The Epson Home Cinema 3900, at $1,999, is the most expensive variation of three highly similar Epson home theater projectors, a group that includes the Epson Home Cinema 3100 ($1,099) and the Epson Home Cinema 3700 ($1,299), both of which we've reviewed separately. The HC 3900 is also a head-to-head competitor with the Sony VPL-HW45ES, which has essentially the same list price of $1999. The HC 3900 is also close enough in price to the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, with a new official retail price of $2,699, to make it worth considering the 5040UB as an alternative.
For this review, we ran our usual tests with the 3900 and then ran side-by-side comparisons with both the Sony VPL-HW45ES and the Epson 5040UB, which adds Epson's 4K Enhancement Technology. The results of the direct comparisons are collected together in their own sections near the end of the review.
Epson Home Cinema 3900
and the 3100 and 3700
The Epson 3900 is the only one of the three similar Epson models intended exclusively for professional installation. That makes good sense. The best argument for choosing it over the other two models is that it fully supports ISF calibration, which requires an ISF-certified technician. The ISF-calibration support is also a feature than neither the Epson 5040UB nor the Sony HW45ES offers.
As with most top-of-the-line products, the 3900 doesn't offer the best value of the three related Epson projectors, but it delivers the best performance. All three offer excellent image quality for the price for video and movies, with saturated, vibrant color and appropriately fine detail. Beyond that, both the 3900 and the 3700 build on the 3100, but in different ways.
Compared with the 3100, the 3700 offers a small but noticeable boost in brightness and an imperceptibly higher contrast ratio. The 3900 delivers the reverse: visibly better contrast and imperceptibly higher brightness, at 2700 lumens rather that 2600. The other key differences are that the 3100 adds a highly usable set of 10-watt stereo speakers, while the 3900 lacks a speaker, but adds the ISF calibration, includes a three year warranty in the price instead of two years, and adds an RJ45 connector for control and for sending audio and still images over a wired LAN.
Home Theater Projector
The 3900's picture quality is a close match to the 3100's for film and video, data and presentations, and even 3D. For details, see our Home Cinema 3100 review. Briefly, however, all four color presets--Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural, and Cinema--deliver solid video quality straight out of the box. In addition, the 3900's higher contrast ratio delivers darker blacks than the 3100 and lets it hold shadow detail even better. More important, if you take advantage of the 3900's option for ISF calibration--and it's hard to justify the extra cost if you don't--you'll be assured of precise color accuracy and the best picture the 3900 is capable of.
For 3D, the 3900 supports Epson's $99 glasses and third-party Vesa RF models. The two 3D color modes give you a choice between higher brightness with a slight green bias or more accurate color at a lower brightness level. As is typical, even the higher brightness 3D mode is still lower brightness than any of the 2D modes. But the green bias is subtle enough that you'll probably prefer the extra brightness to the better color.
ProjectorCentral uses the
OPPO UDP-203 4K Blu-ray Player
I saw just a touch of crosstalk in 3D. But it appeared only in a single clip that tends to bring out the problem. This shouldn't be a problem if you use Epson 3D glasses, and won't be much of one even if you don't.
For data and presentations, the 3900 delivers vibrant, bright color and fine detail. White text on black was easily readable at 5 points in our tests. Black text on white was crisp even at 4.5 points.
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