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Epson Home Cinema 700 - Review Summary

Posted on April 19, 2009 by Art Feierman
A bottom line summary of the Epson Home Cinema 700 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.

Epson Home Cinema 700: Bottom Line

Really into "home theater", and the richest possible movie viewing experience? The Epson Home Cinema 700 was not built for you. If, however, you want a bright, low cost projector for sports viewing, and/or you will watch movies, but are satisfied with a good picture, don't care about pure performance, and want a rock bottom price, then the Home Cinema 700 deserves a serious look.

I should note, again, that the Home Cinema 700 is virtually identical to Epson's W6 - their entry level widescreen business projector. You might think of it more of a cross-over projector - for business and home - rather than a dedicated home theater solution.

Because we see this as a projector that will end up in a multi-purpose type room, we aren't particularly concerned about the higher than average audible noise levels. OK, it's not particularly quiet, but there are plenty of projectors costing several times its price that are just as noisy. That's my way of saying it really shouldn't be an issue for normal usage.

I love the lumens. I was able to open a lot of shades to really let some daylight in (sunlight hitting the carpet), and still have a watchable image. Here's a shot of the room, on a night scene. You can see the image is definitely being washed out somewhat, but that's better than any other projector anywhere near its price can do.

I should note, that my screen is a Firehawk G3. It's nature, as a high contrast gray screen, is that this picture was taken from the worst place possible angle. The bright light from the windows/doors will mostly bounce back off the screen at the same angle (right at the camera). The picture on the screen looked much better when viewing straight back from the center of the screen.

At one point, I viewed only the HC700 for about three days in a row. It took a while, but for a lot of viewing I really didn't mind the entry level performance, and I'm as spoiled as anyone, as an owner of the RS20 JVC projector. It certainly isn't for me, or any other hard core enthusiast, but I can see a lot of people enjoying it. It performs as advertised!

One real issue I have with the Epson is where it is priced. Sure, it's about as low cost as there is (for a current model, new), but I have to consider that it's still only a couple of hundred dollars less than a number of higher performance projectors (including their own HC720), a couple of which come fairly close in terms of maximum brightness. I'm not saying Epson can afford to sell it for less at this time, but relative to the projectors selling for around $1000, I think the Home Cinema 700 would position best, if selling for about $700 or a bit less, so it has more pricing spread separating it from those projectors. At that lower price I expect it may have qualified for an award. That said, its price is what it is (and will drop over time), so, if you just want big and bright, on a budget, it should serve you really well.

One last time: It is bright, it really does well on sports and other general viewing, but comes up short on black levels for serious movie enthusiasts. All considered, its low price should make a great entry level projector for a lot of folks. (The football image above was shot with more than a little ambient light present. Finally, it makes an excellent, low cost, crossover projector, one you can buy for business usage, and have it double as a very respectable home entertainment projector.

Home Cinema 700 Projector: Pros

  • Very bright projector, in both best, and brightest modes, able to handle a fair amount of ambient light or a very large screen - better than the competition
  • Looks very good on sports and general HDTV viewing
  • Excellent warranty
  • Exceptional lamp life, for low cost of operation
  • Good skin tones
  • Good shadow detail
  • More portable than most
  • Can easily double as a business projector (think Epson Powerlite W6)
  • Built in SD card slot for playing photos, etc. directly from devices like digital cameras, slideshow capability
  • Lamp door on the top, for easy access if ceiling mounting (projector inverted)
  • A good match for a family room, bonus room, or even for taking outdoors at night in the summer.
  • Able to handle large screen sizes thanks to lots of lumens

Home Cinema 700 Projector: Cons

  • Mediocre black level performance, not really designed for a dedicated home theater
  • One of the audibly noisier home projectors
  • Dynamic iris also adds a little to the overall noise (a low rumbly clicking type of sound when working)
  • Limited placement flexibility (1.2:1 zoom lens, no lens shift) suitable for table top or ceiling mount, but not rear shelf mounting
  • Not that much less expensive compared to a few higher performance projectors
  • Lack of lens shift, and limited (1.2:1) zoom ratio limite placement flexibility
  • Remote is not backlit
  • Exhibits a bit more image noise than most projectors, although its not a really significant issue

Home Cinema 700 Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Placement flexibility - if compared with the DLP projectors out there (the other 3LCD projectors are all much more flexible)
  • Documentation

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