Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
Every once in a while we run across a projector that seems just right. A great feature set, wonderful image quality for the money, attractive casework and packaging... in short a product that hits the bull's eye of the target market at which it is aimed. The Epson Home 10, priced at a low $1,299 and intended for the first time home theater user, is just such a product. Offering exceptional home theater performance for the price, this one should not be missed if you are looking to set up your first front projection system and don't want to spend much money doing it.
Specifications. 1000 ANSI lumens, 700:1 contrast, native 16:9 widescreen format with 854x480 resolution LCD panels.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to XGA. NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL, PAL-N, PAL-M, PAL60, SECAM.
Lens and throw distance. Manual zoom and focus, with a wide angle 1.54x zoom range. Throws a 100" diagonal image from as little as 8.4 feet to as much as 13 feet.
Lamp life. 2000 hours in dynamic and standard modes, 3000 hours in "Theater Black" mode.
Connection panel. One computer 15-pin VGA port, one set of three RCA component inputs, one S-video, one composite video, one set of audio jacks to drive the single onboard speaker, one RS-232c control port. The connection panel also features a storage slot for the credit-card size remote control.
Installation options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. Two-years, with "Extra Care Home Service" that includes overnight replacement in the event of a product failure.
The Home 10 is a native widescreen 16:9 projector with 854x480 resolution. Video in the NTSC world comes with 480 lines per frame, so the Home 10's 480-line vertical resolution is ideal for an entry level projector. That's because each line of video information can be mapped one-to-one onto the physical display without any vertical scaling. The result is a cleaner image than you might get if it needed to compress or scale up the data to fit another physical format.
Fan noise is a concern for many home theater enthusiasts. Here the Home 10 excels as well. In "Theater Black" mode, which is the best operational mode for quality movie viewing, the fan noise is very low and unnoticeable, even if it is sitting on a coffee table directly in front of you. Theater Black mode also extends lamp life up to 3000 hours which reduces long run cost of ownership.
When choosing a projector, practical considerations related to desired image size and throw distance are of primary consideration. After all, your room is a certain size, you want a specific size picture, and you want to sit a certain distance from the screen. So you need a projector that will accommodate the demands of your physical space. Most projectors have zoom lenses with limited throw distance ranges, generally in the area of 1.2x. That means the picture size can be adjusted with the zoom adjustment up to a maximum of 20% for any given throw distance.
On the Home 10, you can adjust picture size over 50%. This gives you more freedom to set the projector on a coffee table in front of you, on a shelf behind you, or on a ceiling mount, and have much better odds of getting the picture size you want. Very few projectors in this class have anywhere near the throw distance flexibility that the Home 10 offers with its extended zoom capability.
Pixelation (visible pixel texture in the image) is an issue with all lower resolution projectors. The closer you sit to the screen the more visible it becomes. On the other hand, as you back up from the screen all pixelation eventually disappears. On the Home 10 the point at which pixel texture disappears is about 1.8x the screen width, or about 13 feet from a 100" diagonal screen. We watched several films from this distance with no distractions due to visible pixel structure.
Onboard video processing on this unit is not as comprehensive as it is on more expensive projectors. That means with a standard interlaced input you will get some deinterlacing artifacts, and with film sources you will see some instability related to 3:2 pulldown. It is easy to avoid this problem by using a good progressive scan DVD player with effective 3:2 pulldown compensation (the process by which a 24 frame-per-second film source is converted to 30 fps video). With a progressive scan input the Home 10 produces a sharper and more stable image.
We would describe color accuracy on the Home 10 as very good with no glaring errors that draw your attention. Color saturation is also very good with some room for improvement if you compare it to projectors that are double the price or more. However, once you factor price into the equation, the image quality for the money is terrific.
Perhaps the most glaring shortcoming of the Home 10 is the remote control. This dainty little remote, a bit smaller than a business card, is great for mobile presenters who want to minimize travel bulk, but a poor choice for home theater. There is no backlighting and it is too small to manipulate in the dark. Keep a flashlight on hand to switch sources, aspect ratios, or make picture calibration adjustments to optimize for material on a given source. You will also need the flashlight to find the remote when it falls between the cushions of your sofa.
Epson thought of just about everything except the remote when they designed the Home 10. The native 480-line format renders especially good quality images from 480-line sources. The wide angle lens with the 1.54x zoom range gives you great latitude for installing the projector. Fan noise is almost nonexistent. The low wattage lamp puts out very little heat, and operating in Theater Black mode gives you a long 3000-hour lamp life. On top of all that, a two-year warranty with overnight replacement service if something goes wrong is one of the best programs in the market today.
Overall, this outstanding entry-level product is a great choice for first time home theater buyers on an economy budget. Based upon its exceptional overall value for the money it earns our rating as a Highly Recommended home theater projector.
(Note: For availability and current street prices, consult Epson Home 10 dealers.)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite Home 10 projector page.