Hewlett-Packard EP7122 £1027
31st Jul 2005 | 23:00
A projector that really does stand out
You would probably have been able to hear the brain cells ticking away: 'This is going to be a home cinema projector and not just another data projector warmed over. So let's make it look really exciting in the home, a proper talking point'.
And so it came to pass. The EP7122 is a sort of flying saucer, a shape that would be a liability, indeed far too bulky for a busy rep on the road, but which has undeniable appeal as a coffee table ornament or suspended upside down from the ceiling. There's also the dinky matching remote control, which adds to the appeal.
However, Hewlett-Packard is nothing if not consistent and the EP7122 is alone in being supplied with discursive, and even pedantic, instructions written in a way that aids understanding. There are some neat touches too, such as the sliding lens over that is not going to get lost.
The HP EP7122 has a resolution of 1,024 x 768,which makes it kind of ironic that it can be used to display a standard Windows desktop without loss of detail.
XGA is not a widescreen resolution and it works with 16:9 material by projecting a horizontal band from the optical processor, which means throwing away some of the intrinsic resolution and leaving a dark grey area overhanging the picture. This may or may not be marginally visible in some circumstances, but will be obvious in well darkened rooms.
Different as it looks, the EP7122 perfectly epitomises both the strengths and weakness of the models in this group test. The principle weakness in practice is the frantic background noise levels from the cooling fan, which is bound to be intrusive and irritating where the film soundtrack doesn't provide much masking.
Handling of moving images is below par for a serious home cinema projector, though it should be said that the HP does an acceptable job. For this viewer at least, rainbow effect was hardly an issue, though some people will notice the spurious flashes of colour or rainbow, where others notice nothing.
This is yet another projector with a strong output, enough to counter the diluting effects of a room with a less than complete blackout. The finer resolution means a less visible picture structure to the image than most of the others tested, even allowing for the masking of part of the DMD mirror device when used in widescreen. This gives a picture quality that is more transparent, that looks more like something you could walk into.
However, it all tends to fall apart somewhat when the image on screen is not just a picture postcard view, but involves more action, at which point the result begins to look rather jerky and beset by visual noise.