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Best Home Theater Projector
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4.5
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Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Epson Home Cinema 3000 Projector Epson Home Cinema 3000
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Street Price: n/a
MSRP:$1,099
3D: Full HD 3D
Contrast:60,000:1
Lumens:2300
Weight: 14.9 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:3 LCD
Lens:1.6x manual
Lens Shift:H + V
Lamp Life:3,500 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$299.00
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  Composite, Component, VGA In, HDMI (x2), USB (x2), RS232, 12-Volt Trigger
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 1080p/24, 1080p/30, 1080p/50, 576i, 576p

Epson Home Cinema 3000
1080p LCD Home Video Projector

Bill Livolsi, December 18, 2014

Comparative evaluation:
Epson Home Cinema 3000, 3500, and 8350

The Home Cinema 3000 is seen by many as a successor to the Home Cinema 8350, an immensely popular 1080p projector released in 2010. The Home Cinema 8350 brought together a high-quality image and unprecedented placement flexibility at a bargain price. Upon release, it sold for $1,299 - the same price as the Home Cinema 3000. But aside from price, brand, and resolution, the two projectors share little else in common.

In a heads-up comparison, the Home Cinema 3000 outpaces the 8350 in most areas. Light output jumps from 560 lumens to 1703 lumens in Cinema mode. There's a visible, though not dramatic, improvement in contrast. Color accuracy is better out of the box, and the projector is both smaller and lighter, so portable use is more feasible than before. There's also a small improvement in vertical lens shift range, but not enough for this to be a serious decision factor for most people.

The Home Cinema 3000 also includes a number of features, such as Full HD 3D support and panel alignment, that are not available on the 8350. Panel alignment is particularly important, as it means less downtime as the projector ages - always a good thing.

On the other hand, the Home Cinema 8350 still does certain things very well. Its 2.1:1 zoom lens offers more flexibility than the 1.6:1 zoom of the Home Cinema 3000, though it loses quite a bit more light (39% vs. 11%) at its maximum telephoto setting. It has a deeper black level, though this is primarily due to its lower light output. The black level advantage disappears when you equalize light output between the projectors. The Home Cinema 8350 is much quieter during operation and nearly silent in Eco mode. It also has less input lag than the Home Cinema 3000 (33ms vs. 45ms), which is important for certain gaming applications.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Home Cinema 3500, the next model up in Epson's 3000 series. The Home Cinema 3500 costs $500 more than the Home Cinema 3000, but that $500 goes a long way.

For the extra five hundred bucks, the Home Cinema 3500 includes:

  • Super Resolution
  • 2D to 3D conversion
  • Two pairs of ELPGS03 3D glasses
  • MHL support
  • Two 10W stereo speakers
  • Roughly 500 more lumens in Cinema mode

What the extra $500 doesn't get you is any improvement in contrast, color, detail, or overall picture quality. Aside from the brightness difference, the two projectors' pictures are identical.

Since the Home Cinema 3000 is already quite bright, home theater users won't get much benefit out of the extra lumens on the 3500, but the brightness boost will be useful in ambient light. Likewise, 2D to 3D conversion and 3D glasses only appeal to people who enjoy 3D, while MHL support and onboard speakers are attractive to folks interested in portable projection. It's not that one projector is better and the other is worse, but there is value to be had in the upward step if you need or want the Home Cinema 3500's extra features. The upgrade means that the Home Cinema 3500 is a better projector for certain applications, namely portable use, 3D, and high ambient light situations.

Conclusion

Once upon a time, Epson released an inexpensive 1080p projector called the Powerlite Home Cinema 8350. We knew it was something special, and gave it our Editor's Choice Award for that year. We had no idea, however, how much staying power it would have. Yet here we are in 2014 discussing whether or not the Epson Home Cinema 3000 is a worthy successor to a four-year-old projector.

In short, we think the Home Cinema 3000 is a worthy upgrade, and most folks will get more value out of the newer projector. The exceptions are few: those with extra-long throw distance requirements, and gamers who need super-fast performance. Even then, it would be worth finding a way to work around those restrictions and use the newer, brighter, better projector.

But the Home Cinema 3000 doesn't need to be compared to other projectors to prove its worth. It stands on its own as a great product for use in ambient light or extra large home theater screens. Folks who've been considering the Home Cinema 8350 but disliked its lack of 3D or relatively dim image can finally stop looking, because there's a new LCD budget king in town.


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Comments (19) Post a Comment
Dave Wilson Posted Dec 18, 2014 2:36 PM PST
Hi Bill,

Long time reader, first time commenter.

Great review, and after waiting a long time to upgrade (I have a Sanyo PLV-Z2, on the original bulb after 8000+ hours!) this projector looks like a top contender. You mentioned the 5030 a few times, and for me I'm torn between a projector at this price point and one at the low $2000's like the 5030. I'm curious about how you'd compare just picture quality between the 3000 and 5030. Ambient light is a small concern for daytime, but at night we have a pretty dark setup so the deeper blacks on the 5030 could really make a difference. I've read so much about how contrast is king (above all other specs) and to some extent have been wowed by LG's OLED panel when seeing it in person, though I know I want a projector. So

1) I wonder if the PQ upgrade is worth a full $1000 more.

Also one request is to include more in your content about timing of releases for those of us waiting for the perfect time to buy... e.g.:

2) Do you expect a 5030 successor next year at CES or CEDIA? 3) Do you think the UHD projectors might drop in price in 2015 as dramatically as UHD panels did in 2014? (So many portable devices are focusing on ultra-high PPI so I have to imagine those small LCD panels for projectors are a target for manufacturers.)

4) Lastly, you've mentioned that your input lag test changed, but we don't yet know by how much. Is it possible to test (perhaps just one) projector with both methods so that we can get a rough percentage to error correct the older reviews? (Also the method used isn't necessarily specified in the review.)

Thanks for all the great work and fantastic reviews! Best projector site I've found by far.
Bill Livolsi Posted Dec 18, 2014 2:50 PM PST
Hi Dave,

There’s a lot to address in your comment, so I’ll just get started.

1. If you’re using the projector in a dedicated room with little to no ambient light and some decent room treatment, the Home Cinema 5030UB will steamroll right over the Home Cinema 3000. They’re not built for the same sort of use -- the level of contrast and detail you get out of the 5030UB would be wasted in a living room setup.

2. I have no more information about Epson’s release schedule than you do. But if I were you, I’d avoid playing this waiting game. When you’re ready to make a purchase, pick whatever’s best for you at that time, and then stop wondering if the one you picked is technically “the best” or not. Something new is always coming, and it’ll always be better. You have to make peace with that.

Think of it this way: you're driving a 2002 Corolla. It's served you well, but it's starting to show its age, the engine makes some odd noises, and the interior is beginning to smell funny. Should you not buy a new car this year because there'll be a newer car next year?

3. Projectors are a much smaller market, so the TV comparison doesn’t quite work. I do expect a price drop, but 4K projectors won’t be competing with the Epson 5030UB any time soon.

4. Though it’s not 100% consistent, the new tests reveal about one frame (17ms) more lag than the old tests did. So a projector that measured 17ms using the old method (like the Home Cinema 8350) would measure at least 33ms now.
Dave Wilson Posted Dec 18, 2014 5:46 PM PST
Thanks for your detailed & speedy reply!

2/3) Excellent points, and great analogy. Anything today will blow away my 2002 Corolla. I just don't want to be the guy that only upgrades every 12 years and bought the last of the relevant 1080p projectors.

The interesting thing is that not only is more and more UHD content becoming available faster than naysayers predicted, unlike the vast majority of LCD panel tvs, a 90-100"+ projector screen size means the UHD resolution can be picked up with average human visual acuity at standard home seating distances... http://carltonbale.com/does-4k-resolution-matter/

4) You list 5030 at 37ms, is that the old or new method? Gaming is definitely a factor for me. http://www.projectorcentral.com/epson_home_cinema_5030ub_projector_review.htm

1) Wow - "steamroll" sure does sound good! Actually, I just realized that the 5030ub is old enough now to have made it onto the refurb market for a very attractive price. I've used this technique with for example, Apple laptops and they are as good as new. It comes with a full mfr warranty, have you or someone you know had luck/problems with refurb in the projector world?

Cheers, Dave
Lance Posted Dec 18, 2014 8:21 PM PST
I have the 8350 and have enjoyed it for the past 2 years. But like so many others, mine is now affected by the "Auto Iris Error." Has Epson ever acknowledged this and presented a fix to it? I am hesitant to buy another Epson for this reason (the projector started to fail a few months after warranty expired...)
Bill Livolsi Posted Dec 19, 2014 3:46 PM PST
Dave -- we switched to the new test in mid-November 2013. Any reviews published after that point use the new testing method. The 5030UB was one of the last projectors measured using the old method, and our new measurement of Cinema mode using Fast processing is 56 milliseconds.

Lance -- I'm not familiar with that particular problem. It's unfortunate, but we only get to see a projector for a few weeks to a few months, so it's impossible for us to catch long-term problems like the one you're describing.
Judy wrede Posted Dec 22, 2014 8:26 PM PST
Dave We currently have a Runco 810 with a Stewart grey 2.35.screen approx 10ft wideby 4 ft high 125 diagonal screen. Thr Runco is working but peaher is not bright. This is a dedicated theatre room with no ambient light with a ceiling mounted projector approx 18.50 feet from screen. We are looking at purchasing a Edson 3000 or 5030 . Our concern is the screen size we have been told we will have change out the screen to a different size in order for the projection to be right. My question is can we keep our screen that is built in and still project a movie or TV movie well enough so we can keep our screen in place. The Runco we have now is only720 p and has a anamorphic lense . Which they are saying we will need if we keep our current screen . These cost over 2-3000 dollars please give me your input . It appears that the 5030 would work better as our room is completely dark, sometime we like to have a little light with the overhead lighting thank you for your response .
Judy_wrede Posted Dec 22, 2014 8:43 PM PST
My original comment was for bill. Would like to add would like to buy the 3000, but if the 5030 betterin a dark room might have to get that ne . My screen and how the picture projects is my biggest issue. Thanks again
Bill Livolsi Posted Dec 23, 2014 9:32 AM PST
Judy,

If you have a 2.35:1 screen, you'll either need to use the anamorphic lens (the same lens you have now will work fine) or get a projector with Lens Memory. The 5030UB would look better in your room, but it doesn't support anamorphic lenses and it doesn't have lens memory. The 6030UB does support anamorphic lenses, and the only projector (that I'm aware of) in this price range with Lens Memory is the Panasonic AE8000.
smi aga Posted Dec 30, 2014 10:51 PM PST
hi. reader but 1st time writer. i want to ask what is the distance throw distance. how to calculate it. is throw distance and zoom the same thing? please expliain with an exapmle
wem003 Posted Jan 3, 2015 10:23 PM PST
@Dave Wilson - per your first post about an Epson 3000 vs an Epson 5030.

I tried a 3000, it was quite bright for my room and game mode had quite a few artifacts.

I tried an 8345, and it was OK - just felt like an HD version of my Z2 I was replacing, nothing amazing.

So I decided I'd try a 5030 because I wanted to see if it was truly worth almost 3x what I paid for the 8345.

Within an hour of getting the 5030, I had the 8345 boxed up and ready to return. It's a stunning projector for the price point. Do yourself a favor if you haven't decided yet and give one a try.
Mikko Rasinkangas Posted Jan 26, 2015 9:27 PM PST
Hello.

I currently have a Hitachi PJ-TX200 projector which has an audible noise of 28db. The projector has problems with it's LCD panel so I'm in the lookout for a new projector.

This Epson one has the noise listed as 35 db. Is this a big increase in noise?

My home theatre setup is so that the projector has to be located on shelf which is basically above the sofa so quite close to the viewers.

Thanks in advance.
Bpositive Posted Feb 10, 2015 11:23 AM PST
Thanks for a good review.

I'm interested in this as an upgrade to my Epson TW3200, but it doesn't seem like it's available in Europe! Can anyone confirm this!?

I can get the TW6600 / 3500, but in the white version it costs 2000 dollars, which is a bit too much. BTW can anyone explain to me, why the white version is over 300 dollars more expensive than the black in Denmark???
Kenny Bee Posted Mar 3, 2015 11:46 AM PST
How does the 3000 compare to the Sony VPL-HW40ES.. I know the right comparison should be with the Epson 5030 UB but if I were to decide between a sub $1500 Epson 3000 or a $1800 Sony which one is preferred. This is for a loft where there is ambient light during the day (we do have drapes to shut off the light but it still won't be pitch dark). The Sony does not list the contrast and the 3000 contrast looks good (not that I would base my decision on this metric alone)
John Posted Mar 4, 2015 11:11 AM PST
Hi just wondering how much of the picture quality is sacrificed in fast mode. I do play quite a bit of FPS games and some people are saying the picture quality looks like 480p in fast mode.
Bob Coulter Posted Apr 4, 2015 5:29 AM PST
I purchased the Optima 3500 and cannot get the aspect ratio to work to fit the projector to my 101" screen. I was told by a manufacturer rep that the aspect function cannot be used with a HDMI connection. I find this unbelievable as this is supposed to be a 3D projector and how or why would the connector type have anything to do with the aspect ratio? Thanks.
Ths Posted Apr 5, 2015 10:19 AM PST
I just bought the 3,000. I'm having the same problem that the aspect ratio won't work. Also, I can't get the image to match our 120" screen which is 59 x 104. The closest image I can get is 54x104, a full 5 inches off? Any ideas?
Esteban Posted Apr 5, 2015 10:47 AM PST
I have an Epson 8350 projector and I'm looking for a new one projector. I,ve placed the 8350 on top of a bookshelf (ion the left side) located at the back of my living room, using the horizontal and vertical lens shift to point at the screen. With the zoom totally closed, the smallest possible image fits just right in the screen. Is the zoom capacity of an Epson Cinema 3000 equal or better compared with the 8350? I want to place the new projector in the same location and be sure that the smallest image provided by the zoom will fit well in the screen

Thanks and best regards
rac Posted May 27, 2015 8:28 AM PST
Looking for a replacement for my 60" television in our family room (TV/computer/movies). Strongly considering a projector. Budget is modest. I appreciate any recommendations? rac
Jeff Richardson Posted Aug 6, 2015 2:29 PM PST
I had a Epson 8500UB that we loved so much we burned up the imaging unit. Im getting ready to replace it, is this a good choice or will I only be happy with the 5030UB?

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