MHL on HDMI
One of the Epson's two HDMI's supports MHL, which is basically a mobile protocol. Streaming sticks like Roku and Amazon Fire rely on it. One aspect is that the MHL provides power to the stick, since those sticks pull in streams over your wifi and the internet, they need the "juice". It is also used to interface wirelessly with phones and tablets... We've tested Epson's MHL in a number of reviews. Once again, I just plugged in my own Roku stick, brought up a menu of channels, and as typical, selected Netflix.
Just in case you hadn't considered it yet, streaming quality is typically lower than that of HDTV over satellite or cable (more compression), which in turn is no match for Blu-ray quality (relatively minimal compression). We hard core crazed, movie fanatics/home theater aficionados prefer Blu-ray by far, but not everyone cares that much. Consider my daughter, a classic Millennial. Until we got her a projector, she lived in an apartment in NY without a TV. If she watched a movie or "TV" programming, prior to that, it was on her laptop, or even her iPhone. Go figure. Bottom line: Having MHL is a plus for many folks.
Like many Epson home projectors the HC1040 offers split screen. It's a fun feature if you want to use it. One thing to note, though, as is typical in the industry, the two sources you want to view can't both use HDMI. Although I didn't use split screen with the 1040, I have used it on Epsons. (One example: I've projected a football game on one side, and my fantasy football screen from my laptop on the other.
$99 will buy Epson's optional wireless LAN module. I have one installed in my much fancier Pro Cinema 6550 projector in my living room. Setup isn't the simplest thing - after all, it is "networking," but doable. I had issues when I was trying to get all the capabilities, but a quick call to Epson support and they successfully walked me through it. Piece of cake!
It allowed me to stream from my laptop. If you want such capabilities, great buy the module. Most of you won't have a need for it, nice to know it's an option if you do.
3D - Not Found Here
OK to a large degree 3D is out of fashion. The LCD TV companies couldn't sell it (for reasons discussed below), so they tend to now ignore/mock it and instead have been heavily pushing 4K UHD. (Like you really NEED 4K on a 40 or 50 inch set from 12 feet away) I love a good 3D movie, kids do too or we wouldn't see so many great kids movies coming out in 3D. (There's even both really fun and even good stuff for us grown ups, from The Hobbit (although I thought it terrible compared to The Lord of The Rings), Avatar, The Avengers, Hugo, and of course How to Train Your Dragon.
LCD TV buyers didn't buy into 3D, which makes perfect sense: 3D is about doing a better job of immersing us in the experience. There's a reason movie screens are so big - immersion. 3D works in the theater - the local cineplex or your home theater or living room, if you can project the large immersive image.
So, if I have one very specific complaint about the HC1040 that will cost it customers, it's the lack of 3D! If you are like me and demand 3D, you might choose one of Epson's four other projectors that sell within $100 of the 1040 - the others all have 3D. And, it's not just Epson of course, o most other competing projectors have 3D too.
Bottom Line: Without 3D I couldn't consider the HC1040 for our Hot Product Award, so it had to settle for one of our not quite as "prestigious" Special Interest awards.
The HC1040 As a Gaming Projector
For all normal viewing one leaves an Epson projector in what it calls Fine picture mode, but for Gaming, you will switch that to Fast, for the reduced input lag.
Using my Leo Bodner input lag tester, the HC1040 measured the same 57 milliseconds as its big bro, the HC1440. That' fine for most gamers, but those hard core ones looking for every advantage in high speed games like first person shooters, the folks that might spend big bucks on a gaming computer, and a very fast monitor, won't be thrilled. 57ms is equivalent of the 50-51 ms we measured using software, prior to Q4 2015. Basically that works out to about 3 frames delay, with a game projecting at 60 fps. As I usually add, for perspective. it takes 250ms to 500ms to hit the brakes in a car under controlled conditions. Thinking about it that way, 57ms seems pretty fast.
Bottom line: For most of us, the HC1040's gaming speed is acceptable, but there are faster projectors out there, and those that are, are typically in the 35ms range. Rare these days are projectors measuring under 20ms.
You can plug in a PC, (USB Display) or for most of us, more likely, plug in a USB thumb drive. When I'm in a hurry, I can pop an SD card out of one of my digital cameras plug it into my USB adapter, and view them. Many cameras have USB outputs, so you can connect a cable between them.
Dynamic Iris for improved black levels
Every technology has its own advantages. While much higher color lumens is a big plus for 3LCD and LCoS projectors compared to competing DLP models, Black levels are a strength of those DLP models.
To in part counter that advantage most 3LCD projectors have dynamic irises to lower black levels on dark scenes. That is true for the HC1040.
Still, DLP projectors do have the advantage. But you do want to consider that this is a Bright Room projector. You can have not just small differences but huge differences in black levels in a fully darkened viewing room between different projectors, but even large differences are minimized with even a very modest amount of ambient light. Even light colored walls dilute black levels significantly in an otherwise ambient light free.
Bottom line: The HC1040 gets a pass. Black level performance is very entry level, but that should be a minor ding for the bright room environments. Even for night time viewing, please understand that for the highest quality movie viewing of dark scenes, really good black level performance starts around $2000, and many above that price aren't that great.