After reviewing a number of high end and mid-range 1080p projectors in November and December, it wasn't easy adjusting to the low cost Epson Home Cinema 720p projector, especially after just reviewing the $5000 Sony VW60 and $8000 JVC RS2.
The initial shock of going from what is almost certainly the best under $10,000 projector, the RS2, to the Epson left me, at first, wondering if the Epson had anything going for it at all. Black levels certainly were no match for the higher end products, and while the Epson can be pretty bright in some modes, it's not as bright as the competing Panasonic PT-AX200U. But overall, it easily holds its own with less expensive and even more expensive DLP projectors like the Optoma HD70, Mitsubishi HC1500, and Optoma HD73. It is also significantly brighter than the Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector or Sony AW15, both LCD projectors.
After a few days of watching, and also mostly avoiding the 1080p projectors, my perspective seems to have returned. In a nutshell, Epson has a solid entry, that is both bright, and extremely sharp, with a very crisp looking, and highly dynamic picture quality. It's not the most film-like of the projectors in its class, so it may not appeal that much to hard core purist movie watchers shopping for something at this price point, but it should have a rather significant following from those looking for a very good all-around projector, which is the vast majority out there.
The Epson Home Cinema 720 is awarded our Hot Product Award, based primarily on its very sharp, bright image, and its strength as a projector that performs at least very well, on all types of content, from movies to sports, especially for a low cost 720p projector entry. Think of it this way - Epson's HC720 is sensational for watching sports and does a very respectable job on movies!