Epson Home Cinema 3010 Home Theater Projector Review
This review started out with an engineering sample of the Epson Home Cinema 3010 (or rather the 3010e), which had a couple of minor issues. Epson insisted on sending us a newer, pre-production projector to confirm that the issues were corrected. They were fixed. All told, I've been working with the Epson Home Cinema 3010e (the engineering sample) and the Home Cinema 3010 for over 3 weeks, and almost 100 hours of viewing.
For simplicity, I will mostly refer to this review as one of the Epson Home Cinema 3010, occasionally mentioning the 3010e features. A separate one page reivew of the 3010e will be posted on 10-20, which will discuss the extra major feature, and slightly different value proposition. Enjoy! -art
10/18/2011 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 3010 Projector Overview
This Epson Home Cinema 3010 takes affordable performance, and value, to a new level. Epson may be almost a year late with their 3D capable home theater projectors, but in this case, well worth the wait.
The Home Cinema 3010 - or HC3010, is a $1599 3D capable projector that uses 3LCD technology. I would definitely say that this is a projector designed for the family room, the bonus room, or take it out in the backyard for a movie. The thing is, you can put it in your theater too, as it is competent competition for the few projectors around its price, that are more designed for a home theater than a family room.
Image above taken with a fair amount of ambient light present
It's just loaded with features, even if missing one or two from last year's Home Cinema 8350, which remains in the lineup. You'll find a long, and detailed overview of many of those features, including 3D abilities, split screen, and USB slideshows, further down this page.
I want to say at this point, that, overall, I thought the recently reviewed Optoma HD33 to be a breakthrough projector, and it was, in terms of 3D for $1499. Well, as you will read here, Epson is raising the bar. Not to sell the HD33 short (it has some impressive strengths), but the Epson just puts a whole lot more into their box, for essentially the same price.
The Home Cinema 3010, and the Home Cinema 3010e both receive our Hot Product award. Read on!
Epson Home Cinema 3010 Projector Highlights
- 3D Capabilities with support for Blu-ray 3D, satellite channels... game consoles
- Extremely bright home projector, ideal for family and bonus rooms, and theaters with large screens
- Four preset 2D modes, 2 preset 3D modes, and Auto mode, and 10 User savable settings
- 2 10 watt speakers for respectable sound, if you don't have a full sound system, or want to go portable
- Full color and gamma controls
- Backlit remote control
- Dynamic iris for better black level performance
- Easy to use split screen capability
- Excellent warranty
- Lowest priced 1080p 3D projector, but not entry level
Specs for Epson Home Cinema 3010
Home Cinema 3010 MAP: $1599, Home Cinema 3010e MAP: $1799
3010 includes 2 pair 3D glasses
3010e is glasses optional, but WirelessHD is built in
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2200 lumens, 1972 measured max, 1424 lumens "best" mode
Contrast: 40,000:1 in 2D, 1600:1 in 3D (dynamic iris off in 3D)
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.6:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 4000 hours at full power, 5000 hours in eco mode - $ replacement cost
Weight: 13.2 lbs. (5.9 Kg) (3010e slightly heavier)
Warranty: 2 Year Parts and Labor with replacement program
Epson Home Cinema 3010 Special Features
Split Screen viewing
The Home Cinema 3010 lets you select two different sources and put them up side by side, either with both images the same size, or the one you designate, to be larger than the other (about 2:1).
Here's the catch (a standard one). You can't feed it two different HDMI sources, because there is, as is typical, only 1 HDMI circuit in the projector (shared by two inputs). That means you will need a second source, and if you want hi-res there, you are looking at either component video or analog computer signals. Just pointing all this out to you. It's no sweat if you aren't mounting the projector and have a temporary setup. It's always easy to run another wire as long as they are outside of walls. If you are wiring, though, and not sure, add a component video, analog computer, or a pair of USB cables (the analog computer also carries component, so the most flexible).
I did it. Had to rummage through my storage room, found me a component video cable and fed component from my satellite box, and hdmi from my PS3, and put them up side by side. I will be ready for Fantasy football - with the game on one side, and my online tracking of my players on the other. Why not!
If you are willing to run the extra set of cables, it sure is a lot of fun for some applications. You can watch a movie while your kid is playing a game on the other side of the screen. The kid can listen to sound through his head phones.
Home Cinema 3010e WirelessHD
This is a feature found only on the Home Cinema 3010e, and is discussed in a separate page about the 3010e. The short version though is that the Epson can receive wireless HD signals from the transmitter that is included. Place the transmitter by your (HDMI) equipment, and you don't need to run an HDMI cable to your Epson projector. Very cool, and for those who have older theaters without HDMI wiring, a potential huge cost saver.
Home Cinema 3010 Projector 3D
I really like 3D on this Epson projector. This is only the 2nd 3D capable projector I've had in, that really has a respectable amount of brightness for doing 3D nicely, on nice sized screens, such as 100" or 110" diagonal. The other was the recently reviewed Optoma GT750, which is a low cost, and lower resolution (720p) gaming projector.
Before I say more, the Home Cinema 3010 comes with two pair of lightweight active glasses. They are pretty comfortable over my regular glasses, and no sharpish edges like I sometime notice on some other glasses. Unlike some other newer 3D projectors, whose glasses have rechargeable batteries, the Epson runs on long life lithiums.
This Epson projector is bright enough! 3D looks very good, no complaints. I may be rainbow sensitive, but on 3D I notice less than many others do, in terms of crosstalk, etc. Crosstalk isn't as clean as a DLP projector. Both DLP Optoma's we've reviewed with 3D were a little cleaner. For me, though, definitely close enough. The extra brightness of the Epson, for me, is a much bigger advantage. I should note that Optoma's glasses/ and 3D configuration seem to pass a higher percentage of light to your eye, but, it's still no contest. The Epson in 3D dynamic is simply noticeably brighter than the best the HD33 can do, and that's a huge advantage.
I hear talk about some folks being fatigued by active glasses 3D systems, but I can watch for hours and hours, so I have no way of judging. I hope that such fatigue is no more common than the rainbow effect, in which case, most folks don't have to worry about it at all.
I watched a great deal of 3D. Not the least of which was a good amount of today's live ESPN 3D broadcast of Cal vs. Oregon football. Brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I did switch back to 2D, because I really can't be writing this with those glasses on. I most certainly enjoyed the game more in 3D!
No problem with any types of 3D in my collection. Blu-ray 3D, ESPN 3D, N3D, and 3net channels. As to gaming, I'll leave that to my gaming bloggers. The Epson should work well with the various consoles for 3D, so that means we'll give Pete a crack at it first.
Sharpness looks great in 3D on Blu-ray 3D, but on most of the DirecTV content, the image is softer. In some cases the source material may be 720p, not 1080, but I believe its a sacrifice being made for bandwidth, as only Blu-ray 3D uses frame packing, to output two frames in the space of one, to keep resolution up.
Color accuracy - looks pretty good. As with most 3D the image seems to have more saturation than 2D. Skies are sometimes a touch too intense. Of course you can always turn down the color saturation.
The dynamic iris is not available in 3D mode.
Bottom line on 3D: This projector is not only a fine 2D projector, but it's a great little 3D projector. With almost all other 3D capable projectors I've looked at so far, I've been saying - buy it for 2D, because 3D is good enough to play with, but not bright enough to keep you happy for years. (Unless you have a small screen, or high power screen.)
Home Cinema 3010 Frame Interpolation - FI - smooth motion
The Home Cinema 3010 has simple 2:2 frame interpolation. That will run your 24 fps movie at 48, which helps some folks out, with a type of motion smoothing , that doesn't impact most folks. What people find these days on higher end projectors is typically CFI, where a unique frame is created between each two regular ones (or sometimes 3 frames between each pair)...
Those creatively interpolated frames definitely smooth out sports and other fast motion a bit and can improve panning as well.
So, this Epson only has the basic 2:2 pull-down, not CFI. Mind you the Epson Home Cinema 8350, Mitsubishi HC4000 and other popular projectors around the price range all lack CFI. It's a feature typically starting on slightly more expensive projectors, right around $2000.
You can connect a USB device to the Home Cinema 3010, and the internal software of the Epson projector will let you run screen shows. There are controls and special effects. This is easy if your projector is on a table top, but you'll have to run a USB extension cable (obviously) if your projector is ceiling mounted, unless you are really tall, or your ceiling's low..
Home Cinema 3010 Audio
A pair of 10 watt speakers cranks out some very healthy volume. Just fine for TV, sports and movies, and games too, I'm sure. Except for low bass, that is!
There is no audio output, a feature found on the competing Optoma HD33, which would allow you to use a powered subwoofer. That said, the Epson speakers have about twice the power and more dynamic bass than the HD33.
Home Cinema 3010 Dynamic Iris
A dynamic iris is the key on most projectors to improving overall black levels on darker scenes, and the resulting improvement in the viewing experience. We discuss the Home Cinema 3010's black level performance on the Image page, but, since the dynamic iris was the only "real" issue with the engineering sample we started with, I thought it should be mentioned on the first page.
Unlike the 2nd Home Cinema 3010 I received, the engineering sample had a pretty noisy iris. Okay, you can at least faintly hear any dynamic iris at work if you have the sound turned off, and are relatively close to a projector. The thing is, a dynamic iris's noise should not be easily heard above the fan noise (at full lamp power), and with audio turned fairly low. The clickty clackity sound of the original projector was too noisy. I could notice it throughout Hunt For Red October, a relatively quiet movie, mostly speaking. It was definitely something many owners would not care to have, although I suspect a large percentage of 3010's will end up in family rooms/bonus rooms that can be noisy themselves.
The second unit more resembles the low rumbly iris of the Epson 8700UB. Over the years (1080UB, 8500UB, 8700UB) the iris has been cited by a very few folks as being too noisy on forums and our comment area of our blogs, but the vast majority seem to consider it a total non-issue, or one of the more minor things gladly traded for those projectors' especially impressive performance.
In reality, the new Home Cinema 3010's iris does seem to be slightly higher pitched (than the UBs), which is that clickity element it has, but all considered, it should be received as the UB series iris has been, a minor fault that is not often, if at all, noticeable to most. In other words, I figure 90+% simply won't notice or care (they will may notice with no sound), and when switching sources (also no sound) they will notice, but, it's not loud so, "who cares, when switching sources"). My guess is another 5-8 or 9% will notice from time to time, but consider it minor and a more than fair trade off for brightness, affordable 3D, good black levels, etc.
And that last 1-2% won't buy the projector because of it. Most of those, I suspect are movie enthusiasts with a limited budget, but looking for as close to perfection as possible. Most of the few that will pass for this reason are those who are truly audible noise adverse. They would also never run this projector, or almost any sub-$3000 DLP projector (and some 3LCD and LCoS , with lamp at full power, as they are typically unhappy with any projector putting out upward of 26-27 db). BTW, the iris is barely detectable with the lamp on full power. For almost all my observing of the iris's noise, I ran the projector in its nicely quiet eco-mode, to get a handle on it. I'd say the engineering sample was far more noticeable with fan on full power, than the newer pre-production iris is with fan/lamp in eco-mode - a roughly 10 db - or 90% drop in sound, compared to full power.
To wrap this up, again, shouldn't be an issue for the vast majority, the new versions are reasonably quiet in terms of iris action. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of users, if given a choice, for example, of a slightly quieter iris, or a slightly quieter fan, would opt for the fan! End of conversation.
Please note the image below. Since we're talking dynamic irises here, the image below is an example of where a dynamic iris won't have an affect. There's so much brightness in the scene, that the iris doesn't dare shut down. It's that same brightness overall, that will also mean that most folks wouldn't notice any real improvement in the dark areas. It's the darker scenes with almost no bright areas where you want the best blacks the most, and where dyanmic irises help the most. (End of lesson!) Next:
From the Home Cinema 3010 remote control, you can control other devices such as many Blu-ray players that support HDMI-Link. Note, you'll find a full set of DVD type controls on the Epson remote
Home Cinema 3010 Lamp Life
It doesn't get much better than this. In terms of lamp life. Epson is claiming that the Home Cinema 3010 lamp will last 4000 hours running at full power, and 5000 hours in eco-mode.
1.6:1 Zoom Lens
In an effort to pack more performance in the 3010 series while keeping the costs down, Epson has gone to a lower cost lens system. It offers less zoom range (the 1.6:1) than the Fujinon they've been using for years with its 2.1:1 zoom. The Home Cinema 3010's zoom lens still has more range than most other under $2000 projectors. The lower cost, 2D only Epson Home Cinema 8350 remains in the lineup with its 2.1:1. None of the DLP's can match it, except some far more expensive ones (most DLP's are between 1.15:1 and 1.5:1). The Home Cinema 3010 lacks lens shift, as do all the projectors I can think of, under its price point, except for Epson's own 8350. With 1.6:1 though, the Home Cinema 3010 - and the 3010e - there's still plenty of front to back placement range, for either mounting or putting on a table.
Folks there are even a few more features, but most of those will be touched upon in the course of the pages of this review.