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New Epson Home Cinema 3100, 3700 and 3900 Projectors at CEDIA

These three new home theater/home entertainment projectors from Epson replace two year old models, and serve up some performance improvements, and reconfigurations in terms of features. I was supposed to get an actual demonstration of the Home Cinema 3100, 3700, and 3900 at Epson Long Beach, a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't happen because, instead I took a long awaited, two week family vacation. In other words, I've been briefed, but haven't yet seen them in action. I expect one will be demonstrated at CEDIA so I'll get a look at my meeting with the Epson folks tomorrow 9/15, at the show. Here's the scoop... First, when I talk brightness in lumens, all models offer the same amount of color lumens as white ones, a very important thing few competitors can match, but something we've discussed many times in reviews, so I won't go into that here.  I'm expecting improved input lag times for you serious gamers out there, but haven't heard anything officially.  I'll report on that when the first one of these arrives for review. Of course they all support 3D and use RF type active 3D glasses.  Also worth mentioning that relates to all three:  Epson has loaded them with some of their image enhancement capabilities, found on higher end models.  I'm not sure if this is the official Super-Resolution, or has another name, but we've found that Epson's pretty good at doing at least a little detail enhancement with little visible artifacts to offset the effort.  My expectations are fairly high, Of course, had I gotten a look a couple of weeks ago, I'd know by now. Home Cinema 3100 Projector: Let's start with the pricing.  As with the previous series, the Home Cinema 3100, (replacing the HC3000).  Price at $1299, the HC3100 starts off with a boost in brightness, to 2600 lumens from the older model's 2300 lumens.  It comes with MHL on both of its HDMI inputs, but it is important to note, that as this "base" model, like it's predecessor, it lacks any internal speakers.  What is important for those of you planning to use streaming sticks with the MHL, as a primary source of TV and other content, is that there is a stereo audio output, so you can feed the audio coming in from the streaming sticks (or Apple TV), to an outboard sound system, be it a serious one, or a basic "boom box."

Epson HC3100 projector - $1299, lens shift, 2600 lumens!

  Epson states that these new models have an improved optical engine.  Also of note is a respectable amount of vertical, and horizontal lens shift and a 1.6:1 zoom lens for great placement flexibility. This is Epson's step up projector in terms of performance from their popular Home Cinema 2040.  Call it home entertainment or home theater, it's got enough lumens to work in less than ideal room situations, while still immersing you in the big screen experience. Next up: Epson Home Cinema 3700 For $200 more - $1499, offers extra goodies, and will be worth the difference to many, probably most shoppers.  First of all, it adds built in sound -we're talking a pair of 10 watt speakers, so expect it to handle some action movie type volume!  Those rear facing speakers are great for those without an alternative solution. Brightness gets a nice bump too, to a full 3000 lumens!  In addition contrast is slightly higher (slightly is the operative term here) - 70,000:1 up from 60,000:1.  Still, every little bit helps on those really dark scenes.

Back of the $1499 Home Cinema 3700 (looks the same from the front as the others), showing the stereo speakers

 Home Cinema 3900! Finally, the flagship of the group.  Unlike it's predecessor, it lacks wireless HDMI, but Epson still offers that on the 2000 and UB series.  I forgive them.

Home Cinema 3900: $1999, Improved 3LCD panels, for better black levels, 3000 lumens!

  Again, 3000 lumens, but the HC3900 is ISF certified for those wishing to have it professionally calibrated.  Contrast jumps to 120,000:1. That's important, because the Home Cinema 3900 is sporting new 3LCD panels.  I'm excited to see the improvement.  As indicated by the ISF certification, Epson sees this more of an install projector than the other two (all can be, of course), but as such, this one lacks internal speakers. Other than that, all come with Epson's excellent combination of 2 years parts and labor warranty, including two years of rapid replacement program should there be a warranty issue. That' folks is the story, as I know it, so far.  We will likely review two of the three, since they span such a wide price range.  -art    

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