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Home Cinema 1440 Projector - Performance

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Art Feierman
HOME CINEMA 1440 PERFORMANCE:  Brightness, Eco Mode, Sharpness, Image Noise, Audible Noise

Home Cinema 1440 Brightness by Mode

HC1440 Brightness, by Color Mode (mid-point on zoom)
Mode Lumens
Dynamic 4722
Bright Cinema 3623
Cinema 3713
Game 3541

As you can see from the chart above, the HC1440 has no shortage of lumens.  Although we don't measure color lumens for each projector, we long ago, confirmed that 3LCD projectors typically have the same number of color and white lumens (as do three panel LCoS projectors) while DLP projectors often measure a lot lower in terms of color lumens especially those with clear slices on their color wheels.  Here's a video with demonstration, if you want to learn more.  A deficiency of color lumens means if you need a rich fully bright, pure red, for example, you might need a 5000+ white lumen DLP projector to produce the equivalent of 3000 lumens of red.

We've said on a number of occasions, that for those reasons, we often figure a DLP projector should be about 1/3 or more brighter in white lumens to be able to provide a comparable color performance.  I mention this because if you are looking for a projector that can cut through more than a little ambient light, you would likely need, at minimum, a 6000 lumen DLP projector with a clear slice on its color wheel - most of them) to play in the same league as this "4400" lumen 3LCD projector.  Keep that in mind when shopping for a bright projector.  It's not a question of which is better (LCD or DLP) as both have strengths, but color lumens needs to be considered for "apple to apple" comparisons.

Eco Mode, Lens Position

Considering this projector does over 3500 lumens in even it's least brightest mode, you may actually find too much brightness for viewing if the room is very dark, and your screen size around 110" or smaller.

The good news is that you can take advantage of Eco mode.  Not only will it save you a bit on your electric bill, but it will significantly reduce audible fan noise, but by lowering brightness significantly, you should find the HC1440 bright, but not too bright for movie viewing in that fully darkened room.

Eco mode drops brightness from 4722 to 3424  - about 28%.   (Most projectors drop brightness 25-35% in their respective Eco modes.)

Expect that same percentage drop will apply no matter which mode you are considering.

That would put Cinema mode a bit under 2700 lumens, very bright for a fully darkened room on a typical screen.  That will still generate more ft-lamberts (a measure of brightness) than recommended by the SMPTE (the movie theater engineers), but fine with just a minimal amount of ambient light.  Just the fact that your non-theater room likely has near white walls and other surfaces, provides a certain level of reflected "ambient" light.

I think you'll find Eco + Cinema mode to be workable in your living room or family room with lights off, for best movie viewing.

Auto Mode:  is the alternative to full power or Eco.  It makes use of the light sensor on the top of the HC1440.  In a dark room, Auto will measure the same as Eco mode. In a bright room it should measure about the same as full power.

Bottom Line:  This is a great projector if you need brightness.  It is, by its nature, stronger for HDTV and sports the movie viewing, but thanks to excellent color, it's pretty darn good no matter what you feed it.  You can find, buy, better dedicated home theater projectors around its price or a little more, for general purpose viewing in less than ideal rooms, it's going to be hard to beat for its price.

Lens Position - It's affect on brightness

Interestingly, the 1.6:1 zoom drops brightness very slightly - less than 2% going from full wide angle (closest placement to the screen) compared to mid-point on the zoom.

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):

 Zoom out: 4757
Mid-zoom: 4722
Zoom in: 4385

There's a bigger drop but still a modest one, going to full telephoto - placing the projector at the furthest distance to your screen.  In that case the drop is more pronounced - a drop of almost  from wide angle to telephoto, still only an 8% drop.

Home Cinema 1440 Sharpness

Check out the images above for an indication of the overall sharpness of the Home Cinema 1440 projector.  Remember, though, that even the expanded image is only 1000 pixels wide, barely half as wide as the actual frame, so we're not capturing the full sharpness here.  (Note, HDTV images won't look as sharp as menus or 1080p movie images from Blu-ray, because HDTV is captured as 1080i.)

Sharpness is at the default setting.  Unlike some other Epson projectors in the $1000 - $2500 price range, this one doesn't have Epson's Super-Resolution "detail enhancement" functionality. Still, it comes across as very nicely sharp.

Those images that are from HDTV are 1080i content.  When paused to shoot the image, DirecTV shows only one interlaced frame, so you are really seeing 1920x540, not true 1920x1080.  (This has always been the case in all reviews.)

Bottom line on the HC1440 sharpness.  While there's no fancy "detail enhancement" or panel alignment features, the projector does a very good job for a 3 panel design.  Pixel alignment of the projector, right out of the box was very good, with only a slight misconvergence of red horizontally visible at about 3 feet from the screen, and definitely not visible from anything resembling normal viewing distances.

Image Noise

Image processing on the Home Cinema 1440 is primarily provided by Faroudja, one of the best known 3rd party image processing companies.

Overall, the image processing is very good, mosquito noise is minimal (noticeably less than the average DLP competitor).  The Epson easily passed my motion artifact test (one that stumps even far more expensive Sony projectors) which is the slow panning near the beginning of the movie Red.  The projector also passed the tests on my Silicon Optix test disc.  In this day and age, the technology for image processing is pretty mature, as a result we rarely have issues to report.

HC1440 Audible Noise

Epson claims a very unimpressive 37 db at full power, which is on the high side.   Eco mode at 29 db, however is fine for all but the most audible noise adverse, especially considering the price point.

I don't mind even the 37 db if I'm watching something with a lot of action - movie, TV etc., and I rarely notice the noise if I've got sports going.  But it isn't quiet.  Typically single chip DLP projectors are less efficient than 3LCD projectors so are often noisier, but these Epsons are right up there with most other home "entertainment" projectors.   That's not to say that some others may not be 3-6 db quieter (modest differences).  Let me say that in my living room, with the G series projector, noise has not been a problem, and that G6550 is slightly noisier.  I don't normally watch movies in that room, but if I'm watching movies with a high brightness projector, most likely I'll be in Eco mode, and have as little ambient light as I can achieve.

Bottom Line:  At full power, the Epson HC1440 definitely could be a bit quieter at full power.  It's not a problem you'll notice watching sports or action flicks, but it is more business projector level fan noise than that of a home theater projector.  Fortunately, the 31 db claimed in Eco mode seems quieter than claim.  I spent most of my viewing using eco mode, and found it to be reasonably quiet for this class of projector.  I think all but those particularly noise adverse will be fine with the Eco mode.

Speaking of noise, the dynamic iris can do some clicking and clacking, especially in High Speed mode, but you tend only to easily notice it when the projector is changing sources, or going through the motions of putting in a Blu-ray disc, etc.

Bottom line: Could be quieter, but not bad at all in Eco mode, and acceptable for sports, etc. at full power.

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