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Epson Home Cinema 1040 Projector Review - Summary

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Art Feierman
HOME CINEMA 1040 PROJECTOR REVIEW - SUMMARY:  Color and Picture, Brightness - Bright Room Usage, Pros and Cons

Color and Overall Picture Quality of the HC1040

Colors are rich, saturated, and rather accurate in both Cinema and Bright Cinema modes.  Dynamic, the brightest mode has too much green and yellow - not terrible, but if you are paying attention you can't miss it.  Excessive green is very typical for most projector's brightest mode, so the HC1040 is no exception. It's definitely a bit over the top, but there are many other projectors who's "Dynamic" modes are even more green heavy, so for such a mode, the Epson gets a "not bad."


This award is for high quality products, but ones with less wide appeal than some other models

But, it's those two Cinema modes that are impressive.  Cinema offers really good skin tones for an unadjusted picture mode, and it's close to many calibrated projectors.  Bright Cinema isn't as natural but really comes into its own when you have ambient light.  The punchier colors get tamed by the ambient light.  Let's say that the Home Cinema 1040 plays well with ambient light.

Black levels are purely entry level, but as pointed out, unless you are in a fully darkened room, the differences from one projector's black levels and another are diminished.  All under $1000 projectors are entry level at this, even if they do vary.  When it comes to revealing dark shadow detail the HC1040 is very good, although not the very best.  This Epson definitely serves up a crisp looking image, even with the expected minor panel mis-alignment.

What's not here when it comes to picture, are two things - one - CFI - aka smooth motion is rare on sub-$1000 projectors, I'm pretty sure the only projectors under that price that do have it that we've reviewed are Epson's own HC2040 and HC2045.

The other is 3D, which, by comparison, is found on the large majority of home theater and home entertainment projectors today (including those HC2040/2045).  If the HC1040 did offer 3D, it would have likely received our Hot Product Award instead.

Bottom Line when it comes to the Picture:  Color out of the box about as good as you could hope for, Everything else is at least respectable, but, if 3D appeals to you, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Brightness and Ambient Light

The Home Cinema 1040 is a "light canon" X2.  That is, long ago, I defined the term "light canon" in our reviews as projectors capable of 1500 lumens.  Well, this Epson maxes out close to 3300 lumens when Mike measured it.

Since 3LCD projectors have equal amounts of color and white lumens, this Epson has enough color lumens to punch through a fair amount of ambient light.  As covered earlier, a 3000 white lumen projector with say 1200 or 1600 color lumens, won't be a match in a room with more than a little ambient light.  Keep that in mind in order to have "apples to apples" comparisons.

The 2300 really good looking lumens this projector puts out in Cinema or Bright Cinema is only slightly less than I typically output from my more expensive G6550WU Epson which is rated 5200 lumens.  Mostly I watch that projector in its "best" mode and with Eco on, which still puts out over 2500 lumens.  While I only briefly tried out the HC1040 downstairs in that very bright living room, I know that Bright Cinema at full power should serve most people very well.  Only during the worst few minutes of the day, do I have to switch my own projector into one of it's brightest modes and switch to full power.

G6550_11am_theatre-mode-HGTVBut do keep in mind that I do have an ambient light absorbing screen in my living room setup.  You should seriously consider on of those if your room is rather bright, but it's a good idea if you have pretty much any daylight coming in.

The image above is from my living room with the Epson G6550 running in Theatre mode, producing less than 3000 lumens.  So, while still over 20% brighter than the HC1040, this picture gives you a good idea what to expect should you too, be using a good ALR (ambient light rejecting) screen.

Bottom Line on Brightness:  This is about as bright as you will find in the under $1000 range, although get up to $1300-$1600 and you will find brighter.  Thus, consider it a top choice for situations with ambient light compared to the other "entry-level" competition. In the Epson "bright room" projector line-up it's big brother, the HC1440, is about $500 more, claims 4200 lumens, and has CFI.

When choosing a screen an ambient light projecting screen will serve you best in a brighter room.

Home Cinema 1040 Pros

For a really low cost 1080p projector the list of Pros is pretty long:

  • Extremely bright for the price
  • Can tackle some pretty brightly lit rooms when paired with a proper ambient light rejecting screen
  • Really impressive color accuracy - right out of the box
  • Very good dark shadow detail
  • Lots of Eco features, including lower than most power consumption
  • Extremely long life lamp - 5000 hours at full power, up to 10,000 hours in Eco, (when also figuring light dimming and auto power off features)
  • Remote has very good range, and a good layout for a compact remote
  • MHL on one of the HDMI ports for working with streaming sticks other MHL compatible devices
  • Optional Wireless capability - another way to work with smartphones, tablets, etc.
  • Reasonable input speed for gaming
  • Excellent warranty and support - 2 years of warranty and of rapid replacement program.
  • Can definitely double as a portable business projector (not surprising since near identical to one of the Epson Powrlite projectors on the Biz/Edu side of the business)
  • Extremely good documentation, although it covers other models with similar feature sets
  • Priced right - overall a very good value proposition!

HC1040 Cons

Naturally, the less expensive projector, the more Cons there tend to be.  Many of these, of course are simply things you can't expect in an entry level type projector, but we list them anyway.

Here goes:

  • No 3D
  • Strictly Entry level black levels (not critical for a projector being used in a "bright room")
  • Remote control is not backlit
  • The projector slightly defocuses as it warms up - minor - if a mounted or permanent setup, wait 15 minutes to focus it for best results
  • No CFI (CFI is rare at this price point)
  • Definitely a lot of fan noise at full power, although reasonably quiet in Eco mode (typical of high brightness projectors)
  • No lens shift (also pretty rare at this price)
  • Speaker system (2 watt) is somewhat limiting
  • For gaming, input lag speeds are reasonable for most of us, but to slow for hard core players demanding minimal input lag.
  • Lacks an audio out, so when using a streaming stick, no way o pass the sound to a bigger sound system (from Cable Satellite or Blu-ray you can always output from those devices to a separate sound system.
  • 1.2:1 zoom is typical for the price point (or even better) but doesn't offer a much front to back placement as most more expensive projectors)

The very bottom line:  A great family projector for the family rom, living room, anywhere but a dedicated home theater.  It's got the color, the brightness, a clean, sharp looking image and great warranty and support.  Other than it's lack of 3D, for its price, perhaps the question is:  "what's not to like?"

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