Epson 3020/3020e Home Video Projector
October 19, 2012,
The Epson Home Cinema 3020 and 3020e are two new home video projectors -- or, more accurately, two versions of the same home video projector. If you're not familiar with home video projectors, they are typically brighter and lower in contrast than home theater projectors, but still provide accurate color balance and other features that mark them as intended for video, not presentations or graphics. In short, they are projectors for the living room.
These models follow on from last year's Home Cinema 3010 and 3010e. Among the improvements are a slightly higher light output, better default color, and a better WirelessHD transmitter for the "e" model.
The difference between the Home Cinema 3020 and the Home Cinema 3020e is that the "e" model includes a WirelessHD system, allowing you to send full 3D HD signals across your home without the use of wires. Among other things, this makes mounting the projector much easier since you no longer have to consider wiring when doing so. Other than this key difference, the 3020 and 3020e are identical.
What makes the 3020 series so attractive is its combination of high light output, accurate color, flexible mounting, and low price. The wirelessHD system will certainly appeal to some consumers for a number of reasons we'll discuss shortly. The bottom line on these models is that the 3020 series improves upon its predecessors, and at $1599 for the 3020 and $1899 for the 3020e, they represent strong values in the home video market.
Note: our review was conducted using a Home Cinema 3020e, but aside from the WirelessHD transmitter and the corresponding price difference, the two models are identical.
Note: On initial publication this review reported a 2.0:1 zoom range on the Epson 3020. This was an error -- the Epson 3020e has a 1.6:1 zoom, just like the Home Cinema 3010. This was an editorial oversight and we apologize for the error. The review has been corrected. -bl
The official, full name of the projector is the Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 3020e, but don't let the name fool you. This is a home video projector, no matter what Epson calls it. It is built for use in ambient light, has lower contrast than home cinema projectors, but still has excellent color performance and is meant for use with video, not presentations or graphics. And it's a good home video projector, too. It's bright, it's light, it has speakers with some punch to them, and it does solid 3D. There's not a lot more to ask for.
We set up the 3020e on a low shelf in a darkened room. The ideal placement for the 3020e is a ceiling mount, especially if you take advantage of the projector's wireless capabilities, but a low shelf or table will also work well. The projector has a very mild upward throw angle, only about 3% of the image's height, which is much less aggressive than many other home theater and home video projectors. As such, a mount that worked well for your previous projector might not be ideal for the 3020e.
Firing up the projector, it becomes clear that the 3020e has brightness to spare. Our test unit actually exceeded the 2300-lumen specification slightly in its brightest mode, Dynamic. But our preferred mode was Cinema, which at 1360 lumens is still plenty bright enough to display a 100" diagonal image in a room with significant ambient light.
What is striking about the 3020e's image is its pop, punch, and color. Sure, a projector rated at 40,000:1 contrast with over 2,000 lumens behind it is never going to command home-theater-levels of contrast, nor is black level ever going to be as deep as Epson's more up-market offering, the Home Cinema 5020. But having a big, bright, vibrant picture can make you forget all of those things. The image produced by the 3020e has plenty of depth, and color is almost perfect right out of the box, so it is a great projector if you just want something to set up and use without a lot of fuss.
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