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Epson Home Cinema 3800 4K PRO-UHD Projector Review

Review Contents
Best Home Theater Projector
Performance
4.5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Epson Home Cinema 3800 Projector Epson Home Cinema 3800
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100000:1 Contrast Ratio
3000 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$1,699 Street Price

Epson Home Cinema 3800 Pros

  • Excellent out-of-box image quality
  • 10 memory positions let you create multiple customizations of any or all color mode presets—for SDR, HDR, and 3D, for example, or for different lighting conditions
  • Same preset color modes available for 2D and 3D content
  • Excellent setup flexibility with 1.62x zoom and wide lens shift

Epson Home Cinema 3800 Cons

  • Frame Interpolation not available with 4K input or with 1080p if 4K Enhancement is on

Our Take On The Epson Home Cinema 3800

Like Epson's bigger and heavier pixel-shifting, 4K-capable models, the Epson Home Cinema 3800 delivers a gorgeous image for 1080p SDR and 4K UHD content along with conveniences like a much larger horizontal and vertical lens shift than typical for the price.



Epson HC3800 lead

The $1,699 Epson Home Cinema 3800 is the more expensive of two new and similar Epson projectors. The other is the $1,499 Epson Home Cinema 3200. Taken together, they are the latest example of the continuing trend towards lower prices for entry-level 4K home theater projectors—or, more precisely, the price of pixel-shifting, native 1080p projectors that produce images essentially indistinguishable to the human eye from true 4K. These models officially replace the Home Cinema 3700 and Home Cinema 3100, 1080p models which do" not offer pixel shifting to enhance resolution and do not accept UHD signals.

The 3800's slightly higher price compared with the 3200 buys you on-board stereo speakers, a 12V trigger port, an RS-232 port for external control, and—most significantly—higher brightness and contrast ratio. Based strictly on the ratings—3,000 lumens for the 3800 rather than 2,900 for the 3200—the brightness difference isn't enough to notice. The difference in contrast should be, at 100,000:1 compared with 40,000:1. Beyond these differences, the features and specs for the two are virtually identical.

The other obvious comparison for the 3800 is the Epson Home Cinema 4010, which Epson's website is selling at this writing in late October for $1,799. Note that the 3800 has the advantage of being smaller and lighter. In addition, unlike the 4010, it adds HLG HDR support to the HDR10 they both offer, and uses the more advanced, 16-step HDR brightness control first introduced in Epson's Home Cinema 5050UB. Like the 5050UB, it also has HDMI 2.0b ports, giving it the 18 Gbps bandwidth needed for display of 4K content with HDR at 60 Hz. However, it doesn't share the 4010's powered zoom, focus, and lens shift, a major convenience compared with the 3800's manual control for all three. Nor does it have the higher end, 15-element glass lens used on the 4010 and 5050UB, the same ability as those projectors to deliver 100% of the DCI-P3 color space for UHD content, or the same level of contrast. Epson rates the 3800's contrast ratio at just half of the 4010's specification.

The 4010's powered lens controls also works in tandem with onboard memory to let you easily change lens settings as needed for a constant image height setup. If the price difference between the two models remains this small, you'll want to take a close look at the 4010 before you decide on the 3800.

Epson Home Cinema 3800 Features

Epson's approach to pixel shifting puts twice as many pixels on screen as are in the native 1080p chips. That's fewer pixels than native 4K projectors or pixel-shifting DLP 4K projectors deliver. But combined with Epson's 4K PRO-UHD technology—a collection of features designed to enhance detail—and Epson's 12-element, high-quality glass lens, it delivers an actual ability to resolve detail that rivals, and in some cases surpasses, the detail in images with more pixels.

As with the vast majority of projectors, the brightest mode has a green bias, but it's little enough that most people will still consider it usable on an occasional basis when needed. More important, all the other modes offer good color accuracy with default settings, and some offer ample brightness for a family room with lights on. I measured Bright Cinema at roughly 2,270 lumens, which is enough to light up a 120-inch diagonal 1.0-gain screen in moderate ambient light.

The 3800 also offers excellent placement flexibility, especially for the price, starting with the 1.62x zoom lens. For a 120-inch screen, the throw distance ranges from 11.5 to 18.75 feet. (You can find the throw distance range for your screen size using the Epson Home Cinema 3800 projection calculator.)

Epson HC3800 top

Even better, the 3800's manual vertical lens shift, at +/-60%, will let you set up the projector at any reasonable height relative to the screen, including a table below the screen, a bookshelf in back of the room, or inverted in a ceiling mount. The +/-24% horizontal shift also gives you plenty of flexibility for positioning it left or right of the screen's vertical centerline.

Another notable plus is that the 3800 weighs only 15.2 pounds, making it relatively easy to set up and light enough so you can carry it to the backyard for a movie night. Its onboard pair of 10-watt stereo speakers delivers robust enough audio so you may not need to bother with an external sound system.

Here's a more complete list of the Epson Home Cinema 3800's key features:

  • 1920 x 1080 native resolution X 2 with pixel shifting enhanced by a high quality lens and Epson's 4K PRO-UHD technology
  • 4K PRO-UHD projection technology, a collection of features that, in addition to enhancing resolution, includes advanced color and other image processing
  • 3LCD design with a separate chip for each primary color to ensure equal color and white brightness and no rainbow artifacts
  • 3,000 lumen brightness rating using ISO 21118 (similar to ANSI lumens)
  • 100,000:1 contrast ratio rating (full on/full off with auto iris on)
  • Auto iris with settings of Normal, High Speed, and Off
  • Accepts up to 4096 x 2160 input
  • Two 18 Gbps, HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2 ports
  • HDR10 and HLG HDR support
  • 12-element glass lens; 1.62x zoom
  • Significant vertical (+/-60%) and horizontal (+/-24%) lens shift
  • Four color preset modes; 10 memory positions for storing customized versions of any mode
  • Color management system for adjusting RGBCMY hue, saturation, and brightness; white balance adjustments for RGB gain and offset
  • 16-level HDR brightness control with direct access from remote
  • Onboard stereo sound system with two 10-watt speakers
  • Audio output for wired connection to external audio system or Bluetooth for wireless connection to speakers or headphones
  • Full HD 3D (Epson and Vesa RF glasses only, glasses not included)
  • Full-size, backlit remote with one-button access to key picture adjustments
  • 2-year warranty; 90 days on lamp
  • 250-watt lamp rated for 3,500 hours in High power mode, 4,000 hours in Medium, 5,000 hours in ECO; replacement lamp ELPLP85 costs only $99
Epson HC3800 Lifestyle2
At about 15 pounds, the HC3800 is light enough to move outdoors for a movie night.
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Comments (19) Post a Comment
Georg Posted Oct 31, 2019 4:41 AM PST
Hi,

The projector looks quite promising, thank you for the detailed review.

Your projection calculator does currently not include the vertical lens shift. Any chance you will include it?

Is there a vertical offset of the picture compared to the center of lens? Or, is the picture by default in the center of the lens (half below, half above the projector)?

Depending on where the picture sits, it makes quite an impact on the placement possibilities, especially in ceiling mount situations with this amount of vertical lens shift.
Mike Porter Posted Oct 31, 2019 3:29 PM PST
Thanks for the great review. This seems like the perfect projector for my golf simulator. Quick question, I looked in the manual and the resolution looked really limited. Only one 4:3 (VGA) resolution listed and no 16:10 listed. It did say something about Epson SizeWise which allows for other resolutions, but I wasn't clear on whether that was just non-native resolutions listed, or whether it could display other resolutions like 2560x1600 (16:10). That would by my ideal for the golf simulator, and I have a video card that can easily handle that. Are you able to confirm if the 3800 can display this resolution? Thanks!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 1, 2019 6:56 AM PST
Mike, the full list of acceptable display formats is on page 147 of the manual. Bottom line: this is a 16:9 projector using a 1920x1080 chip, and through Epson's on-board processing (what they're calling their "SizeWise" chip) is made to accept the signals in the chart, which are all industry standard signal types ranging from 640x480 up to 4096x 2160. I would not expect it to accept any signal not already in the chart.
Harrison Posted Nov 1, 2019 9:21 AM PST
Thank you for the review. Looks like another great option in the sub $2000 price range. For a 4K HDR movie viewing experience, how does the 3800 compare to the HT3550 from BenQ?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 1, 2019 10:57 AM PST
Harrison, we no longer have an HT3550 on hand to compare this with directly but that's an obvious question. Our reviewer really liked the HT3550 at its $1,500 price point and you can find a direct face-off between the BenQ HT3550 and the Epson HC4010 here, the latter of which has some things in common with the HC3800. The most clear differences are going to be overall lumen output (higher with the HC3800), perhaps some differences in sharpness (it's a little unclear if these will be similar to the differences with the HC4010, which has a better lens), and perhaps most critically some differences in the HDR tone-mapping. The HC3800 has even more advanced tone-mapping than the 4010 with its 16-step control, while the HT3550 is more limited in its ability to adjust for specific content. That said, there were some areas where the HT3550's tone-map was different and more effective than the HC4010's. Note that the HC3200, the HC3800's step down, is a more price appropriate comparison with the HT3550, but lacks the HC3800's notably higher contrast ratio rating.
Terry Posted Nov 1, 2019 9:34 PM PST
I need to get into 4K and ditch my 5030UB. Considering the brightness, could the 3800 provide a perceived contrast that matches the 5030UB?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 3, 2019 9:23 AM PST
Terry, this is something you'd really have to compare side by side with two optimally adjusted projectors, but I really doubt you'll get the same blacks and contrast as on your 5030UB in a dark room without moving to another UB projector within the Epson line, which would mean the 5050UB in today's line up. Just based on specs, and assuming they're still measuring contrast the same way since they released the 5030UB in 2013, contrast is rated 6 times higher on the 5030UB than the 3800. Also, the higher brightness in the 3800 (3,000 lumens vs 2,400 lumens in the 5300UB)works against, not in favor of deeper blacks/higher contrast for dark room viewing. My advise is that if you've had a good experience with your 5030 and want to stay in the Epson family is to save up for the 5050UB and know that you'll be enjoying a big upgrade when you make the move.
Devin Posted Nov 3, 2019 7:42 PM PST
The lower pixel count kind of bothers me compared to pixel shifting DLP projectors. Is there really a big difference between this projector's 4k image vs say the Optoma UHD50/UHD60 or BenQ TK800M? I know that the end of that paragraph softens the blow, but I wish it would mention those projectors that it surpasses or is comparable with despite the lack of pixels.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 6, 2019 5:38 AM PST
Devin, thanks for asking the question here. Bottom line: if there's a difference in detail from Epson's 1080p pixel-shifting approach and any of the 4K DLP projectors you mentioned from normal viewing distances, it'll be due primarily to differences in lens quality and processing, not from the difference in pixel count. So far in our experience, Epson's latest iteration of its 4K PRO-UHD shifting/processing combined with the usually excellent lenses they mate it with pretty much nullifies any advantage from the additional pixels in a 4K DLP.
Jimmy Posted Nov 6, 2019 11:00 PM PST
Thanks for the review, was curious to see someone's thoughts on it. BUT why does no review site comment on Anamorphic modes anymore? It's not just this projector but pretty much everything. And it's not just ProjectorCentral - it's every review site.

It's not like those of us with Anamorphic lenses just vanished in thin air. It's hard enough that manufacturers put this buried in the manual, but one would hope that professional reviewers would at least mention it in a 6 word sentence.

For those interested by the way the 3800 is supposed to have anamorphic stretch for Anamorphic lenses while the 3200 doesn't have that feature.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 6, 2019 11:10 PM PST
Jimmy, you're absolutely right. Given that the inclusion of anamorphic modes is by no means universal these days, and is perhaps waning in the budget class under $2,000, we should be mentioning this in the review when it appears.

Where there are questions on this, readers should know that our projector database page on any projector we review (which can be accessed by clicking the model name in the product details box at the top of the review) usually contains links to a PDF of the spec sheet and user manual. The manual shared by the HC3200 and HC3800 does indeed cite two anamorphic aspect ratio modes for the HC3800 only, as picked up below:

Anamorphic Wide

(Home Cinema 3800)

Displays images recorded at Cinema Scope size when you attach a

commercially available anamorphic lens to the projector.

Horiz. Squeeze

(Home Cinema 3800)

Stretches the horizontal aspect of the image when you attach a

commercially available anamorphic lens to the projector.
José Doblado Posted Nov 7, 2019 4:38 AM PST
Hello friends: Did you test the HC3800 VS HC3200? are really contrast so different or is comercial issue from Epson?. thanks you very much
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 7, 2019 9:10 AM PST
Jose, we have not looked at the HC3200 yet, but the difference in rated contrast is significant enough that it should be visible in the low black level of challenging dark scenes in a dark room theater environment. It is not likely to make a noticeable difference in any kind of ambient light viewing. If you never watch in the dark and don't need any of the other features exclusive to the 3800 (ie, built-in audio or an anamorphic aspect ratio mode), you can save some money.
Chiz Posted Nov 8, 2019 11:37 AM PST
Hey... I own a Epson HC 2040, it is approx 10 feet from wall with a 120" image. I purchased the BenQ HT2550 when it released but image was not big enough at 10 ft away and I can not go further due to a beam in the ceiling dividing the room. I am looking to upgrade my HC 2040 and get into a mid range 4k but I am not good at understanding all the specs, hoping you can help. I have 2 questions and pretty sure I know the answer to the 1st, but the 2nd is the question I really need the answer on.

1. Is the HC3200 a good upgrade from my HC 2040? My guess is yes.

2. Do you think the HC3200 can give me the size image I currently have without going further away?

Also I see the HC3200 on the USA best buy but not canada, any idea when it will be available here in canada? Thanks so Much in advance!! Huge help.
J.R. Posted Nov 8, 2019 2:37 PM PST
Hello,

My question is which is the superior projector - the HC3800 or the 4010 I’m your opinion?

I’ve had the Epson HC3500 the last few years and have enjoyed its solid overall performance, but I’m ready to upgrade to the 4K or rather faux 4K.

I have a small home theater in about a 9x12 foot room, and have my walls painted a very dark grey (almost gray/black) and a Silver Ticket 100 inch screen. Ambient light isn’t a concern.

The 5050 is probably a little bit more than I want to pay, so I’m primarily looking at the 3800 and 4010.

What would you choose? The HDR slider in the 3800 is an enticing feature but is the 4010 better overall for movie watching? I still like to play lots of blu-rays and soon UHD discs.

Thanks for your time and take care!
vid53 Posted Nov 10, 2019 2:07 PM PST
I am looking to get into a 4k picture at a reasonable price. Would the brightness and picture be better then my Sony 45ES model?
Jim Posted Nov 10, 2019 3:27 PM PST
Great review. I've ordered the 3200 (or EH-TW7000 as it is known here in the UK) which should be arriving some time within the next week. So just to be clear for HDR the best mode to use is Cinema with a little tweaking? I watch a lot of 4k HDR content and I know it wont be as good as a TV but it will be replacing an old DLP projector that had weak colours. There also seems to be some differences in specs on the UK/EU and US Epson websites. On the US page it says the 3200 has a lower lumen output but in the UK/EU both models are 3000 lumens. Also it looks as if the UK gets better pricing and warranty (currently £899 or $1150 for the 3200) with 3 year lamp warranty in the UK.
Ben Posted Nov 11, 2019 6:21 AM PST
Spot on review. Got mine on 11/7. Lens shift makes placement easy. I’m throwing it on an Elite Screens 120 1.1 gain motorized from 13 ft. IT IS BRIGHT! Cinema mode is plenty for daylight viewing with a curtain-covered window in the room. 4K gaming is amazing. No lag noticed at all. Upscaling from 1080p bluRay on Xbox one with Image Enhancement ON introduced a lot of image noise. Ready Player One during the Shining scene was almost unwatchable. Turned Image Enhancement off and it cleared up the pixel noise. 4K UHD disc looked incredible (Godzilla: King of Monsters). So much more detail in dark scenes. TV feed at 1080p does show some haloing around moving objects...watched a golfer walk on a green to his ball and it looked like he had a force-field around him. Could be the signal...my cable tv sucks.

Still need to check out Netflix and Amazon 4K streaming. This thing has a ton of settings. Manual is 164 pages. Easy to get lost if you don’t know what you’re doing. Not a lot of internet reviews yet so playing with this thing iit’s easy to get lost.

Oh...color out of the box is a bit muted. Turned up color saturation, contrast, and dropped brightness a bit and it looks much better. Still haven’t adjusted for the green bias, but may try that today.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 11, 2019 7:11 AM PST
Thanks for the feedback here, Ben. If you've not experimented yet with the Preset modes for the enhancement (1 through 5) you may find you can dial down the enhancement effect and noise on some content that tends to show it without totally sacrificing the sharpening effect as happens when you turn the enhancement off fully. All a matter of degrees--though this is also dependent on some of your other picture settings and the content itself.

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