Projector Reviews

HC720 Projector – Light Leakage

It does leak light, both out the lens (especially if using a lot of lens shift – not surprisingly), and from the front vents. Neither is a real problem. With a pitch black scene on your screen (and white walls), you’ll be able to see it, but in all likelyhood you won’t notice it. After all, you are watching a movie… not a projector.

The light from the vent, even less of an issue, unless you have the projector on a table and are sitting just slightly in front, and a couple feet to the side. Then you might just notice the low light out of the corner of your eye. On the other hand, if you are sitting right there, you’ll almost certainly notice the hot air coming out the exhaust more than the light.

The bottom line is that light leakage from the Epson certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker for anyone. (Yes, I know there are a few of you out there, that will care, but you probably already know who you are.)

HC720 Audible Noise Levels

Always the achilles heel of Epson Home Cinema projectors. Ok, that’s extreme. Achilles died because of his unprotected heel.

Normally you expect 3LCD projectors to be the quietest, then LCoS typically just a touch noisier, and finally DLP’s being the noisiest.

The Epson in its two quiet modes – Theater Black 1 and 2, is fairly quiet. Epson quotes 26db, which is very believable. The quietest LCD projectors are down around 20db, and essentially silent unless you a foot or so away.

When the Epson is in any of the other modes, however, it is rated 33db, which is the range typical of DLP projectors when they are in their brighter modes.

Bottom line, fine in the Theater Black modes, and a bit noisy in the others. No worse than the DLP competition, but for those particularly adverse to fan noise, the Epson is probably a bit noisier than will make them happy. Think of it this way; if the projector is 4+ feet away from your ears, even in high power mode, it’s almost certainly going to be a little quieter than the fan noise when your hot air heat, or air conditioning is running.

Bottom line: The vast majority just won’t notice the fan noise; it will blend into the background. Think sitting in the kitchen. You probably don’t notice the sound your refrigerator is making except with its motor first starts up, or shuts down. Then you notice the change. Same idea.

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HC720 Projector Screen Recommendations

For those looking for the holy grail of great black levels, I’ll recommend a high contrast light gray surface, to lower black levels. Of course if you have a particularly large screen – say over 120″, the overall image isn’t as bright as smaller sizes, and you may opt for a white surface.

For most people who are less critical of black levels, your choice is probably best based on other things – screen size overall, wall color (light or dark), and ambient light issues (HC gray screens are great for eliminating from your viewing a certain amount of ambient light coming from the side). Thus, if you have windows on your side walls that leak light, or sconces on the side walls, the HC gray surfaces are a good solution.

If you do a lot of viewing of HDTV/TV/Sports as well as movies, and do have good control of your lighting, you may well want to stick with white surface with gain, such as the Carada Brilliant White, one of Da-lites white surfaces, Elite Screens white surfaces, etc.

A good compromise, that I did like, was using my Elite HC gray surface (reviewed). I found the Elite to have good gain for a light gray surface, and the HC (high contrast) wasn’t all that high contrast. That gives you a little protection against side ambient lighting, and lowers black levels slightly. Da-lite’s Cinemavision HC would be another alternative, for a bit more money. My Firehawk (HC gray) works great, but since almost any of their screens costs at least 50% more than the Epson, I doubt that many will spring for it!