Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 1040 Home Theater Projector Review

The Epson Home Cinema 1040, aka the HC1040 projector is designed to tackle “bright rooms” – that is, you won’t need to put it in a dedicated home theater or cave,  to enjoy sports, HDTV and movies.

The HC1040 provides an alternative to the more “home theater” focused HC2100 and HC2150.

HC1040 Projector Overview

Epson’s Home Cinema 1040 is one of Epson’s rapidly expanding class of what I have dubbed “Bright Room” projectors.  For the vast majority of the sixteen plus years I have been involved in either selling home theater projectors or writing about them and reviewing them, home “theater” projectors were just that – projectors designed to work in fully darkened or nearly so rooms.  Call those home theaters, man caves, etc., projectors with high quality pictures required the proper space.

It’s only been the past few years that projectors have gotten bright enough to move out of the theater, and into rooms where they can compete against LCDTVs.  Now most of these new, brighter projectors have been sub-$1000, and called home entertainment projectors.  While they are no serious match for a good $2000 – $3000 home theater projector in a fully dark room, they will dazzle when used properly in most rooms that aren’t ridiculously bright.

The Home Cinema 1040 is a dictionary definition, good example of these projectors.  We recently reviewed another in this Epson series, the HC1440 which is almost twice the price, has a few more features and is even brighter.

One of the keys to projectors making the successful transition into living rooms, bonus rooms, and family rooms is having a projector screen that is designed to “reject” a lot of ambient light.

You can get a good experience with the 3LCD HC1040 projector shining it on a near white or white wall, but choosing the right screen whether pull down, motorized or fixed takes the picture quality significantly.  Keep that in mind.

So what do we have here?  3000 lumens – both color and white (that’s important, discussed in special features).  If you are new to projectors, let me put it this way.  If you have a dark dedicated home theater, you need about 450 lumens to properly light up a 100″ diagonal screen, so we’re taking about over 6.5 times the brightness.   In the past we simply referred to any home projector capable of 1500 lumens as a light cannon.   Well, the game has changed.  No longer are you limited to spending $2500-$3500 for a 75″ LCD TV, you can have a 100″ or 120″ projector and screen combination for roughly half that!   It’s way more fun.

The Home Cinema 1040 is full HD resolution – aka 1080p which is 1920×1080.  It has a built in speaker – great for those moving it from room to room or hauling its massive sub-six pound weight with you on vacation.   Of course, ideally you want a good sound system.

I should note that the HC1040 not only offers two HDMI ports – the current best way to interface with Blu-ray and DVD players, satellite and cable boxes, but one of the two has a feature called MHL.  MHL is great if you have “cut the cord” so to speak – no players, no satellite/cable.  Millennials are famous for their cord cutting skills but many others are doing the same.  With MHL, you can plug in a streaming stick like Roku or those from Amazon (Fire) and Google, and watch streaming content from the web, from hundreds of channels, the best known ones being Netflix and HBO Now.

Cost of operation is ridiculously low thanks, first, to a long life lamp rated 5000 hours at full power (that’s 20 hours a week for 5 years), plus a 2 year warranty (and two years of concurrent replacement program, so that if there’s a warranty issue, you are back up and running in 2 business days.  Sweet. (No waiting weeks for a repair.)

In the course of this review I’ve mostly run the HC1040 in my theater, but for sports viewing, and general TV, I’ve got enough brightness to leave all my rear lights on at night, and have my window shutters partially open letting in the daylight, the rest of the time.  That’s what 3000 lumens buys you.  You’ll also see some pictures taken in my living room, which is seriously bright, but where I have one of those screens designed for the job.  You’ll be impressed by the photos of the projector working that room.

With a $799 list price, the Home Cinema 1040 isn’t the least expensive bright room projector around, but it is one of the lowest cost 3LCD projectors, and that gives it a distinct advantage in brighter rooms compared to the DLP competition.

HC1040 Projector Highlights and Commentary

Although sporting less features than its big brother, the HC1440, or Epson’s similarly priced alternate, the highly reviewed Home Cinema 2040 (and 2045), the HC1040 offers a much lower cost alternative to the HC1440, and 50% more brightness than the HC2040.

  • 3000 wall melting lumens (both color and white)
  • Split screen capability
  • 2 HDMI inputs, one with MHL for streaming
  • Exceptional lamp life – 5000 hours at full power, up to 10,000 hours
  • Dynamic iris for enhanced black level performance
  • 1920×1200 (WUXGA) resolution that’s slightly higher than Full HD (1080p)
  • Project “PC free” using the USB Port, view photos, more.
  • Optional Wireless LAN module, can let you transmit images, video from your laptop or other devices
  • More than bright enough, and well equipped enough to double as a serious portable business projector

Something to consider when considering this projector is that Epson, who serves up far more different projectors than any other brand, is giving you a real choice, at this price point.

Trivia:  I just took a quick count on the Epson website – hard to believe, but their HD projectors start at 720p and $499.  Eighteen different models between that price and $1999.  (They have plenty of more expensive ones too, of course.) In fairness, 5 are end of life models who’s replacements are shipping, so will go away as supplies run out.  Still, that’s 13 projectors targeting the home market, spread out over a $1500 range.

Depending on your room conditions and your viewing habits, you have two Epson projectors at exactly this price point to choose from. (and several others near this price point.)  The trick is to figure out which Epson best serve’s your needs.  Choose wisely!  Our goal is to help you do that.  I figure Epson’s strategy is that with enough different models they will have the best choice for most folks.  Their 44% marketshare indicates that their strategy must be working.  OK, I digress, let’s turn the page and consider some of the features in more detail.