Epson 3020/3020e Home Video Projector
October 19, 2012,
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:
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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