Epson Home Cinema 3020e Projector - A First Look
Epson's Home Cinema 3020e (and the 3020) projectors, enter the universe with a leg up on the competition. Why? This HC3020e is not an all new projector, just an evolutionary improvement over last year's projector, sans major breakthrough. The thing is, last year, the HC3010 / 3010e received our Best In Class: Runner-Up award for 3D capable projectors under $2000. This year, of course, there will be some new competition. Also at least one excellent projector from the $2000 - $3500 range is back, but now under $2000.
Whether one of these 3020 series Epson's will take top honors in the price range this year, way to early to tell. On the other hand, considering the likes of Acer, BenQ, and Optoma (three major DLP projector builders) are not showing at CEDIA - and therefore, we assume have no new home theater models, there may not be much new competition for the Epson Home Cinema 3020e projector.
Let's take a look at some of the details, and real improvements.
9/5/2012 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 3020e
Where are you going to put your new Home Cinema 3020e? The answer, at least as far as it is true of any home projector, is: Whereever you want. While you can drop the Home Cinema 3020e into a dedicated home theater, or cave - always a good choice, it really was built to survive in family room and bonus room type environments. That is, less than ideal rooms. Ambient light, lighter colored walls and surfaces. We cannot tell you that the 3020e can handle all such rooms, but, like the HC3020, I can say that it's unmatched brightness for a 3D capable projector under $2000 should let it outshine the competition. Certainly the HC3020e should face less potential issues with ambient light than any other 3D capable home projector", which is to say, this Epson is very bright. It is a light canon claiming 2300 lumens up 100 lumens from last year. (Same lamp, though, so we don't know from what technology they squeezed out those extra 100 lumens.)
Epson promises review units of the Home Cinema 3020 or 3020e as soon as early units are available. I suspect that we will receive both 3020 (and 5020) models in September, or, at latest, early October, and will pound out the reviews asap. (Typically, I would expect the more expensive Home Cinema 5020 or 5020e to arrive first, but they probably will show up, virtually "back to back".
Home Cinema 3020 Specs and Features
- Brightness: 2300 lumens (both color lumens and white lumens - see our Color Lumens video for what that means
- Contrast 40,000:1 - 2D - same as last year
- Contrast 400,000:1 - 3D contrast and blacks improved from 15,000:1 - dramatically improved (iris now operates in 3D)
- 3D and 2D Projector with new 2D to 3D conversion
- Wireless HDMI (significantly improved)
- 480hz LCD panels for a brighter image (and other benefits)
- Split screen capability
- 2 year warranty with replacement program for both years
- 1.6:1 Fujinon manual zoom lens
- Very low cost of ownership thanks to long life lamp (up to 5000 hours), 2 year warranty with replacement
- Includes 2 pair of 3D glasses (active shutter) 3rd party glasses available
- 13.2 pounds
Official pricing is still unknown (9/5), Epson should have that for us tomorrow at our meeting with them. This year all 5 new Epson's come with two pair of their new, lighter, rechargeable 3D glasses.
We will update this article with the formal Epson pricing as soon as we learn it at CEDIA.
Home Cinema 3020e Picture Quality
My first viewing of the 3020/3020e was in a conference room type environment. Different screen, white walls, etc. It really would be impossible to make any definitive statements about subtleties, except to say that Epson's conference room is even worse than a typical family room or bonus room when it comes to viewing content from a good projector. We mostly watched with the lights out, but the HC3020e's 2300 lumen managed a decent showing even with a bunch of the fluorescents turned on.
Epson's offer full color management systems. That makes for an easy calibration. If you should be having yours calibrated that is. Otherwise, try the settings we will publish with our full review. They should provide even better looking color, and skin tones, than the best modes provide right out of the box..
Home Cinema 3020 3D Projector
As with all of the new Epsons, there are a number of improvements to 3D. The first and most immediately noticeable, is that Epson's dynamic features are now active - unlike last year. That's right - the dynamic iris works in 3D. Bottom line, when viewing content in 3D, is blacks should be far better than last year's version. That's an important improvement.
While we're talking 3D, the glasses are another a definite improvement. The new glasses look similar to last year's but not the same. More to the point, they are noticeably lighter (and the old ones were already pretty light for active glasses). I wear glasses and found them comfortable.
The real news with the 3D glasses is the switch from lithium battery power to rechargeable. No more batteries to change (roughly every 75 hours). Not surprisingly, the life between charges isn't as good as disposable battery powered glasses. Epson says "up to 40 hours".
Considering few of us will be watching 3D more than even 10% of the time (unless you have lots of small children), 40 hours isn't bad. Better still, though - and I love this: Epson says that if the battery wears down, you won't have to postpone/reschedule your movie while it recharges. According to Epson - plug in the 3D glasses for just 3 minutes and they will get enough charge to make it through a 3 hour movie.
Now that is cool! (I wish I could get 3 hours of fresh talk time, if I plugged my iPhone in for 3 minutes.)
Epson is also now offering some decent 2D to 3D conversion. So far I'm still not a fan of taking typical 2D content and converting it to 3D. On the other hand, if you want to show those 2D video clips from your camcorder or iPhone/iPad/andoid, in 3D, you can do that, and that is a family cool feature.
We were extremely impressed with the 3D and 3D color, overall last year, good color, and one of only 2-3 really bright (say "bright enough" 3D projectors out there). We therefore expect everything else to be at least as good as last year.
Home Cinema 3020 General Thoughts and Features
Once again, you can still "rock the house" - or the backyard, as the Epson Home Cinema 3020 comes with two 10 watt speakers. That is enough to fill your average living room or family room with some serious volume. (If you go with the 3020e with wireless HDMI, you won't even have to drag your blu-ray player into the back yard when you are showing movies out there. More on that on our "First Look" of the Home Cinema 3020e.
Let's talk Wireless HDMI! Epson launched wireless HDMI last year, but for this year, has a new transmitter, and far more capability. The primary difference is support for 5 HDMI sources up from just two last year. This is huge, for those of us who do not use an AV receiver or separate switcher for our sources. You might hook up: Satellite/cable box, Blu-ray player, computer (HDMI from your Mac), game machine (PS3, Xbox...) and that still leaves you one.
Another great improvement is the addition of a Digital Audio input on the transmitter. This is perfect, and practical for folks like me, who do switch their audio sources through a receiver, but not their video. In my case, if I was using the 3020e for a movie and wanted to use the internal speakers (let's say for that backyard party), I can output a Digital Audio feed from my AV receiver, via the HDMI transmitter, while the movie's video also transmits wirelessly, with the Blu-ray player's HDMI video (only) plugged into the transmitter as well.
The other major benefit of Wireless HDMI with this Epson is saving you money. You might be paying a bit more for the "e" version, but, let's say you want to rear shelf mount in your room. You probably have AC power on that wall, so that's easy, but, for HDMI, you might have to run expensive wires with expensive installation from the front of your room where your gear is, to the projector in the back. Not so with the Home Cinema 3020e projector. Wirelessly transmit the picture, and save yourself the money of opening up all those walls and ceiling to run wires, then drywall, and touch up the paint. Wireless starts making lots of sense.
Split screen capability. OK, I know that it's hardly a must have feature, but for those that are interested, it does work. When the Home Cinema 3020e comes in for full review, I will use the split screen, with half showing football, and half showing my fantasy football action from my computer.
The new Home Cinema 3020e should assume the same role as the older 3010e, as one of the more dominent under $2000 projectors. Slightly improved brightness, and a lot of 3D enhancments, should assure a good value proposition, especially since in this price range (under $2,000), we're not likely to see many new competitors. Of the major players in home entertainment projector space in this price, not much is expected this year at CEDIA. Of the DLP projector manufacturers, Acer, BenQ, and Optoma aren't even showing at CEDIA, so expect nothing new from them in this fall / winter product cycle. Panasonic has a new projector, but that's their PT-AE8000 which competes with Epson's more expensive HC5020, not this far more affordable HC3020e.
Certainly, from what I know about what should be coming this fall so far, Epson with its Home Cinema 3020e (and 3020), is likely to again be about the strongest 3D capable, family room / livingroom oriented projectors around. There are some serious competitors, near the price, but none are brighter, or offer wireless HDMI, and none can match Epson's two year warranty that includes two years of replacement program.I expect a Home Cinema 3020 or the 3020e, to arrive for review, sometime between end of the CEDIA show (9/9/12) and end of September. As soon as I have more definitive information, I will post on site and blog.