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Your 2018 Holiday Guide to Six Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000 – Part 2

By Nikki Zelinger

Epson Home Cinema 2100/2150 – Impressive Color and Loaded With Features


The Epson Home Cinema 2100 and Home Cinema 2150 (reviewed here), are repeats from last year, and for good reason. They are the replacement for two of Epson’s best-selling projectors, the Home Cinema 2040 and Home Cinema 2045. At $849 and $899 respectively (the HC2100 is currently $699 on the Epson website), the Epson Home Cinema 2100 and Home Cinema 2150 provide some upgrades from the previous models. With 2,500 claimed lumens, these projectors have plenty of brightness and the HC2150 even measured above its claim in its brightest mode, with its best modes coming in at around 2,000 lumens.

Before we continue, I’d like to mention that these projectors are virtually identical, save for a few key differences. The Home Cinema 2100 has a lower contrast ratio than the HC2150, no wireless capabilities, and, of course, a lower list price, but in all other ways, it is identical to its sibling. If you don’t need wireless, save yourself the cash and go with the Home Cinema 2100.

The Epson Home Cinema 2150 and HC2100 are suitable for living rooms, media rooms, and even bedrooms, and look incredibly bright and vibrant in a fully darkened room. Their 3LCD technology gives them a distinct advantage over DLP projectors in terms of handling ambient light, as 3LCD projectors produce as many color lumens as they do white ones. Keeping the curtains open, I could still watch most content, but dark films, such as the later Harry Potter movies, required the curtains to be drawn. Still, I’d say these projector are plenty bright for most room scenarios, save for the brightest of rooms.

With powerful 10-watt stereo speakers built in, you’ll be able to use your Home Cinema 2100 or 2150 in a variety of settings – when things warm up, you can even take it out back for an outdoor movie night. The sound is quite respectable, but we always suggest using a separate sound system when setting it up in your home. It’s not necessary, but if you truly value the sound design of films and desire any real bass, you’ll want to check out getting at least a pair of external stereo speakers.

Epson claims 50% of the home projector market in North America. Their home lineup far surpasses the number of home theater/home entertainment projectors provided by any of their dozens of competitors, so it’s really no surprise that they have the lion’s share. The HC2150, as a replacement for Epson’s primary “entry level” full HD projector, does not disappoint. Great performance, awesome price point, and loaded with features, the Home Cinema 2150 is one of my personal favorite home entertainment projectors.

These portable home entertainment projectors have a lot of placement flexibility, with a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens, Keystone Correction, and a generous amount of lens shift – up to 60% vertical. In terms of inputs and connectors, they’ve got everything you need for your home entertainment purposes – two HDMIs, one for MHL so you can plug in a streaming stick like Roku, Amazon, Google, etc. The HC2100 and HC2150 have support for 3D, including Blu-ray 3D, and the brightness to make it count (3D significantly reduces lumen output). Other key features include Frame Interpolation, which is great for sports viewing, and Miracast. Miracast allows you to wirelessly project your screen from a smartphone or tablet.

Like all Epson projectors, the Home Cinema 2150 has a great warranty – two-year limited warranty on the projector with Extra Care HomeService, Epson PrivateLine dedicated toll-free support, and 90 days on the lamp. The average warranty for a sub-$1000 projectors is only one year, so having the extra year and the option for rapid replacement as well as excellent customer service (I can attest to that, having used the warranty for my Epson Home Cinema 5040UB).

Right out of the box, the Epson Home Cinema 2150 has excellent color in most modes. Even the brightest of its best modes, Bright Cinema, does great on skin tones and has overall good color, and will allow you to let in a little more ambient light than the average sub-$1000 projector. The colors are rich and vibrant, and, for the price, the color handling is quite excellent. Movies, TV shows, sports, and video games all look rather excellent when projected by the Epson Home Cinema 2150. I didn’t review the HC2100, though the color will be pretty much the same, only the HC2150 probably has better black levels.

Speaking of the price, one can’t really expect anything but “entry level” black level performance, but compared to some similarly priced projectors, it’s not half bad. Blacks look nearly black, and in some cases, I have been fooled into thinking they were completely black. It was only by casting a shadow over the projected image that I could see blacks were “almost, but not quite.” Overall, I was truly impressed with the HC2150.

For the $699 or $899 investment, depending on whether you choose the Epson Home Cinema 2100 or the Epson Home Cinema 2150, I believe you are getting your money’s worth. And, think about this – if you’ve got a family of four and take them to the movies, getting popcorn and drinks, within ten trips, you’ve paid for your new home entertainment system. Use that math if your spouse needs convincing!

ViewSonic PX706HD – A 1080p Gaming Machine!

ViewSonic PX706HD Featured Image

Gamers rejoice! This ViewSonic PX706HD has some of the lowest input lag around. Gaming projectors have a reduced input latency to allow for smooth gameplay and a high framerate, and this ViewSonic is a gaming machine! At just $599 (down from $699), the PX706HD provides excellent value with its 1080p resolution, bright, 3,000 lumen claim, great color in multiple modes, and, of course, a low input lag of just 16.4ms. Impressive!

Acceptable lag times range from 16ms to 50ms, with 50ms or a little bit higher being acceptable to all but the most hardcore, high-speed gamers. You know the type – those that compete, or have about a million Twitch followers. For those of us who game for the fun of it, 50ms would be just fine.

33ms to 40ms is pretty good, translates to just over one frame behind on a 30fps game, and 2 frames on a 60fps game. It’s totally fine for those of us who are not competing, and just want to play a little Horizon Zero Dawn or FarCry 5 after work or on the weekends. 16.4 ms though – that’s about as good as it gets in the world of projectors, and those competitive gamers will find the PX706HD suitable to their needs.

Though primarily positioned as a gaming projector, the ViewSonic PX706HD is well suited for all your home entertainment needs. This DLP projector handles movies, TV shows, and sports as beautifully as it projects video games. If planning on hosting a Superbowl party this coming year, you should have no problem letting in a bit of light so that your revelry is no dim affair.

Another portable projector, the ViewSonic PX706HD can be brought to a friend’s house for some casual gaming, or on vacations for those who can’t live without their fix of Red Dead Redemption 2. Its 5-watt mono speaker packs a powerful punch – I kept the volume below the half point mark while reviewing, and it was plenty loud enough for all forms of home entertainment. Since this is a short throw projector, that’s a good thing, as it’s more difficult to hook up external speakers in the middle of your room (cables being tripping hazards and all).

This ViewSonic, like the PX747-4K, has a lamp life of up to 15,000 hours! You can game 4 hours a day, 7 days a week for a whole year and still not burn out the lamp with a claim like that! Now, these higher numbers are always based on ECO modes, so if you’re looking for higher brightness, you’ll have to use full power and will significantly reduce the life of the lamp. Lamps these days are easily attainable, however, so I wouldn’t stress about that.

The PX706HD has a 1.20:1 manual zoom lens, which goes a longer way on a short throw projector than one with a normal throw distance. This does give some placement flexibility, and the projector can produce an image of anywhere between 60” to 100” diagonally. I only had to have it around 5 feet back to fill my 92” screen. You’ll get one powerfully immersive gaming experience with this projector! As far as inputs and connectors go, this home entertainment projector has two HDMIs, a Mini USB and USB-C input, a VGA connector, RS-232 port, an Audio In and an Audio Out port, and an old-school S-Video input.

Another fantastic warranty! Three years parts and labor with one year warranty on the lamp. As far as color goes, I was truly impressed! Skin tones look excellent, colors look pretty on-point, and the ViewSonic handles color well across several color modes. If you’re a gamer that requires a bright projector in the under $1000 price range, consider the ViewSonic PX706HD! I sure would!

Epson Home Cinema 4010 – 4K Capable With Improved Pixel Shifting Technology!

Epson Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD with HDR

Epson just announced the new Home Cinema 4010 (and PC4050 – look for that one in the Over $2000 Guide) with some exciting improvements on their technology. This 3LCD projector is going for $1999.99, making it the most premium priced projector in this holiday guide. With 2,400 claimed lumens, it is plenty bright for a living room with some good control over ambient light, and looks great in a fully darkened room. Out of the six projectors, this is one of the two most “home theater” of our home entertainment projectors included in this Under $2000 Holiday Guide.

This native 1920 x 1080 projector is a pixel shifter, but Epson improved on the technology from that used by the infamous Home Cinema 5040UB (also included in our Over $2000 Guide), thanks to the introduction of the 4K PRO-UHD technology. The 4K PRO-UHD chip has extraordinary color accuracy, dramatic contrast with HDR10, and gives the Epson Home Cinema 4010 state of the art pixel shifting, translating to a sharper image than their previous 4K-capable models.

Epson claims that the Home Cinema 4010 can reproduce 100% of the P3/BT.2020 color space – a claim we have seen from many a manufacturer this year at CEDIA. Art is nearly done reviewing this guy, so you can expect to see the review published in the coming weeks (we’ll link to it here when it’s done). If every other Epson we’ve recently reviewed are anything to go by, you can expect the HC4010 to have excellent, vibrant color, and a sharp image that’s sure to impress.

No speakers on this one, but that’s to be expected. Home theater projectors typically don’t. That’s because manufacturers expect that if you’re investing in a home theater projector, you’ll also be investing in a sound system. The easiest way to get sound out of your source (Playstation 4, Xbox One, BluRay UHD player, etc.) is to use an AV receiver and surround sound system. You can get all that in one package by purchasing one of those Home Theater In A Box systems we talked about earlier. Of course, if you’ve got the budget, you can go higher end.

The Epson Home Cinema 4010 has an impressive 2.10:1 zoom lens with powered focus, zoom, lens shift, and even lens memory for those who have a widescreen. Plenty of inputs and connectors including two HDMIs, one 1.4 and one 2.2 for accepting 4K content. The HC4010 has support for 3D, including Blu-ray 3D, and has enough brightness to do a good job. It also, no surprise, has CFI to make sports viewing all the more enjoyable.

The Home Cinema 4010 has the same great warranty as the Home Cinema 2150. That two-year limited warranty on the projector with Extra Care HomeService, Epson PrivateLine dedicated toll-free support, and 90 days on the lamp. I can’t stress enough the value of such a warranty. I was so bummed when my HC5040UB had a factory defect and stopped working. I received my projector within two days of calling Epson about it, and this projector has worked like a charm. I am quite pleased with their customer service.

With the improved pixel shifting technology, this Epson is one of particular interest to us! It has a list price of just $1999.99, which is pretty great for an Epson projector! Sure, there are other 4K capable projectors substantially less, but all of those have DLP technology. The 3LCD technology provided with this HC4010 gives you as many color lumens as white ones, ensuring a more vibrant image in the face of ambient light than its DLP competition is capable of delivering. There are advantages to both technologies, to be sure, but for me, I will always choose 3LCD.

Your Chance to Win!


Win one of 2 pico projectors, or one of 2 pieces of home automation gear! This holiday season, we’re giving away one of these products to FOUR lucky winners.

Acer C200 Pico Projector
ViewSonic M1 Pico Projector
Lightify FLEX RGBW Light Strips
Lightify LED Flood Smart Bulb

Enter via the pinned post on our Facebook Page.

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