Review Contents
Editor's Choice
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Epson Home Cinema 3100 Projector Epson Home Cinema 3100
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60000:1 Contrast Ratio
2600 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$1,326 Street Price
$1,299 MSRP

Epson Home Cinema 3100
Home Theater Projector

M. David Stone, January 24, 2017

In Epson's current line of home theater projectors, the Home Cinema 3100 at $1299 is a step up in price from the entry level Home Cinema 2040 ($799), or its sister model the HC 2045 which adds Miracast and WIDI. But the HC 3100 is also a big step up in performance and features. While the 2040 and 2045 offer only a 1.2x zoom and no lens shift, the 3100 gives you an array of features including a 1.6x zoom lens, vert+horiz lens shift, gamma settings, picture-in-picture, Epson's Super Resolution for enhancing detail, and panel alignment control to manually adjust three-chip convergence, all of which are features found on Epson's pricier Home Cinema 3900 at $1999.

Ultimately, the key to the Epson 3100's superb value is its image quality. If you view the 2040 or 2045 by themselves you'll find little to complain about--they are impressive projectors for the money. But in side-by-side viewing, the 3100 delivers far more vibrant color and visibly better contrast. On the other hand, the 3100 is just a small step below the Epson 3900 in image quality, but it is a whopping $700 less. So the 3100, right in the middle at $1299, represents excellent bang for the buck.

Another key to the value of the HC3100 is its lumen muscle. Even in its Cinema modes with the lamp set to the lowest power Eco our test unit pumped out close to 1400 lumens, and it puts out over 2000 lumens with the lamp on High. This makes for exceptional versatility. You can use the 3100 to light up a screen as large as 200" diagonal in a dark theater setting, or 130" diagonal in a room with low ambient light. (And if you need still higher brightness, check out our review of the Epson Home Cinema 3700, a near twin to the 3100.)

Though marketed under the "Home Cinema" moniker, it is easy to imagine the HC3100 showing up in a lot of sports bars as it produces sufficient light, a high quality HD 1080p image, and excellent installation flexibility, all for a modest sum compared to most projectors competing for that same market.

Picture Quality

The 3100's four color presets--Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural, and Cinema--all deliver solid video quality without any tweaking. The three-chip 3LCD design guarantees there won't be any rainbow artifacts and ensures there's no difference between color and white brightness, which might affect color quality or the brightness of color images. Also helping is that the 3100 delivers deeper blacks in all modes than less expensive 3LCD models, and with improved contrast, shadow details are opened up and better defined. The higher contrast ratio also gives colors more pop and increases picture depth, or a sense of three-dimensionality.

Epson 3100 Home Theater Projector

Epson 3100 Home Theater Projector


Color balance is spot on in three of the four predefined color modes, with neutral grays at all levels from black to white. Dynamic mode has a slight yellow-green tint in the brightest shades, but not enough to be a problem. Colors are vibrant and well saturated in all four modes and well within a realistic range. There are some subtle variations from one mode to the next, but most people won't notice them without switching back and forth between modes to look for the difference.

You can also adjust settings to taste, customizing each of the predefined modes and saving up to 10 additional custom settings in memory. Each customized mode and memory setting even saves the current lamp brightness, so you don't have to change it separately. It also saves the current setting for features like frame interpolation, which you might want to set on Low for filmed material if you don't like the digital video effect the more aggressive settings can produce. Or set it to Medium or High for live or recorded video where the digital video effect can improve the sense of being in the presence of the performers. The Low setting, which is the default for Bright Cinema, is worth looking at even if you don't usually like frame interpolation. It doesn't completely smooth judder in pans or in objects moving across the screen. However it makes motion a touch smoother, and it manages to make the 2D image more three dimensional in many scenes while slipping over into a digital video effect in only some.

Picture controls range from basics--like brightness, contrast, gamma, color temperature, and color (by hue, saturation, and brightness)--to video processing choices like Frame interpolation, Super Resolution, and two options for noise reduction. There's also a Picture-in-Picture option.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our thanks to OPPO Digital for supplying the
UDP-203 4K UltraHD Blu-ray Player
we use as a primary source in testing projectors
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3D Video. The 3100 supports 3D with Epson's $99 glasses and third-party Vesa RF glasses. Image quality for 3D and 2D are similar for those aspects of quality that both share, and the projector does a good job with 3D-specific issues. In clips that tend to show 3D-related motion artifacts, I saw no artifacts in most and barely a hint of them in the others. I didn't see any crosstalk.

The menus offer two 3D color modes. Both are lower brightness than any of the 2D modes, but 3D Dynamic is noticeably brighter than 3D Cinema. Unfortunately, it also adds a green bias. The good news is that it's still within the realm of acceptable color. Unless you're in a totally dark room and using a small screen, you'll probably prefer the extra brightness to better color quality.

Data Presentations. Like most home theater projectors, the Epson HC 3100 can also handle data and graphic presentations nicely. Matching color and white brightness yields vibrant, bright colors even in the brightest mode, and the 3100 also does well with detail, which is even more critical for data than video. White text on black was easily readable at 5 points in my tests. Black text on white was crisp even at 4.5 points.

Review Contents: Picture Quality Performance Set Up Limitations and Conclusion
 

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Reader Comments(17 comments)

Posted Jul 6, 2017 9:04 PM

By Pigworthy

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Just installed this today. All I can say is WOW.... Ended up watching way more movies than intended. I've had projection and a large screen for over 12 years now and today It felt like I was seeing some movies for the first time. The colors and detail are just fantastic.

I'd like to say Thank You to Projector Central. This is my 3rd projector based off of your lists. Thanks for all the work you do to keep us from the junk.

Posted Mar 28, 2017 5:47 PM

By Vinod

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Have not yet tried the 3D viewing modes yet, however, the general consensus is that the Epson 2000 and 3000 series provide a brighter 3D image vs the BenQs. I say, if you are able to, try the 2040/45 and the Benq 2050, keep the one you like best. The Epson 2040/45 or the Benq 2050 are incredibly good deals for the money.

Posted Mar 28, 2017 5:39 PM

By Vinod

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Update:

For those dealing with a dark room environment and movie watching, you may find this interesting. Since my last post, I have changed my screen to a silver ticket high contrast grey screen material. It has definitely helped with the blacks and contrast, without giving up any perceivable brightness. The new material did add a very slight "sparkling" towards the middle of screen in very bright and plain images, I am extra picky so I notice everything, furthermore for dark room viewing, the image was still a tad bright in white or near white parts of the image, so, I am playing with a 52 mm ND2 filter, so far it looks very promising, has even knocked down the "sparkling" effect and definitely makes the overall image more movie like and not a bright TV. Definitely loving the projector more and more each day.

Posted Mar 23, 2017 3:45 AM

By Faiyaz

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Where can we find full list of different naming in different regions like EH-TW6700 etc.

With respect to ONLY "3D", can any 3D experienced fan suggest among Epson 2040, 3100, Benq 2050, 3050 please.

Posted Mar 13, 2017 12:49 PM

By vinod

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Bob,

You can't go wrong with either one of these two. If I was going with the DLP option, I would take the 2050 for approx. $200 less. The Benq picture is probably a bit sharper and has a bit better blacks, however, the 3100 is brighter all around and better shadow detail. This is a tough decision. Since you also watch sports with some lights on, the 3100 (it also has CFI) will probably serve your better.

Posted Mar 13, 2017 12:26 PM

By Vinod

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I have tried out the 2045 too, between the two, I would definitely pick the 3100, if you are okay with the increase in price (nice sale going on at the moment though), better contrast, installation flexibility, etc. If you want to stay at the same price as the 2045, I would suggest you look at the Benq 2050, it is pretty amazing as far as picture quality, colors, brightness and contrast. Depending on your dark room setup though the 3100 will still be a challenge, but at low power and brightness settings I think you can pull it off. I am going to have to eventually darken my walls and some of the d├ęcor, the 3100 is quiet bright.

Posted Mar 10, 2017 8:27 AM

By Bob

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I was looking at this Epson 3100 and the BenQ HT3050 since price is pretty much the same. Any thoughts on this. Room is light controlled so movies will be mainly in very low to no light and sports I'd prefer to have some light (It's weird with a bunch of guys sitting in the dark). Any input is appreciated. Thanks

Posted Mar 9, 2017 7:17 PM

By Jokur

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Thanks for the info Vinod. I've been trying to decide on a projector, primarily between the 3100 and 3700 but worrying about both being too bright for my light controlled 14'x 18' room. I originally was planning on getting the 2045 with wifi, but after reading up on the new 3100 I'm leaning that way. Any thoughts on comparing the 2045 to the 3100? Thanks again!

Posted Mar 6, 2017 11:59 AM

By Vinod

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A quick update. I have been playing with the Epson 3100, WOW. This may be the perfect balance between the Benq 2050 and the Epson 3700. While the 3700 was way too bright for my particular setup even at the lowest power and brightness setting, the 3100 is almost perfect. The Benq is awesome with maybe slightly lower shadow detail but maybe a bit sharper and more vibrant colors. With the Benq I use Low to Mid power and brightness settings, with 3100 I can pretty much achieve the same at low settings all around, So, It gives me more flexibility if my environment changes, eg, less light control, bigger screen and/or a bigger room/throw distance. Plus, the Epson has CFI (If ever needed), H/V lens shift, more calibration options and memory settings, etc.

I have a tough decision ahead, is the 3100 worth the $500+ difference...lol!

Posted Mar 1, 2017 12:07 PM

By Vinod

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I will answer my own question. I tried an Epson 3700, yes at about 12 feet viewing distance on a 120 inch diagonal 16:9 screen, the inter pixel gap is "almost" non-existent. With the Epson 8345 I could make out the pixel structure in very bright scenes or a plain bright and light background.

I ended up taking the 3700 back to Best Buy, as good as the projector is, it was too bright for my light controlled "dark room" even at the lowest brightness and Eco mode. My white screen and white walls are too much for this light cannon. It lit up the whole room like daylight. I am convinced that I need to eventually make the adjacent walls darker.

I have an Epson 3100 on the way, will post my findings on Friday.

FYI - Currently I am using the Benq 2050 (bought for $547 from Best Buy, through Staples pricematch), so far, for my situation it is working out the best compared the old Epson 8345, 2045 and the 3700.

-Vinod

Posted Feb 22, 2017 1:38 PM

By Riaz

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Sorry. I was completely wrong. Fingers crossed they will release a version of the 3100 in Europe.

Posted Feb 13, 2017 11:32 AM

By Vinod

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Hello,

Does anyone know if the inter pixel gap has improved on the latest Epson 3000 series vs the 8345/8350?

thanks,

-Vinod

Posted Feb 7, 2017 12:22 PM

By lorenzo

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I think the EH-TW6700 is the US 3700 (3000 lumen and speakers). So far I don't see the EU version for the 3100.

Posted Feb 7, 2017 10:53 AM

By Sergio

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I see... but the tw6700 is rated 3000 lumen . . .why ?

Posted Feb 5, 2017 12:17 PM

By Macrezz

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In Europe it's called EH-TW6700.

The difference in names can be frustrating. If projector central has worldwide naming at hand when when posting the projector page would ye consider posting the different naming information as well. It would be very handy.

Posted Feb 2, 2017 6:44 AM

By nitin

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Any idea what this is called in Europe/International Regions. Epson seems to have a completely different naming scheme outside the US.

Posted Jan 30, 2017 12:48 PM

By Macrezz

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"Fan Noise. The good news for the 3100's fan noise is that its Eco mode--rated at 24 dB--is barely audible from as little as two feet away".

I have been waiting so long to read those words about a projector that ticks all the boxes for me. This looks like the 1080p projector to beat. Based to your review, it has shot to the top of my hit list.

Thank you.

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