Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 2030 Projector Performance – 3

Epson Home Cinema 2030 Sharpness

This HC2030 is very nicely converged, resulting in a very sharp image for a “three chip” projector.  True, single chip DLP’s have an inherent advantage as there’s not three different colored images to converge.  Still, the sharpness is very good, unlikely to disappoint.  Well, people into a lot more expensive projectors might be a little disappointed.

Mind you, expect a slightly sharper image on more expensive projectors because you can expect better optics.  On the other hand, Epson’s decision to go with a relatively limited zoom lens makes it a lot easier to build more sharpness into the lens.

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Comparison images

I specifically looked to see if there was any sharpness changes as the projector warmed up. I didn’t find any perceptable difference 30 minutes after I powered up.  That’s after focusing right after it lights up.

Comparison images Slideshow

Bottom Line Sharpness

The Home Cinema 2030 sure looks nice and pretty crisp.   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. In some cases a single chip might appear slightly sharper in the center of the image, but softer around the edges

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This Epson lacks the dynamic detail enhancement found on more expensive Epsons, which can increase perceived sharpness.

Bottom line? Home Entertainment projector – sure, it could be sharper, but all but the sharpness fanatics should be very happy.   Note, no signs of any pixel tearing, and Overscan works fine.  Of course if you use some keystone correction, you will be inherently softening the image slightly, but for perspective:  The average person, if you brought them into the room and told them to observe the HC2030’s sharpness, (without any keystone correction) then sent them out again, and added some keystone correction and then brought them back in, expect no one to notice any change in sharpness!

Light Leakage

Excellent. While many low cost DLP projectors leak stray light out the lens and quite often also from the front exhaust vent (sometimes a significant amount), not so the Epson HC2030.  Virtually nothing comes out of the exhaust and what little comes out of the lens is barely detectable unless you are looking for it, and if the scene is almost black. Doesn’t get any better than this in the $1000 +/- price range!

Image Noise

No complaints here either.  Background (mosquito noise) is very slight.  It’s significantly less than what you see on almost any DLP projector.  And since we run all the under $1500 DLP projectors with Brilliant Color on (or they’d lose 30 to 60% of brightness), Brilliant Color tends to make that background noise much more visible.

Where will you see the difference? The HC2030 projector will do a smoother, more realistic job on skin tones. Some of those DLP’s can really be over the top. For your consideration, check out the Epson vs. the Optoma HD25-LV:  The frames are slightly different (maybe a second apart, but if you click and compare the larger versions of both, Katniss’ skin looks downright grainy, and limited in smooth color transition compared to the Epson, which looks far better.  Observe the left and right lower cheeks, and also above her lip and right around the top of her nose.   (Sorry, the images were cropped differently!)

BTW, the BenQ W1070 (like the HD25-LV another DLP projector) has less image noise than the Optoma, but still shows definitely more than the Epson.

Audible Noise

Not surprising, I immediately noticed the fan noise when first powering up the Home Cinema 2030 projector.  Home Entertainment projectors tend to be noisier than Home Theater projectors, so no surprise.  Epson claims 37 db at full power and 29 at low power. For perspective, the Home Cinema 5020UB I use here for comparisons. claims 33 db.  People demand a quieter projector when looking for one for a darkened home theater than a family room projector, so while you will hear this projector’s fan on very quiet scenes, you probably won’t care if you are a typical “home entertainment projector” person.

Mind you, we don’t measure audible noise, but for this occasion I broke out my iPhone and the SPL app that allows me to measure audible noise.  Now it’s not at all calibrated, but what I did do is measure the audible noise of the HC2030 and the far more expensive HC5020UB at three different points around the projector, at a distance of a little more than 1 foot.

What I found was that my meter was showing an average of less than a 3db difference.  Considering the HC5020UB is one of, if not the most popular dedicated home theater projector in the US, the HC2030 has to be considered acceptable if 3db or less is all the difference.  And of course if you switch to eco-mode, Epson’s spec is 29db, so in eco-mode the HC2030 is more quiet than the HC5020UB at full power, than the difference between the two when comparing full power.

I would have been happier if the 2030 was 2-3-4 db quieter, but figure that it’s typical for home entertainment projectors. Note that typically DLP projectors are noisier than 3LCD projectors!