The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Epson Home Cinema 700 – Entry level 720p projector at a breakthrough price!

Epson sure has been busy, with five new projectors shown at CEDIA. It’s time to talk about the least expensive of them all, the the Home Cinema 700.

The first thing is the $799 price tag. This is definitely a breakthrough in terms of the 3LCD projectors out there, although a couple DLP projectors can be found around that price. Ok, let’s see what we’ve got here. I recognize the projector’s case, they’ve been using it in the entry level business projectors, for a couple of years. The prelim spec sheet doesn’t say, but this projector is either going to have a lens without zoom, or one with a very limited range. I’ll try to update on that, before the review. The business projectors do not have zoom lenses.

Epson’s philosophy here seems to bank on consumers wanting a projector that is brighter than most of the other entry level projectors, to better deal with room ambient lighting. This makes it practical in rooms that are a bit too bright for other cost projectors. My first impression is a very affordable family room, bonus room type of projector, rather than a more single purpose room. We shall see, when it comes in for review. Contrast is a modest 2000:1, but Epson claims 2000 lumens for this little guy, and they tend to be conservative.

Epson rates their lamp at 2000 hours life at full power, and 4000 in low power mode (usually 20-25% less bright). That makes for low cost of operation, when you don’t need all those lumens. Also they charge less for their lamp than most other companies charge, for competing projectors.

As a family product, it has an SD card slot as well as USB, so you can use it to view photos directly out of your camera, or from thumb drives. No doubt there are other fringe benefits to having these.

Should be a fun review, a product with a slightly different slant in concept, and target audience than most other low cost models. $799, yep, should be very interesting.

News And Comments

  • Ken

    I was excited about this until I read that there is no lens shift. When you consider that the HC 720 runs @ $1099 after rebate, and they throw in an extra bulb too (making the 720 effectively less $ or equal to the 700), the 700 does not seem to make sense for most people unless I am missing something (e.g., the 700 may be brighter and have a quieter fan (?))

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    I think, in general, you are right on track. There are some great deals on “last year’s models”, and the deal Epson has on the HC720 is a good example.

    However, probably, not long after the 700 ships, the HC720′s will be all gone. I think the Home Cinema 1080 UB, is another great example of a projector that may be better for many people at its current close-out price/rebate/lamp deal.

    Getting back to the Epson Home Cinema 700: The 700 is going to be about family rooms and lots of brightness. It’s officially 25% brighter. Contrast is lower, so it probably won’t match the black levels. But the strength will be the anticipated $799 price point. Once the closeouts are gone, then it will still be $300 – $500 below other 720p 3LCD projectors.

    $1295 up until now has been the low official MAP or street price, for new projectors. Certainly the Epson Home Cinema 700 will be far less money than the Sanyo PLV-Z60 I just reviewed, or the Panasonic PT-AX200U. -art

  • Ken

    Thanks Art. I have been going back and forth trying to figure out whether to go HC720 or PT-AX200U. 50% of my watching will be Hockey in a room with lights on. I think the HC 720 represents a better value with the extra bulb, but am slightly concerned about fan noise. Now with the HC6100 coming out the choice is harder! Besides being 1080P, I think it is brighter, the fan is quieter, and the bulb lasts longer. The question is for my needs is it worth the extra $ I am not very picky – I like my Optoma DV10 but it is not bright enough and I want to at least go 720P. (Have to go LCD due to placement issues).

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    Greetings Ken

    Decisions, decisions. Your first problem is that you’ve opened your search to include the more expensive 1080p projectors.

    Of those, the Sanyo is the least expensive, but definitely won’t solve your brightness problem.

    The Epson 6100 is going to be about the same brightness as the 720, but is actually supposed to be a touch brighter (1800 lumens). Keep in mind it should outperform the 720 at pretty much everything, at least slightly (and quieter), but it isn’t going to produce the really excellent black levels of the Home Cinema 1080 UB, but it will cost less than even the closeout, by close to $500.

    From reading what you wrote,my take is that you fit into the category of people who want a 1080p, but the cost is an issue. You’ll have to ask yourself this – if you go with a 720p projector, do you think you are the sort who will be looking to upgrade to 1080p in a year or two?

    And if that’s the case – you’ll have to guess as to which path will serve you better, in the long run. (of course in 2 years, figure that projectors with performance like the even better Epson 6500 UB, the Panny PT-AE3000U, Sanyo Z3000, and Mitsubishi HC7000, will sell for less than $2000.

    Ahh, the decisions. Best of luck. -art

  • Ken

    Art, Thanks. I do not believe I have the experience (or eyesight) to appreciate the finer differences that most enthusiasts can see. My primary concerns (besides price of course!) are brightness, reliability, and fan noise (actually my wife’s concern). If I eliminate the HC720 due to fan noise (is this unfair?), then my decision is the PT-AX200U or HC6100. I will guess and give the slight edge to the HC6100 for fan noise and reliability (and longer bulb life). If I factor those in, and that it is 1080P, I need to determine if the extra $700 is worth it to hedge against wanting 1080P later. I am starting to think it is. One flaw in my logic of course is that I may not be able to tell the difference between the 720P and 1080P, but I think other guests could (especially with the PT-AX200U softer image watching sports). If I bought it, I would keep the HC6100 until it died because I do not think I would upgrade for better contrast/black levels, etc. In any event, I am looking forward to your review! It will certainly weigh in my decision. I am buying something no later than early December. – Ken

  • James

    Art, please review the 700 when time permits. I realize it is not SOTA, 1080p, etc. but it looks like it may serve my needs well as a first projector – and hopefully serve the needs of many others as well. Thanks.

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    Hi James,

    Don’t worry, I will, I’ve got about 6 projectors on my mental short list – projectors that will get priority when they arrive, so the order of reviews does vary sometimes. The priority ones are:

    Mitsubishi HC7000, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, JVC RS20, either the Epson Home or Pro “UB” model (they are almost identical, Epson 6100 or 7100, Epson 700 and InFocus X9 (a DLP low cost 720p).

    Last time I spoke to Epson it looked like late Nov/early december before their models will be available for reviewers, depending on the model. Of the Epson lineup, the UB gets top priority between the three models, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a 700 is available first.

    (if that sounds like a lot of epson’s to review, you are right, but then, I’ve reviewed two Mitsubishi’s recently, two Sanyo’s, etc. Epson seems to be 2-3 months behind most others in their initial shipment schedules. -art

  • Mitch

    When will this be reviewed?

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    Hi Mitch,

    It’s scheduled to arrive mid-March, and should publish before end of March. Sorry, the 1080p report is taking priority. -art