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Epson Cinema 400 Home Theater Projector Review

Posted on September 21, 2006 by Art Feierman

Specs Preview

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 400 Specs
Price 1599
Technology 3LCD
Native Resolution 1280x720
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1500
Contrast 5000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio 1.5:1
Lens Shift Yes
Lamp Life 1700 hours - 3000 hours
Weight 11.5
Warranty 2 years with replacement program for both years

Epson Cinema 400 Home Theater Projector Review - Overview

What have we here? Epson's new Cinema 400 is the direct replacement for its almost one year old Cinema 550. It looks the same, but "cooks" a better, which is a good thing.

Last year the Cinema 550 sold for a price of $2499. By comparison, the Cinema 400 launches with a set price of only $1599. So, even if nothing has been improved, the Cinema 400 should represent a major improvement in price/performance. Of course prices are always falling, and every manufacturer needs to both improve performance, and stay price competitive.

And, it looks like Epson has been successful once again.

First, a note on who sells the Epson Cinema 400 in the US market. Epson relys on a handful of online resellers that price within Epson guidelines, plus a large number of CEDIA dealers - the local guys who can install a projector in your ceiling, or (some can) even build you a custom home theater that looks like the bridge of the Enterprise.

To get this started, let me summarize from last year's Cinema 550 review, as this is an evolutionary projector, not a new design. Epson has made significant effort to improve performance while dropping the cost, and it looks like they've been most successful.

The original Cinema 550's chief claims to fame (it won our Hot Product Award) were in four areas:
1) It was the brightest projector in the price range when tested, and ideal for "mixed" use (movies/sports/gaming/HDTV), when there's ambient light to deal with.
2) Extremely flexible in terms of postioning in your room
3) Excellent warranty, and support
4) Excellent preset modes plus user savable settings

Of course there were weaknesses, most notably
1) The image from DVD appeared a little softer than some other projectors (though not necessarily true on HDTV)
2) The projector was noiser than most in its brighter modes

So, in this review we will definitely look to see what Epson has done to make the Cinema 400 a better projector and a better value

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