Epson 2015 Home Cinema Projectors

Espon cinema projector

These four new projectors are budget-friendly and feature-rich, and one’s a real torch with 4400 lumens of white and color light output.

Yesterday, Epson announced two new models in its line of Home Cinema projectors—the 1040 ($799, pictured above) and 1440 ($1699), both with 1080p resolution. What distinguishes these projectors from others in their price class is high light output—3000 lumens for the 1040 and an incredible 4400 lumens for the 1440. Even better, these numbers apply equally to white and color light output.

Why is that noteworthy? Because with many single-chip DLP projectors, these numbers aren’t equal—not by a long shot. As you might imagine, white light output(WLO) is the measured amount of light emitted when a projector is displaying a 100% white field, which is generated by combining red, green, and blue. Color light output (CLO) is calculated by measuring the peak light output of red, green, and blue and adding those values together.

Shouldn’t WLO and CLO be the same? Ideally, yes. But single-chip DLP projectors use a color-filter wheel to display red, green, and blue sequentially, and in many cases, the wheel also includes other color filters, such as yellow, cyan, and even white (clear), all of which contribute to producing a brighter white. When you measure the light output from such a projector displaying only red, green, and blue separately, the sum of those measurements is less than the WLO—in fact, the CLO can be as low as a third of the WLO value. The result can be duller colors, less lifelike skin tones, and obscured shadow detail.

Projectors based on 3-chip LCD (3LCD) technology—as well as 3-chip DLP and LCoS models—do not suffer from this problem because they use only red, green, and blue to generate white. However, 3-chip DLP and LCoS projectors are generally much more expensive than single-chip DLP models, and many 3LCD projectors—including some from Epson—are in the same price ballpark, so it makes sense to compare them to low-cost DLP units. In addition to equal WLO and CLO measurements, 3LCD projectors do not exhibit the “rainbow artifact” that can arise from the fast-spinning color-filter wheel in single-chip DLP designs.

Epson touts the Home Cinema 1440 as a “flat-panel killer” because it’s bright enough to use in a room with ambient light. In fact, with 4400 lumens of WLO and CLO, it’s among the brightest home projectors on the market, capable of producing a much larger image than any flat panel anywhere near its price point, even when you factor in the cost of a screen. And the 1040 is no slouch, with 3000 lumens of WLO and CLO.

The Home Cinema 1440 offers an astounding 4400 lumens of white and color light output.

The 1440 also provides a Faroudja DCDi Cinema video processor, 1.6x zoom lens, and split-screen capability to project two different images side by side; the 1040 has a 1.2x zoom lens. Neither model provides lens shift, but they both offer keystone correction (automatic vertical and manual horizontal), which I avoid using if at all possible because it robs the picture of detail.

Other features shared by both models include two HDMI inputs, one of which is MHL-compatible, allowing you to plug a Chromecast, Roku Stick, or other streaming devicedirectly into the back. They also offer user-adjustable Detail Enhancement that, according to Epson, refines surface details. Both are portable, and they include an onboard sound system, which isn’t important to serious home-theater geeks, but it could come in handy if you want to use the projector in an environment without an external sound system.

Also of interest to AVS members are the new Home Cinema 2040 and 2045, which were announced on August 5. With a list price of $799 and $849, respectively, the 2040 will be available from online outlets, while the 2045 will be available at brick-and-mortar retailers. They are virtually identical—with one exception, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The Home Cinema 2040 and 2045 look identical, and they have nearly identical feature sets.

With 2200 lumens of white and color light output, the 2040 and 2045 aren’t as bright as the 1040 or 1440, but they have several features that will appeal to home-theater buffs, including an enhanced optical engine, improved LCD panels, grayscale-calibration and color management-system (CMS) controls, and Epson Image Enhancement technology, which includes frame interpolation, noise reduction, and detail enhancement, features that were formerly only available on higher-end models. They also offer improved 3D with active glasses that can be charged directly from the USB port on the projector.

Like the 1040 and 1440, the 2040 and 2045 have keystone correction but no lens shift, and they both have two HDMI inputs, one of which is MHL-compatible. Even better, the 2045 implements Miracast and Intel WiDi, which lets you wirelessly stream content from compatible devices.

The new projectors from Epson are clearly value-oriented, and they appear to deliver a lot of bang for the buck—which is not surprising given this company’s excellent track record. They will all be available in September, and I certainly look forward to checking them out!