Projector Reviews

Home Theater Projector Comparison Report: Best in Class Awards for 2012-4

If you want 2D and 3D, and you have a family room environment, where you either can’t fully control ambient light, or want enough on for socializing, say, when watching sports, you won’t find a better projector than this Epson, without spending more. Which would get you to the Epson 5010 or the Panasonic PT-AE7000, both more than $1000 more expensive.

The color accuracy of the Epson is really good. Epson tends to have greens overdriven a bit, since we do not calibrate the individual colors, that is the case. Overall, color accuracy is not an issue, and I would say that the color is still a touch better, and definitely more accurate than the Acer. (Neither should disappoint, except the perfectionist, and those folks are going to have a real tough time in the under $2000 marketplace).

For sports viewing (room lighting notwithstanding), the Epson has the power to look great. Great color is available at over 1400 lumens, and there’s more good looking (but not great image color) in the brighter modes should you need it. This Epson lacks the CFI, to smooth motion. That feature is rare, so far, on lower cost projectors – but that Acer does have it.

For 3D, the Epson does great. Blacks – which aren’t great on the 3010, even with the iris off in 3D (it can’t be turned on) isn’t really an issue, as 3D is inherently darker… That said, I would have rather seen them offer us consumers the option of engaging the iris when viewing 3D.

Always helping out Epson in our opinion, is their 2 year warranty with replacement program for both years. Epson support is also just about legendary. (I’m going to be bloggin a story recently emailed to me by a reader, regarding his experience.) It seems to be the experience just about everyone gets with them.

This Epson gets a solid tie with the Acer, all things considered. Each definitely has its own advantages, with, in my humble opinion, the Acer having the slight advantage in a theater or cave environment, and the Epson the king, in a family room, living room, bonus room world where ambient light is a reality, at least some of the time. The significant difference in 3D brightess, also makes the Epson the favored projector for those who plan on 3D viewing as a small, but important part of their viewing pleasure.

The Epson does have built in sound, something I tend to forget to mention. It’s no substitute for a real surround sound system, but will do in a pinch if you go mobile, or take the Epson outside to play a movie for the kids on the garage door on warm nights

Right now I’m considering putting a projector in my house’s great room. It’s always “too bright” during the day (no window coverings, lots of glass), but with the right screen (a Screen Innovations Black Diamond), all those lumens should do the trick. No, I’m not considering the Epson Home Cinema 3010, but that’s simply because, if I go with a projector in that room, it will be the very similar Home Cinema 5010. I’ve got the budget for the 5010, and, in my situation, I’ll need the lens shift, that the 5010 has, but the 3010 lacks, since I may be mounting the projectr IN the ceiling and using a mirror. (If I do that you’ll read about it as part of our forthcoming Home Automation section.)

Time to wrap this one up: The Home Cinema 3010 is an affordable, killer projector for your living room or family room or… Well balanced color, good blacks for the price, very good shadow detail, very good remote control, great warranty, and of course, outstanding brightness… make the the Home Cinema 3010 an example of an excellent value proposition. The HC3010 is not be perfect – nothing of course, is, at this price point. That said, the Home Cinema 3010 is at least good at just about everything, plus all that 2D brightness, and it’s got the brightest 3D anywhere near the price. Translated: This Epson gives you a lot of performance for the price, a top choice for anyone spending under $2500 who wants bright 2D and 3D.

Special Interest Award: 3D / 2D: Optoma HD33

The Optoma HD33 may have suffered unfairly in this year’s report.  It had the misfortune of being the first under $2000 3D capable projector.  We worked with it months before the Epson 3010 or the Acer H9500BD were even announced.

So, perhaps a little out of sight, out of mind. That said, upon reflection, we believe this is a very serious 3D capable projector for the money.   It can’t match the muscle of our two 3D / 2D projector winners, but it can produce a picture with more accurate looking color than the Acer H9500BD, and it does have that really nice “DLP look and feel” that the Epson lacks.

Out of the box color not bad at all, not great.  After calibration the Optoma looks very good, but there are some minor anomalies.  White (100 IRE) stays a bit cool, just over 7000K color temp, and the really darkest area we can measure – 20 IRE seem to be  a touch warm – redish.  Still, overall, it produces very nice skin tones, and more than once in the full review I described the HD33 picture as being a forgiving one.

Due to the lower lumens overall, and especially  the lower brightness in 3D, it’s not as capable a 3D projector from our perspective as our two winners in this Class, but it’s not far from the Acer H9500BD in terms of 3D, though the Acer still has a visible advantage.  With over 1100 lumens calibrated in “best” mode, however, the HD33 can handle (in 2D) a rather large screen in a dedicated theater or cave, or tackle a more “living room” type space, with a medium sized screen with some ambient light present.  If you don’t care about 3D, no problem filling a 130″ diagonal screen in 2D!

In some ways the HD33 can best that Acer, but the Acer has a huge advantage in black level performance, and those extra lumens.  From a color accuracy standpoint, though this HD33 will better please the fanatic.