Epson EX7240 Pro Portable Projector Review – Picture Quality

Epson EX7240 Pro Projector – Picture Quality:  Image Quality, Text Readability, Video Quality

Image Quality

The above gallery photos are screen shots of our standard test image.  These photos only provide an approximation of how the projected images appeared.

In the brightest mode (called “Dynamic” – 1st gallery photo) the whites had an overall green-yellow tint, especially in the brighter image elements.  I found the greens also were shifted a little toward yellow.  The yellows were shifted a little toward green resulting in mid-level greens and yellows appearing too close to being the same color.  In this mode the reds and blues were a too dark as compared to the greens and overall the image did not have well balanced colors.  I noted there were “white crush” present in Dynamic mode and I had to lower the projector’s contrast adjustment to correct this, which did reduce the overall image brightness a little.  Frequently the brightest mode on a projector has such poor quality that it’s of little value except in the rare cases where every last bit of light output is needed to overcome room lighting.  In the case of the EX7240 Pro, its dynamic mode was actually not nearly as bad as with some other projectors.  I felt that it could prove useful for business presentations where room lighting cannot be easily controlled and color accuracy is not very important.  However, there are some still fairly bright color modes offered by this projector that offer more accurate colors.

The EX7240 Pro offers a “Presentation” color mode that is just a little less bright than the “Dynamic” mode and offers just slightly more accurate colors, so the comments above generally apply to this mode as well.  The main difference seems to the factory default settings for Dynamic mode result in crushed whites unless the projector’s contrast control is reduced significantly.  With the Presentation mode there were still curshed whites, but the Contrast control required less adjustment to correct the white level.
The “Cinema” color mode provides a fairly good overall color balance with the out-of-the-box settings.  While the green colors tends to be shifted a little toward yellow, and the blues appeared too dark compared to the reds and greens, generally the colors appeared reasonably accurate.
The “sRGB” mode is intended for use with a computer as the input signal source.  I found this color mode to project an image on the “warm” side, tending to have a darker blues than greens and blues.  Overall the color accuracy for “sRGB” mode edged out Cinema mode as the most accurate out of the box color mode.  However, either of these modes could be adjusted with the available color temperature adjustments to produce an fairly accurate image.

“Blackboard” mode with any projector is not intended to produce accurate colors when projected onto a white screen, as I used for my testing.  Since I did not have the intended surface to project the image onto, I could not properly evaluate how the colors would appear for the intended application of this mode.  I did note that when viewed on a white surface, blackboard mode with the EX7240 Pro did not show near a much color shift as I have seen with the blackboard mode on many other projectors.

Text Readability

The EX7240 Pro’s image resolution and text clarity is very good.  This model has 1280 x 800 (WXGA) native resolution, which is becoming popular for mid-level business projectors, and the EX7240 Pro’s lens performance allows this projector to take full advantage of the projector’s native resolution.  Even 8-point text was easy to read for both black text on a white background and for white text on a black background.   When my attached laptop PC was set to the projector’s native WXGA resolution (as shown in the photos above) the text readability was very good.

The was no noticeable color fringing on the text from a normal viewing distance and even when viewed up close there was very little evidence of misalignment of the projector’s three LCD panels and there was no obvious color fringing from chromatic aberration in the lens.  This is excellent performance for a 3LCD projector and even better than some of the DLP projectors that I have reviewed that exhibited a significant chromatic aberration, even though such DLP projector cannot exhibit panel misalignment issues.

I was able to get sharp focus over the entire image.

After evaluating the readability of text with an input signal at the projector’s native WXGA resolution (as shown above), I evaluated the ability of the projector to scale higher resolution input images down to the projector’s native resolution.  To test this I increased the resolution of the input signal to 1920 x 1080 resolution.  I found the scaling performance of the EX7240 to be very good as can be seen in the photo below the text was still very readable.

Scaled from 1920 x 1200 Source
Close-up – Scaled from 1920 x 1200 Source

 

 

Video Performance

I evaluation the video performance of the Epson EX7240 Pro by connecting a Blu-ray Disc player to the projector via a HDMI cable.

The above observations for Image Quality in “Cinema” color mode were made with the EX7240 Pro using its default settings and when projecting the image onto a low gain matte white projection screen.  Even though the out-of-the-box color performance in Cinema mode was good, this projector does offer additional user picture settings that can be used to further improve the color accuracy of the projected image.  More specifically there is a color temperature setting and gain controls for each red, blue and green.   I did not attempt to do a calibration for the projector but did use the basic color temperature adjustment by increasing the value from the default setting of 5 to a value of 7.  This increased the color temperature by increasing the level of the blue component color relative to the red and green component colors.  After making this adjustment the color temperature measured close to the desired 6500K across the grey scale.

The first 7 gallery photos above are screen shots from the movie “The Fifth Element” and the final 5 photo are from the movie “Casino Royale”.  Overall. when viewed in person the color accuracy appeared better than in these screen shots.  Considering this a modest priced business class projector, I would rate the color accuracy good with the out-of-the-box settings for Cinema color mode and increasing to very good once I had made the small adjustment for color temperature, as described above.

The one weakness of this class of 3LCD business (and education) projectors is they have rather low native contrast and the EX7240 Pro is no exception.  The native contrast ratio of these 3LCD projectors is typically significantly lower than with competing DLP business projectors.  Most projectors in this class, either 3LCD or DLP, either do not have an automatic (i.e., dynamic) iris, or if they do it is far too slow in its action to be of any real value when viewing video.  The EX7240 Pro is the exception as it does have a useful automatic iris with settings for both a normal and fast mode.

The automatic iris function is only available when the projector is operating in Dynamic and Cinema color modes.  I found that using the automatic iris in the fast mode did improve the black level and overall viewing experience without introducing significant undesirable side effects.  However, an automatic iris cannot fully compensate for having a relatively high black level and low native contrast ratio, but it helps 3LCD projectors, such as the EX7240 Pro, to compete with the DLP business projectors in this performance area.

If the EX7240 Pro is to be used in an environment where there will be moderate room lighting to contend with, then performance characteristics for black levels and contrast ratios have little importance since the room lights will become the dominate factor for how dark blacks within the projected image can appear on the screen.  However, when used in a dark, or very dimly lighted environment, the black level and contrast differences between projectors will become obvious.

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