Winner: Best in Class - Value (Entry Level - under $1000): Epson Home Cinema 2040 and 2045

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Art Feierman
The HC2040 and HC2045 won this same award in 2015.  As a result, this page just has some minor updates. From a feature standpoint the Home Cinema 2040 and 2045 are identical except for one extra on the 2045.  That's the Miracast which allows you to wirelessly talk to the projector from Miracast compatible devices including some computers, tablets, and smart phones.
Epsons Home Cinema 2040 projector

The Home Cinema 2040 is a compact, 1080p 3LCD Projector with a plenty bright 2200 color and white lumens

  That said, much the same can be accomplished with either projector thanks to the built in MHL on one of the HDMI ports.  This will allow for working with a streaming stick or hook directly to tablets, etc.  With Miracast, by comparison, the connection is wireless.  Definitely can be handy.  The official price for the Home Cinema 2045 is $799, while the Home Cinema 2045 is $849. Now that we have the differences out of the way, let's talk about the value proposition, and touch on some features.

The Epson Home Cinema 2040: What makes it a Value projector

The HC2040 has a lot going for it, especially image processing.  Of course, no surprise it does 3D.  The nice thing is, on a 100" screen, 3D proves to be rather reasonably bright.  More theater room focused projectors typically lack the overall brightness to make the same claim.

Epson has a nice detail enhancement feature that's pretty good, although not as sophisticated as the full Super-Resolution package.  Super-Res shows up on Epson projectors starting  at twice the price.

I am most pleased to report that the Home Cinema 2040 - and 2045 - have CFI, aka creative frame interpolation, aka smooth motion.  That's still pretty rare to find on sub-$1000 projectors.

I've been tormenting several projector manufacturers for years, pointing out that CFI is most widely used on sports, then general TV.  Most enthusiasts do not like CFI on their 24fps movies, that includes me.  One might assume that a projector like this Epson, working in a less than ideal room, such as a living room, or spare bedroom, or den, is going to be used for sports and general HDTV viewing than a projector in a fully darkened home theater, where movies get top billing.  With that being the case, one would want CFI more on a projector like the HC2040, than on $2500 and up projectors.

The projector comes with especially good color, right out of the box.  Most of the time you'll be using either Cinema or Bright Cinema modes (or their 3D equivalents).

The Epson is also very good at revealing dark shadow detail.  Sadly, the black levels aren't as good as the color, etc., but then you can't expect that in the under $1000 crowd.  With that said, note that the 3LCD Epson, even using a dynamic iris can't produce blacks that are as black as most competing DLP projectors.  With no ambient light present, that is a very noticeable thing. With some ambient light the picture and the blacks will wash out somewhat, negating a lot of any difference, but, the projector with better blacks at best, will still have an edge with that lighting present.  On daytime scenes, there's no noteworthy visible difference.

Warranty is great for the price.  2 years with 2 years of rapid replacement service. Most near the price have only a 1 year parts/labor warranty, although Viewsonic (the major exception) has a 3 year warranty.

Hardware wise, there's a manual zoom lens with a typical amount of zoom for the price, lots of keystone correction, for respectable placement flexibility.  Did I mention that at 5.7 pounds it's "backpack" portable, in a pinch.  There's a built in speaker and an audio out.

I like this Epson as a particularly good projector for the whole family, even if that family is just you.  If you are looking for the last word in pure performance at this price, then I favor the BenQ HT3050, but for folks that just want a sweet little projector (that definitely visibly brighter than the BenQ), no hassles, easy setup, and a good deal better warranty and support setup this Epson is particularly good for the money spent.  Yes it has a very good feature set, but is especially good just being "plug and play" friendly, plus it has some hard to find features for the buck, like CFI, or wireless (on the HC2045).

Remember, every projector in the under $1000 is really pretty entry level.  The differences between the best of these projectors at this price point is minimal compared to the best projectors under, say, $2000.   Lots of trade-offs, but that doesn't mean you can't find great happiness.

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