Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector Review-Performance

Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector Review – Performance: Color Modes, Brightness, Video Quality, Audio Quality, Audible Noise

COLOR MODES

The Epson Home Cinema 880 projector provides a series of color modes for enhancement of viewing under different circumstances. There are four available preset modes: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema, and Game. Each mode provides an optimal viewing experience, depending on the viewing environment, as well as the content being viewed.

The images above represent each color mode, giving you a general idea of the differences of the color presets. However, experiencing the modes personally, in your own home theater environment, will give you a much better understanding of the how each color mode can enhance brightness, imagery, contrast and colors, especially skin tones.

There are four factory color presets. The following observations were made using the projector’s factory default color mode settings.

  • Dynamic Mode: The default mode for HC880. This mode is best for prioritizing brightness, and is, in fact, the brightest mode.
  • Bright Cinema Mode: Designed for projecting in a room with ambient light.
  • Cinema Mode: Intended for viewing movies in dark home theater rooms, This is the most accurate mode.
  • Game Mode: This mode, as expected, is suited best for gaming. In my opinion, this mode focuses on the color as well as the brightness of the game. It definitely wins for gaming purposes.

While CINEMA mode delivered the most accurate image but BRIGHT CINEMA would work well in a room with more ambient light. I noticed that the HC880’s DYNAMIC picture mode was more accurate than the best picture modes of many DLP projectors under $800.

Overall the color reproduction of the HC880 was very good. In fact the colors looked better than many DLP projectors that sell for 2-3 times more. While the projector is very basic it still managed to deliver the bright vibrant picture that Epson Home Cinema projectors are known for.

BRIGHTNESS

The Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector has a rated brightness of 3,300 lumens. I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens. I measured the HC880 in its brightest picture mode, DYNAMIC, with the lamp power set to NORMAL.

Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector Brightness: 3156 Lumens

At wide zoom in DYNAMIC mode, the HC880 measured 3156 lumens. While HC880 was about a hundred lumens below its rated brightness, it should be more than bright enough for most intended applications.

There are two modes to adjust the brightness output of the lamp light source:

  • Normal – uses the full strength of the lumens brightness
  • Economic – Lowers the brightness to increase the light source life (and also decreases the fan noise)
  • I measured the available picture modes at mid-zoom since it is common for a projector to be zoomed in a bit when installed.

Brightness at mid-zoom

Color Mode Lumens (Normal) Lumens (ECO)
Dynamic 3156 1965
Bright Cinema 2457 1568
Game 2362 1485
Cinema 2343 1455

Even in ECO mode the HC880 produced more than enough brightness to fill a 120” screen with a bright vibrant picture.

VIDEO QUALITY

The HC880 has a couple of image presets that provide great picture quality. There are two color modes that I prefer using, in terms of picture quality and color. Bright Cinema and Cinema modes are what I use the most for movies, as well as TV shows. I also believe detail plays a big part in providing an amazing picture. From a drop of sweat coming down an actor’s face, to the vibrant colors of an Anime or Pixar movie, these two color modes delivered the best experience.

The screenshots above display the projector in Cinema Mode. Our screenshots show a variety of HD videos and pictures. Like all our photos, they remain unadjusted for color, so they do not necessarily demonstrate the projector’s best possible performance.
The Epson Home Cinema 880 provides the user with the ability for some adjustment in all modes. The list begins with common settings like brightness, contrast, tint, and sharpness, with additional adjustments such as white balance and color temperature. In the images above, we kept Epson’s default settings for all color mode presets.

The Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector specifications claim a dynamic contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1. The higher dynamic contrast is done by modulating light output of the projector’s laser light engine. When the HC880 encounters a “black frame” of information, it can shut down the laser engine completely projecting a true black frame. This feature is listed as Dynamic Dimming in the projector’s menu.

The HC880’s black levels were closer to a dark grey than a pure black, but I didn’t expect a sub $1,000 projector to rival the black levels of high-end home theater projectors. In the average meeting room, which normally has some ambient light, the black level is good enough to be recognizable as black. While the blacks were not super deep, due to the fact it was capable of delivering 3,300 lumens of brightness, the overall contrast of the Epson HC880 would be more than enough the satisfy the average user.

The HC880 has a dedicated picture mode for gaming designed to not only reduce input lag but also improve clarity and enhance the dark scenes in video game content. We measured the Home Cinema 880 input lag at 48.5ms in Game mode at  1080@60Hz. The highest acceptable input lag for serious gamers is about 55ms, so the gaming experience is fine for all but the most hardcore players.

Overall, the HC880 video picture quality is great, especially at this price point. The colors are vibrant, and the picture is bright, with good contrast, providing you a good home theater viewing experience just $500.

While the HC880 is target at customers looking for entry level Home Entertainment projector, I am sure many will find their way into a conference or meeting room. The Native (1,920 x 1080) resolution of the Epson HC880 results in good text clarity. The HC880 has more than enough resolution for viewing PowerPoint slides or Excel worksheets at a normal viewing distance.

If the font size is too fine for the HC880 to resolve, the text is probably way too small to use in a PowerPoint presentation anyway. When I attached my PC laptop, there were very few office documents in which more resolution would have been useful. If you need to look at something in more detail, the HC880 has a digital image zoom feature.

AUDIO QUALITY

The Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector has built in 2 watt mono speaker. The speaker is located on the left rear side of the projector, as you face the front of the unit. Like most projectors, the speaker is not great and lacks bass. There is an Audio Output connection that you can use for connecting a more advanced speaker. Even though the HC880 lacks bass the speaker performs reasonably well for the size room that I’m using. However, if you have a larger space, I don’t believe the sound will be satisfactory. Since the speaker is only 2 watts, it wouldn’t suffice in a home entertainment environment. If you desire home theater sound that resembles that of an actual movie theater, I suggest a sound bar or surround sound system.

AUDIBLE NOISE

The fan noise produced by the HC880 was on average with other compact 3,300 lumen home or classroom projectors. The Epson Home Cinema 880 Projector produces 28dB in ECO mode and 37dB in Normal mode. I never found the fan noise from the HC880 to be distracting. In most living rooms or conference rooms, the noise would be unnoticeable, especially when the HC880 is in ECO mode.