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Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e Projector Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e
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Street Price: $1,799
3D: Full HD 3D
Contrast:40,000:1
Lumens:2300
Weight: 13.7 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:3 LCD
Lens:1.6x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:4,000 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$299.00
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  Composite, Component, RGB, HDMI (x5), USB, RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60

Epson 3020/3020e Home Video Projector

Bill Livolsi, October 19, 2012

Performance

Light output. The Home Cinema 3020 is rated to produce 2300 lumens, and our test sample measured 2390 lumens in Dynamic mode. The projector's brightest mode, Dynamic emphasizes green, sacrificing color accuracy for increased light output. Contrast likewise suffers, but if all you need is the brightest possible picture, Dynamic is the way to go.

After Dynamic comes Living Room, which at 1670 lumens has far superior color balance and contrast performance. In fact, we tweaked Living Room mode until it was producing 6500K white balance across the board and came up with a new reading of 1590 lumens. This is a great mode for sports and video games because of its unique combination of high brightness and excellent color.

Cinema mode, at 1360 lumens, offers the best color and contrast of any image mode as well as the lowest light output. Now, 1360 lumens is still quite bright, able to power a 100" diagonal screen in ambient light without breaking much of a sweat. But dim the lights a little bit and switch the 3020e into low power lamp mode and you end up with 950 lumens in Cinema (a 30% reduction), better black levels, a more three-dimensional picture, and a large, bright image. This is a great combination to use at night when you want to watch a movie.

Contrast. The Home Cinema 3020e isn't an ultra-high-contrast home theater projector. Its 40,000:1 contrast is tailored to give you a good experience in a living room environment or other similar space, where ambient light is a fact of life. In these environments, extreme deep black levels are actually counterproductive, as ambient light washes out some of the low-end shadow detail that the projector fights so hard to display.

That said, the 3020e is perfect for its intended environment. Black level isn't ultra-deep, but it also does not look gray or washed out. The projector does not give up one iota of shadow detail due to a solid gamma calibration from the factory (if you are in a darkened room, you can switch to 2.4 gamma to give the image a touch more punch). The image has plenty of pop, whether you're watching 2D or 3D content.

Color. Last year, the Home Cinema 3010 had a decent, but not great, default calibration. Color temperature measured about 6,000 Kelvin across the board. This year, the default calibration has been improved significantly.

In Cinema mode, the "Abs. Color Temperature" control is set to 7500K by default." But our CalMAN software measured about 6600K, or slightly too much blue, as well as a slight green deficit in the shadows. From there, we made some small adjustments and ended up with a calibration that measured nearly perfect 6500K across the board. So don't worry that the control says 7500K.

Our adjustments to RGB levels were as follows:

Offset
Red-1
Green1
Blue-1
Gain
Red0
Green0
Blue-2

As for color gamut, our measurements indicate that the 3020e is close enough to the ideal Rec. 709 gamut that the human eye should not be able to tell the difference. As such, we left it alone. All in all, color performance on the 3020e is the equal of any home video projector and rivals some home theater projectors.

Sharpness and clarity. The Home Cinema 3020e has no smart sharpening system, but manages to reproduce detail found in Blu-ray movies and HD content cleanly. Overall, the projector looks detailed and clear, though it does not have the razor-sharp edge found in some other projectors. Part of this is the inherent difficulty of focusing the projector; it has a very fluid focus mechanism that moves smoothly, but it is often difficult to pinpoint ideal focus while adjusting. Part of this is also due to the projector's tendency to shift focus very slightly in the first 10 minutes of operation. To combat this, allow the projector to warm up for ten minutes or so, then focus. When you next start up, the projector will warm up to the same position.

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Key Features
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Limitations
Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Key Features Performance Limitations
  Conclusion

Reader Comments(41 comments)

Posted Jun 1, 2014 10:10:35 AM

By Joe M.

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Can the Epson 3020e be projected on a curved screen. I understand that a curved screen gives you a more immersive 3D experience.

Posted May 3, 2014 7:58:08 AM

By Gilles

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We bought the 3020e this past December and have it mounted on the ceiling of our basement. The colour, etc works great in the basement. We love it.

Posted Apr 24, 2014 8:14:41 PM

By inko

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my mounting space is lil bit left of the center and my screen is 150". do u think i can adjust with keystone the pic or it should be right at center

Posted Mar 26, 2014 4:55:21 PM

By Doug

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I was almost ready to buy this, but when I read your comments on Contrast I got the feeling that this may not be the best option for a basement. Am I correct? If so, do you suggest another model or make in the same price range?

Thanks

Posted May 26, 2013 4:43:33 AM

By Ron

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For the price the EPSON 3020 is a OK projector, not perfect, bud solid. I also have a Panasonic AE3000au and although it is a few years older, the picture quality is much better then the 3020. In hindsight, I wish I would have saved longer and got a PT-AE8000U (but it is 1,0000 more.

Posted Apr 23, 2013 11:42:59 AM

By Ryan

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To the left of the project image, my Epson 3020 projects a one-foot wide gray band of light that matches exactly the top and bottom of the rest of the rest of the image. The outermost edge of the light is perfectly straight.

Am I setting this up wrong? Is there some setting to change? I'm using input from a Macbook at 1920 x 1080.

Posted Mar 17, 2013 5:41:43 PM

By Neal

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No AVR needed.

Posted Feb 4, 2013 3:53:44 PM

By Aaron

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Is a 3D receiver necessary for this (or any) 3D projector? This is the only thing I'm stuck on and want to be 100% sure I won't lose image quality/audio if it's not a 3D receiver. Thanks!!

Posted Jan 24, 2013 11:12:08 AM

By John H.

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I would appreciate some input...I am new to projectors, and this says it is better for rooms with ambient light. I have a room that is roughly 17'wide and 21 feet deep, with projector mount near the back of the room. The room is completely blacked out ideally. Is the projector going to be too bright? Screen size is roughly 120-125" diagnoal if that helps. Thanks.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 11:14:10 AM

By tim.ducharme

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Bill, When you've tested the Epson PowerLite projectors, have you found that there are issues with white "smearing" or "flare" that causes, for example, white text on black to look smudged or blurry? The white smear travels across several pixel widths or height to make a rather sloppy looking image. There are several people, including me, who have had this issue multiple times in several replacement units. I sent Epson a pic of the problem (screen shot) and they confirm AGAIN, that I have another defective unit.

Many thanks . . .

Tim

Posted Jan 16, 2013 10:35:40 PM

By Brian

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1' down from ceiling is normal. The top of the image starts about where the projector is and goes down. Vice versa when mounted on a table or shelf.

Posted Jan 15, 2013 6:08:39 AM

By Jappish

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Bump,

I would also like to know if the 3020 and the EH- TW6100 are the same projectors. It looks like they are when comparing specs.

Posted Jan 15, 2013 5:21:36 AM

By DougW

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I tried using the optical audio out as suggested by your review. It didn't work. I checked with Epson and here's their response: "The Wireless HD device only outputs a stereo signal from the audio out port. If you have a high definition device that is outputting a 7.1 or 5.1 digital surround sound signal, then you will only get 2 channels of audio, resulting in low audio or no audio output at all." When I responded that it seemed like a poor design, they disclaimed all responsibility saying the transmitter was not manufactured by them and pointed me to the Wireless HD consortium website. Wow! Can you believe that Epson doesn't care about something that it sells as its own?! It seems to me this is only useful then (and I haven't tested it to see if it works) if you are converting a stereo signal to HDMI (e.g., an RCA to HDMI). Second, I don't even get two channels of audio. I get nothing, so I'm wondering whether it will even work in the signal conversion scenario. So basically, the audio out is useless and I wonder why they even bothered. Would it have been that much harder to make it full digital since it is a digital optical out (and wouldn't this also in any event play the converted stereo signal as well)? In general, the wireless transmitter is also not designed very well nor very robust. If you can make the cables work, do it. Every time your input device loses a video signal (like when the DVD player changes status, or when you switch to a 3D channel on the TV), the transmitter loses signal and has to reset which can take anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Then, if you are watching one input and turn it off before switching inputs, you lose the signal completely (even if your other inputs are sending a signal) and it often simply doesn't reset, so you have to manually reset it. So you have to remember to always switch first before turning off the other input. Finally, the projector shows ALL inputs even if you have nothing plugged into them. Since I currently only have two inputs plugged in, my projector shows 3 blue boxes at the bottom of the screen and I have to scroll through all of them to get to the other input. Next, I used a converter to convert the Wii RCA cables to HDMI. On my HD TV, this works beautifully, very nice picture, great sound. When you plug it into the Epson wireless, you can see the Wii on the input sub-boxes, but when you try to switch to it, the transmitter loses the signal and it requires a reset (manually going to the transmitter and holding the reset button for 10 seconds)to get it to work again. I will be providing a full review of this projector and the numerous other problems I've had with it on Amazon and Epinions. I'm on my second 3020e projector and this will be it with Epson. I wanted to like this projector which has a really great 3D experience when it works, but there are just too many problems with it.

Posted Jan 5, 2013 2:45:00 AM

By Jason Liu

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I have used 3020e for more than a week now, with my Da-lite 106" screen. Honestly, I'm disappointed with this projector. Now I kinda regret I should have got 5020ube instead. The contrast and color reproduction is really poor. I have tried many different sources, blu-ray, Netflix and HTPC, but all the images looked washed out. Imagine a color photo from the 80's, that's how it looks. I've also tried many different video settings, they all don't make much difference.

Am I missing something?

Posted Jan 3, 2013 4:54:47 PM

By Ken

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Does anybody know whether the wireless function requires direct line of sight? Unfortunately this would be impossible with my set-up. It would be only a short distance away, but the signal would have to travel through a wall or two, and it would be hitting the back of the projector instead of the front. Thank you!

Posted Jan 1, 2013 7:38:39 AM

By Derek

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With only keystone correction, can I use that to adjust for having the projector only about 1' down from the ceiling? I have a situation where I can not bring it down to the center of the screen height.

Posted Dec 31, 2012 7:07:30 AM

By Harleyy

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Do you know if this Epson 3020/3020e is the European EH-TW6100/EH-TW6100W and the 5020 euqual to EH-TW9100W. Would be good to know as there is hard to find any good reviews in Europe, I normaly Read yours. By the way Thanks for all the great reviews you write :)

Posted Dec 28, 2012 5:50:01 AM

By Jbihun

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It needs line of sight

Posted Dec 23, 2012 9:25:01 AM

By baldeagle3D

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I am a professional 3D content producer so my bias may show. Just purchased the 3020 and found that the 3D on the 3020 to be substandard. A. Lag on scene cuts between the left and right eye. B. There was an annoying sweet spot in the center of my glasses. As I twisted my head left and right the density and color of the picture would change. C. During rapid movements or pans portions of the picture would look out of sync. Granted I am used to looking at a Christies $200,000 project at work. D. This does not happen on my LG 55" LCD. E. In 2D this project at $1500 is the best I have experienced. It is set up on a 12' screen.

Posted Dec 17, 2012 8:30:11 AM

By MediajediX

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I've had the 3020 for about a week now and I'm very happy with my purchase. I went from a Sanyo PLV-Z700 (which served me very well) as I needed something brighter (and was interested in better 3D than my Optoma GT750e).

Image quality is very nice, extra brightness is great, skin tones and colour reproduction seems very consistent and accurate and the 3D quality is exceptional.

My only real issue is I wish it had a lens shift like my Sanyo had. Getting the projector in the right position was a little but worth it in the end.

BTW I don't bother using the auto iris, the contrast levels are very good without it.

Posted Dec 11, 2012 4:03:00 PM

By C F

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Thanks a lot for the help. I appreciate it.

Posted Dec 11, 2012 6:51:59 AM

By NWest36

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Benoy and Mark - I used the 3N1-PJT from Omnimount to ceiling mount the 3020 to my 7'9" ceiling (available from BB and HHgregg. Also ceiling mounted a screen. Both are about 7-9 inches from the ceiling (a quess only) and have not needed to use keystoning.

Posted Dec 11, 2012 6:44:31 AM

By NWest36

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C F, the samsung RF glasses, SSG-4100GB, $20, work with the 3020.

Posted Dec 7, 2012 9:31:08 AM

By Alg

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The rival in this price range is the optoma HD33 which has lower advertised contrast ration.

So why is that also not called a home video project in the review. Is there something that makes it a home cinema projector?

Posted Dec 5, 2012 11:09:38 PM

By C F

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Following up on one of the comments earlier...

Which are the 3D glasses I can use with it? Also, if you can please recommend some for regular use (for my kids) and some as party packs (for guests, etc.).

Thanks a lot.

Posted Nov 22, 2012 1:57:26 PM

By Cina

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If within 20 feet of the projector, does the WirelessHD transmitter work across walls even if placed in a separate room with the a/v receiver? Or, does the transmitter need to be visually in the line of sight of the projector's front or back?

Posted Nov 17, 2012 3:19:34 PM

By Benoy

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Is 3020e project ceiling mountable? Did universal ceiling mounts will work for this model? Or there any list of ceiling mounts I can choose from

Posted Nov 12, 2012 10:06:11 PM

By Mark

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I'm buying my first projector for my home theater and seriously considering this one. Will I have any problems getting this projector to close mount to my 8ft ceiling since it doesn't have lens shift and it still look sharp? I'm afraid of having it hang down 12-18inchs to get the projector lined up properly with the screen. Is there a way to calculate the proper amount of vertical hang in inches for a 92inch screen and considering an 8ft. ceiling? Perhaps this isn't the best choice after all if I can't get the projector close mounted? Thanks!

Posted Nov 11, 2012 6:17:37 AM

By Puddy

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I just received my new 3020 and appreciate the review. Can you post your optimal video settings-contrast, brightness etc? Thanks

Posted Oct 31, 2012 2:25:28 PM

By NOLAMAN

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Why doesn't the projection calculator show the vertical distance frome the center of the lens to the edge of the image anymore. With no lens shift on this projector, this is a critical specification that some of us with low ceilings have to consider.

Posted Oct 29, 2012 1:40:46 PM

By Shashank Agrawal

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There is one more notable feature in 3020 and i.e. 2D to 3D conversion.

Posted Oct 29, 2012 5:59:42 AM

By iaw5

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hi bill---how does the contrast look when combined with a gray screen? with everything being dimmed, doesn't the high light output then produce a much better contrast ratio? rather than comparing the 3020 to the 5020 on the same surface for contrast and dark blacks, can you compare the 3020 on a dark surface to the 5020 on a white surface?

another question: what is the advantage of a high-gain gray screen? gray dims light, high-gain focuses light to brighten it (for those sitting in the center, of course). is it just the reduction of light reflection from off-center?

Posted Oct 26, 2012 7:31:24 AM

By Chris

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Do you know of any alternate RF3d glasses that will work with the 3020 besides the ones that Epson sells?

Posted Oct 25, 2012 4:01:09 PM

By Bill Livolsi

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Tal - no, the 3020 does not have lens shift. The spec sheet is being updated right now. Thanks for pointing that out.

Posted Oct 25, 2012 12:23:10 PM

By Tai

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The specs says it has H&V lens shift, but in your review you say it does not? No lens shift will be a dealbreaker for me.

Posted Oct 23, 2012 10:38:01 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Noll - There are definitely five inputs. You might be looking at an older version of the manual, but on page 61 of the Epson 3020 manual it says there are five inputs and one passthrough.

http://www.projectorcentral.com/pdf/projector_manual_7171.pdf

gadolphus - That's the nature of technology, my friend. Ten years ago, every new digital camera that came to market was miles better than the last one. These days, it's a much more incremental improvement. As a technology matures, the number of major fixes you can make to it decrease, and so you get smaller, more subtle product updates.

RAMoynihan - Thanks for the note. It's definitely a home video projector. We'll see about fixing that.

Tom - You are correct; according to Epson the pass-through can also pass video. I'll make an edit to this review and then go back to working on the 5020 :)

Tbone85 - If you do want an Epson projector that's fantastic for gaming, look at the Home Cinema 8350. It has the lowest lag numbers we've seen on any projector recently. As for your audio question, I didn't see an option like that, so I'm gonna say probably not.

Posted Oct 21, 2012 4:02:35 PM

By Noli

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Great review. Great sounding projector (*loved* my old Epson 1080UB). That too had a loud (& slow) iris mechanism - surely Epson should focus on getting a silent alternative.

Especially like the addition of the input lag for gamers - please keep this a regular part of your reviews!

1 small thing - notice in the manual that of the 5 wireless HDMI ports, 4 are labelled input and 1 output, so I wonder if this really does accept 5 inputs or 'just' 4 and also does pass through for those who want it?

Posted Oct 21, 2012 11:21:02 AM

By gadolphus

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I am a bit disappointed with the most recent crop of projectors. It sound like the 3020 offers some nice changes compared to the 3010 but the price/performance tradeoff is only incrementally better. Perhaps I am just spoiled. The last decade has seen unbelievable increase in PQ alongside a huge decline in prices. Perhaps this trend simply cannot be sustained forever. Objectively these new projectors are amazing but the pace of improvement seems to have noticeably slowed.

Posted Oct 20, 2012 5:07:47 PM

By RAMoynihan

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Hi Guy,

So is this a home video projector or a home theater projector? From the first paragraph of the review I would conclude, strongly, the former, but the review is grouped with the "home theater projector reviews" on your home page. It looks like it's been placed in the wrong bucket on the home page, so just FYI.

Posted Oct 20, 2012 2:53:36 PM

By Tom

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Thank you for the review. I'm waiting for the 5020 myself, but until that review is up, it's nice to see the 3020 improvements over the 3010. One item you mentioned interested me... the "pass-through" ability of the WirelessHD transmitter. Does it only pass through the audio, or does it possibly pass through the video as well?

I'm planning to keep my exiting TV in the room and use both it and my new projector going forward. I anticipated having to buy a new receiver with 2 HDMI out. If the WirelessHD transmitter allows me to send video to the projector wirelessly, while also letting video pass through to the receiver for TV viewing, then I am all set.

Thanks again.

Posted Oct 20, 2012 5:55:52 AM

By Tbone85

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Thanks for the review. I'm a little surprised that Epson released this projector without a gaming setting that cuts the lag from the 3010 by 2/3 instead of the 1/3 they achieved. Based on the 3010 experience, lag performance is unlikely to be improved by firmware updates.

Does anyone know if it's possible to configure the internal speakers to provide the surround channels instead of the stereo mains? I imagine this would be the most useful application for these type of speakers considering where the projectors will be placed--and the quality of sound they can provide.

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