Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2030
1080p Home Video Projector Review
August 27, 2013
The latest addition to Epson's home video projector line-up is the PowerLite Home Cinema 2030, a sub-$1000 projector ideal for living room use. The Home Cinema 2030 has 1080p resolution and full HD 3D with radio-frequency glasses synchronization. In a first for Epson home video projectors, the Home Cinema 2030 is also compatible with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) devices like the Roku Streaming Stick, giving you a new way to access content from smartphones or streaming services easily from your projector.
In many ways, the Home Cinema 2030 resembles a slimmed-down Home Cinema 3020 which is larger and more expensive. It lacks the 3020's longer zoom lens, higher contrast ratio, and more powerful sound system, but it retains the core functionality and image quality that made the Home Cinema 3020 a successful home video projector. The lower price of $999 will make it attractive to those looking for a first projector or even a secondary projector for game rooms and weekend use.
Editor's note 9/20/13: The replacement lamp price for the Epson 2030 has been set at $99, not $299 as this article originally stated. The text of the review has been edited to reflect this.
The Viewing Experience
The Home Cinema 2030 looks deceptively simple. The projector is encased in glossy white plastic and has an offset lens with an integrated sliding lens cap that doubles as an "image mute" switch. The projector's control panel is on top of the projector while the connection panel is on the rear. Lamps change through the top of the case, which is a bonus if you are considering a ceiling mount, while air filters are swapped through a separate access door near the lamp.
The Home Cinema 2030 produces a sharp, bright, well-saturated image that is perfect for film or video. In a living room, the projector's Living Room mode creates an image that is color-balanced and high in contrast, while Cinema mode caters to dark-room viewing and deepens black levels with the projector's automatic iris. Detail is crisp and clear thanks to the Home Cinema 2030's native 1920x1080 resolution.
On first startup, we switched the Home Cinema 2030 into its different image modes to get a feel for the projector's capabilities. The brightest mode is Dynamic, which measured almost 2200 lumens on our test sample (out of a rated 2,000). Dynamic's green tint makes it an acceptable choice for use in strong ambient light when you need it, but for better picture balance you will want to look into Living Room mode (1670 lumens) or Cinema mode (1450 lumens), both of which have better contrast and color balance than Dynamic. Living room mode has a slight blue cast, but this can actually helps to counteract ambient light, which tends towards yellow.
In a brightly-lit living room, the Home Cinema 2030 will produce a bright and vibrant 60" diagonal image. However, if you turn the lights down some you can get a much larger image without giving up shadow detail and dynamic range. The projector has an automatic iris which is a useful addition in dark viewing environments, but you may want to disable it if you have ambient light in the room since ambient light will compromise a projector's black level anyway.