Epson Home Cinema 3020 Projector - Physical Tour
We start our tour of the Home Cinema 3020 projector from the front...
11/9/2012 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Projector - Appearance
A nice looking shiny white home projector. Rounded corners, center mounted lens, the Epson Home Cinema 3020 and the 3020e look identical. The vents in the front are gray. I do like the gray on the front. While it adds a bit of style the way they did it, it also means less light reflected back towards the screen (however minor). That's a good plan. In other words, it blends in, in a typical family room, bonus room type environment, but has that one thing (darker front) going for it if you are dropping it into a home theater room.
Here's what you'll find: Continuing with the front, the recessed manual zoom lens, as noted, is center mounted (easier math when mounting). There is also a front infra-red sensor for the remote control (and a second one in the back).
For those not mounting the projector, but, say, placing it on a table top, note that the venting in the front works this way: If you are facing the front of the projector, the intake vent is on your right. That makes the left side the exhaust vent. It blows air out to the right front. You don't want to be sitting within 2-3 feet of the path of the hot air. Don't worry, you'll have plenty of other places to sit.
Underneath the 3020, are two screw thread adjustable front feet for your tabletop use convenience. There's a single, wide, rubber rear foot in the back center, without adjustment. Since the Home Cinema 3020 has no lens shift, and 0 lens offset, if you put it on, say, a table the same height as the bottom of the screen, you'll need to raise the rear slightly (or use lens shift). This can be a minor nuisance at times for folks setting up in different rooms.
On the top of the Home Cinema 3020, behind the lens, are its lens controls; recessed focus and zoom dials. Right behind them is a small slider, which adjusts the image for off angle setups. (Thankfully, there's a center notch, so you can tell where the "no correction" point is).
Back center is a typical control panel. All the inputs and connectors are located on the back panel and will be described below.
The lamp cover curves from the left side (facing the projector) and is mostly on the top. Of course, this tells you that if you have mounted the Epson projector, you won't have to unmount to change the lamp. The long life, I should note, is 4000 hours at full power according to Epson. Relax, enjoy it for a few years. Even very heavy users should get at least two years from the lamp.
Home Cinema 3020 Control Panel
I really prefer the control panel on the 3020 to the one on the far more expensive Home Cinema 5020. That affair is small, and tucked into the side behind a door. The HC3020 control panel, however, is located on the top, toward the back.
On the far left is the power button (press once for on, twice for off). Above it, is a light sensor, allowing the projector to adjust to room conditions. I always avoid that feature. Next is the usual Menu button and across from it, the Escape button which moves you back up one level in the menus.
The obligatory Enter button is in the middle of the four navigation arrow keys, in a round configuration. Note that the up and down arrows adjust keystone correction when not in the menu system, and left / right controls the speakers' volume. Two indicator lights advise on Lamp and Temperature, with different patterns, providing more information (see the manual for more details).
Home Cinema 3020e Projector - Input/Output
All the HC3020's inputs are centered on the back panel. To either side are the rear facing 10 watt speakers for hefty sound. A removable door is provided that covers the input panel when you are disconnected. That's handy for folks moving from room to room, or out back for a movie night...
There are two HDMI 1.4a connectors, for full Blu-ray 3D compatibility. There's a single IR sensor (bottom left), for the remote. A USB connector for Slideshows from thumb drive or other USB devices. There is also a service port, the usual composite video and stereo audio inputs, a component video input (3 color coded RCA connectors), and a standard HD15 analog computer input. Naturally, there's an RS-232 port for command and control by a room control system.
Of course, there's also a Kensington lock slot, and the power receptacle. Note the cable cover below the panel. Remember that we've been working with the 3020e version which supports wireless HDMI. If you are only using the HDMI, no need to remove this cover, leaving a nice neat back of the projector. There's a cut out for the rear IR remote control sensor. Of course, with the standard Home Cinema 3020, there is no WirelessHD, so this cover wouldn't be left on when in use, only for storage.
Home Cinema 3020 Menus
Other than the addition of the various 3D controls, the menus of the Home Cinema 3020 and the "e" are very typical for Epson. Below I've dropped in screen shots of most of the main and sub-menus. I won't attempt to mention more than a few things. If you want details about all the hundreds of menu choices, I recommend downloading the user manual.
First, the main Image menu. And below, the Display mode pull down, which can be reached from the menu above, or directly from a button on the Epson Home Cinema 3020 remote control.
The only noteworthy change I can think of, is that when you are in 3D mode, the Auto Iris is not grayed out. Epson, with the 3020 projectors now gives you the ability to choose whether you want the iris working in 3D or not.
Below, the Advanced setting on the Image menu. Calibration is done in the RGB area. Individual colors are calibrated (we rarely do that) in the RGBCMY submenu.
Sub-menus: here's the Gamma control sub-menu, with 5 preset gamma's and the ability to customize the gamma, if desired. They work well and offer wonderful flexibility. I find their choice of adjusting gamma by image, or by the "chart" below, to be extremely handy.
Immediately below, the RGB calibration area, and the CMS area for calibrating individual colors, is below that:
Below, the Signal menu, and below it, the 3D sub menu.
Below, the Settings menu. Since this menu was shot from a 3020e, note the WirelessHD feature. Note the User button on the remote - can be programmed, in this case, it is set to reverse mode for 3D glasses.
Also on this menu are the split screen controls where you can adjust which source goes where, size of each window.
You can control other devices from the Epson remote, via HDMI-Link:
And for those of you planning on the Home Cinema 3020e with its wireless HDMI (WirelessHD) abilities:
Epson is loaded with User memories, a total of 10. I do tend to use a number of them. By the time I returned to Epson the older 5010, I had 8 memories in use.
It's nice, for example, to be able to have four calibrated "best" modes, with the only differences, being combinations of having CFI on or off, and brightness on full or eco. I might even have another couple with slightly lower saturation for that content that is just "over the top". And a customized "brightest" mode or two.
As you can see, you have the option to name each memory for convenience.
Finally, of course, the Info menu:
Epson's menus haven't changed much but for the addition of lots of new features, over most of the last decade. I would say Epson's layout is about as good as it gets. That's not to say there aren't four or five other brands with equally good, but different menu layouts. No complaints!
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Remote Control
No changes to the Epson remote this year. The Home Cinema 3020 remote control is big, and black, and backlit, and has all the same buttons, in all the same places as the older 3010's remote control.
Overall, a very good remote control, with very good range, I have to worry far less about where I'm pointing this remote, than most others, and I attribute that to range and spread of the IR beam.
The top row as the big power On button on the left, a smaller Off button in the middle, and the backlight button far right.
Next comes two rows of buttons with your Source choices. On the "e" version of the projector one of them is for the WirelessHD HDMI setup. With support for HDMI-Link, the remote provides all the usual DVD type controls since it should run any HDMI-link player. In fact on the row of large buttons immediately below, are the HDMI-Link button, and Volume Up and Down.
Below those, white buttons from 2D/3D modes, Color Mode, and Memory
That takes us to the navigation controls - four arrow keys in a round formation with a center Enter button. Below all that are three buttons in a curve,
Below those buttons are Default, Menu, and Esc (takes you back a level on the menus).
Finally, near the bottom, 7 more buttons offering direct links to features/menu items: AutoIris, Color (RGBCYMK), Aspect Ratio, Split Screen, test Pattern, User (programmable from menus), and AV Mute.
I have two complaints: The backlight itself, could be a touch brighter, but it really is ok. (Better than one of those remotes with overly bright, blinding blue LED lights!)
The other complaint (and that's about it), it's that the backlight button is way at the top right, and the backlight doesn't come on, when you press any button. With a remote this long, the backlight button is far from the center of balance, so you really can't hit the button while holding it balanced in one hand.
Epson Home Cinema 3020 Lens Throw
As previously noted, the Home Cinema 3020 and 3020e have a manual 1.5:1 zoom lens. That makes the placement range pretty good, although not as good as the 2D only Home Cinema 8350 which has a 2.1:1 zoom (the same lens as on the 5020/6020 series).
For a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the HC3020 can be as close as 9.7 feet, or as far back as 15.7 feet. (2.96 - 4.78 meters).
The 9.7 feet is very typical. Most projectors except for some business/education the fixed lens ultra or very short throw projectors, have a closest distance for that size screen, of between 9 and 12 feet. This projector just can't sit as far back from the screen as some others designed to also be able to be rear shelf mounted (like the 8350). Projectors without lens shift aren't suitable for rear shelf mounting normally, although it can be done using keystone correction, if the other measurements work.
The Epson Home Cinema 3020 lacks adjustable lens shift. You'll want to get the vertical placement right, so that you don't have to use keystone correction to keep the image rectangular. Keystone correction adds a small amount of distortion/softness to the image.
"How bad is using keystone correction," you ask? I have an easy way to describe that for existing projector owners: Any softness caused by using keystone correction, is going to take away less from picture quality, than the inherent high compression being used on satellite and cable transmissions. So, while we cringe at the thought of using keystone correction, it's not going to do something drastic, like make a 1080p image seem as soft as a 720p one in terms of sharpness. A movie scene from a Blu-ray disc, with keystone correction in use, is still going to be visibly better picture quality than the same scene coming off my DirecTV, with no keystone correction engaged, and all else being equal.
On Blu-ray disc, you should be able to see a slight difference between keystone on, and off. It will be harder to see on lower quality sources.
Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen
The Home Cinema 3020 and 3020e do not support an anamorphic lens. The only projector in the Epson line up that does, is the Pro Cinema 6020, a projector that's about twice the price.