Epson Home Cinema 3010 - Competitors
How does the Epson Home Cinema 3010 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
Epson Home Cinema 3010 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8350
The Home Cinema 8350 was introduced late in 2010, and remains in the Epson lineup for a second year. With a price point of $1299, it is essentially $300 less than the new Home Cinema 3010 reviewed in these pages. So, who should by which one? This is pretty straightforward. The Home Cinema 8350, first of all, is 2D only, unlike the 3010. In addition, it is more designed as a lower cost projector for a dedicated room/theater. In that regard, it has the placement flexibility advantage, with more range to the zoom (so it can be rear shelf placed in most rooms) and lens shift.
From an image quality standpoint there shouldn't be much difference, with the 8350 having a slight advantage in black levels. Far more significant is the brightness difference, so if you are looking for a larger screen, a brighter room, or 3D, then the 3010 makes good sense. If budget it tight, you are fitting a dedicated theater or room, then save a few hundred dollars and stick with the 8350. It is, by just a tad, the slightly better 2D projector unless you need the extra brightness.
Epson Home Cinema 3010 vs. Mitsubishi HC4000
The Mitsubishi HC4000's appeal is as an affordable home theater projector for those seeking best picture quality. Though lacking all but the the standard features, the HC4000 offers perhaps the best black levels of any low cost projector without a dynamic iris. Colors are rich, and classically "DLP look and feel" (which I translate in part, as looking particularly well saturated on dark scenes, without being over the top) The Epson will crush the Mitsubishi in brightness even though the Mitsubishi is about average. Onn the darkest scenes the Epson will provide a slightly blacker black, but overall, the HC4000 will be the better at blacks, and without an iris. A close thing. The HC4000 is an affordable enthusiasts and purists projector. The Epson, as noted, is first a family room projector, but will serve nicely in a theater with a medium to very large screen sizes.
The HC4000 will save you about $400 at the time I write this, making the HC4000 perhaps the most affordable step up in performance from the entry level projectors. If both are in price range, the Epson has to be the better choice for the majority. It just brings too much to the table - family room brightness, 3D, more flexibility, better warranty. On the other hand, if you want a low cost projector with a particularly excellent picture for movies, considering the price, if it works in your room, the Mitsubishi is the best choice.
Epson Home Cinema 3010 vs. Optoma HD20
How does the imensely popular though aging HD20, stand up against the Epson Home Cinema 3010? This is too easy. The Epson has the Optoma beat at about everything, but the Optoma is more than 1/3 less. The "official street prices" put the Epson at $1599, and the Optoma at $899! So, sure, buy the Epson if you have the budget. It wins in brightness, 3D (the HD20 lacks 3d), warranty, black levels color controls, features... The HD20 puts up a very nice picture, with the same 1080p resolution as the Epson up on your screen for a low price. That's it's real strength.
Epson Home Cinema 3010 vs. Sharp XV-Z17000
The Sharp XV-Z17000 will produce better black levels than the Epson, which is a really good thing, because, for about twice the price of the Epson, it really isn't going to dominate any other area. It's a good DLP projector, in terms of color. It has very limited placement flexibility. Let's just say that the Sharp is going to be a very tough sale going forward at its price. It's got the Epson 3010 at half the price to contend with, and for more like the same price, the Epson 5010 will add better blacks and CFI for smooth motion.
Epson Home Cinema 3010 vs. Panasonic PT-AE7000, Rumored Epson Home Cinema 5010
Both projectors, the PT-AE7000 and Epson's Home Cinema 5010, are direct competitors, but, who should be spurging for those, or "settling" for the Home Cinema 3010? The more expensive Epson and the Panasonic are pretty similar in most ways. The Panasonic has some fancy setup features, and is motorized, which allows their lens memory capability, which is a plus for some. But beyond that, it's more similar than different. So, let's assume that if you have the budget, and want the Panasonic lens memory and a 2.35:1 screen, you'll pick that one, but otherwise, lets compare the 3010 with the 5010.
The Home Cinema 5010 is supposed to be 200 lumens brighter, almost 10%. That's always a plus, but a pretty small one. The biggest difference is in picture performance, and that built on two primary things: much better black level performance, and a pair of pre-calibrated THX modes. Additionally, for your sports and perhaps other HDTV viewing, the Home Cinema also offers CFI - smooth motion.
With the much better blacks, the Home Cinema 5010, although just great in a family room setup, really appreciates a dedicated, light controlled environment to show off it's purported exceptional blacks.
Basically shoppers of the Home Cinema 3010 and 5010 have the same basic decisions as previous generations of of Epson shoppers. The 8350 compares to the 8700UB in the same ways the 3010 compares to the 5010.
Viewsonic Pro8200 vs. Epson Home Cinema 3010
The Viewsonic is more of a "cross-over" projector. It's got a healthy amount of brightness, but still can't match the Epson. Nor does it have 3D, or particularly good black level performance. What the Viewsonic mostly brings to the party is good color, a much lower price, and 2D performance to match. The Epson offers much more but will cost you more.
Panasonic PT-AE4000 and Epson Home Cinema 8700UB compared to the Epson Home Cinema 3010
With both of these two "classic" projectors going away, the question becomes - "do I grab one of them" before they are all gone. The first thing to remember, is that they are both being replaced, but with projectors selling for about $3000, not priced right around $2000. These end of life projectors are definitely at their best in theaters and dedicated rooms, as they can't match the brightness of the HC3010. The real reason though are those two have superior black level performance. The Epson may be the slightly better of the two, but they are closer to each other, than either is to the 3010.
If you are an enthusiast, want great blacks, good brightness, the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB is going to be hard to beat, for the price, against new competition. The Panaonic is similar, but has its own strengths, such as motorized lens memory. The key point, is that these have been the two lowest cost/best projectors to sport some really impressive blacks, and I'm not sure that anything new much under $3,000 can match them in regard to blacks.