button in the middle of the four. There is also an Escape button. Lastly, on the right is a button to toggle between Aspect ratios.
Also on the top is a door for access to the lamp. That means that should you ceiling mount the projector, you won't have to unmount it to replace the lamp. You can easily see it in the image above showing the entire top of the projector.
A single large vent is near the front, on the left side (facing the front of the projector). It blows air out the side, and slightly forward (projectors with rear vents can't be shelf mounted.).
Finally, that takes us to the back and the input panel. The Epson lacks a digital input (DVI or HDMI), but has the typical color coded 3 RCA jacks (red, green, blue) for component video input. There is also an analog computer input (HD15) for hooking up a computer source. The HD15, can alternately be used for a second component video source. In addition there are the usual two "low resolution" video inputs - composite (NTSC/PAL/SECAM) and S-video. The Epson Home 20 projector also has a small rear facing speaker, and has a pair of RCA jack inputs for a stereo audio source. Lastly, there is an RS-232 connector for computer command and control, and a Kennsington lock slot for theft protection.
A user changeable filter is located on the bottom out of the way of the ceiling mount screws, so the filter can be changed without unmounting the projector.
That concludes our tour of the Epson Home 20. Time to investigate its image quality.