Epson Home Cinema 710 Special Features
Audio on Board
As a small, portable home entertainment projector, the HC710 has some built in sound. This may be due to its ancesteral nature coming from a line of business "cross-overs", but it does come in handy in low cost home projectors. Let's say you are planning a movie night in the back yard. It's nice to have some decent (not great - that's what expensive AV systems are for) sound, without more equipment and hassle. Basically, the built in sound can be very handy!
USB Display and Photos...
You can plug in most computers through the provided VGA (analog) input, or through HDMI. Still another way to hook up a computer, is the USB port which offers USB Display - just a cable from most newer computers to the USB, and you can project or present that way, instead of lugging much bigger, heavier cables.
And, you can also use the USB to hook the Epson 710HD projector to your digital camera or other devices to view photos, etc. Bingo, plug in, and start a slide show. Nice touch for a family room style projector.
Yes, the Epson Home Cinema 710 has a dynamic iris to lower black levels. That said, this is an entry level 3LCD. 3LCD has a number of advantages over other technologies (DLP and LCoS), but also some disadvantages. Contrast which is a key determining factor for black level performance is one of those weaknesses. The dyanmic iris does help, but we're still very entry level in this regard. Due to the inherent DLP advantage in contrast, let's say that a competing DLP projector, even without dyanmic iris, will still have better blacks. Click to enlarge. So close. Of course, as I repeat through out the review, this Epson is going to spend most of its life at your house, operating in rooms where there's some ambient light, making black levels much less important.
Home Cinema 710 Long Lamp Life
I figure anyone purchasing an under $1000 home theater projector should be concerned about overall cost of operation. The good news is this Epson offers an exceptionally long life lamp. They claim 4000 hours at full power and up to 5000 hours in eco-mode. An Epson replacement lamp has a MSRP (List price) of $199, (part number: V13H010L67), which is far less than many lamps sell for. If you figure 2 hours per movie, even at full power (this projector is bright so many will use eco-mode), that's 2000 movies - a cost of only $.10 per movie. Hard to argue that, when many projector lamps work out to $.25 to $.50+ per movie.
Changing the lamp is easy, it's from the top, so if you have had your Epson ceiling mounted, you won't have to unmount it to change the lamp, or, for that matter, the filter, which should be replaced at the same time, or, if after cleaning the existing filter, the projector signals you to change the filter. The filter costs $15.
Cost of Operation - Electrical
Since we are talking affordability, note that this is a typical 3LCD home projector, in that it uses a 200 watt lamp. DLP projectors typically use 230 - 300 watt lamps. Over all, if it matters to you at all, LCD projectors tend to be more efficient for similar brightness abilities, and likely would draw about 20% less juice. That could add up in expensive electrical states like California that use tiers. Here, (California) residences can pay for incremental electric as much as $.40 kw, vs $.115 (a figure often used as the national average). At 40 hours a week usage at the top CA residential rate, that's almost $4.00 a week. A less efficient home projector might cost an extra $1 a week more for the same usage. On the other hand, for most residents of the US, powering this projector at full power, for 40 hours a week, probably still works out to around $1 a week. This Epson running in Eco mode uses about 2.5 times the typical 40" LCDTV. This projector, therefore, costs less to operate per "square foot of screen size" than virtually any LCDTV or Plasma.