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Projectors

HP ep9010 Instant Cinema Digital Projector

HP's ep9010 is an all-in-one home cinema projector with a built-in DVD player, subwoofer and 2.1 channel sound.

Upside: HP calls the ep9010 an instant cinema projector because all you need to do is power it up and everything you need is on-board. It has a built-in DVD player, subwoofer and speakers so there's no need to be messing about with audio cables to hook up your stereo -- simply insert a DVD and enjoy. However, if you do have a surround sound system at home, the projector can output 5.1 digital audio as well.

People throwing parties at home will benefit from the simplicity of this all-in-one home cinema projector as it makes it a cinch to experience the big screen indoors and outdoors -- all you'll need is to drag an extension cord out to the backyard and you're ready to go.

DLP technology drives the ep9010's images with a 6-segment colour wheel to minimise the "rainbow effect" that is apparent on some 3-segment DLP projectors.

Downside: The ep9010's maximum resolution is 800 x 600 pixels, which is about the lowest resolution you'll get these days on a home theatre projector. Enthusiasts will want at least 1024 x 768 or even higher to experience all that high definition (HD) has to offer.

The HP Instant Cinema tips the scales at about 10kg which is very heavy for a projector, but when you consider the combined weight of an external DVD player, speakers and amp, we think the ep9010's extra heft is justified.

Outlook: Instant Cinema is a brilliant concept from HP and the projector should make a big impact in the consumer space when it is released. HP expects the ep9010 to be in stores by Christmas 2004 for a recommended retail price of about AU$4,500.

Compared to standalone projectors in the budget to mid-range price bracket, the image output specifications of the HP unit aren't all that great (native SVGA, 840 ANSI lumens, 1600:1 contrast ratio). The addition of a built-in DVD player and 2.1 channel sound certainly bumps up the price. If you are looking for a unit without the built-in extras, take a look at these budget home-theatre projectors.

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