Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 3500 Projector Review – Summary

EPSON HC3500 PROJECTOR REVIEW – SUMMARY:  Capabilities and Features, Brightness, Overall Picture Quality, Value Proposition and Competition

HC3500 Capabilities and Features

I am a lot more impressed with the Home Cinema 3500 than I was with the HC3020 when it launched.  Basically this projector is better at everything.  The Home Cinema 3500 is first and foremost a high brightness home entertainment projector that is built to let you enjoy all the benefits of the big screen experience in rooms that aren’t cave-like.  On this page I’ll run through some of the strengths of the Home Cinema 3500 that are covered in the full review.

If it’s 3D you want, the HC3500 has the muscle to deliver a bright 3D image.  That’s not easy.  Most of us are used to dealing with 3D images that are dimmer than we’d like.  No problem here.

You get plenty of placement flexibility from the 1.6:1 zoom lens, and its horizontal and vertical lens shift.  The projector can even be placed on a shelf on a back wall, or, of course ceiling mounted or placed on a table.

The 3500 has a full set of color controls to calibrate the projector if you want get the absolute best picture out of it.   (Or try our calibration settings.)

Are you a Gamer?  Input lag times were good, not exceptional, but for most serious gamers – we’re talking “good enough”, with input lag primarily in the 32-34ms range (using a MacBook Pro as the reference.)  50ms seems to be about as slow as a serious gamer will accept.  That 33ms range though, is respectable.  When we had two gamers writing gaming with projectors blogs, both owned projectors in the 33 to 50 ms range, and both were hard core.

The pretty powerful pair of 10 watt speakers will do an impressive job if you don’t have a separate stereo or sound system.  It will fill a nice sized room with balanced sound.  No deep bass but not at all tinny either.  Unusually capable sound for a projector (or LCDTV).

You can balance brightness with energy efficiency and fan noise with three different lamp modes.  Eco is still bright, and very quiet, Medium almost as bright as High, but quieter.  You can turn off Fine processing mode to improve input lag times for better serious gaming on this Epson.

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing Super-Resolution.  It really does enhance the image, make it seem noticeably sharper.  Like any image processing there are trade-offs but I really find Super-Resolution to be something worth engaging.

The first HDMI input has MHL.  That opens your world up to plugging in a smart device such as a Roku stick or GooglePlay or other devices offering streaming from the internet or other smart capabilities.  For some of you, it will let you cut the cord – no more satellite or cable.

Another nice feature, but not one a whole lot of people will use, is Picture In Picture.  HDMI-Link let’s the Epson’s remote control, control other HDMI-Link devices or vice versa.

Then there’s the capability the HC3500 lacks – that’s the Wireless HD (wireless HDMI).  Of course if that’s a feature you want, you just buy the Home Cinema 3600e.  That’s the only difference between the two.

The last feature I want to mention here is really the warranty and support.  Epson provides two years parts and labor, and also a 2 year rapid replacement program, so that you don’t have to wait for the projector to get fixed should it have a  a warranty failure.  Instead Epson ships you a replacement (by 2nd day service), you ship them your broken one, and they pay all the freight.  There are longer warranties on a few projectors (three years), and plenty of one year warranties, but Epson’s is the most comprehensive.

Brightness Summary

Light Cannon deluxe.  2900 lumens measured at maximum – 400 greater than Epson claims.  Even at mid-zoom, calibrated Natural mode produced almost 2250 lumens.  If you need every last ounce of power adjusting Dynamic for better color yields almost 2500 lumens.   That of course is in High lamp mode.  Medium  only loses 10% of brightness – slight, while Eco still maintains 70% of maximum, runs a lot quieter, and is still very bright.

This is a projector for your media room or family room.  It’s built to be able to not need a dedicated theater or cave.  And, without spending several times the price, it’s about as bright as home projectors get.

It’s a blast to watch football with friends in a room with more than enough ambient light for a social experience!

Want a screen as big as 150″ diagonal, there’s plenty of muscle to handle that.  If this Epson doesn’t have what it takes to handle your room, you need another room!  Remember, the right screen is very important too.

Overall Picture Quality

Epson combines all that brightness I keep talking about with some pretty good color, right out of the box.  Or, if calibrated the Home Cinema 3500 looks great, I think the images throughout this review pretty much best state the Epson’s case.

Black levels are good for a home entertainment projector, better than the Epson’s this HC3500 replaces, as well as some good DLP projectors out there.  Still, for a few hundred to $1000 more you can get into several different, but true “home theater” projectors.  They’ll be a lot better at black level performance, but no match in brightness, and lack things like decent built in speakers.  Now remember that for the sports images these photos were taken of an unadjusted Living Room mode!