Highly Recommended Award
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The Epson Home Cinema 1440 is one of the new cinema projectors released by Epson that targets ambient light situations from Super Bowl parties to sports bars. If you want big screen display of live music concerts to liven up your cocktail parties, the HC1440 is a natural. This new model pumps out 4400 lumens of HD 1080p video, enough to light up 150" to 200" screens without having to turn the lights off. And it is a compact, 10 lb model that you can install yourself with no muss no fuss. Best yet, all of this lumen power will only set you back $1,699.
The whole point of the HC1440 is getting the brightest HD picture possible for the money. The projector is rated at a maximum of 4400 lumens, and on our test sample the brightest preset, Dynamic, measures 4350 lumens, essentially on target. Meanwhile, the two Cinema modes which have a more neutral color balance measure about 2800 lumens. The Dynamic mode has a somewhat greenish bias, although not severe or objectionable. The big question is whether you'd want to give up 1/3 of your total light potential to get more accurate color?
The answer for most users will be "no way." This is a Super Bowl party projector, intended for big screen use in ambient light. You are buying it because you want 4000+ lumens. Even at its default settings, the HC1440's Dynamic mode delivers an engaging and exciting picture. Despite what a professional would describe as a greenish bias, nobody at a party would think the picture looks green, or notice any color biases in the image at all--for the most part colors look perfectly natural. A low-saturation light blue sky may appear bluish-green, but saturated colors all look solid and accurate.
However, there is an easy way to improve the picture quality without bothering with a professional calibration. In the onscreen menu, go to Image/Advanced/RGB and drop Offset G from 0 to -1. Believe it or not, this tiny adjustment takes out a noticeable amount of the green, improves color saturation and contrast, and renders better flesh tones. Meanwhile it reduces lumen output by only 3%, so you still end up netting out 4200+ lumens. This is the way I would run this projector at my own Super Bowl party.
As far as sharpness is concerned, the HC1440 has a Sharpness control that ranges from -5 to +5, and it is set to default to 0 in all color modes. This produces a picture that, to my taste, is not quite sharp enough. The interesting thing about the HC1440 is that the sharpening algorithms do not produce gross edge enhancements like they do on many other video displays. Instead it gives you an artful refinement of the image. You can boost sharpness to +2 or +3 to produce a noticeably sharper picture without imparting any sense of artificial processing that makes it look harsh or digital. You can experiment with it yourself to find your own preferred setting, but the traditional mantra of us videophiles who insist that Sharpness controls be turned off does not apply to this projector.
The same is true of the noise reduction filters. The projector's color modes default to a setting of NR1 out of the three options Off, NR1 and NR2. Noise reduction filters reduce digital noise at the expense of some image detail, but in this case the trade-off is worth it. To my taste the NR1 is the overall optimized solution, as there is a bit too much noise in many sources with noise reduction set to Off.
The HD1440 has three color presets other than Dynamic. They are Bright Cinema, Cinema, and Game. Oddly enough, they all measure about the same 2800 lumens. The two Cinema modes have more accurate color than Dynamic as well as a slightly smoother, more refined image quality. But the difference is quite subtle. The primary difference between Bright Cinema and Cinema is the default gamma settings rather than total lumen output. These operating modes would be more appropriate for use in lower ambient light, and if I did not need Dynamic's lumen power I would opt for the Cinema modes.
As far as Game mode is concerned, the fastest input lag we could measure on this projector is 56 ms. So it is not going to be the ideal choice for gaming enthusiasts who want the fastest response times possible (Epson's HC 2040 measures 24 ms, so if your interests are primarily gaming you'd probably want to look at something like that.)
Overall, the HC 1440 is a party projector, ideal for big screen HD video and sports presentations in ambient light, whether in the home or a sports bar. And for this purpose it is outstanding.
Excellent value. Superb combination of high resolution, high lumens and color brightness, for a great price.
Mobile/portable. At only 10 lbs, the 1440 is easily transportable. An onboard 16-watt speaker gives you some room-filling audio if you need it in portable applications.
Long zoom range. A 1.65 zoom ranges lets you fill a 120" diagonal screen anywhere from 12 to 19 foot throw distance.
Stream HD shows. Supports MHL-enabled devices, Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Split Screen Viewing. Watch two shows at once. Pictures are displayed either side by side in equal sizes, or one large and one small. A full image of both signals is always 100% visible (no picture in picture where one is overlaid on the other).
Low fan noise in eco-mode. Fan noise is surprisingly low in eco mode for a projector of this size and brightness.
Inexpensive replacement lamp. At just $149, new lamps are noticeably cheaper than competing lamps that often run $250 or more.
H+V keystone. +/- 30 degrees Vertical keystone, +/- 20 degrees horizontal
Security. Password protection is an option if you want to use it, and the projector comes with a Kensington lock.
Brightness. The Epson Home Cinema 1440 is rated at 4400 lumens of white light and 4400 lumens of color brightness. It has four factory preset operating modes and no separate user programmable modes, although all four factory presets can be modified by the user. With the lamp on full power and the zoom lens set to its widest angle position, our test unit produced ANSI lumens readings as follows:
Zoom lens effect.The HC 1440 has a 1.65x zoom lens that will curtail light output by up to 36% as you move from its brightest, most wide angle position, to its most telephoto (longest throw for a given image size). This light loss is not particularly unusual for a 1.6x zoom lens, but it means that if you need the full lumen power of the projector, you should plan to install it as close to the screen as you can in order to use the wide angle end of the lens.
Eco mode. The 1440's eco mode reduces light output in all modes by 27%. It also curtails fan noise considerably and increases anticipated lamp life from 3000 to 4000 hours.
Brightness Uniformity. Uniformity measures a very good 84%, with light fading off just slightly to the upper right and left corners. But uniformity throughout the rest of the image is excellent.
Input lag. The Bodnar meter measures 73 ms input lag in Fine mode and 56 ms in Fast mode.
Fan noise. If you are in a quiet room, fan noise on the 1440 Audible noise is moderate and quite noticeable in full lamp mode -- normal for a data projector that produces this amount of light, and certainly louder than a typical home theater projector. If you are using it for party entertainment to show music concert videos, or football parties, the fan noise will never be heard. If you are watching Bubba Watson about to tee off and the Quiet signs are up, you will become aware of the fan if the projector is anywhere near you. This is not surprising since the unit is rather small for the amount of light it produces so there is little opportunity to baffle fan noise internally.
In eco-mode, it's a different ball game. Fan noise drops substantially to where it becomes remarkably quiet and perfectly acceptable for even a relatively small home theater room. On the other hand,High Altitude Mode is required at elevations above 1500 m, or about 5000 feet. In this mode the fan noise is increased loud enough that you'd want to take steps to baffle it behind a wall if it is used in a home theater room. But for party environments (the most likely usage) it is still not a problem.
Lamp life and price. Epson estimates lamp life at full power to be 3000 hours in Normal lamp mode and 4000 in eco-mode. Replacement lamps cost $149, which is noticeably less than most of the competition.
The Epson Home Cinema 1440 will thrown a 120" diagonal 16:9 image from a distance of between 11.7 and 19.3 feet, give or take a couple inches. It is easily bright enough to fill a much larger screen. At 180" diagonal, you'll need to set it back between 17.5 and 29 feet. Use the Projection Calculator to determine your actual throw distance options based your desired screen size.
Since the zoom lens curtails light output at the telephoto end by 36%, if you need the full lumen power of the projector you will want to place it relatively close to the screen in order to use the wide angle end of the zoom.
There is no lens shift. The HC1440 throws the image so that its ideal placement is on a shelf or stand behind and just above the heads of the audience. About 88% of the projected image is above the centerline of the lens and 12% is below the centerline. So it can be positioned on a shelf or stand without requiring much if any tilt.
If you wish to ceiling mount it, that's no problem, but the projector will likely require an extension drop tube so that it is placed at a height that will accommodate its throw angle without a tilt. The manual does not stipulate any maximum tilt, but 15 degrees is about the maximum recommended for most projectors due to the fact that tilting the unit will interfere with its cooling system. A few projectors are built to withstand non-horizontal installations, but the 1440 is not one of them.
As you can see below, the 1440 has a form factor with relatively shallow depth, about 11.5 inches. So it can be placed on a bookshelf as long as there is sufficient clearance to the sides and above it for heat dissipation.
Important warning. Due to the unique throw angle of this projector, you might be tempted to invert it and set it on a high shelf. Never invert a projector and set it on its top in direct contact with a shelf -- it is pretty much guaranteed to overheat in that situation.
Ideal throw distance. The big question is this -- where is the ideal placement when you've got a 1.6x zoom and you can choose to ceiling mount it anywhere between 12 and 19 feet to hit a 120" screen? The trade-offs are these:
1. If you place it at 12 feet, you get the maximum light output from the projector which is good if you need it. The downside is that in this position it throws the widest angle cone of projected light, and light striking the screen toward the sides of the image will tend to bounce off away from the center viewing position. So it is a bit less than ideal for even screen illumination.
2. If you place it at 19 feet, you get the minimum light from the projector, but if that is already enough it doesn't matter. The advantage is that you narrow the cone of projected light, providing a more even illumination of the screen since light hitting the sides of the screen does not bounce off at as much of an oblique angle.
3. If you place it at 15-16 feet, you get equal trade-offs of the above. Also, in theory the midpoint of the zoom lens is its optical sweet spot, but a 1080p resolution image is not going to tax the optical resolution of the lens enough for you to notice.
Plan for lamp degradation. In planning your installation, keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is to anticipate that high pressure lamps will lose 25% of their brightness in the first 500 hours of operation, then degrade more slowly after that. With this in mind, many people choose their screen size and screen gain assuming they will use the projector's eco-mode for the first 500-750 hours, then switch to full lamp mode for the remainder of the lamp's life. By following this strategy you can even out the average light levels on the screen over the lamp's entire life.
On the other hand, if you need the full 4000+ lumens, you can keep it up at that level by replacing the lamp more frequently than the estimated lamp life. This is particularly easy to do with the HC 1440 since replacement lamps are only $149.
No 3D capability. If 3D is your thing, look elsewhere as the 1440 does not do it.
No lens shift. A bit of lens shift would have been helpful for easier installation. Since there is none, make sure to take extra care while planning the set up.
No frame interpolation or detail enhancement. These features are present on many Epson home cinema projectors, but they are not on the 1440.
Fan noise. In normal (full lamp) mode the fan noise is higher than desirable for home theater applications, although it is remarkably quiet in eco-mode. On the other hand, it is no issue if you are using it for Super Bowl parties, live concert videos, or in general for any sports event viewing.
16:10 Aspect Ratio. For cinema use you will probably be using a 16:9 screen. You can set up the 1440 to fill the screen with a 16:9 image, and the small black bars top and bottom will project onto the black frame and become invisible. If you have a need or desire to use a 16:10 format screen, a 16:9 image will be displayed with small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen image.
Air filter. The air filter needs periodic cleaning which is easy to do with a small computer keyboard vacuum cleaner swiped over the intake vent. How often you need to do this depends on how much dust there is in the room. If you forget to do it at all, the filter will eventually clog and the unit will overheat and automatically shut down.
We've given the Epson HC 1440 five stars for value. You may wonder at this given that there are a number of HD 1080p DLP projectors rated at 4000 or more lumens that sell for prices much lower than $1700.
The issue is that in this brightness range, most DLP projectors continue to rely on a large white segment in the color wheel to boost the ANSI lumen rating. This does indeed boost white light output, but it leaves colors relatively flat. As an example, we are currently reviewing the new Dell 4350, a 1080p DLP projector rated at 4000 lumens and selling for several hundred dollars less. And indeed, when we do the standard ANSI lumen test our sample measures 3907 lumens, or very close to its rating. However, when we measure the red, green, and blue components individually, they add up to 694 lumens. By comparison, the Epson 1440 still measures 4200+ lumens when the color components are measured individually. The result is that when you put these two units side by side, the color on the Epson 1440 is much more vibrant and saturated than it is on the Dell 4350.
This is not to say that all DLP projectors behave this way. DLP projectors built for home theater quite often have RGBRGB color wheels that deliver as much color light as they do white light. And in a number of recent DLP projectors that do have white segments in the wheel, we've seen a trend toward a reduction of the size of the white segment. This leads to much higher color brightness measurements than we've seen on DLP projectors in the past. On models with a reduce white segment there can be excellent color saturation and a very well balanced video image despite the presence of the white segment in the color wheel.
Nevertheless, when we look at inexpensive DLP projectors that are rated at 4000 lumens and above, it is still generally true that most of that lumen power is coming from a white segment, and that color brightness falls far short of the white potential. So if you are in the market for a bright video projector and are looking for 4000+ lumen models, keep these performance differences in mind. The lumen ratings can be quite misleading.
For what it is, the Epson HC 1440 is an outstanding projector at a superb value. It gives you full HD resolution and 4000+ lumens of reasonably well balanced color brightness for a relatively moderate price -- perfect for home entertainment with some ambient light in the room, or any venue where you need bright video in some level of ambient light. The HC 1440 does not have the extra processing and performance features found on other Epson cinema projectors like frame interpolation, detail enhancement, and 3D capability. But for straightforward, bright, HD video in ambient light situations, the 1440 is tough to beat.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson Home Cinema 1440 projector page.
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