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Physical Overview of the Epson Cinema 550 projector

Posted on October 10, 2013 by Art Feierman

From the front, the lens is mounted off center, with a manual focus ring, and a tab on the inner ring to control the zoom in and out. The zoom is 1.5:1, which means that the furthest it can be positioned from a give sized screen is 50% greater than the closest. You can see the front exhausts (on the first image above) which fire the hot air out at an angle away from the lens. Underneath there are two adjustable (screw thread) feet, to control projector angle.

Facing the Epson Cinema 550 home theater projector, to the left of the lens, is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control.

Moving to the top of the Cinema 550 projector, and just behind the lens, are two dials to control the vertical, and horizontal lens shift. The lens shift range on the Epson is noticeably greater than on competing models, which, if needed, provides you the ability to mount the projector several feet above the top of your screen. (People with high ceilings will really appreciate that.). Alternately, if you are putting it on a table, the projector can be well below the bottom of the screen. The lens shift supports all positions in between, so you can mount the projector on a shelf in the back of the room, anywhere from below the screen to well above the screen top.

A look at the control panel of the Epson Cinema 550 home theater projector, finds all the standard buttons. From the left, Power, Source, then the Menu button and the 4 arrow keys. In the center of the four keys in the Enter button, and to the top right of them, the Escape button which moves you back toward the top level of menus. Lastly is the Aspect ratio button which switches between the usual multiple modes. One somewhat unusual finding regarding the aspect ratio. When watching Hi-Def 16:9, the Auto mode (or Normal) deliver a screen filling image. However, when you switch to DVD sources, the Auto and Normal give you an undersized image. No problem, for DVD, it looks like you simply select the Zoom aspect ratio, and you are all set, but this is not typical of most projectors. By the way, the up and down arrows double as keystone correction controls when the menus are not engaged. Of course, you should avoid using keystone correction, due to the distortion, and since the Epson projector has an incredible amount of lens shift range, I can't imagine anyone needing keystone correction anyway!

The back panel image of the Epson Cinema 550 shows the normal range of inputs. There is a single HDMI, one component video input (3 RCA jacks, color coded Red, Green and Blue), a computer input, a SCART input (for some parts of the world), one S-video, one composite input, and a 12volt screen trigger. Lastly there is an RS-232 for "command and control" of the projector from computer, etc.

Also the power cord plugs into the rear, and there is a hard power switch that must be on to be able to power up the projector from the top panel button or the remote, and there is a rear Infra-red sensor.

There is also a single rear foot - not adjustable, to give the projector a 3 point stance for stability (better than four points, if the rear ones arent adjustable).

The finish is a white with some silver trim (mostly in the front), and unlike its primarly competitors, the look of the Epson has some real style, not the usual basic box. The first person (besides me) to see it when I pulled it out of the box, said, "now, that's cool looking."

But, ultimately it comes down to how the projector performs. So click to the next page, and we'll look at the Epson Cinema 550 home theater projector's image quality aspects.

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