Needless to say, there is an influx of projectors for both gaming and movies in the market at the moment. If you’re now just transitioning to projectors, it can be very difficult to select one that suits your budget and preference. With that in mind, we will be covering a projector, suited for an entry-level home theater.
When you conduct an overall search for home theater projectors, the results may lead you to presume that they are generally expensive, less bright than gaming projectors, and only built with DLP technology. Well, this is not the case with Epson Home Cinema 880 (HC880). It is a bright, budget-friendly, LCD projector capable of fulfilling your home theater’s visual needs.
It has been designed to provide bright, high-quality, and color-accurate images that will suit watching movies and sports. However, we would recommend competitive gamers to look elsewhere because of the high input lag. But if you’re just switching to projectors for your movies and sports, this is the one for you. This projector is very unique. In an era of 4K and DLP projectors, how does it stand out? Let’s have an insight into the features and see how.
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Features of Epson Home Cinema 880
A bright projector emitting 3,300 ANSI lumens
Contrary to most home cinema projectors (even the 4K ones), the HC880’s lamp is very bright, having a light output of 3,300 ANSI lumens. Most movie projectors usually don’t go past 2,500 ANSI lumens of light output.
This is a very important feature because you will not be limited to watching your content in a darkened room. You can watch it during the day and obviously at night. You might have to draw the blinds during the day to minimize the washout caused by a lot of light in the room. The bottom line is the projector can work even in the presence of ambient light.
3LCD for superior image quality
Despite most recent projector manufacturers adopting the DLP technology, 3LCD technology which has been used in the HC880 produces a superior image quality. Without adding more features to boost image quality, LCD projectors produce an image of higher quality. With a good image quality, you’re guaranteed a delightful viewing experience.
Compact and lightweight
Just like modern projectors, this projector is fairly compact. It has the following approximate dimensions 12 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 3.5 inches in height. It weighs about 5.95 lb (2.7kg), and this means that it is quite easy to lift when you want to do some cleaning or move your theater to a different room.
1080p Full HD resolution
It has a 1920 x 1080 pixels full HD resolution. It has enough pixels (2 million) to support viewing movies and sports in high definition. The images projected are sharp and with a lot of details. Although there is little to be noticed between 720p and 1080p, the difference becomes clearer as the image size increases; and this is what projectors are all about. Most projectors aim to deliver image sizes above 100 inches. With full HD resolution, the HC880 ensures that the quality of images is maintained when the size gets larger.
Mira casting for wireless connection with your mobile devices
The Epson Home Cinema 880 supports screen mirroring of your mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops. If your device supports mirror casting, you have the option to cast your video wirelessly to the projector. No external software is required.
You can also manage your projector in your computer via a Wired LAN using a web browser. Of course, the projector has to be connected to the same LAN as your computer. This projector is compatible with multiple projector control systems that allow network control via a LAN.
±30% Vertical and Horizontal keystone correction
Many projectors within and even beyond this price range only offer vertical keystone correction. This means that when you install your projector at an angle, the distortion at the top and bottom is adjustable but the distortion at the sides remains. With this projector, you won’t have to worry about that.
In addition to the ±30% vertical keystone correction, the HC880 has a horizontal keystone correction to the same extent (±30%). You will be able to manually adjust the distortion of the image at the left and right to minimize the trapezoid effect caused by installing the projector off-center. This can also be done automatically, which leads us to the next section.
Built-in picture skew sensor
The HC880 has an inbuilt picture skew sensor that analyzes your images for skewing. Once detected, image skewing is automatically corrected using vertical keystone. This projector also allows you to manually correct image skewing using the horizontal keystone.
A high degree of color accuracy
Despite the high level of brightness, the 3LCD technology enables HC880 to produce a highly accurate color; arguably more accurate than projectors 3 times more expensive than it. It is also equipped with a high contrast ratio of 16,000:1 to provide clearer and more distinctive images.
It also has 4 preset color modes to provide optimal viewing conditions under these circumstances: Bright Cinema, Cinema, Dynamic, and Game. Switching to Dynamic Mode will let you prioritize brightness over everything else. If you want to enjoy cinematic colors in a room with ambient light, then the Bright Cinema Mode should suit you. The most color-accurate mode by far is the Cinema Mode, intended for darkened rooms. So you might have to draw the blinds while using this mode. The Game Mode is just as it is named, suited for gaming.
Details are a huge part of the quality of images projected. You should be able to see things like sweat dropping from an actor’s face on a humid day or multiple drops of water falling when a ball hits the goal post for soccer. HC880 permits you to have this visual experience which is very immersive.
Having these color preset modes does not mean that you’re limited to them. You can make adjustments in each of these modes independently, suppose you feel like the default settings do not work for you. You can start with basic adjustments such as brightness, tint, sharpness, etc., and move to the advanced settings such as color temperature.
Long lamp life
The HC880’s lamp can last up to 12000 hours in the Eco mode and up to 6000 in normal modes. Most projectors only last 4000 hours, with HC880, you get an additional 2000 hours (that’s almost 3 months). You can confidently use the projector knowing the lamp will last before you have to swap it. You can also take initiative to extend lamp life, read about that here.
Low power consumption
It consumes energy depending on the mode you’re using. Since it is such a bright projector, it is no surprise that on normal mode it consumes 345 W. The less energy-demanding modes consume less power. In Eco mode it will consume 245 W, saving you 100W of power. In the power-saving mode, it consumes as little as 0.3W. Being a 3LCD projector, the HC880 has 3 chips instead of one which lowers its consumption of power. So if you’re not doing much with the projector, set it to power-saving mode.
Low fan noise in quiet mode
In the normal mode, the fan releases 37 dB noise. This is acceptable for most people, but if you want to minimize this noise, you can switch to the quiet mode that reduces this noise to 28 dB.
Good throw ratio with a large image size
The HC880 has a good throw ratio. The smallest image is 25 inches which can be projected from just 2.3 feet. At 386 inches, this projector delivers one of the largest image sizes ever by a projector. Of course, you will need a large room to project an image this size; it is achievable when you place the projector 34 feet away from the projection surface.
Most people prefer the 60-100 inches. To project this size you will need to place the projector 5.5 feet and 9.2 feet respectively away from the surface. Other distances within that range are directly proportional to the throw distance within the same range.
Very affordable and with a good warranty
It is one of the cheapest home theater projectors in the market with a reputable brand. It retails at about $600. It has very impressive features without crossing the $1000 mark. It doesn’t go out of its way to overdo, you get exactly what you paid for and from a reputable brand.
One of the most impressive things about this projector is the warranty offered by Epson. It has a 2-year limited warranty, which is double what most of the competitors are offering. It is important to note that projector lamps, refurbished products, mounts, and all other accessories are excluded from this warranty.
This long period warranty will allow you to comfortably purchase the product knowing there is ample time for customer service provided the projector malfunctions. Epson goes out of its way to offer full unit replacement and 24/7 tech support for the lifetime of the product.
Having looked at the features, does this projector have any limitations? Let’s compare the pros and cons to find out.
Epson HC880 Pros
Flexibility in installation
With the HC880, you get to be flexible with how you want to install the projector. Its compactness permits you to move it around with ease. You do not have to worry about skewed images brought by installing the projector at an angle to the projection surface. The projector will automatically detect skewing and fix it for you.
High performance at a low price
The best thing about the HC880 is that you get exactly what you paid for. It performs well considering its price range. It can independently support your entry-level home cinema visual needs. It provides bright high-quality images at a very high contrast ratio to deliver a lot of detail. All these features contribute to a great visual experience for your games and movies.
Epson HC880 Cons
No lens shift
The most recent projectors come with this feature, which allows you to align the image by moving the lens without moving the projector. This feature is important considering 3LCD projectors are not as portable as DLP projectors; meaning they are more susceptible to mechanical damage if you move them around too much.
Missing out on what DLP has to offer
Recently, most projectors are being built with DLP technology, and here’s why. DLP projectors produce a sharper image and are considered more reliable than LCD projectors. Their image processing capabilities are out-of-the-box and it is no surprise that they cost much more. DLP projectors can also offer 3D support which is non-existent in the HC880.
The audio is underwhelming
It has 2.0-watt internal mono speakers which do not deliver desirable sound. If you’re using the projector in a large room, the audio is inaudible. You should connect the projector to an external sound system.
If these cons have changed your mind about getting the Epson Home Cinema 880, what other options can you consider?
Suppose you’re not satisfied by what Epson HC880 has to offer, here are some options to consider:
Optoma HD39HDR is a DLP projector brighter (4000 ANSI lumens) than the HC880 and can even support 4K UHD resolution. It has a higher dynamic contrast ratio (50,000:1) to deliver more detailed images. The internal speaker is more powerful (10W). With all of these added features, you will have to part with more money to purchase it as it retails at $800.
Just like the previous one, Optoma HD146X is brighter than the HC880 having a light output of 3600 ANSI lumens. It also offers a higher contrast ratio and a better throw ratio. It is a DLP projector but surprisingly cheaper than the HC880; retailing at $550.
Epson HC880 is a decent addition to your entry-level home theater. It has features for which other more costly projectors do not have. However having looked at the Optoma HD146X, we can conclude that it offers slightly better features and even costs slightly less than the HC880. You can still purchase the HC880 because Epson is a reputable brand.