Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 Review



powerlite700 300x225 Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 Review



The new Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is an extremely competitively priced 720P HD projector that is aimed at families and small businesses. The PowerLite Home Cinema 700 features advanced 3LCD technology with 2,000 lumens of light, a 720P 1280×800 WXGA resolution, and a 2000:1 contrast ratio. But what makes the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 really stand out is not only its affordable $799 price, but the fact that it provides a capable home theater solution in an easy to use package.



Connections:

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 comes with all of the right connections – it has got a HD Component connection, a single HDMI connection, S-video, composite video, built-in analog audio inputs, and it also has an SD reader and two types of USB connections (type A for standard USB keys, as well as type B).  Just having a single HDMI port might not seem like much, but you have to consider that this isn’t a high end home theater component. Additionally, an iPod can be connected to the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 if you use an iPod AV cable with composite connections, or you can connect an iPod dock that uses an S-video cable to the projector.

What’s in the box:
A remote control with 2 double AA batteries, a power cable, a component to VGA cable, user manuals, and a disc version of the user manual are included. Also a PrivateLine support card is included which gives you a phone number to call if you need help setting up the projector. This is the first time we’ve ever noticed a company practically shout at you to please call tech support if you need help setting up a device. Usually it’s the other way around, and you’re hard pressed to find a tech support phone number at all. However we didn’t need to call tech support and we were able to get up and running right away without even looking at the setup sheet.

Set-Up:
The PowerLite Home Cinema 700 can be ceiling mounted or left to stand on its adjustable feet, depending on your preference. The device features automatic video input detection, which is appreciated, since this is a projector designed for families and not AV pros. You can also manually control the video input selection via the menu system.
Out of the box you’ll need to set-up the zoom and focus. The manual zoom and manual focus controls are located on top of the actual lens and are easy enough to use and adjust using your own eye’s judgment. The PowerLite Home Cinema 700 also features keystone color correction for digitally aligning the picture so that you don’t end up with a trapezoid shaped image. The keystone color correction can be accessed through the menu settings.

Design:
Weighing just 6.2lbs, the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is light enough to be easily transported from room to room. The top of the projector has all of the buttons you need to navigate the projector’s menu system, or you can use the included remote control. The right side of the projector where the fan works, does tend to get hot and you can hear a fair amount of fan noise when the device is running. The fan noise is supposed to be heard at 35 dB in High Light Output Mode and 28 dB in Low Light Output Mode. Although the noise is noticeable, it’s not at all bad enough to distract you from what you’re watching and listening too at the moment.

Picture Quality:
Epson claims that the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is their brightest home projector, and it is indeed very, very bright. Even in a room which is somewhat illuminated, the picture can still be seen pretty bright which is a feat for many projectors.  Of-course, the best viewing experience is still achieved with the lights dimmed, but overall the brightness of the 700 is still amazing. In contrast, I’ve noticed some much pricier projectors struggle when there are lights on. Overall, the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 bright color performance in this respect really impressed us.

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 also really shines with HD content, especially HD content being inputed through an HDMI connection. 1080P resolutions are of-course down scaled to 720P on the PowerLite Home Cinema 700. We connected a PlayStation 3 via HDMI and played back Blu-ray DVDs. The visual experience was beautiful with excellent and sharp color reproduction. The same could be said when connecting the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 to a DVD upscaler. The PowerLite Home Cinema 700 also does an ok job with blacks, although not quite superbly. On the other hand, colors are very vivid and you’re able to pick up lots of detail- especially with HD content.

It’s understandable that a standard definition source can never produce the same quality that an HD source can, yet the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 standard def performance isn’t all that hot. When we connected a non-upscaling DVD/VHS player, there was visible jaggedness in the imagery, although the picture still stayed bright and with pretty good color. What happens when an SD source is connected to the PowerLite Home Cinema 700, is that the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 upscales the image, but ultimately the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 upscaling capabilities with standard def isn’t all that good. However, most DVD players nowadays are upscalers on their own, as well as most other media devices that you are likely to hook up to the projector. So chances are you won’t end up running into this weakness all that often.

Also, with the PowerLite Home Cinema 700, you can go straight from your digital camera to the projector. The PowerLite Home Cinema 700 has a built-in SD card slot as well as two USB connections. Both SD Cards and USB keys with jpeg files were picked up immediately by the PowerLite Home Cinema 700 when we connected them. A dedicated slideshow button lets you transform your photos in to instant slideshows. You can’t add a music soundtrack to the slideshow, but you can manually browse through photos, zoom in on them up 4x, and rotate them. Overall, photos look sharp and vibrant coming from the projector.

Audio:

ThePowerLite Home Cinema 700 has a built-in 7 watt mono speaker that provides pretty good audio. However it doesn’t get very loud and really isn’t a replacement for a serious set of speakers, so if you’re looking for a serious audio experience you’ll want to hook the projector up to a real speaker system.  But considering that many projectors don’t come with built-in speakers at all, it’s nice to have the built-in speaker in there altogether. After all, having the built-in speaker lets you set up instant movie night experience without the hassle of having to worry about attaching audio equipment.

Conclusion:
Epson’s 3LCD technology promises sharper and brighter images as well as true-to-life images with vivid color – and this tech really does shine with the PowerLite Home Cinema 700. Overall, the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is not meant to be a high end home theater component but rather an affordable family oriented projector that doesn’t sacrifice on important features or picture quality. Since its pretty portable, you can move it from room to room for different purposes (as long as you dont mount it). So you can easily have the kids use it to play video games in the basement and then later on in the day you can bring it upstairs to show grandma and grandpa photos from your vacation. We imagine that the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 would also make a great projector for small businesses to use for presentations.

The projector comes with a 2 year limited warranty, a 90-day lamp warranty, and Epson’s PrivateLine dedicated toll-free support  The cost of replacement lamps for the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is about $299 and lamps last for 4,000 hours which can last for up to 5 years. Currently, the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 700 is currently selling for as little as $699 on Amazon, although it has an already affordable MSRP of $799.

The Good:

Excellent picture quality with vibrant and sharp colors, very bright performance even in rooms with some illumination, affordable price tag, easy to use, lots of useful inputs including SD card and USB

The Bad:
System makes some noticeable noise when running, standard definition picture quality is passable