Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 3200 Home Theater Projector Review – Special Features

Epson Home Cinema 3200 Projector Review-Special Features: Pixel Shifting, HDR Compatible, Creative Frame Interpolation, 3D Ready, Bluetooth, Content Over IP

Pixel Shifting

While pixel shifting can’t match the resolution of a true 4K projector, it does increase sharpness and detail compared to a standard 2K projector. The Epson Home Cinema 3200 projector can accept up to a [email protected] signal. When fed 4K content, this Epson projector uses pixel shifting to fine tune the image to more closely resemble 4K.

Pixel shifting fires each pixel twice by shifting the location by 1/2 pixel diagonally. Combined with good image processing, it does a very nice job emulating the original 4K content. In addition, the Home Cinema 3200 utilizes a high quality 12-element lens to deliver a sharp, crisp picture.

Small type and fine details that can’t be discerned on a basic 1080P projector can often be resolved with pixel shifting. It is enough to make a real readability difference on CAD, engineering and scientific drawings renderings and anything else demanding maximum detail.

It is only when you do a side-by-side comparison between a true 4K projector versus a 2K pixel shifting projector that the resolution difference is noticeable. The images below show the resolution difference between my true 4K projector and a pixel shifting HD projector like the Epson Home Cinema 3200 when displaying native 4K content.

When viewed in person, the actual differences on the screen are greater than what you are seeing on this site. This is because of the heavy compression and scaling of the images for the web, so the differences you are seeing when viewing it on this website will be less noticeable.

While a pixel shifting 2K projector can accept 4K content, the projector’s native resolution is only 2.3 MP and it won’t be as sharp/detailed as a true 4K projector (8,8 MP resolution).

In many situations the content, including movies, lacks enough fine detail required or is viewed so far away that the difference between 4K and pixel shifting cannot be perceived.

Native 4K 3LCD projectors cost at least twice as much as their pixel shifting HD counterparts. For example, a Sony VPL VW295 which is a very good 1,500 lumen native 4K 3LCD projector retails for $4,999 while an Epson HC3200 costs about a third of that amount. The Sony unit does offer more features like power zoom/lens shift and better picture quality, but more viewable resolution is probably not the reason why someone would step up to that model.

So how do I choose between a native 4K 3LCD projector or a pixel shifting 3LCD projector? To make a wise decision you must factor in your budget, what you are watching and how far away are you are watching it.

HDR Compatible- HDR10 And HLG

The HDR provides a major improvement in dynamic range as well as color. It lets you see more detail in the shadows and the bright areas and delivers more saturated lifelike colors.

There are two HDR standards, with the first being the PQ (ST2084). While there are three variations of PQ, most projectors are only compatible with HDR10 which is most commonly used for UHD Blu-ray discs (4K movies), and recorded streaming content. Dolby Vision, HDR10+ like the more mainstream HDR10 are also based on PQ (ST2084). The only difference between the three PQ based formats is what type of HDR metadata is delivered to a video display to help it tone map HDR content to fit a display’s brightness capabilities.

The second HDR standard is HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and it was developed for live broadcast. The Home Cinema 3200 supports both HDR10 and HLG. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10 you can enjoy 99% of HDR content available on the market now and in the future.

Since most 4K HDR capable projectors can only deliver between 100 nits (29fL) and 200 Nits (58 fL) they are not capable of reproducing all brightness found in HDR content.

As a result, HDR projectors utilize tone mapping which is a compromise between maintaining bright highlight details and delivering full screen brightness. The Home Cinema 3200 has adjustments so you can manually change the projector’s tone mapping of HDR10 content to fit your taste. There is also an identical adjustment for HLG material.

Creative Frame Interpolation

Every video company has some technology to reduce motion blur and improve the clarity of fast action content. While most manufacturers give it a proprietary name, Epson Home Cinema 3200 just lists the feature as Frame Interpolation in its menu. I never recommend using it when watching movies since it creates “soap opera” like video which changes the director’s intent.

While motion processing normally isn’t required for 24P movie material, CFI can be beneficial when viewing sports. While I wouldn’t turn frame interpolation on during normal HDTV viewing, for sports content you might like the smooth motion effect more than I do. The nice thing is that the feature includes multiple settings so you can dial in the effect to suit your personal taste.

Note this feature can’t be combined with Pixel Shifting so it is only available when viewing 1080P content with 4K Enhancement set to OFF. The projector 60Hz LCD imagers are not fast enough to display double the visual frames and pixel shift at the same time.

3D Ready

For many owners upgrading to new projectors who already have 3D libraries, it is important to note that while most new 4K HDR Flat panels do not support 3D many new projectors from manufacturers including JVC, Sony, and Epson Home Cinema 3200 are 3D ready. It is nice that Home Cinema 3200 still supports 3D because users can still take advantage of the content they paid for.

Since I didn’t receive a pair of optional Epson 3D Glasses (ELPGS03), I didn’t get the chance to evaluate the 3D performance of the Home Cinema 3200 but Epson models we have reviewed in the past have delivered respectable 3D. The Home Cinema 3200’s built-in 3D emitter uses radio frequency and has an effective range of 32 feet.

Since 3D, like HDR, demands a lot more brightness than standard 2D non-HDR content (3D calls for about 3 times the brightness of 2D) you would probably use every bit of the Home Cinema 3200 claimed 2,900 lumen brightness.

Bluetooth Wireless Transmission

You can wirelessly connect a speaker, sound system, or pair of headphones to the Home Cinema 3200 via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth audio device must be A2DP compliant and there may be a slight delay in audio output. The ability to listen to a movie late at night through a pair of good headphones was useful when I wanted to watch a movie late at night after my kids went to bed. In addition, the Home Cinema 3200 utilizes aptX™ HD which is designed to deliver high definition (HD) audio over Bluetooth, so you don’t have to sacrifice performance for the convenience of wireless.

Content Over IP

Content over IP is hardly a unique feature but a very useful one for any application where computers and projectors are being networked, in business settings or schools for example. In the past, the only way to show content on a projector from a computer or video source was to physically connect them. Projectors with networking capabilities make it far easier to display content using a laptop located on the other side of the room. The Home Cinema 3200 can access and present content directly over the network. While it works well with computers and various video sources, it also plays the BYOD (bring your own device) game well, working with tablets, smart phones, etc.

To use this feature the Home Cinema 3200, needs to be connected to the wireless network. This will require an optional Epson 802.11b/g/n wireless LAN module which is plugged into the projector’s rear USB port.

Using Epson’s iProjection software, the Home Cinema 3200 can access and present content for a PC or Mac directly over the network. While it works well with computers and various video sources, there is an app-based version of iProjection which lets you project from an iOS or Android mobile device.