Epson Home Cinema 3020 Projector - Performance
We discuss the Epson Home Cinema 3020 projector's brightness in various modes of 2D, and provide our subjective assessment of its 3D brightness. You will find images showing the differences in brightness (and color) between the 2D modes. Further down we get into the Home Cinema 3020's sharpness, image noise, audible noise, etc.
11/9/12 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Brightness
The Epson is a veritable light canon of a projector in its price range. The only home projector we've reviewed in the last year that sells for under $2000, that can best this Epson at its brightest, is the Panasonic PT-AR100U. That Panasonic is slightly brighter, but is 2D only.
The HC3020 and HC3020e are about as good as it gets for working in "normal" rooms lacking the almost total light control one expects to have in a dedicated home theater. As a result, it has to be about the top choice for the price, if you want both 2D and 3D capabilities.
3D brightness is discussed in more depth, a bit further down.
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE:
Dynamic= 1950 @ 6811
Living Room= 1496 @ 7948
Natural= 1386 @ 6715, 908 @ 7413 in Eco lamp mode (default)
Cinema= 1386 @ 6692, 908 @ 7415 in Eco lamp mode (default)
Auto= 908 @ 7370 (dark room)
Those numbers are all "right out of the box", without any adjustments, to settings like contrast, which can affect overall brightness.
Epson HC3020 Calibrated: User "best" mode, based on Cinema mode = 1362 lumens
Until 3D projectors hit the market, I don't think we had seen more than one home theater projector (over many years of measuring), that could output anything near 1362 lumens once calibrated. With the extra demand for brightness needed for 3D, this changed things tremendously. The benefit to all of you: Here's a projector that can put up its best picture - calibrated, and do a better job in a less than ideal setup, than most projectors could do in their brightest modes, with their poorest color. Uncalibrated, it's about twice as bright as the average non-3D projector under $10,000, when all are in their brightest modes.
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):
Zoom out: 2031
Zoom in: 1851
Home Cinema 3020 Eco-Mode vs. Full Power
Full Power: 1950 lumens
Low (eco) Power: 1263 lumens
That's a drop of almost exactly 35%. Mike measured Dynamic mode for the comparison, but yu should expect all the preset modes to drop the same 35%.
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Pre-Calibration Color temp
Color Temp over IRE Range (Pre calibration, best modes):
|Cinema||Cinema (Eco lamp)||Natural|
|30 IRE –||6194||6972||6279|
|50 IRE –||6378||7112||6403|
|80 IRE –||6632||7356||6654|
|100 IRE –||6692||7353||6741|
Note that Natural and Cinema are near identical, however dropping into Eco mode results in a very distinct cooling of the colors, raising color temp about 800K. There is a Color Temp setting that can be adjusted downward to compensate in eco mode. We did not remeasure, but a drop dropping of the color temp setting 500K or 1000K should do the trick.
Home Cinema 3020, Post Calibration, Best Mode
Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
User 1 (based on Cinema)
20 IRE = 6767
30 IRE = 6539
40 IRE = 6410
50 IRE = 6453
60 IRE = 6467
70 IRE = 6516
80 IRE = 6576
90 IRE = 6625
100 IRE = 6772
Average gamma: 2.17 Brightness: 1362 lumens
Below, the same photo taken with the same exposure so you can get a handle on the relative brightness and color aspects of most of the major modes. Of course, since the exposures are the same, the brightest modes are a bit overexposed, especially Dynamic.
And as long as I'm mentioning Dynamic mode, although Mike did his usual "quick-cal" to improve the brightest mode, I must admit to not using it but for a few minutes. In my room, I found Living Room to still look better, and to be more than bright enough for my purposes. Mike's settings though, should be very useful to folks working in media rooms, family rooms...
Here are two more versions of Cinema - the one above is the default settings. The two below are calibrated, with the second one having the individual colors calibrated as well as our usual grayscale calibration:
Epson Home Cinema 3020 3D Brightness
Outstanding! While there might be one or two lower cost gaming projectors out there that can match the 3020's brightness for 3D, nothing else in the price range and quality can without spending an extra grand. Epson's own HC5020UB is essentially the same in terms of 3D brightness, and the Panasonic PT-AE8000 and the Sony VPL-HW50ES aren't a whole lot less bright. Still, all of those are at least $1000 more.
That makes the HC3020 - for the bucks - the King of 3D viewing in rooms without great lighting control. Mind you, there are other bright projectors in 2D, that are similarly suitable for family rooms, etc. Consider the BenQ W7000 an old favorite of ours, in its second full year. Pricing has dropped to below $2000, so in the ballpark The BenQ is plenty bright in 2D, but still not a match in terms of 3D brightness.
I've resurrected these comparison images from the HC3010 review. Basically the one lens of the glasses is placed between the camera and the screen, to show relative brightness. The first image below is with the glasses setting (in the projector's menus) set to high, the second image at medium, and the third at low. As you can see, there's a rather significant difference. With the low setting, crosstalk is essentially gone except for source related. Most will still prefer the compromise of Medium.
Enough - let's move on!
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Sharpness
I said this a year ago about the HC3010. Not one thing has changed, except I've updated the model number to 3020:
The Home Cinema 3020 performs very well for a lower cost home projector. Optics seem better than on many less expensive projectors, and convergence of the panels seems to be typical for an Epson 3LCD projector, regardless of the price. In addition to our playstation logo image below, I've left some menus on a number of images we placed on other parts of the review, viewing menus up close is good way to take a close look at sharpness.
I don't believe anyone will have any issues regarding the sharpness. I also note, that I didn't notice any defocusing as the projector warms up
Top left: Epson Home Cinema 3020, Top Center - Optoma HD33, Top Right - Mitsubishi HC4000.
2nd row left: Epson Home Cinema 3010, center: Viewsonic Pro8200, Right: Acer H9500BD
Epson Home Cinema 3020: Bottom Line Sharpness
The Home Cinema 3020 sure looks just fine to me. The 30xx series lens, offering less zoom range, seems about as sharp as the 2.1:1 Fujinon lens on the more expensive Epsons. A good single chip DLP projector can do better, but down in these price ranges, you don't always get the best optics with DLP projectors. Consider the Optoma HD33 - the most direct competition to date - whose optics seem to bloom more, compared to the Epson. The HD33 may be a single chip DLP projector, but the Epson overall appears to the the sharper, clearer picture, even with the usual minor misconvergence of pixels.
Then there's Super-Resolution, aka dynamic detail enhancement (rather than "sharpness"). Super resolution adds a seeming level of clarity. For sports I like to set the Super-Resolution to 3, other HDTV and sometimes movies, to 2. It's not the real thing (true sharpness), but the "illusion" does make you believe the image is distinctly sharper than with Super-Resolution set to 0.
Bottom line? Home Entertainment projector - it could be sharper, but all but the fanatics should be very happy. Note, no signs of any pixel tearing - a concern of the most fanatical.
A little out the side venting. Should not be an issue, unless you are sitting with eyes level, and just foward of the projector. If you are very close, the heat of the fan blown exhaust of the HC3020 will be a much bigger issue than any light leakage!!!
Overall 2D image noise is minor. Panning is a touch smoother than some more expensive projectors, on a couple of tricky pans. in 3D, the primary "noise" is crosstalk. With glasses on medium, crosstalk is minimal, with the source material usually responsible for most of it. In other words: Clean content - the Epson does really well. Poorer content (in terms of crosstalk) - you'll notice it more on the Epson.
This Epson, is of course a 3LCD projector. DLP projectors we should note, due to their different technology, tend to be relatively crosstalk free (other than the source content). Is this an issue? I think not! The kids won't care, and adults - well, those demanding the highest possible performance even from an "entry level" 3D projector could complain. Personally, I found the 3020 in 3D to be just fine in terms of my own concerns about crosstalk when I was viewing (at that was at least 8 - 10 hours of 3D).
Fan noise at full power is on the louder side of home theater/home entertainment projectors. Considering this is primarily an "entertainment" projector, more likely to not be in a very quiet theater, few should be concerned. That said, this 3LCD projector claims a little higher than 30db. Under 30db, we consider to be very good for full power. Like most projectors, though, the Epson gets very quiet in eco-mode. At those levels, just about no one should care. I don't think there are any projectors running at full power, as quiet as this Epson in eco-mode. Considering that the Epson is also probably brighter in eco-mode than most of those others running full power, it may well be that this Epson can deliver more brightness, while still being quieter than the competition. (I hope that makes sense to you - a bit convoluted!)
As with other Epson projectors with a dynamic iris, you can detect a low rumbly sound at times. Whether mounting or table top, placing some vibration absorbing material between projector and table (or projector and mount) is likely to really help, should it be noticeable enough for you to care. Still, I don't consider it an issue but for a few who are very specific about being adverse to any noise. Those same folks, I would venture to say, are unlikely to run this Epson, or almost any other projectors, at full lamp power, because they would find the fan noise even worse than the rarely noticeable low rumbly sound.
The vast majority seem to consider any iris noise a total non-issue, or one of the more minor things gladly traded for the Epson's performance in other areas. Thus, all considered, this Epson is reasonable for a home entertainment projector. Could be something a very few will be concerned about at full power, but everyone should be happy in eco mode.