Light output. The Home Cinema 3010 is a big bright beast of a projector. The projector's brightest mode is Dynamic, which measures 2110 lumens out of a specified 2200 on our test sample. Dynamic mode emphasizes brightness over contrast, though color saturation does not suffer the way that it often does in projectors' brightest modes. The next step down is Living Room mode, which at 1574 lumens sacrifices some brightness in return for improved contrast and black levels. Depending on screen size, Living Room mode is perfectly usable in its namesake, though some degree of light control will help to boost contrast further. Natural and Cinema modes are functionally identical in terms of light output, at 1376 and 1373 respectively. Natural mode is not as warm as Cinema mode, and it uses a different gamma curve than Cinema mode does. Otherwise they are quite similar.
As mentioned previously, even Cinema with its 1373 lumens is more than bright enough for a 140" diagonal screen in a darkened theater when watching 2D. If you have a smaller screen and don't want a super bright picture, Eco lamp mode reduces light output by 31%. This brings light output in Cinema to 947 lumens. If that's still too bright, you could invest in a neutral density (ND) filter to cut output. As the lamp begins to dim with usage, you can remove the filter.
Color. Accurate color is important for any home theater projector, but especially so for inexpensive projectors since the typical buyer of these projectors will not necessarily take the time to calibrate them. The Home Cinema 3010, at its default settings, measures an average of 6000K across the spectrum.
Grayscale tracking, pre-calibration. This measures around 6000K
The Home Cinema 3010's default settings put slightly too much emphasis on red, but the overall temperature is consistent across the board. If you do not own a color meter, the easiest way to adjust the projector is to switch from the 6500K color temperature preset to the 7000K preset, which will result in an actual color temperature of about 6450K--very close to the 6500K standard. If you do have a meter, a quick calibration will bring color temperature almost perfectly in line with the 6500K standard.
The Home Cinema 3010's grayscale tracking calibrates to 6500K easily
Contrast. Part and parcel of the Home Cinema 3010's high brightness is a degradation of black level, which is almost unavoidable in bright projectors. However, when compared to the Home Cinema 8350, Epson's other sub-$1500 1080p projector, the degradation is not as severe as one might think. The 8350 has undeniably deeper black levels, true, but the 3010 manages to hold its own, and black is still recognizable as black, not dark gray. The 8350 has a slight edge in dynamic range, as well, but the 3010 has a clear advantage in brightness, which is helpful in rooms with ambient light. Most importantly, the 3010's default gamma measures 2.14 on our test sample, where the ideal is 2.2. This means you don't have to worry about lost detail in shadows due to crushing.
When evaluating these two projectors, it helps to remember that they are built for two very different environments. The 8350 is built for dark theater rooms and excels in these environments, while the 3010 excels in rooms with ambient light. In these environments, absolute black level is less important than lumen output and dynamic range, and the 3010 strikes a good balance between these factors in its intended environment.