The Art of Gaming

Review – Epson 3010 Projector

Hello All!

Over the past several years, Epson has established a pattern of producing some of the most competitive projectors in class, so its no surprise many were anxious for me to share my thoughts on the new Epson 3010.    At $1599 ($1799 for the 3010e), the Epson 3010 fits into the just-above entry-level market and boasts some impressive features (including 3D capabilities) for its price point.   Read on to find out how the 3010 holds up in the game room!

 

With the holidays just around the corner, November is always a busy month for title releases – and this month was no exception.  Between the new Assassins Creed, Uncharted 3, Skyward Sword and the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls series (Skyrim), I’ve had plenty of new and exciting test material for this projector.

The first thing I noticed about the Epson 3010 was its brightness.  It is a very bright projector.  Even in “Cinema” mode with the “ECO” blub setting activated (the least bright mode for this projector), the Epson 3010 throws an impressively bright image.   I spent most of my time with this projector in this mode because I have a light controlled environment and felt it resulted in the best black levels.   If  “dynamic” mode is activated and the bulb output changed to “normal”, it is clear this projector has the lumens to shine in an environment where ambient light might be an issue for other projectors.


This added brightness does come with a trade-off.   There is a clear difference in darker scenes between my Epson 6500UB and the Epson 3010.  When crawling around the darker dungeons of Skyrim, the Epson 3010 simply cannot compete with the black levels of the 6500UB.  Keep in mind, however, it goes both ways.  The 6500UB cannot compete with the brightness of of the 3010.  It’s a trade-off.

I would say the Epson 3010 has better blacks and is less bright than the Optoma GT750 and has about the same black levels and is more bright than the BenQ W1200.


Placement flexibility is a feature many people can overlook.  There has been a change in the optics between the Epson 3010 and its predecessor.  Instead of vertical and horizontal lens shift, Epson has decided to implement a fixed lens system with keystone correction.  By no means does the Epson 3010 have poor placement flexibility, but it took a little more finagling to get the 3010 to project an image on my screen from the same position as my older Epson. I usually have to put the projectors I review in completely different spots than my 6500UB.  So, the Epson 3010 still has better placement than many other projectors, but the new system, in my opinion, is not as versatile as the older model’s.

The Epson 3010 projector is 3D capable and I was successful, for the first time, at gaming in 3D!  My 3D game of choice (the only 3D game own), StarCraft 2, was played from my computer via the NVidia GTX560 graphics card.  I don’t have much basis for comparison in 3D games, so I’m wasn’t really sure what to expect.  StarCraft 2 looked…3D!  Instead of a flat 2D birds eye view, I could see more clearly how the units and buildings were positioned in layers in respect to my point of view…depth!     I guess it’s hard to explain…but there definitely was a difference, and it was pretty cool.

StarCraft2 is a game I would never choose to play on a projector, so I’ll have to search for some better demo material in the future.  For all intents and purposes, StarCraft 2 did well in giving me a feel for 3D gaming.  (If anyone can recommend a 3D gaming title to be my new reference – please let me know!)

The Epson 3010 also includes two built in 10 watt speakers.  The speakers lack the bottom end, but I was impressed with the sound coming from the 3010 both in regards to overall volume level and clarity at higher volumes.   The best speakers I have heard on a projector yet.  The sound starts distorting around level 30/40.  At 25/40 the Epson 3010′s sound is impressively loud and clean.   I like included speakers because they increase the projectors portability appeal.   The 3010 is not a huge projector, but it is not a “portable projector” by any means and the built in speakers are great for their “plug and play” functionality.  Just an all around nice feature to have if you decide to pack up the projector and bring it to a friend’s place.

I would like to mention the Epson 3010 does not have a CFI (creative frame interpolation) system.  I sometimes find CFI able to improve to the overall gaming experience – especially in slower paced games.   Switching from my 6500UB, I did miss this feature a little bit, but in no way would I consider it a deal breaker.  (The Epson 3010 uses the 2:2 pulldown method to smooth its imaging.  I made sure this was off during input lag testing.)

Because there is no CFI system, there were few settings that could influence the input lag results.  I turned off noise reduction and any settings I could find that might increase input lag.   Unfortunately folks…the results were less than stellar.    The best result I could capture was ~80ms.  Input lag measurements extending into the +100ms range and averaged around 100ms.    (I was unable to test the input lag over wireless HDMI, as I received an Epson 3010 not the Epson 3010e.  If anyone had access to this feature and is willing to do some tests please let me know.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I was not expecting this at all.  I was playing slower placed games, but I didn’t notice a hint of lag while playing them.   I took a look at some faster paced games after I saw the input lag results and it was apparent in both Amplitude and online in Halo: Reach that the 3010 had enough input lag to impact high-speed game-play.

Though the numbers were similar, I felt the Epson was a tad more responsive than the W1200, but it was still frustrating to play.   Art will be in touch with Epson regarding this, maybe they can attempt a firmware fix like BenQ on the W1200?  If they can get the projector to test below 40ms, I think we’ll have a real winner.

In short, the Epson 3010 is a great projector – awesome brightness, good color reproduction, respectable placement flexibility and 3D capabilities to boot.  It’s a shame I can’t recommend the 3010 for any serious gamers.  It suffers a bit too much from input lag to be used as a primary gaming display.   If you have ~$1500 to spend, I would recommend trying to find an “older” projector like the Epson 8350.  It won’t have 3D capabilities or built in speakers, but the input lag will test around ~33ms.

 

In the mean time, I’m continuing my Skyrim review.  Hopefully, Art has plans to send me some more toys!

That’s all for now!

-Pete

 

 

EDIT:  I also found this interesting article on AVSforum which compares some of the lag time on the newer Epson projectors

 

Thanks to TXLZone, we have an unofficial update regarding the input lag issue,

“A fix would require more than just a firmware for the lag on with video games. There would have to be a hardware change as well. These first 3 units were designed to work with 3D movies more than any other media. It will be addressed for future models.”

We can cross our fingers and stay hopeful!

 

 

News And Comments

  • Blue

    Interesting post. As it turns out, I took the plunge and bought the 3010 in the meantime as I was able to find a local deal on it that couldn’t be beat. I have to say that my findings with the lag issue have been minimal. While it is definitely there, I haven’t noticed it to be an issue at all. Gran Turismo 3D is a treat on this thing and you need precise button timing to manage some of the courses with the faster indy cars. I’ve found my performance to be on par with other TVs. Is it possible that some projectors are quicker than others on lag? I would be interested to hear from Epson says after Art’s inquiry on it. I asked them about the possibility of a firmware fix about a month ago and didn’t even get a response!

    I have to say, as a first time projector owner, I am thoroughly impressed with this thing and a large part of that stems from the gaming side!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Blue,

      I’m glad you are enjoying your projector! It is all around a great one.

      The response time is probably pretty consistent between projectors. A game like Gran Turismo does require some quick reactions, but fast paced shooters require a lot faster response. Again, high input lag results effect all games, but the impact is felt on the fastest games.

      The older ps2 game Amplitude that I use for my qualitative test is great. I can go from my 6500UB directly to the test projector and see how my play is changed due to input lag. The 6500UB has ~30-40ms and when I went to the 3010 I couldn’t even begin get through one of the tougher levels I usually complete.

      Either way, continue enjoying your new toy!

  • TXLZone

    I was going to purchase this projector until I heard about the input lag. Definitely a deal killer for me!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      It is a shame… A great projector otherwise, I will keep you updated on any information I hear from Epson regarding this.

  • http://medicalitinc.com Chris

    I just replaced my epson 8350 for the 3010 – Seems there is quite a difference between the lag as I had none before. I play BF3/crysis2 regularly and with the 3010, it’s almost impossible because of the lag. With 3d turned off, all settings tweaked, it’s still too much delay in mouse and keyboard for video to respond accurately – Which is very important for FPS games. Even in WIndows, it’s still very slow – But not to the point of return. I guess I am torn between the two – I would certainly like to hear what Epson plans to do – Maybe nothing? I purchased a Sony (cant remember model but was 4k @ bestbuy) and it was almost the same slow response time. Little better in some areas, but IMO, the 3010 is just as bright. Sony had much better contract for true blacks and offered manual lens placement, which was really nice for my theater/game room… but $2500 is a lot for those minor details I suppose.
    Good read, thanks for taking time to post!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Yea, I am hopeful Epson will attempt to improve it a bit via firmware. It’s hard to say how much improvement is possible over firmware, but we’ll see.

    • Peter

      I am about to buy a gaming projector, and I play a lot of BF3, so the response time is of utmost importance. I am considering the 8350, and I am very curious about your experience with it. Was it decent? Thanks!

      • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

        Peter,

        The 8530 is very good in terms of input lag, ~19ms if I remember correctly. I have an older version of that projector and can personally recommend it.

        Best,

        Pete

  • Richard Slaughter

    Yes, I’ve been seeing the same on the lag. I’ve brought this concern up with epson, and their initial response was that it was functioning as designed (this is backed by a look in the EDID: the manufacturer’s specs in the extended EDID state that it’s 125ms video delay)
    However, recently epson responded to my support request stating that their engineering team is investigating whether it can be improved with firmware. I have no idea how likely that is, but it’s hope at least :) As you said this projector is really a superb pj other than the lag, so it would be nice to take that one “but” out of the positive experience.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      That’s good news. That is more than I have heard up to this point. Thanks for the update.

    • TXLZone

      I really hope that they can fix this. Can you let us know if you hear anything back from their engineering team? Thanks.

      • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

        TXLZone,

        I will let everyone know as soon as I hear from them. It’s been tough with the holidays…

        Best,

        Pete

    • Robert

      Today I got a reply from Epson customer support about the lag on the 3010:

      “We are aware of the lag you are experiencing. At this time it has been determined
      this is the way these projector have been designed to work as these projectors were
      really meant to watch 3D movies. It would not be a firmware update that would fix
      this as it has to do with the hardware of the projector. The delay is increased as
      more options to the signal are enabled. Certain games do have the option to
      calibrate the controller to the display.”

      Assuming this statement reflects the latest news from Epson, that’s a “no” on the firmware. :(

  • http://None Philip

    Hey,

    I am looking into buying a projector for a living room setup (white walls, a window that will be covered – so medium ambient lightning during daytime but i live in sweden so half of the year it will be pitch black!) and want to use it for 50/50 movies and gaming.

    Would you recommend the Epson 8700UB or 8350 with my setup, or some other projector altogether?

    Thank you very much for any help! I feel a little lost! :)

    Br/Philip

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Hi Philip,

      That’s a great question. Those are two great projectors. The 8350 is a bit brighter, and will perform a little better during the day, but there is no doubt that the 8700ub is a better projector.

      If your budget allows, I would go with the 8700UB over the 8350… The “Dynamic” color mode will give enough brightness to watch during the day. And at night, the 8700UB will stand out.

      Regards,

      Pete

      • Peter

        Hi Pete,

        I love this blog you have!! I am leaning towards the 8350 but I disappointed that it comes with no audio output jacks. Long story short, this means I will need to invest in a A/V receiver to juggle the inputs and audio. If you know of another 1080 projector with minimal display lag which does have audio output jacks, please let me know! Thanks so much!

  • Robert

    I too was bitten by the lag of the 3010. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first; I blamed the wireless mouse and the iz3d drivers before I remembered that there is such a thing as display lag. My old 8500UB spoiled me.

    My desktop spans the 3010 and 8500. If I grab a window on the 3010 and whisk it to the side fast enough, I can actually see it appear on the 8500 well before (by several frames) it disappears from the 3010. Comical, but sad. Mostly sad. So very sad.

    On the other hand, the 3D works, so I can’t say I regret the purchase too badly because I love the novelty of wall-sized stereo. If it were my primary projector, though, I’d be rather inconsolable.

  • http://medicalitinc.com Chris

    Good read – I have both the 3010 and 8350 – It’s a touch trade off, like you mentioned. I have been scouring the net looking for firmware or some form of “fix” – I hope there is one soon as I would certainly like to use the 3010 to play bf3 without the input lag…. I wonder if the Pro Cinema 6010 is any better…

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      I’ve read the 6010 averages around 83ms instead of 100ms. I don’t know if you can call that a legitimate improvement, but it’s something.

  • Chris

    Hi Pete,

    Someone on the avsforums mentioned the below Amazon review claiming that the lag problem was visible with a 6ft hdmi cable, but imperceptible with a 1.5ft hdmi cable. He also posted a video demonstrating the difference. Unfortunately, he didn’t provide measurements. Do you still have access to a 3010? If so, can you try this? If this is true, it hints at a potential firmware bug triggered by attributes of the hdmi cable.

    Chris

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1NNMJ6HINA9DB/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B005VONPT8&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tONKWbfnHA

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for pointing this out. I don’t have access to the 3010, but I do have the Epson 5010 on its way to me. I will try to get access to a shorter HDMI cable, but I can almost guarantee the difference of 4.5 ft in an HDMI connection would not decrease lag. I’ll look into it though…

      Regards,

      Pete

      • Chris

        Hi Pete,
        I agree that the length of the hdmi cable itself can’t introduce a noticeable amount of delay. I use a 40 ft hdmi run with no problem. So if the 1.5 ft thing really works, I think it’s a good sign that there’s not an inherent lag issue with the chipset used by the PJ. So it gives me hope that this is due to a bug, not the design.

        The bulb in my HC1500 died and the color wheel is starting to get noisy. So I’d rather upgrade PJ’s than spend money on another bulb. If it wasn’t for this issue, the 3010 would be the perfect replacement. I’m looking forward to the 5010 results :)

        Thanks!
        Chris

  • voodooFish

    Would love to buy the 3010e for my mancave, but game lag on COD games is a deal breaker for me. Is there any update you can provide?? If lag is still an issue, how about a recommendation in the same price range as the 3010.

    Thx much
    Voodoo

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      No update from Epson other than that they are aware of the issue and they will try to cut it down on future models. The 8500UB is a great choice if you can find it. I really like that projector. I still run my 6500UB, haven’t felt the need to upgrade, yet…

      -Pete