Epson's New Home Theater Projectors under $1,000
This week Epson announced a major upgrade and expansion to their "Home Cinema" class home theater projector line. FIVE new models come in under $1,000, as follows:
Epson Home Cinema 660, $359: The least expensive projector in Epson's line, the Home Cinema 660 uses SVGA resolution (800x600) 3LCD chips. It puts out a substantial 3300 lumens in full power and 2050 lumens in quiet fan eco mode. Lamp life is a whopping 6,000 hours in High Lamp mode, and 10,000 hours in eco mode. And if you ever run through an entire lamp, the replacement lamps have dropped to $49, which is huge. Based on our experience, the SVGA projectors from Epson substantially outperform the cheap Chinese projectors being marketed through Amazon. So if your are in this budget range, give it a look.
Epson Home Cinema 760HD, $549: The HC 760HD is a step up in resolution, using 1280x800 (WXGA) widescreen format. It puts out the same brightness in both High Power and Eco mode as the HC 660, and it has the same very long lamp life and the same $49 replacement lamp. In addition to the higher resolution, the HC 760HD adds a 1.2x zoom lens (the lens on the 660 is fixed focal length).
Epson Home Cinema 1060, $649: The Home Cinema 1060 is an updated version of the HC 1040. It uses native Full HD 1920x1080 3LCD chips rather than the 16:10 format 1920x1200 chip in the 1040. They both have 1.2x zoom lenses, but the 1060 is shorter throw so you can get a bigger picture in a more compact room. It will throw a 120" diagonal picture from a distance of less than nine feet. Check the throw distance for your desired screen size using the Home Cinema 1060 Projection Calculator.
Epson Home Cinema 2100, $849: With the HC 2100, in comparison with the previous models you get an upgraded 1.6x zoom lens and vertical lens shift. The 2100 and 2150 are the first two home theater projectors under $1000 to have these features which make them easier to install in a wider variety of locations. They also have an upgraded 10-watt speaker on board, which makes them handy for portable use where you might not have a sound system (think backyard movie night).
Epson Home Cinema 2150, $899: The HC2150 is the flagship of the entry level home theater projectors under $1,000. Like the 2100 it has the 1.6x zoom and vertical lens shift, and 10-watt audio. Both are MHL-enabled. one big difference between the 2100 and 2150 is contrast -- the 2100 is rated at 35,000:1 while the 2150 is 60,000:1. Also the 2150 comes with WiDi and Miracast for wireless streaming, and it also has wireless network control for control by a remote network computer. That is a lot of extras on the 2150 over the 2100 for only $50, so judging from the specs it seems like a no-brainer to go with the 2150.
See specs for all five new home theater projectors.
All five of these projectors have $49 replacement lamps. This is a big deal because it pulls the rug out from one of the rationale's for laser light sources. People love the concept of the laser having a 20,000 hour life with no replacement lamp, but the fact is the laser will slowly diminish in brightness over that 20,000 hours to half of what it was when new. And you cannot replace the lasers. The best thing about a replacement lamp is that it brings your projector back to peak brightness when new. For a mere $49 a pop, you can do this a lot more frequently than you could when lamps were $200 or more. At this price, the replacement lamp is an advantage over laser light sources.