Epson Home Cinema 2030 Projector Review

HDMI-Link

Speaking of HDMI, from the Home Cinema 2030 remote control, you can control other HDMI devices such as the numerous Blu-ray players that support HDMI-Link. Naturally to make that practical, you’ll find a full set of DVD type controls on the Epson remote. The remote is discussed in our Hardware (physical) Tour section.

Home Cinema 2030 Projector 3D

3D on this Epson projector is really dazzling to watch.  For movie watching the other night, I expanded to fill a “cinemascope” movie (2.35:1) to fill my Cinemascope shaped screen, which is 124″ diagonal.  After watching for about 30 minutes, my conclusion was that the projector was bright enough to actually not be dim even at that size!   (Rare, very rare, for any home projector including other bright ones).   The color was respectable – we don’t adjust color for 3D viewing, so I wasn’t surprised that color was a bit off.  Here’s the thing:  Based on the brightness, at that point, I just assumed I had put the projector in 3D Dynamic.  What a surprise when I hit the menu, and discovered I was doing such a good job with the projector actually set for 3D Cinema.  3D Dynamic isn’t that much brighter, but it is brighter still.

Let’s just say this is a 3D light canon…

Like with other Epson projectors, there are three settings for 3D Brightness in the menus. These relate to timing as it affects crosstalk.  With the brightest setting, you get more crosstalk, with the lowest, it’s rather clean (but not perfect). I never use the brightest setting with Epson projectors.  I was using the middle setting when I was judging the brightness above.

Last year Epson switched from non-rechargeable IR based glasses, to rechargeable RF, 3D glasses. These lightweight active glasses that we used for the Epson 5020UB and HC3020 reviews, are the same you would use with the Home Cinema 2030.  The image below it shows the power and pairing controls. These glasses weigh in at a very light 34.2 grams – around 1.25 ounces.  Hey, they are lighter than my RayBans.

No problem with any types of 3D in my collection, Blu-ray 3D, and the couple of DirecTV 3D channels. I did not test the Home Cinema 2030 with any 3D games.

Sharpness looks great in 3D on Blu-ray 3D, but on most of the DirecTV content, the image is a bit softer.  Not surprising, DirecTV is feeding us 720p or 1080i.  BTW, when we take any photo of an image off of DirecTV, pausing it to take the shot results in shooting just one frame of 1080i not both, so inherently it’s lower resolution, with some jaggies, compared to true 1080p.

Color in 3D, tends to look a bit oversaturated, but you can dial that right down from the main menu.  With some ambient light present, you likely won’t even want to.

Bottom line on 3D:   Not completely crosstalk free (unlike a DLP projector).  But, all day long, I’ll take the extra brightness and pop of the 3D on this Epson over the slightly cleaner 3D on the the BenQ W1070 and Optoma HD25-LV.   Please note:  Some crosstalk is often present in the content – in which case it would be equally apparent on DLP or 3LCD projectors.

I love the rechargeability of the Epson glasses.  Plug them into a USB slot for recharging.  The great thing is this.  Let’s say a couple of friends drop by for a movie, and you discover your three (optional) pair of glasses are all discharged.  It only takes 3 minutes to charge them up enough to make it through a typical movie.  Or, as I like to say, you can charge up the glasses in less time than it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn.  Cool!

Home Cinema 2030 USB Slideshow

You can connect a USB device to the Home Cinema 2030, and run slideshows of your photos, etc., without needing a computer.  Very fast and simple to do. Hitting the Slideshow button the remote opens a large window which will display the directory and images on a USB stick you place in the USB slot.

You can manually scroll through, or setup a slide show.  In the thumbnail view not all the image formats show, but they do work when you expand and show the image.  (Those not working show up as .jepg rather than .jpg in the image browser.)  Whether this is something that will change with a full production projector I don’t know, but its certainly a minor detail.)

Home Cinema 2030 Projector: Dynamic Iris

Yes, the Home Cinema 2030 does have a dynamic iris, which works both in 2D and 3D to improve black level performance. Given the low cost nature of this Epson projector, black levels are in line with most other low cost projectors.

Don’t expect the iris to give you the black level performance of noticeably more expensive projectors. Epson’s own 5020UB which we cite as the best black levels under $3000 (and better than most under $8000), is still far, far better, but then, excellent black level performance is one of the first, if not the first thing that separates really serious home theater projectors (ultra-high contrast ones) from lower cost home entertainment projectors.  We discuss the actuall black level performance with image examples in the Image Quality area.

Home Cinema 2030 Lamp Life

Excellent!  In terms of lamp life, Epson is claiming that the Home Cinema 3020 lamp will last 5000 hours running at full power, and 6000 hours in eco-mode.  Replacement cost for a genuine Epson lamp, is $299, on the low side compared to the competition, but not the least expensive overall.  Even at full power, 5000 hours is a really long time.  That’s 2000 two and a half hour movies!   Or maybe 1500 NFL football games – are you ready for a lot of everything?

Image Slide - Image Adjustment

This feature a slide bar on the top, behind the lens controls makes for fast adjustment of the image to maintain a rectangular image even when not positioned optimally.  Like Keystone correction, it does have some minor affect on the picture, but it makes almost any setup simple to accomplish.

1.2:1 Zoom Lens

Most under $1000 projectors have zoom lenses in the 1.1:1 to 1.3:1 zoom range.  Anything in that range must be described as having a limited amount of front to back placement flexibility.  We note that some competitors might have 1.3:1, but filling a 100″ screen, that extra zoom lens only buys about 1 extra foot of range – where you can put the projector, giving you about 3 feet range , vs 2 feet.  By comparison, more expensive projectors often have 1.6:1 up to 2.1:1 zoom lenses.  Those guys have huge amounts of flexibility by comparison.   The Epson 5020UB (given it’s over 2.5 times the price), has 11 feet of front to back placement range with a 100″ screen, compared to just over 2 feet for this projector.  Still, if you are placing it on a table, you’ll just place it where it has to be.  If ceiling mounting, then it’s like other limited placement range projectors, you measure, make sure it works with the screen size you want, and bingo…

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