Does The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2000 Have A Place In Your Apple-Centric Home?

Portability is becoming an increasingly important factor for consumer electronics these days. With smartphones, laptops, and tablets getting thinner every year, the trend is spreading to other entertainment devices as well. Enter the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2000 ($899), a 3LCD 1080p projector capable of both 2D and 3D video playback.

Design

The Home Cinema 2000 measures just 11.69-inches wide by 9.72-inches deep by 4.25-inches high and weighs in at 6.4 pounds. A glossy white plastic shell encases the projector. Control buttons sit atop the projector along with sliders to adjust your picture, while input and output ports are accessible on the back.

Plenty of input options are available, including two HDMI ports, one full composite input (yellow, red, white), one VGA port, one USB Type A port, and one RS-232c port (DB-9 pin).

Functionality

If you’re living an Apple-centric lifestyle with a Mac, iDevice, and Apple TV, the Home Cinema 2000 is a great entry-level projector. Simply connect your Apple TV or iDevice (with a Lighting Digital AV Adapter) to the projector and you’re good to go. Of course, picture quality depends on your source files. Thankfully, movies from the iTunes Store and many on Netflix are offered in HD. Movies recorded on the newest iPhones are recorded in 1080p, if you want to stream or share one over AirPlay to your projector-connected Apple TV.

Picture quality was great right out of the box. Brightness is rated at 1,800 lumens, colors are bright and vibrant, while blacks are surprisingly deep, even with plenty of ambient light in the room. The Home Cinema 2000 offers several different color modes to suit your liking. Or you can tweak the projector’s settings to your needs.

The projector features a 2-watt mono speaker that is definitely suitable on its own, but it is certainly lacking at higher volumes. Fortunately, a 3.5mm audio-out jack is on the back of the projector should you decide to hook up your own speakers.

It does get considerably hot near the projector’s fan, but it isn’t unbearable. Fortunately, the fan operates quietly enough to not disturb your viewing experience.

Pros

  • Great picture quality for a sub-$1,000 projector

  • Light enough to be moved often

  • Simple to setup

Cons

  • Built-in speaker leaves much to be desired

The Verdict

Epson’s PowerLite Home Cinema 2000 is a great buy if you’re looking to enhance your home entertainment center. Armed with an Apple TV or even just an iDevice with the proper connector, you can have movie night inside, outside, or anywhere else you can think of.     

Apple Job Posting Seeks Exercise Physiologists, Giving More Evidence for Apple’s New Direction

lose it! weight loss program and calorie counter

What is Apple up to? The evidence just keeps mounting for a major focus on health and fitness. Today Apple posted a job listing seeking exercise physiologists. We already know they’ve hired a number of top people with expertise in areas such as medical sensors and health-monitoring equipment. The people being recruited by today’s ad, which has now been taken down, would be asked to “design and run user studies related to cardiovascular fitness & energy expenditure, including calories burned, metabolic rate, aerobic fitness level measurement/tracking and other key physiological measurements…” The website 9To5Mac has posted a screen shot of the ad. Qualifications for the positions include experience with health-monitoring equipment, measuring calorie expenditure, key fitness indicators, and exercise testing. 9To5Mac says the ad suggests that Apple is moving into the development phase, which will entail product testing. 

This, plus Apple’s December meeting with top FDA officials, clearly shows Apple is serious about health and fitness. Some are interpreting this as evidence for health monitoring functions of the rumored iWatch. But there have also been rumors that Apple has developed a Healthbook app that will come with iOS 8 later this year. 

All this seems like a brilliant move. After all, we’re in the era of big data. Sensors and Internet marketers and the government are increasingly storing huge amounts of information and figuring out ways of analyzing it to extract patterns and gain insights. Think of how Amazon, for example, makes recommendations for you. It analyzes millions of purchases and tries to identify trends so it can recommend products you might like, based on what you and others have purchased.

Until now home health data collection has been rudimentary. You could take your blood pressure, weigh yourself, and take your temperature. Pedometers became popular a number of years ago, so you could track how many steps you take each day. And now fitness apps can tell you how far you run, what your average pace was, how many calories you burned, etc.

Apple seems to be intent on taking this to the limit: using a variety of sensors to monitor a wide range of health and physiology data and then analyzing that. The goal would be to let you know where you stand so you can take greater control of your health-all for the purpose of taking steps toward greater wellness. The time seems right. The technologies, such as sensors, are available, powerful mobile devices are ubiquitous, specialized chips such as Apple’s M7 can store all the incoming data, and algorithms have been developed for analyzing it. Plus, people are increasingly interested in playing a more active role to enjoy optimal health. It’s going to be fun to see what Apple comes up with.

[Image credit: Screen shot of Lose It! - Weight Loss Program and Calorie Counter (free)] 

Brightstone Mysteries: Paranormal Hotel HD Takes Checking Out To A Whole New Level

Paranormal Hotel HD (Free, $6.99 to unlock full game) is yet another G5 adventure game. Like many of the newer releases, it gravitates towards the actual adventure side of things with few mini-games and no hidden object scenes. The story is captivating, but the game play isn’t quite as strong as what I’ve come to expect from G5′s adventure offerings. There seems to be a lot of back and forth and dialogs with not so much puzzle solving in between. It still keeps me wanting to play, but more because I’m curious about what’s going to happen rather than looking forward to the next set of puzzles to solve.

The Plot Thickens

In the game you play a detective that gets called away from her vacation to help solve a mystery at a castle in France. The thing is, while your boss and certain other parties want you there, the native lead detective and the mistress of the castle would rather you vacate the premises. What follows is a tale of secret societies, hidden agendas and self revelation. The story is quite intriguing, but keep in mind that it is really more about exploring the supernatural than about solving a traditional criminal mystery, just in case you’re not as much into the former. For those that are or just want to try something different, you should find a lot to like here.

First and foremost this is an adventure game, so besides walking around and talking to people you’ll be collecting objects and solving puzzles. For the most part what you need to do is pretty logical, so the game moves at a pretty decent pace. Sometimes it’s kind of difficult to tell what objects you need to pick up, and at other times you  know that you need something you see-for instance the candle lying on the chest when you first enter your hotel room-but the game won’t let you take it because you don’t need it yet.  It’s understandable from a plot perspective but kind of annoying from a player point of view.  The interface seems a bit flaky when it comes to selecting items in your inventory, but ultimately it’s workable without much fuss.  Thankfully many times the items just won’t show up until you can actually take them.

That's Not My Mummy

Talking to NPCs the first time through is a bit laborious because you have to click on a topic to further the discussion even though you only get one topic choice at a time. This does come in handy later, however, should you need to or get the chance to review the conversation. The other facet of the game is the mini-games that pop up which you have to solve before advancing further in the game. You can actually skip them if you like, but the reality is that there is only one that might give you reason to hit “the button,” and personally I think the mini-game was expecting a level of accuracy that was too hard to achieve. The rest of the mini-games seemed a bit too easy, even if you didn’t know what you were doing. The primary goal is to simply finish the adventure, which actually seemed a bit on the short side compared to some of G5′s high-end offerings, but there are also several achievements to earn if you want to work toward them.

Overall the visuals are decent; but that’s sort of a balance, as some scenes look really nice and others actually seem a bit grainy and dated. The character designs are good but not exceptional, and there’s nothing that really stands out as taking your breath away. The sound effects do their job, and in some scenes there are actually ambient noises that make things seem a bit more alive. The voices are good but sadly only the intro and closing animations are spoken. The music is good and is probably the most consistent part of the aesthetics.

Bad Dreams

I enjoyed Brightstone Mysteries: Paranormal Hotel HD, but honestly, not so much for the game play as for the story. The mini-games were mostly too easy, and while the object puzzles started off pretty strong and actually kind of interesting, the latter half of the game felt like you were basically wandering between locations and talking to people. The audio and visual elements of the game weren’t of consistent quality, and even at their best paled compared to some of the other recent offerings from G5. I’m not suggesting you gloss over this title, but from a publisher that has some pretty incredible IPs under their belt, this certainly wouldn’t be my first pick to play.

Overall Score: 3 Stars