Super-sized flat screen TVs are all the rage. Mention a home theatre projector, however, and people will tune out. After all, many folks remember projectors as dusty, weak-beamed devices with a noisy fan and little appeal. Not any more.
Movie theatres use uber-powerful projectors to kick out Hollywood-sized images with crystal clear definition, amazing contrast ratio, and no motion blur. If it’s good enough for JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, shouldn’t a projector be good enough for your home?
Even so, I was sceptical. I’ve never tried a home theatre projector before the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema Projector 2040 arrived for testing (full name: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2040 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector). While the device itself looks a lot like projectors I remember, the image is like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Set up is easy, but you better have a plan
Setting up the Epson 2040 projector itself was very easy. The hardest thing about setting up this device, will be that you need a series of extra long cables in order to make it look good.
The projector is pretty much plug and play. Just plug in your audio and video components and you are ready to go immediately. I decided to plug in my Roku streaming stick into one of the projector’s 2 HDMI ports and instantly I was watching Netflix.
If you plan to plug a home theater projector into your stereo system or cable box, you’re going to have to do some serious planning before hand. Most projectors are designed to reside at the back of a room, and are often best placed at or near the ceiling. This means you will need a wealth of both audio, video, and HDMI cables, with very long runs. You’ll also want to plan for where you will snake or hide these excess cables in your room, and how you’ll plug them in. For some, this will mean potentially relocating all your components to the back or the room.
If you’re building a media room from scratch, this will be easy, and you can easily factor in where to hide your cables. However if you are operating a projector like the Epson in an existing room, particularly one that has purposes other than media viewing, you will likely end up with some unsightly cable runs.
For my setup, since it was temporary, we just ran the cables across the floor and stepped over them, though it was quite a mess, having power cables snaking in one direction, and audio and video cables in another.
Once everything is plugged in, you’re ready to go, and like I said, in an instant we were streaming movies on Netflix.
I can’t tell you how much both my husband and I were instantly blown away by the amazing quality of the video picture. Since this is a projector, you can adjust the image size to fit literally any space. In our case we had it fill nearly an entire wall of our media room.
While we didn’t have a screen for this test, we were easily able to hack one together by using a large bedsheet and tacking it to the ceiling. Even with a wrinkled old bedsheet as the canvas for the image, there was no hiding the spectacular picture on display. The 1080p image was crystal clear, and had excellent contrast. We put on a series of action movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 6 were treated to a hyper realistic video picture with absolutely no noticeable motion blur. Even basic TV shows looked fantastic. The most striking feature of using a projector like this Epson was the super realism of the video. It literally looks like the scenes were unfolding right in the room with us.
Only about 20 minutes of surfing through action oriented video content, my husband declared he wanted to think about getting a projector for our media room, and got online and looked up the price of this particular device. While the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2040 is not cheap (regular price is about $999CAD), it is certainly well rated by many users.
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema Projector Features
- Projection Method: Front / rear / ceiling mount
- Product Colour: White and Gray
- Driving Method: Epson Poly-silicon TFT Active Matrix
- Projected Output: 2D, 3D, Full HD 1080p
- Pixel Number: 2,073,600 dots (1920 x 1080) x 3
- Colour Brightness (Colour Light Output): 2200 lumens1
- White Brightness (White Light Output): 2200 lumens1
- Aspect Ratio: Native 16:9 widescreen
- Native Resolution: Native 1080p (1920 x 1080)
- Resize: 16:10, 4:3
- Lamp Type: 200 W UHE
- Lamp Life:
- ECO mode: Up to 7500 hours2
- Normal mode: Up to 4000 hours2
- Throw Ratio Range: 1.22 (Zoom: Wide) – 1.47 (Zoom: Tele)
- Size (projected distance): 34″ – 332″ at (2.98 ft – 35.89 ft)
- Keystone Correction:
- Vertical: ±30 degrees (Auto)
- Horizontal: ±30 degrees (Slide bar)
- Contrast Ratio: Up to 35,000:1
- Colour Reproduction: Full-color (up to 1.07 billion colours)
- Colour Processing: Full 10 bits
You can make several adjustments with the Epson projector. A simple menu allows you to adjust things like colour, brightness, contrast, and sharpness.
This projector can be controlled both with the included remote control, or also with buttons on the projector itself. The home button for example allows you to switch between sources, adjust the colour, or alter 3D setup as well as changing things like iris settings and power consumption. I think it’s handy you can also adjust the settings right on the device, as there is nothing more frustrating then being unable to operate a device, because you have missed placed the remote control.
The projector also has 2 built in HDMI input, allowing you to keep two devices at the ready.
The Epson PowerLite 2040 also has a keystone setting which will allow you to make adjustments for curved or oddly shaped walls, a must when owning a projector, and particularly so if you plan to take it with you anywhere.
This projector, like all others, has a fan to keep the unit cooled during operation, and truthfully, after a while I stopped hearing it, even though it was definitely still running.
While the 2040 also has 3D capability, I don’t have any 3D content so I was unable to test this feature.
You need a screen
If you’re going to commit to going the projector route, you absolutely need a proper screen. While my bed sheet hack was rather clever if I do say so myself, every tiny wrinkle and flaw was visible when watching the video. A proper screen is going to make the video experience absolutely seamless, and that’s what you want in your hyper-realistic projected videos. You don’t want to be worried about every notch, gouge, or scratch in a wall (or a wrinkle in a sheet). You want to feel like you’re part of all the Hollywood action. Take my advice: get the best screen your money can buy, to go with your projector.
I really, really enjoyed the experience I had with the Epson PowerLite 2040 Home Cinema Projector. I loved the immersive viewing experience, and can’t say enough how absolutely stunned I was at the amazing quality of video that’s available via a projector today. I will note that you should probably make sure your new projector has decent ventilation, as the PowerLite 2040 ran rather hot after only a few minutes. But I don’t think that’s atypical for projectors; they’re kicking out a ton of light through those bulbs, and heat is the byproduct.
While for now we’ll keep our flat screen TV as the main viewing object in our home theater, I have a feeling a projector of some description may be in our future as well, for those times when we want a massive video size, and a movie theater-like experience.
While Epson provided a loaner unit for this review, it did not ask for, nor receive pre-approval over this blog post.