Home Theater Projector Review: Epson Home Cinema 720 LCD Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons
I really like the Epson Home Cinema 720. It makes a very good movie viewing projector, and an even better projector for sports, TV and HDTV. For those looking for a bright, affordable home theater projector, the Epson is serious competition for the Panasonic PT-AX200U, each with its strengths and weaknesses, compared to the other. Moving beyond picture quality, the Epson offers the best warranty around, and overall, Epson has a tremendous reputation for reliability, and customer support.
For any of you who have ever been hassled when afflicted with a warranty problem with a major purchase, you can fully appreciate buying a projector from a company that seems to go the extra mile for their customers.
I tend to comment a lot about extended warranties, and reliability, since most projector repairs are expensive, and if out of warranty, that tends to make the projector a "throw away", especially with falling prices and improved performance happening every year. Still most will be satisfied with the Epson HC720 for many years to come, so it's good to know that a product is well built and starts with good warranty and support.
How does the Epson Home Cinema 720 stack up with the competition?
I've commented extensively throughout this review, so I'll keep it short.
HC720 vs Panasonic PT-AX200U
The Panasonic has the advantage in overall brightness, but the Epson is second in the field, particularly when comparing the brightest modes. I'd definitely favor the Epson for sports viewing, with its richer colors, and crisper image. The Panasonic, and the Epson are pretty close for movie viewing, but I'd probably give the Panasonic the edge in its Cinema 1 mode (which is more film-like), although if you want extra lumens, the Panasonic Vivid Cinema mode is brighter than Epson's Theatre or Theater Black 1 mode, but also gives up the Panasonic's Cinema 1 film-like advantage.
Epson HC720 vs Mitsubishi HC1500 and Optoma HD70.
Of course the Epson offers exceptional placement flexibility, while these two DLP projectors are just the opposite, with very limited placement (no lens shift, 1.2:1 zooms vs 2.1:1). Neither of them can be practically shelf mounted, and therefore will be ceiling mounted (more hassle, and more expense, usually).
As a result, a large chunk of the buying public will pass on the DLP's. If you are one still considering them, look to the film-like advantage and black level advantage to go to the DLP's with the Mitsubishi HC1500, overall, having a slight edge on the Optoma.
From a brightness standpoint, in best modes, the Epson and Optoma HD70 are almost identical, while the Mitsubishi, is much brighter. In brightest modes, the Epson crushes the Optoma, but compared to the HC1500, they are close, with the advantage going to the Epson. In fact, the range of the Epson's zoom lens is the determining factor. If the Epson is at furthest difference, it's about the same brightness as the Mitsubishi, but it is slightly brighter in mid-position, and several hundred lumens brighter in closest position. On that note, the Optoma's zoom range places it roughly between the Epson's closest and mid-zoom ranges, with the Mitsubishi not being able to position as far back as the Epson, even with the Epson at mid-point on the zoom.
Epson HC720 vs Sony AW15
These two are both 3LCD, and have similar placement flexibility (the Epson does have the advantage though).
After that, though, they don't compete much. The Epson is a brute, with the horsepower for larger screens and fighting ambient light. The Sony will have less far appeal in that regard. In best mode, the two projectors are similar in brightness, but when you want to go big, or fight ambient light, the Epson in brightest mode is almost three times as bright!
Ok lets look at a summary of the HC720's strengths and weaknesses.
Epson Home Cinema 720 projector, Pros, Cons, andTypical Capabilities
Epson Home Cinema 720 Projector: Pros
- Very bright projector overall
- Best in class warranty and support
- Most flexible of the 720p projectors in placement flexibility, very practical for shelf mounting in the back of your room
- Very sharp image
- Rich saturated colors
- Many preset modes
- Good, although not exceptional out of box color accuracy (Living Room mode excepted), definitely needs some tuning, however
- 9 user savable settings - the most of any of the competition
- Great remote, even for those with large hands, and backlight is bright
- A very good manual, not only covers all the features, but unlike most, gives some good explanations
- Very good shadow detail
- 12 volt trigger for motorized screens that are properly equipped
- Very good skin tones
- Exceptional for watching sports
- Audibly quiet in best modes (although not the quietest)
- Excellent menu system
- Attractively styled projector
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Epson Home Cinema 720 Projector: Cons
- A bit noisy (audibly) in brighter modes (though typical of DLP projectors)
- Living room mode needs major work (adjusting) for good colors
- Black levels are not as good as most of the competition
- To replace lamp, you'll have to unmount projector if ceiling mounted
- Pixel structure more visible than the DLP competition and also the Panasonic PT-AX200U
- Not quite as film-like as much of the competition
Epson Home Cinema 720 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Lamp life
- Types and quantities of inputs
- Physical size
- Control panel
- Overall performance for black levels and shadow detail combined
Epson Home Cinema 720 Summary: The Bottom Line
The HC720 is priced right, has the warranty and support everyone wishes their projector came with, and overall, is an excellent projector. It's primary strengths are brightness, sharpness, and rich colors, and while it makes for a good projector for movies, those seeking perfection will look elsewhere. On the other hand, those who are looking for a great, all around projector, that will provide good movie watching and great sports and TV viewing, should have the Epson right around the top of their short list.
This Epson is destined to be a top selling projector with wide appeal, and solid performance and deservedly so. The Home Cinema 720 rates our Hot Product Award, for the reasons a projector should strive for; appeal to a large segment of the buying public, and some real strengths, notably (again), brightness, rich color, placement flexibility, and a crisp looking image.
Nicely done, Epson!