Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 705HD
WXGA Home Entertainment Projector
December 7, 2009
Last year, Epson's Home Cinema 700, a 1280x800 LCD projector designed for home entertainment, provided a great option for folks who wanted a high-definition multi-purpose projector suitable for use in the living room or game room. This year, they've upped the ante with the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 705HD. The Home Cinema 705HD is brighter, higher in contrast, and more portable than its predecessor, being both smaller in size and lighter. It has a lamp life of 4,000 or 5,000 hours, using normal or eco-mode, respectively. While the Home Cinema 700's SD card reader did not make it into the 705HD, it retains the ability to project photos from many devices directly over USB. At street prices around $750, the Home Cinema 705HD is a great choice for any ambient light situation.
High lumen output. The Home Cinema 705HD's 2500 lumen specification is no joke; our test unit measured no less than 2561 lumens in Dynamic mode. Unless you have light shining directly on your screen, the Home Cinema 705HD's impressive lumen output should be more than enough to compensate for ambient light on a screen of up to 100". In low ambient light, the Home Cinema 700 can be used on much larger screens (up to 150" or ever larger) without the picture appearing dull or flat.
There's also a Living Room mode, which reduces light output by roughly 10% but provides much better color balance and improved contrast when compared to Dynamic mode. This mode is ideal for rooms with a medium amount of ambient light, such as a room with one or two lamps but no direct sunlight. It does not have the same color accuracy and contrast as Theater mode, but it is a solid in-between setting that's useful when you don't need the extreme brightness of Dynamic mode.
Finally, there is Theater mode, which produces the best color balance and contrast of all the image modes, but also has the lowest lumen output. Still, this mode measured 1620 lumens when displaying a 1080p signal over HDMI, which is a very bright picture by any metric. In a room with any amount of light control, even if it's just dimming the lights, Theater mode is bright enough to use on 120" screen. It can be used on 150" and larger screens if lighting is more in line with a traditional dark home theater. If theater mode - or any mode, for that matter - is too bright for the screen size you want to use, Eco lamp mode lowers lumen output by 21%, bringing Theater to a more manageable 1280 lumens. This can be useful in rooms with good light control and smaller screen sizes.
As a side note, the Home Cinema 705HD produces an slightly brighter picture when using the VGA input than it does when using the HDMI input. For example, Dynamic mode measured 2561 lumens over VGA, but 2267 lumens over HDMI - a reduction of 12% overall brightness. This is not uncommon.
Contrast. From the specifications, the Home Cinema 705HD looks like just another portable WXGA projector - nothing special. This is incorrect. The Home Cinema 705HD is much higher in contrast than typical presentation models, making its image appear more three-dimensional and vivid than typical data projectors. The Home Cinema 705HD also has an auto-iris, which helps to improve black levels in scenes which are mostly black. When used beside a typical LCD presentation projector, there is no contest--the Home Cinema 705HD blows it away.