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Epson Home Cinema 3800 4K PRO-UHD Projector Review

Review Contents
Best Home Theater Projector
Ease of Use
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 Performance

Color Modes.The 3800 offers four preset modes: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural, and Cinema. There is no User mode, but you can store up to 10 customized versions in memory, basing each customization on any of the preset modes. You can also customize names for each, so you can easily find the one you want.

With default settings, Dynamic mode is green-shifted, as is typical for the brightest mode in most projectors. However the shift is far less obvious than typical, and colors are at least arguably accurate enough to make the mode suitable for a family room setup for occasional daytime use.

Epson HC3800 LeftAngle

Bright Cinema, Natural, and Cinema all have good enough color accuracy out of the box that most people will consider any of them more than acceptable. My measurements using CalMAN Ultimate software, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 photospectrometer confirm that all three have a slight blue bias, which most people find far less objectionable than a green shift. Color differences from one to the next are little enough that without a measurement or reference image to compare with, you wouldn't know which is most accurate.

Here again, measurements confirmed my subjective impression. Straight out of the box, most primary and secondary colors in Natural mode show a Delta E—the error measurement that tells you how far color is from what it should be—of less than 3, which is considered essentially indistinguishable from the defined color and is our preferred target when calibrating. All are less than 4, which is still good accuracy, if not ideal. Cinema and Bright Cinema modes had slightly lower color accuracy, with most Delta Es in the range of 4 to 6.

Somewhat surprisingly, Dynamic mode came closest to the D65 color temperature with default settings, at just under 6900K. Cinema and Bright Cinema were between 7600K and 7700K, and Natural was 7100K.

The combination of color temperature, color accuracy with default settings, and most appropriate brightness for my screen size made Natural mode my choice for calibration for 1080p SDR. Adjusting color temperature, brightness, contrast, and gamma initially left me with increased color-point errors, but I was able to bring them back down to the desired range with the color management system. After calibration, color temperature was a near perfect 6486K, the largest Delta E color error was just over 3, and CalMan also measured excellent grayscale and RGB balance, especially for a projector at this price.

With the power mode set to Eco, I measured brightness on my 90-inch diagonal 1.0-gain white screen at 24 ft-L, which is a bit higher than the 22 ft-L maximum that the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends, but not as bright as some people prefer.

Note that color volume after calibration was 85.7% of Rec.709, compared with a measured 90.2% in Natural mode before calibration. The largest color volume I measured with SDR input was in Cinema mode, at 113.7% of Rec.709 with default settings.

There are no dedicated HDR presets, but you can customize any mode or modes for HDR and save the customized version to memory for easy retrieval. Note that the HDR-specific settings—most notably HDR brightness level—are unavailable with SDR input, but immediately became available in my tests with HDR input in whatever mode I happened to be in. I didn't have any HLG sources to test with, but Epson says the 3800 will do the same for HLG.

Epson HC3800 Remote

Based on CalMAN measurements for each color mode at its default settings and using 3840x2160 HDR input, I chose Cinema as my starting point for 4K HDR content, primarily because it offered the best match to the desired EOTF curve. I then adjusted RGB gain and offset to improve grayscale, and color management settings to improve color-point accuracy. In addition to the improved results on the CalMAN Post Calibration View, the color volume increased to 75.5% DCI-P3 (112% Rec.709) from the pre-calibration 71.1% DCI-P3 (105.8% Rec.709), which was already the largest volume of any mode using default settings.

After HDR calibration, the 3800 delivered 195.3 nits, or 57 ft-L, in ECO power mode with my 90-inch 1.0 gain screen. Using the Medium power mode boosted the brightness to 268 nits, or 78.1 ft-L. High power mode raised the brightness only a little more, to 296 nits, or 86.4 ft-L.

1080p/SDR Viewing. The 3800 did impressively well with 1080p SDR Blu-ray discs. In Terminator 2, for example, in the scene where Arnold the Terminator arrives from the future, the 3800 delivered a satisfyingly dark black level along with excellent shadow detail and sense of three-dimensionality. Even while Arnold was still kneeling in dark shadow, his muscles were visibly well-defined.

The sense of depth brought out by the black level and shadow detail stood out even more clearly in an earlier scene of the apocalyptic future war against machines. As the camera pans over a battlefield at night with remnants of playground toys among the rubble, the 3800 delivered an almost too-real sense of three-dimensionality, verging on reproducing the digital video effect that Frame Interpolation (FI) is known for. In fact, the pan was so smooth that I had to double check to confirm that FI wasn't on.

In brighter scenes, color, including skin tones, was excellent in all of the movies I tested with, and close-ups of rounded objects like faces retained the subtle gradations that give them a sense of depth. The 3800 also delivered nicely for movies that are filled with eye-catching color, like the plethora of bright, saturated colors in La La Land, and all of nature's variations on green in vegetation and on blue in sky and water in the 2D version of The Ultimate Wave—Tahiti.

Note that the 3800's Frame Interpolation (FI) feature is almost pointless. It's not available with 4K input or even with 1080p input if 4K Enhancement is on. With 4K Enhancement turned off you can activate FI with 1080p/24 Hz or 1080p/60 Hz sources. However, for Blu-ray players that limit your choices to a forced resolution or auto-negotiating the resolution, manually switching your Blu-ray player resolution setting back and forth to match the resolution for each disc is more bother than most people will want to put up with. For players that offer a setting to pass through the content's original resolution with no scaling, I find that keeping 4K Enhancement activated does more than FI to improve the visual impact in any case.

One last feature that demands mention is the Image Preset Mode, which you'll want to play with to find the setting you like. I'll discuss it in context of the UHD/HDR testing, but it's available for 1080p SDR as well.

UHD/HDR viewing. The 3800's image quality for 4K UHD content is enough to make you want to throw out any 1080p SDR discs you still have and replace them immediately with 4K UHD versions. In every movie I looked at in both versions—including Terminator 2, La La Land, Obilivion, and more—4K UHD not only delivered the far better shadow detail it promises, but the sense of three-dimensionality for dark scenes—already impressive with 1080p content—was as good or better with 4K UHD, and it extended to scenes dominated by midtones as well.

Colors were also more vibrant and more saturated when called for, and—no surprise here—the image with 4K content showed far more detail. In the scene in Terminator 2 where Arnold tells the biker that he needs his clothes, boots, and bike, I could see all the fine detail in the biker's close up—every pore, wrinkle, and strand of hair. Importantly, I didn't see banding in any of the content I tested with or in the downloadable ProjectorCentral 10-bit HDR Grayscale test animation, which verifies 10-bit processing from input to image.

Unlike most 4K UHD projectors, which offer four or fewer HDR brightness settings, the 3800 offers 16 steps. Because there's no standard for HDR discs to follow, you often need to adjust the setting for each movie, and more steps allows you to better fine tune the setting. Epson conveniently provides a button on the remote to bring this slider directly on-sceen without fishing through other menus. It also helps that the 16-steps cover a large range. I didn't see any content that needed a setting lower than 3 or higher than 7, and for most movies I chose 4 or 5.

Another feature you'll need to set to taste is Image Preset Mode, which lets you adjust image sharpness and detail. As with other Epson projectors with 4K enhancement, in addition to Off, the 3800 offers settings of Preset 1 (the minimum) through 5. In theory, at least, the higher levels can add edge artifacts. I didn't see any obvious issues even with Preset 5, but some thin details, like a single gray hair in a close up, might have stood out more than they should have. In any case, you'll want to try the different settings to see which one you like best with various content.

3D Viewing. Unlike most projectors with 3D, the 3800 doesn't offer dedicated 3D modes. Instead, it uses the same four modes as for 2D. If you want to use the same color mode for both, however, you can calibrate it separately for 2D and 3D if you like, and save both to memory with their own label.

Out of box color accuracy is much the same as for 2D. Straight out of the box, Dynamic delivers close enough to accurate color that most people will consider it usable, and the other three modes are all within the range that most people will consider more than acceptable. For my 90-inch 1.0-gain screen, I picked Cinema set to the High power mode as my preferred choice in a dark room. I didn't see any crosstalk in my tests, and saw only a little more than a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts, putting the 3800 at the high end of typical on that score for current generation projectors. The 3800 supports Epson's own 3D glasses and standard VESA glasses.

Epson HC3800 Front


The Epson Home Cinema 3800 is a tremendous value at $1,699. Even straight out of the box it delivers high enough image quality on all scores—most notably color accuracy and contrast—for both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR to be more than acceptable for most people, and a little tweaking can improve the image quality even more. It's also bright enough to light up a big screen even in a room with ambient light, and its combination of zoom and lens shift delivers far more placement flexibility than typical for the price.

The test unit came in a tad lower than its 3,000 lumen rating in its brightest mode. More relevant to real world use, both Natural mode (for SDR) and Cinema mode (for HDR) were easily bright enough after calibration for my 90-inch, 1.0-gain white screen in a dark room using ECO power mode for each. Higher power modes or using higher gain screens will let you light up bigger screens and stand up to ambient light in family rooms. The 3800 also delivers far brighter 3D images compared to its 2D brightness than most projectors offer.

Color accuracy, contrast, shadow detail, black level, and sense of three-dimensionality were all excellent for this price projector. And the 3800 fulfilled the HDR promise of delivering dramatically more than with SDR content on most scores, including more vibrant color. Beyond that, the 1.62x zoom, +/-60% vertical shift, and +/-24% horizontal shift make it easy to fit the 3800 almost anywhere you need it—on a table, in a ceiling mount, or on a bookshelf in the back of the room.

In short, the 3800 delivers terrific picture quality for both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR. It's bright enough to stand up to ambient light or give you as big an image in a dark room as anyone is likely to want in a home theater, it offers unusually good setup flexibility for the price, and it supports HLG as well as HDR10. The combination makes the Epson Home Cinema 3800 not just a solid choice, but a bargain at $1,699.

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Comments (19) Post a Comment
Georg Posted Oct 31, 2019 4:41 AM PST

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

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 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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