Looking for a big, bright image for cheap? Projectors like the Epson Home Cinema 640 can make a picture bigger than any TV, for a fraction of the price.
This little white unit is superior in pretty much every way to the iRulu BL20 ($150), but compared with more expensive units like the Optoma HD142X ($550), the Epson 640’s main weakness shows through: lower resolution. Although it will take any high-def source like your cable box, Roku or game console, the image it throws on your screen isn’t native HD. It’s less detailed and blockier and shows issues like jagged lines that true, native 1080p projectors don’t.
The image still looks very good, however, so if you want something better than the deeply flawed iRulu but can’t justify the cost of a “real” HD projector, the 640 is a great choice.
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 640: Small, bright,…
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- Native resolution: 800×600
- Lumens spec: 3200
- Zoom: Digital only
- Lens Shift: No
- 3D-compatible: No
- Lamp Life (Normal mode): 5,000 hours
- Replacement lamp cost: $80
The 640 is a bright little projector, making it a good choice both for larger screens and for situations where you can’t completely darken your viewing environment — think during the day or even at night outside. It’s small enough (11.6 by 9 by 3.1 inches WDH) to take just about anywhere, although unlike some tinier “pico projectors” it doesn’t run on batteries.
Because there’s no zoom or lens shift, placement isn’t as versatile as some projectors. You’ll need to physically move the projector to size it to your screen properly. If you’re less persnickety about filling the screen completely, or if you’re using a white wall or other makeshift projection surface, that’s less of an issue.
I recommend avoiding the digital zoom because it impairs picture quality, and the same goes for the keystone control, as usual.
Connectivity and convenience
- HDMI inputs: 1
- AV input: 1 (with S-video)
- PC input: Analog RGB
- USB port: 2
- MHL: No
- Remote: Not backlit
- Built-in speaker: Yes
The Epson’s back panel is quite basic, as is the remote. There’s just one HDMI port, when many budget projectors have two. You can plug in USB flash drives for easy photo and video playback, but the unit isn’t compatible with phones that use MHL (mobile high-definition link).
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