HOME CINEMA 2040 AND 2045 PROJECTORS - SUMMARY:
Summary - Picture Quality - Brightness - Features, Pros and Cons
Epson's HC2040 and HC2045 share a Hot Product Award
The short version is this: These are two excellent, and very affordable projectors. They are particularly good at keeping life simple - great color right out of the box, great warranty, very "plug and play."
They also have long life, and low cost replacement lamps, a built in speaker and great warranty.
And they have MHL so you can plug in a streaming stick or interface directly with many phones and tablets.
The HC2040 and HC2045 make great living room / family room projectors especially for viewing HDTV, and notably Sports.
The rather excellent out of the box color combines with plenty of brightness to make them a really good choice in this regard.
The colors are vibrant, the skin tones are surprisingly natural and accurate for a projector in this price range, especially using the default settings!
For movie viewing, these projectors aren't quite as strong. Decent black level performance for a sub-$1000 projector combines with excellent dark shadow detail. That said, there are sub-$1000 projectors with better black levels.
The important point, though is one that's more "big picture" There are no projectors I'm aware of at $1000 or less with impressive black level performance, so that is to say there really aren't any great projectors near the price for movie viewing. $500 to $700 more will let you locate a couple of projectors with significantly better black levels, but even those are not a match for the better $2000+ projectors.
The Epson Home Cinema 2040 and 2045 have an excellent value proposition
That folks, is why these projectors and their competition are "Entry Level". If you want to be in the sweet spot of picture quality for serious movie viewing, you really do need to be spending 2.5X as much or more. That doesn't mean that hundreds of thousands of folks won't buy and fully enjoy projectors in this price range for movie viewing.
But for those of us, who get the bug, who become enthusiasts, hard core, or purists, true satisfaction just won't be available anywhere near this price point, at least not until sometime in the future.
I did, however, manage to watch perhaps 20 hours of movies on the HC2040 and survived it quite well. Let me use a car analogy. If a Mazda Miata's handling performance is your thing, you aren't going to be happy with a Camry. Enough said.
HC2040 and HC2045 Brightness.
This is our top regular award for projectors
These Epsons max out at over 2200 lumens and produce some very enjoyable color and overall picture around 1700 - 1800 lumens. Note we measured with the lens at full wide angle which gives us maximum brightness, but these projectors have only 1.2:1 zoom lenses, so even placing the projector at the furthest possible difference isn't likely to cost more than 10% of brightness. With projectors with 2:1 zooms you can lose over 30% of the brightness depending on zoom position.
Before I forget, if you really are looking for more of a pure "home entertainment" projector - even more brightness, but not as good black levels and some other differences, note that Epson, shortly after announcing these projectors also announced a Home Cinema 1040, which is also at $799. It offers a big boost in brightness, but loses CFI and isn't supposed to be as good on black levels. We hope to review one soon.
10% isn't very visible. If you are viewing a projector and leave the room for 30 seconds and return, and the projector has dimmed by 10%, you really won't be able to tell. We're talking slight. Even the 30% drop into Eco mode is modest, enough to matter when you have some ambient light present, but even that is only 30%. That's having 10 lights on in a room and turning off 3. The room if very bright before is still bright...
The HC2040 and HC2045 are bright enough for less than great rooms, but not too bright to view in a full darkened room, even a cave or dedicated home theater with all dark surfaces and no light. That's a good thing.
There will be a list below in Pros and Cons, but I wanted to point out those that are key for projectors in this price range.
CFI - smooth motion. Sports fans rejoice, While others use CFI for all kinds of viewing (but I hope not for movies), I favor it only for sports. I watched the first of the year's Monday Night Football games with this HC2040, and I intentionally watched some with CFI off, the rest of the time with it on the Normal setting. I definitely preferred it on and Normal!
Warranty: Two years parts an labor is good for the price, as most have a single year warranty. But at lest one company, Viewsonic, offers 3 years at this price point. Epson has one extra going for it that is rare in home theater space (but not uncommon when it comes to business projectors). That would be a replacement program. Anytime during the two year warranty if a warranty problem occurs you can call up Epson and they will replace your projector, with the replacement (usually a refurb) arriving within 2 business days. Epson has also won a number of awards for its support programs.
Lens related: A 1.2:1 zoom range isn't a lot, but then in this price range most projectors offer between no zoom lens, and a 1.3:1. What the Epson lacks, compared to a couple of its competitors is lens shift. Those projectors that have some lens shift around this price range have very little, typically about 10% of what a $2000 3LCD projector would offer, but even a little is nice, instead of keystone correction, - if you have enough so you don't still need keystone correction.
There's also MHL on HDMI, and other things previously mentioned that I won't get into again here.
All considered the Home Cinema 2040 and 2045 are well endowed for their price point. The CFI capability in particular let's them stand out. The remote control would be better if backlit, but then I can't really think of any $799 projectors with backlit remotes...
Home Cinema 2040 and 2045 - Pros and Cons
- 2200 Lumens both white and color ones
- enough for brighter rooms, not too much for home theaters
- Really impressive color - right out of the box!
- CFI - smooth motion - a real plus for sports fans
- Detail enhancement control - improves perceived sharpness/detail
- Dynamic Iris - helps out when it comes to black levels
- Great dark shadow detail. This projector reveals it all
- Zoom lens - if only a modest amount of zoom
- Light enough (under 6.5 pounds) to travel
- Can easily double as a business projector (supports WUXGA!)
- Built in speaker capable of good sound levels)
- Audio out
- Protective cover over lens when not in use
- Low cost replacement lamps (compared to most)
- Lamps last 4000/7500 hours (full / eco) - longer than most
- Two HDMI inputs - one with MHL for streaming devices
- Pretty reat color right out of the box - a rare thing
- Miracast WiDi for working with equipped devices (HC2045 only)
- Draws less electricity than a similarly powered DLP projector
- Very good value proposition at $799 ($849 for HC2045)
- One of the best warranty / support programs around
- Black levels could be better (some competitors' are) although you have to spend several times as much to get into serious "ultra high contrast" projectors
- Definitely could be a bit quieter in full power mode.
- Remote would be better if backlit
- No lens shift (not even a little - which is the only amount a few low cost projectors offer)
- No serious bass coming from internal speaker (that's true of every projector with a built in speaker or two)