Epson Home Cinema 720 Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes
- Art Feierman 1-05-08
After reviewing a number of high end and mid-range 1080p projectors in November and December, it wasn't easy adjusting to the low cost Epson Home Cinema 720p projector, especially after just reviewing the $5000 Sony VW60 and $8000 JVC RS2.
The initial shock of going from what is almost certainly the best under $10,000 projector, the RS2, to the Epson left me, at first, wondering if the Epson had anything going for it at all. Black levels certainly were no match for the higher end products, and while the Epson can be pretty bright in some modes, it's not as bright as the competing Panasonic PT-AX200U. But overall, it easily holds its own with less expensive and even more expensive DLP projectors like the Optoma HD70, Mitsubishi HC1500, and Optoma HD73. It is also significantly brighter than the Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector or Sony AW15, both LCD projectors.
After a few days of watching, and also mostly avoiding the 1080p projectors, my perspective seems to have returned. In a nutshell, Epson has a solid entry, that is both bright, and extremely sharp, with a very crisp looking, and highly dynamic picture quality. It's not the most film-like of the projectors in its class, so it may not appeal that much to hard core purist movie watchers shopping for something at this price point, but it should have a rather significant following from those looking for a very good all-around projector, which is the vast majority out there.
The Epson Home Cinema 720 is awarded our Hot Product Award, based primarily on its very sharp, bright image, and its strength as a projector that performs at least very well, on all types of content, from movies to sports, especially for a low cost 720p projector entry. Think of it this way - Epson's HC720 is sensational for watching sports and does a very respectable job on movies!
- One of the brightest home theater projectors out there
- Good (not exceptional) black levels
- An extremely sharp - crisp looking image
- Very good out of the box color accuracy
- A dynamic mode that really cuts thru ambient light, but has more shift to green that most (extra green is a common way to boost lumens, and most projectors' dynamic modes exhibit at least some shift to green)
- Solidly built
- Vertical and horizontal lens shift, and zoom lens with lots of range for great placement flexibility
- Excellent, best in class warranty
- Fun to watch
- Only one HDMI
- $1299 estimated street price
Epson Home Cinema 720 Projector: Basic Specs
Estimated Street Price: $1299
Native Resolution: 720p (1280x720)
Brightness: 1600 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 2.1:1
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal
Lamp life: 3000 hours low power (theater black), 2000 hours at full lamp power
Weight: 11.5 lbs. (5.1 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor, overnight replacement program both years
Click here for more complete Home Cinema 720 specs and brochure.
Review continues below this advertisement.
Epson HC720 Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
This one is easy. The Epson Home Cinema 720, physically is essentially identical to the Home Cinema 400 that it replaces.
Starting from the front, this Epson sports a fairly large zoom lens (right of center, if you are facing the projector). The zoom lens has a 2:1 zoom ratio, allowing the Epson to fill a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 screen from as close as 10.4 feet, or as far back as 22.2 feet. Manual focus and zoom are achieved by rotating the appropriate rings on the lens barrel. Close to center is the front infra-red sensor for the remote, and to the left is the front vent which blows hot air out on an angle, so as not to have heat distortion in front of the lens. The front exhaust also makes the HC720 an excellent candidate for shelf mounting in the back of your room. Immediately below toward the outsides, are two screw thread adjustable front feet.
Moving to the top (and looking from the rear) of the Epson HC720, just behind the lens are two dials, one for vertical lens shift (with a very impressive range), and horizontal lens shift. There is enough range to mount the projector above the top of your screen, or below the bottom, or anywhere in between.
The control panel is located on the top, as well. It has the same good functionality as the older HC400. From left to right, a large Power button, then the Source select button. Next comes the four navigational arrow keys in the typical diamond layout, with the menu button in the top left, and the escape button top right. In the center of the diamond, is the Enter button. That leaves only the Aspect ratio button on the right.
In addition there are two indicators - power, and temperature/lamp.
Moving to the back of the Epson HC720, you'll find the input panel. Nothing particularly special here, and organized in two rows. From the left, a 12 volt trigger for working with properly equipped motorized screens, a SCART port, and below it, a composite video (NTSC/PAL/SECAM). There is a single component video input (3 color coded RCA jacks), and below them, both S-video input and an RS-232c for "command and control" of the projector from a computer or room control system. Back to the top row, there is an analog PC input (which can double as a 2nd component video input), and finally a single HDMI connector.
I'm a bit disappointed with the single HDMI connector. Most projectors are now sporting two, and ideally, three would be perfect. That said, 3 HDMI inputs is a rare thing, but several of the Epson's direct competition offer two.
The back also has the rear infra-red sensor, the power receptacle, and a hard power switch (which must be on, for the top power button or the remote control to turn the projector on).
The Home Cinema 720 has a pearl white finish with a silver lens barrel. Overall, physically, it is a very attractive, compact projector.
That covers the hardware, except for the remote control which we'll get to in the General Performance section. Now for the fun stuff - Image Quality.