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Review - Epson 3010 Projector

Hello All! Over the past several years, Epson has established a pattern of producing some of the most competitive projectors in class, so its no surprise many were anxious for me to share my thoughts on the new Epson 3010.    At $1599 ($1799 for the 3010e), the Epson 3010 fits into the just-above entry-level market and boasts some impressive features (including 3D capabilities) for its price point.   Read on to find out how the 3010 holds up in the game room! With the holidays just around the corner, November is always a busy month for title releases - and this month was no exception.  Between the new Assassins Creed, Uncharted 3, Skyward Sword and the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls series (Skyrim), I've had plenty of new and exciting test material for this projector. The first thing I noticed about the Epson 3010 was its brightness.  It is a very bright projector.  Even in "Cinema" mode with the "ECO" blub setting activated (the least bright mode for this projector), the Epson 3010 throws an impressively bright image.   I spent most of my time with this projector in this mode because I have a light controlled environment and felt it resulted in the best black levels.   If  "dynamic" mode is activated and the bulb output changed to "normal", it is clear this projector has the lumens to shine in an environment where ambient light might be an issue for other projectors. Acer K138ST Video Game Skyrim This added brightness does come with a trade-off.   There is a clear difference in darker scenes between my Epson 6500UB and the Epson 3010.  When crawling around the darker dungeons of Skyrim, the Epson 3010 simply cannot compete with the black levels of the 6500UB.  Keep in mind, however, it goes both ways.  The 6500UB cannot compete with the brightness of of the 3010.  It's a trade-off. I would say the Epson 3010 has better blacks and is less bright than the Optoma GT750 and has about the same black levels and is more bright than the BenQ W1200. Placement flexibility is a feature many people can overlook.  There has been a change in the optics between the Epson 3010 and its predecessor.  Instead of vertical and horizontal lens shift, Epson has decided to implement a fixed lens system with keystone correction.  By no means does the Epson 3010 have poor placement flexibility, but it took a little more finagling to get the 3010 to project an image on my screen from the same position as my older Epson. I usually have to put the projectors I review in completely different spots than my 6500UB.  So, the Epson 3010 still has better placement than many other projectors, but the new system, in my opinion, is not as versatile as the older model's. The Epson 3010 projector is 3D capable and I was successful, for the first time, at gaming in 3D!  My 3D game of choice (the only 3D game own), StarCraft 2, was played from my computer via the NVidia GTX560 graphics card.  I don't have much basis for comparison in 3D games, so I'm wasn't really sure what to expect.  StarCraft 2 looked...3D!  Instead of a flat 2D birds eye view, I could see more clearly how the units and buildings were positioned in layers in respect to my point of view...depth!     I guess it's hard to explain...but there definitely was a difference, and it was pretty cool. StarCraft2 is a game I would never choose to play on a projector, so I'll have to search for some better demo material in the future.  For all intents and purposes, StarCraft 2 did well in giving me a feel for 3D gaming.  (If anyone can recommend a 3D gaming title to be my new reference - please let me know!) The Epson 3010 also includes two built in 10 watt speakers.  The speakers lack the bottom end, but I was impressed with the sound coming from the 3010 both in regards to overall volume level and clarity at higher volumes.   The best speakers I have heard on a projector yet.  The sound starts distorting around level 30/40.  At 25/40 the Epson 3010's sound is impressively loud and clean.   I like included speakers because they increase the projectors portability appeal.   The 3010 is not a huge projector, but it is not a "portable projector" by any means and the built in speakers are great for their "plug and play" functionality.  Just an all around nice feature to have if you decide to pack up the projector and bring it to a friend's place. I would like to mention the Epson 3010 does not have a CFI (creative frame interpolation) system.  I sometimes find CFI able to improve to the overall gaming experience - especially in slower paced games.   Switching from my 6500UB, I did miss this feature a little bit, but in no way would I consider it a deal breaker.  (The Epson 3010 uses the 2:2 pulldown method to smooth its imaging.  I made sure this was off during input lag testing.) Because there is no CFI system, there were few settings that could influence the input lag results.  I turned off noise reduction and any settings I could find that might increase input lag.   Unfortunately folks...the results were less than stellar.    The best result I could capture was ~80ms.  Input lag measurements extending into the +100ms range and averaged around 100ms.    (I was unable to test the input lag over wireless HDMI, as I received an Epson 3010 not the Epson 3010e.  If anyone had access to this feature and is willing to do some tests please let me know.) To be honest, I was not expecting this at all.  I was playing slower placed games, but I didn't notice a hint of lag while playing them.   I took a look at some faster paced games after I saw the input lag results and it was apparent in both Amplitude and online in Halo: Reach that the 3010 had enough input lag to impact high-speed game-play. Though the numbers were similar, I felt the Epson was a tad more responsive than the W1200, but it was still frustrating to play.   Art will be in touch with Epson regarding this, maybe they can attempt a firmware fix like BenQ on the W1200?  If they can get the projector to test below 40ms, I think we'll have a real winner. In short, the Epson 3010 is a great projector - awesome brightness, good color reproduction, respectable placement flexibility and 3D capabilities to boot.  It's a shame I can't recommend the 3010 for any serious gamers.  It suffers a bit too much from input lag to be used as a primary gaming display.   If you have ~$1500 to spend, I would recommend trying to find an "older" projector like the Epson 8350.  It won't have 3D capabilities or built in speakers, but the input lag will test around ~33ms. In the mean time, I'm continuing my Skyrim review.  Hopefully, Art has plans to send me some more toys! That's all for now! -Pete EDIT:  I also found this interesting article on AVSforum which compares some of the lag time on the newer Epson projectors Thanks to TXLZone, we have an unofficial update regarding the input lag issue, “A fix would require more than just a firmware for the lag on with video games. There would have to be a hardware change as well. These first 3 units were designed to work with 3D movies more than any other media. It will be addressed for future models.” We can cross our fingers and stay hopeful!

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