Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
By virtue of its name, the Epson Home Cinema 1040 sounds like a home theater projector. In reality it is an excellent video projector which will work best in your home under non-theater conditions (moderate ambient light). But it lacks several features that are common in home theater projectors, such as frame interpolation, lens shift, 3D capability, and gamma adjustment. So we prefer to describe the 1040 as a "home video" projector, a term we have used for projectors designed for ambient light use in the home. And in that regard, Epson's new 3000-lumen HC 1040 projector gives you a bright HD image for a low price of $749.
The HC 1040 has native resolution of 1920x1200 (WUXGA), but for video you'd be using it as a native 1920x1080 projector. At under six pounds, it is one of the lightest projectors in its class, so it is great for portable use. It also has a lamp life of 10,000 hours in Eco mode, with plenty of Eco mode brightness.
The HC 1040 is priced the same as the Epson's Home Cinema 2040, a projector designed more for traditional home theater use. The 2040 is not quite as bright, but it has higher contrast, 3D capability, and frame interpolation -- features that make it more suitable for classic home theater. But if you're thinking more of Super Bowl parties and live music videos for home entertainment with a few lights on, you may prefer the extra lumens of the HC1040 in exchange for the additional processing capabilities of the HC 2040.
The HC 1040 puts up a clear, sharp, noise free video image. In either Cinema or Bright Cinema mode, flesh tones are excellent with good shadow and highlight definition. Color accuracy is very good in both Bright Cinema and Cinema modes while Dynamic has a greenish hue, and Game has a slight blue bias. The image is in focus across the entire screen, and zoom and focus controls are smooth and positive. Since the 1040 is based on a 3LCD light engine, there are no distracting rainbow artifacts so often seen in DLP-based projectors.
Brightness uniformity measured a respectable 80% with no distracting hotspots, which is better than many of the competing HD projectors in its price class.
There are four color mode choices: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema, and Game. While they each have their particular color and brightness biases, they offer a quick way to get a good image on the screen. However, for those who are willing to spend some time to get the best image possible, the HC 1040 offers some precise image controls. For color temperature it offers ten choices ranging from warm (red) to cold (blue). On our test unit, setting color temperature at 4 provided the most accurate flesh tones. In addition, tint, saturation, and detail enhancement all come with a range of 0-100 while sharpness and noise reduction can be adjusted over a 0-20 range. We also found that setting sharpness to mid-range gave the best video presentation with text and spreadsheets looking best with sharpness set to 0. Images looked best with noise reduction and detail enhancement set at no more than 30% of maximum.
The HC 1040's 1920x1200 native resolution maps 1:1 with many laptop computers. If used in this format on a 16:10 format screen, movies with aspect ratios of 16:9 will be displayed with small black bars above and below the screen image. However, for most home use you'll pair it with a 16:9 screen, and in this instance you'll project video content full frame onto the screen and allow the small black bars to fall onto the top and bottom portions of the screen frame itself, rendering them invisible. Set up this way it functions as a native 1920x1080 HD video projector.
The HC 1040's extra vertical resolution does allow for more data to be presented while viewing text or spreadsheets. Also, this model offers several other features conducive to data or business presentation. There is a split-screen mode in the event you want to display two pictures simultaneously. And it has an A/V mute button and remote operated on-screen pointer.
The bottom line is that the HC 1040 is an excellent dual purpose projector. Though it is targeted for HD home video use in moderate ambient light, it can also double nicely as a portable data projector if you want to get some practical use out of it during business hours.
Video Image Quality. Both Cinema modes put up an excellent video image. Bright Cinema does not measure any brighter than Cinema mode, but they differ in gamma settings.
Lamp Life. The 1040's lamp delivers 5,000 hours in normal mode and 10,000 hours in Eco mode.
$79 Replacement Lamp. Lowest price we've yet seen for a projector replacement lamp.
Image Adjustment. Even though there is no "User mode" per se, each of the color modes can be adjusted independently which effectively creates four User modes. Within each mode, brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, color temperature, noise reduction, and detail enhancement can be adjusted in fine increments.
Wireless Operation. Although it is an extra cost option, Epson ELPAP10 wireless LAN adapter can be added to the 1040 for $99. This adapter allows wireless connection to computers and mobile devices including most iOS and Android devices after installing Epson's iProjection application. Mobile devices can also be directly connected to the 1040's MHL compatible HDMI input which also supports Chromecast and Streaming Stick.
Split-screen. For those occasions when it is handy to display images from two different sources simultaneously, just select the 1040's split-screen mode from the Settings menu. Each source can be assigned to either side of the screen, and audio can be selected from either source.
Keystone Correction. Unlike many inexpensive projectors, the 1040 offers both vertical and horizontal keystone correction up to ±30°. Horizontal correction is available via a slide bar on the top of the case near the focus and zoom controls.
Auto Iris. The 1040 sports an iris control which can run at normal or high speed. Normal operation is not particularly effective, but the high speed setting does help with shadow definition. However, the high speed setting introduces a fair amount of auto iris positioning noise for video scenes that have rapidly changing brightness.
Menus and Remote Control The 1040's on-screen menu system is extensive but easy to navigate. When functions are selected, most of them collapse to a small portion of the screen so that adjustments can be made while viewing most of the image. The remote control is laid out clearly and offers direct selection of sources and other functions such as aspect ratio, split screen, and color mode.
Warranty. Epson warrants the HC 1040 for two years and its lamp for 90 days. Epson also offers its Extra Care home service should it fail during its warranty period. In that case, Epson will ship a replacement projector (usually refurbished), and yours is returned to the factory. If it is important to retain your unit, use the regular warranty service procedure as the Extra Care service cannot return your original unit.
Brightness. The Home Cinema 1040 is rated at 3,000 ANSI lumens and has four color mode choices. With the zoom lens at its wide angle setting, our test sample delivered the following ANSI brightness results:
Brightness Uniformity. Brightness uniformity measured 80% with a slight roll off in brightness toward the left side of the image. This brightness difference might be detected for data images with lots of white space, but it will be unnoticeable during most video presentations.
Zoom Lens. With a range of 1.2:1, the 1040's zoom lens does not provide a great deal of latitude in placing the projector. At its longest telephoto setting, light loss is a modest 8% which is nearly undetectable, so any setting of the wide/tele zoom control will produce about the same level of perceived brightness.
Eco Mode. Eco mode drops brightness by 36%. This is a larger than average reduction, but Eco mode may be the preferred alternative depending on screen material, screen size, and ambient light conditions.
Input Lag. The Bodnar lag meter measured an input lag of 53 milliseconds for the HC 1040 which is about in the middle of the pack among comparable projectors. Many casual gamers will find this lag acceptable, but those looking for the fastest units will opt for other projectors like the Epson 2040, which runs at 24 ms.
Fan Noise. The 1040 is fairly noisy in normal lamp mode with noise and heat distributed from the right front of the case - not a problem for parties, but not ideal for home theater. Using Eco mode solves the problem, as noise is reduced to a relatively quiet whisper. Fan noise increases substantially in High Altitude mode which must be engaged if operating above 5,000 feet.
Audio. With only a single 2-watt speaker, the 1040 really needs external audio amplification for all but the most intimate environments.
Since the HC1040 has a relatively limited 1.2x zoom range and no lens shift, care must be taken when installing it to hit a particular screen size. For a 120" 16:9 diagonal image, the HC 1040 must be placed between 12 to 14.7 feet from the screen, give or take a couple inches. Use the Projection Calculator to determine the throw distance options for your desired screen size.
You can either ceiling mount this projector or, due to its relatively low throw angle, place it on a shelf or stand located behind the seats. Since this unit will be used for parties and entertainment, you may anticipate that viewers will be standing while viewing. If so the ceiling mount option will be far more advantageous so you don't end up with people standing in the path of the projected light.
In situations where the room is quiet, fan noise in full lamp power can be distracting. So it would be best to avoid placing the HC 1040 directly behind the viewers on a nearby shelf. A ceiling mount may be preferred in order to get the projector farther from the viewers. On the other hand, if you're going to run in Eco mode, fan noise is much less of a concern.
If you want to place seating at somewhere in the range of 1.3x to 1.5x the screen width, which is common, the projector will be located at just about the same distance as the seats, further tipping the installation options toward ceiling mount.
Lamp life and brightness. High pressure lamps are expected to drop to approximately 75% of their original brightness after about 500 to 750 hours of usage. If you don't need the full lumen power you get from the Normal lamp mode, you can extend lamp life by running in Eco during the first 500 - 750 hours and then switch to Normal mode to boost brightness from that point on. However, Epson offers replacement lamps on this projector for only $79, so the days of $300 lamp replacements are over. It is cheap to replace the lamp more frequently than the official lamp life in order to keep the projector running at its top lumen potential.
No frame interpolation. This judder-reducing feature exist on the Epson Home Cinema 2040, but is not available on the 1040.
No 3D. Unlike Epson's traditional home theater projectors, the 1040 offers no 3D capability.
Eco Mode Brightness. The HC 1040 reduces brightness by 36%, so plan your screen size and screen material in accordance if you want to use Eco mode to take advantage of the extended lamp life and reduced fan noise.
Auto Iris Noise. Although the auto iris can improve the shadow definition in dimly lit scenes, its most effective high speed setting generates sufficient noise to be distracting in quiet movies. However, it is only audible in a silent room, so this is a non-issue if you're using it as a party projector.
The Epson Home Cinema 1040 is the projector you should be looking at if you want a bright, light-weight, potentially portable HD projector that does well for home entertainment and can double as a high resolution data projector, for well under $1000. Don't expect some of the home theater refinements that you get on Epson's 2040, but for an incrementally brighter picture that can have better sizzle with a few lights on, the 1040 is a solid alternative. For those who might want to use their projector part time for computer/data presentations, the 1040 has an array of features to support this use that the 2040 does not have. So it is quite versatile, and an outstanding choice if it matches your desired array of applications.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson Home Cinema 1040 projector page.