Epson Home Cinema 2030 Projector Review

Home Cinema 2030 vs. BenQ W1070 and W1080ST

This is probably the most interesting comparison, and the one most are looking for.

Theoretically it’s the W1070 vs. the Home Cinema 2030 both at $999.  The Home Cinema 2000 with slightly less lumens (but still more than the BenQ projectors) is officially $100 less than the HC2030.

The BenQ has a couple of performance advantages.  It definitely has a slight advantage in terms of black level performance, which favors it in the cave or dedicated home theater.  The BenQ also offers (on the W1070 only) a small amount of vertical lens shift which could be a real help depending on your room, in terms of mounting the projector.

Remember, when it comes to placement there’s also the BenQ W1080ST, which is a short throw configuration.  That may also appeal to some folks.  Otherwise the same as the W1070 (except no lens shift), the W1080ST has the advantage of sitting in the front of the audience, which is nice if on table top.  But most will prefer the W1070.

When it comes to picture quality, right out of the box, the two BenQs were a bit different from each other.  Still both BenQs like the Epson offer particularly good color right out of the box for relatively low cost projectors.  The Epson though has the better color when comparing the absolute brightest modes.  The BenQ’s skin tones in Dynamic mode are defitely not up to the Epsons, but both sets of projectors don’t lose much brightness even when calibrated.

Warranty and support which I value highly – and so does anyone who encounters a warranty issue, strongly favors Epson.  Not only two years parts and labor, but two years of next business day replacement program.  Should you have a warranty problem, you won’t be down more than a couple or three days.  Anytime you have to ship in a projector for repair, you’re down for at least a week, maybe several. It’s something to factor.  Both brand’s projectors have long life lamps, so I don’t think there’s enough difference there to matter.

As a family projector rather than a enthusiasts projector, the Epsons have the advantage of being 3LCD – no rainbow effect.  If you are rainbow sensitive or don’t know yet, that’s a real difference.  If you aren’t, perhaps a family member is, certainly a friend or two probably are.   How big a deal?  Tough call.  I do get emails from people buying their first low cost projectors, who turn out to be rainbow sensitive. They tend to email they are returning it- what should I buy that’s not going to let me see rainbows. Image noise favors the Epson as it is cleaner on typical mosquito noise, but the BenQ is typical DLP, it’s not enough to be a real issue, unlike the image noise issue of the Optoma HD25-LV. Remember, far more expensive DLP projectors have faster color wheels which means far less people are affected, and those that are, see far less rainbows.

When it comes to 3D, the BenQ picks up an advantage.  A single chip DLP is cleaner in terms of crosstalk, but that’s not a big issue on my radar as the Epson’s pretty good (and has multiple settings to trade off vs. brightness)  I favor Epson for 3D simply because their 3D is brighter.   Also I like Epson’s glasses alternatives better, although there are 3rd party solutions for both brands.  Epson’s glasses are much lighter, and quickly rechargeable.  BenQ uses DLP-Link, which I think is getting dated.  Note that the Optoma HD25-LV offers DLP-Link as their normal, but offer optional RF glasses (Epsons are also RF), with better picture performance – that don’t use DLP-Link.

The Home Cinema 2030 and Home Cinema 2000 are the better mass market projectors, I have no doubt in my mind about that.  Still, the BenQ projectors, especially the W1070 should find a pretty respectable following among enthusiasts – at least those not rainbow sensitive.    I also like that they are smart with their MHL support.  I actually found myself using Roku with the HC2030. Cool! MHL will also allow you to work directly with any MHL equipped Android device (and maybe iOS in the future). For example with an MHL Android tablet

In a room that does have more than minimal ambient light, I do favor the Epson – for brighter 3D as well as better color at brightest.  In my upcoming projector addition to my rather bright livingroom, I would pick the Epson.  Personally I am planning on watching sports and TV, but movies will  stay in the home theater. I would pick the Epsons for that room, except that I’ll go with a higher end, but also bright projector, so I don’t have to choose one of these. Still, around $999, these are probably the best alternatives out there.  For most families – the Epsons win.  For the hard core enthusiast, looking for the best theater performance though, the BenQ has the edge. Do you share?  BTW, since projector repairs can be expensive, figure the cost of an extended warranty if you go BenQ.

I expect that the Epsons will prove to be the more popular of the two pairs of projectors, but it’s about which one’s best for you?  No muss, no fuss favors the Epsons – they build a super friendly, and very smart, bright, family solution with a great warranty.  Lens shift (modest) and a touch more zoom, plus slightly better blacks favor the BenQ W1070.  Just remember these are all around entry level for black level performance.  The “serious” home theater projectors with “ultra-high contrast black level performance do cost a good deal more.

Two first class choices!

Epson Home Cinema 2000 vs. Acer H6510 and Viewsonic PJD7820HD

Let’s focus on the Home Cinema 2000 (available online) rather than the 2030 for this comparison. Why?  Because these other two projectors are both true entry level “crossover” 1080p projectors.  Although the H6510BD and the Viewsonic obviously come off similar production lines (the boxes have much in common), we found the Viewsonic to be both brighter and less expensive.   The Viewsonic also has the ability to save a user memory, a complaint I have about the Acer. The Acer though can be tweaked to have the better color of the two.

We’re talking $699 and $799 for the Viewsonic and Acer respectively, based on MAP online pricing.  The Epson Home Cinema 2000 weighs in at $899, but offers more features.

Remember both Acer and Viewsonic really are crossover business projectors so there are obvious sacrifices made to satisfy the business user.  Mind you the Epson has enough brights to also play in the business world, but note that the “extras” are all home entertainment focused.

I favor the color and overall image quality of the Epson Home Cinema 2000 over both of them.  The Epson is also at least the equal of the others in terms of blacks, although none of these projectors is screaming “me, me” for those seeking superior black levels.  You’ll just have to spend more money.  I don’t think we ever got the Viewsonic to look as accurate color wise as the Epson’s best modes right out of the box.   That’s big difference.  The Acer based on Mike’s calibration, can do some very good color, but I’d still say the Epson is more forgiving, and if you aren’t interested in fooling around with your projector at all, it’s definitely the way to go.  It’s cleaner on image noise which also helps although the difference isn’t a major thing.   All’s fair, the Epson is $100 or $200 more than the Acer and Viewsonic respectively.

All do 3D.  No issues with any in that regard.  They are all pretty bright for doing 3D.  The 3LCD design does seem to get you more net brightness than DLP, but these DLPs are brighter overall, so in 3D they all do very well, brightness wise.

Feature sets vary.  All have limited range zoom lenses, and none have lens shift.  The Epson though, piles on consumer features – from MHL for things like Roku, to plugging in a USB device to view your photos and other PC free functionality, to optional RF 3D glasses that recharge quickly.

Warranty is interesting.  Acer offers a basic 1 year parts and labor.  Epson offers two years with two years of replacement, while Viewsonic offers a comparable alternative to Epson with 3 years parts and labor, but one year of replacement. Which of Epson or Viewsonic you favor for warranty is a tough one.

While I tend to paint the Epson HC2000 as a projector for the living room, family room, etc., that’s certainly true for these two crossovers.

The Viewsonic I favor over the Acer, especially since it’s also $100 less, but, understand you would be getting a lot more projector in terms of picture, and features for the Epson’s extra $200 compared to the Viewsonic PJD7820. In this case I would definitely recommend to most stepping up to the Epson if it can fit into your budget.

Home Cinema 2030 vs. Panasonic PT-AR100U

The Panasonic PT-AR100U is really the direct competitor of the Epson HC8350 covered above.  Like that Epson, it’s been around a while.

Unlike the Home Cinema 2030, the Panasonic PT-AR100U is 2D only.  It’s brighter than the 8350 and measures about the same brightness as the Home Cinema 2030.  The Panasonic has great placement flexibility, and better blacks, and costs $300 more – $400 more than the HC2000.  Both are fine in the family room/living room.

Like with the HC8350, the Panasonic is the better dedicated home theater projector, with much better blacks, better placement flexibility, etc. The Home Cinema 2030 and the Panasonic PT-AR100U projectors have very good color right out of the box.  I was particularly impressed with both of them when reviewing them.

The lower cost, 3D, the smart features and better warranty are the reasons for going with the Epson.  More serious performance from an enthusiast standpoint is the compelling reason to spend more for the PT-AR100U.  The far better placement flexibility may also be important to you.  Very different projectors.  You should easily figure out which one fits your requirements.

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Adorama 
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