Epson Home Cinema 2030 Projector - The Bottom Line
The Epson Home Cinema 2030 is a brand new projector from Epson. There's no "last year's" version of the HC2030 (or the HC2000). That sure makes it more fun to review than many projectors that are modest updates.
Since we were lucky enough to obtain an engineering sample well ahead of first shipment, we do expect that the full production HC2030's will perform slightly better, perhaps some additional brightness or some final adjustments to the firmware, or slightly improved blacks. For now we have to deal the cards as dealt. The version of the firmware is V101, so it may be final, we shall see.
Despite its sample status, this projector doesn't feel pre-production. It works like any well thought out projector - very well. Build quality feels very good. I only noticed one unusual thing about this unit, and that relates to the calibration area, a place that most owners won't even visit.
Let's go over the basics again: This Epson is a three chip LCD projector (3LCD), that I classify as home entertainment rather than home theater. Why? That's the job it's most suited for. It's one of the brightest projectors around - it measured just over 2000 lumens, with pretty good picture quality in Dynamic mode. Note: The brightest mode on most projectors run the gamut from "pretty good" to terrible, so that's a good thing.
Operation of the Home Cinema 2030 is straightforward. One of my few complaints is that the remote control isn't backlit, but I complain about that on every sub-$1000 projector and many costing up to $2000 that lack backlights. On the other hand this is more of a "turn on and watch type projector", unless you are using the remote for HDMI-Link, to control other devices, mostly you'll use it for Powering on and off, and adjusting the volume if you don't have a separate sound system.
Overall this projector's right out of the box color has to set it apart from most of the competition. There are a couple of other pretty impressive projectors without adjusting color, but more that need some real help with color, even in best modes. With the Home Cinema 2030, as mentioned, even Dynamic is pretty good, geared for a lot of pop, in a dark room it likely would be considered a little over the top, but no one's going to use Dynamic in a really dark room unless your screen size is somewhere around 150" or more!
Living Room mode is great for sports, but cool in color (thin on reds, relative to blues) but just changing the Color Temp setting from 1 to 0, warms it up nicely. I loved Living Room for sports viewing!
Choose Natural or Cinema for your movie viewing. Our slightly adjusted Natural mode after Mike's calibration still put out a whopping 1400+ lumens and produces even better color accuracy. That's rock and roll power for your movie viewing!
The Home Cinema 2030 has some very interesting features, it's not a bare bones projector at all. Consider that this Epson projector is "Smart". You can plug in a Roku stick into HDMI 1 for all those internet channels of content, from news to Netflix to well, the choices grow every day. All you need is some Wifi.
And the Home Cinema 2030 is not limited to just Roku, the port is MHL: Mobile High-definition Link. There are plenty of other MHL compatible devices and accesories out there, and more coming all the time. Some Android's have MHL capability. iOS devices can be interfaced but I don't think wirelessly at this time. With the new iOS coming out next month (9/2013), perhaps they will sport some MHL compatibility.
3D was impressively bright as well, I enjoyed watching 3D movies at a 124" diagonal image size(1.3 gain projector screen), without it feeling dim. (Really impressive!)
Color in 3D was very watchable but not particularly accurate (3D Cinema better than 3D Dynamic). We don't fool with color in 3D, but there are full controls for improving it. None the less, the 3D experience was sweet, thanks to the brightness.
The 3D glasses (optional) can be charged up enough in 3 minutes to watch a full length movie. They are RF which is great (not IR, which is what most DLP projectors use, since they use DLP link a standard that's several years old.
Connectivity wise, the HC2030 is well connected. In addition to the pair of HDMI ports (one at least is MHL compatible), there's a PC input that can handle a analog computer signal or component video. There's stereo audio in (in addition to the HDMI ports which carry audio) and that very nice audio out for hooking up to a bigger sound system or a powered subwoofer.