Projectors rule, and in my recent tests of less expensive (but still plenty awesome) units, a couple of trends have become clear. One is that I love watching big images in a dark room. Another is that on some projectors, I can see rainbows, and I don't love them.
The "rainbow effect" is common to projectors that use DLP (digital light processing) technology, found on most of the units I tested including those from Viewsonic, BenQ and Optoma. Sometimes when watching a show with a high-contrast scene, like a white object on a black background, I see brief rainbow trails across the screen.
Epson, on the other hand, uses 3LCD technology, and its projectors like the Home Cinema 2045 ($700) reviewed here don't have any rainbow effect. Competing DLP projectors like the Optoma HD142X ($550) and BenQ HT2050 ($800) do, but offer similar picture quality for less money or better overall picture quality, respectively.
The 2045 has a very good picture and some nice features, but overall I can only recommend it over cheaper models like the Optoma or the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL ($580) if rainbows really bother you. As for me, I'd take a DLP and suffer through the occasional rainbow.
- Native resolution: 1080p
- Lumens spec: 2,200
- Zoom: Manual (1.2x)
- Lens Shift: No
- 3D-compatible: Yes
- Lamp Life (Normal mode): 4,000 hours
- Replacement lamp cost: $100
Higher-end home theater projectors often have a lower light output than cheaper units, mainly because they're designed to achieve better black levels, and 2200 lumens is typical of the breed. If you're planning to watch in anything other than complete darkness, you should choose a brighter (and possibly cheaper) projector.
Zoom is also typical, and the 2045 requires a longer throw distance to achieve the same screen size as relatively short-throw projectors like the Viewsonics or the BenQ HT2050. Lack of lens shift isn't a big knock at this price, but it can make positioning the 2045 a bit less versatile than some competitors.
To use 3D you'll need to buy compatible RF 3D glasses. Epson sells them for around $80 each, but you can also get third-party versions for $30-$40 each. The DLP Link glasses for competing projectors cost around $25 each.
Lamp life is standard for this level of projector, and as usual you can adjust the settings to dim the image and extend the number of hours before you have to replace it. The cost of a new lamp is significantly less than with BenQ, Viewsonic or Optoma, which range from about $170 to $270.