HC1440 Overall Value Proposition
So, in summary, what do we have?
This Epson is an extremely bright projector suitable for brighter rooms and rooms with limited lighting control. it can output almost 5000 lumens - that's auditorium brightness in a business projector - at its brightest, and close to 4000 lumens with exceptionally good color and picture quality. You can't get any more "light cannon" than the HC1440.
Our Special Interest Award is given to projectors that we consider the best - or one of the best choices, for at least a significant percent of users.
Overall, I see the HC1440 as a mid-priced, well valued solution as a family projector. You can spend less, or more, get less or more features, but this is a viable combination. A lower cost HC1040, like the higher cost PC1985WU provide such differences within the Epson lineup of very bright home projectors
I wanted to mention this thought. A year ago, I could have gone with a far more affordable solution for my bright living room projector had the HC1440 been on the market then, when I got the Epson G6550. As you have learned from this review, the HC1440 is almost as bright - measuring within a few percent, but costs barely a quarter of the projector I'm using instead.
Going with the 1440 by comparison does mean a few compromises. The G6550 has the detail enhancement (Super-Resolution) that the 1440 lacks, and it has CFI - smooth motion, which is a nice plus for sports viewing. From a purely technical standpoint, while few of us need interchangeable lenses, going with the 1440 instead of the G6550 would have meant not having lens shift, and therefore having to use keystone correction instead, a less perfect choice. But then, I don't see this projector as one for hard core picture oriented enthusiasts or purists. For the average viewer - they simply won't notice the difference between keystone correction and lens shift.
Overall, the feature set of the HC1440 is capable, but is missing a few things such as those just mentioned. If, for example you want the super-resolution and the CFI, you could opt for Epson's Pro Cinema 1985WU, a slight step up, and only slightly brighter, but with more features, a spare lamp, mount and an extra year of warranty for about $2500.
Other competition in the price range either aren't near as bright, or they consist of business/education projectors not marketed to the home. That doesn't mean they can't be used in the home. We review projectors for either home or work, and have not really looked at any of the many 4000 lumen plus DLP based business projectors for home use (They often do not have fast color wheels, and therefore more users are susceptible to rainbow effect. Note that RBE is less noticeable on static content - powerpoint presentations, spreadsheets, etc., than on video.)
Bright DLP home projectors in the HC1440s price range aren't anywhere near as bright, with few sporting even 3000 white lumens and perhaps half that in color lumens, at their brightest. Direct competition such as Optoma's HD25-LV
I expect though, with Epson leading a marketing drive toward bright projectors for home, that it won't be long before the BenQ, Optoma, Viewsonic's of the world also start marketing high brightness projectors for your living room.
But, back to the HC1440. Great for sports and general TV in less than ideal rooms. Movies are fine with the lights done, but not this projector's primary strength, since black levels are typical of higher brightness projectors.
Built in 16 watt speaker is great for those outdoor movie nights or taking this 10 pound projector away on vacation.
Hard to beat the two year warranty with it's two year rapid replacement program, some of the best "piece of mind" around.
Whether old school - two HDMI ports, or "new school" streaming using a streaming stick and the HDMI port with MHL, or feeding content by USB Display or standard USB, the interfacing is very capable. There's even wired LAN networking, which can integrate this projector into a whole home automation system such as those using Crestron RoomView.
Missing though is wireless networking, which would have been a nice touch. That's one feature I occasionally use with my G6550 (it's optional on that projector). Of course if you really need wireless networking, you could add it via 3rd party devices. Same is true of wireless HDMI, which I do use with my G6550, using 3rd party gear.
I've watched perhaps 30, perhaps 40 total hours of viewing. When I'm being the most critical, in terms of the picture, it's not due to the projector itself (ok, it is for black levels) but it's due to getting used to watching it almost the whole time with some ambient light present.
Overall, without any adjustment, color is just the slightest bit on the cool side (a touch too much blue relative to red), but very close to ideal.
Few projectors get closer without a calibration, and we've seen some projectors that calibrated, can't do better than this one, "right out of the box." Dark shadow detail is very good but not exceptional, and black levels are nothing to write home about, but then, this is a projector designed to tackle ambient light, and is not expected to end up in a room with full lighting control and dark walls, ceiling, etc. (that is, a dedicated home theater or "cave").
In other words, it does extremely well at what it was built for, and not so well for capabilities that other projectors are more "focused" on, and in that, I'm including several competing Epson projectors (HC5025, HC5030UB, Pro Cinema 4030) designed for "dark", not "bright" room use. If you have a proper "dark" room, this probably isn't the projector for you!
A Light Canon for your "Bright Room"
OK, we really don't mean very Bright Room, or rather let's put some limits on it. Hopefully your "bright room isn't as challenging as mine (see that Bright Room Video). Yet my just fractionally brighter living room projector works great in my room. Any time you allow ambient light to be present, whether watching a projected image or an LCDTV, there is going to be some degradation of the picture quality. The HC1440, however, is about as bright as they come for home use, at least for now.
Hey, for perspective, back about a dozen years ago any projector this bright was probably upward of $20,000, and was intended for an auditorium or a concert hall, or a hotel ballroom, so understand that having over 4500 usable color and white lumens is a whole lot of bright.
Speaking of such things, the HC1440 doubles as a rather excellent business/education projector in a pinch. Epson has a similar projector specifically targeting those commercial markets, but if you need a high performance, high resolution projector for business type use to large groups where a bright projector is needed, the HC1440 will do the trick.
It's got over 10x the brightness needed to fill a typical 100" screen in a fully darkened room. Still, even a modest amount of ambient light present will wipe out great black level performance, which is why bright room projectors generally aren't designed to compete against dedicated home theater projectors when it comes to that black level performance on dark scenes. The Home Cinema 1440 delivers where it's supposed to, capable of producing at least a very watchable image in all but the worst setups. Just don't expect deep blacks on those very dark scenes. Wrong projector, lighting, wrong room type.
Bottom Line: Want a great projector that can work in brighter rooms when paired with the proper screen for the environment? One that has great color, excellent warranty, a sharp image, easy setup and a good feature set, including MHL for streaming content? You've found it. Want some extra features, look at similar models from Epson that cost more.