Epson Home Cinema 3000 1080P 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$1,099 MSRP Discontinued

For several years now, Epson has been the only game in town when it comes to entry-level 3LCD home theater projectors. Their Home Cinema 8350 has been consistently popular for four years - an eternity in the consumer electronics world, where almost every other projector released at that time has long since been discontinued. So Epson has now released a successor model--the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3000.

The Home Cinema 3000 is an upgrade to its predecessor in just about every measurable way. A bold, bright image makes it a good fit for bright living rooms rooms and extra-large screen sizes, and it's easy to install thanks to its 1.6:1 zoom lens and extensive lens shift. With prices starting at $1,299, the Epson Home Cinema 3000 is a great stepping stone between the sub-$1,000 projectors and more specialized home theater models that cost $2,000 or more. By striking a balance between performance, features, and price, the Home Cinema 3000 should appeal to a lot of folks looking for their next projector.

The Viewing Experience

The main reason to get a projector instead of a television has always been picture size, but a lot of folks who are new to the hobby aren't ready to commit to a blacked-out cave for their home theater. The Home Cinema 3000 is ideal for these people. The sheer brightness and vividness of the picture means that you can put up a big, bold image in a room with white walls or imperfectly covered windows, such as a spare bedroom or living room.

When you start up the Home Cinema 3000, you get a big brilliant picture. As with many other Epson home theater projectors, the lumen rating is slightly conservative, and Dynamic mode exceeded the expected 2,300 lumens. And while the color is greenish, Dynamic mode isn't unusable by any means; it would be a good choice for TV viewing when precise color accuracy isn't as important as brightness.

The real promise of this projector, however, is its Cinema mode. Producing over 1700 lumens with the lamp at full power, Cinema mode's color is accurate enough to begin using right away, and contrast and black level are surprisingly good for such a powerful projector. The automatic iris noticeably improves black levels and is useful in dark rooms. The image is smooth and has little in the way of digital noise, but a one-notch increase in Noise Reduction removed what little was there to begin with and didn't appreciably decrease detail.

Key Features

Great 2D image. If you want a big, bright picture in your living room, the Home Cinema 3000 can deliver. The projector has the power needed for large screens, even in ambient light, and enough contrast to make nighttime movies look their best. Color is set reasonably well straight from the factory, but full calibration controls are present for those who like to fiddle with their tech.

Full HD 3D. As we've learned over the years, brightness is key to an enjoyable 3D experience. Most 3D technologies involve a huge reduction in the light that reaches your eyes, so starting from a super-bright image is one way to ensure comfort for your audience. While none are included, the Home Cinema 3000 uses Epson's radio-frequency (RF) glasses (model ELPGS03, $99). The RF technology relies on a built-in RF emitter. Glasses must be paired to the projector the first time you use them, but this only takes a few seconds. With no interference from IR remotes and no line-of-sight requirement, it's practically impossible for RF glasses to lose sync.

Placement flexibility. The Home Cinema 8350 was one of the first inexpensive projectors to include a long zoom lens and H/V lens shift. The Home Cinema 3000 continues this tradition, and is the least costly projector released this year to include a 1.6:1 zoom lens and manual H/V lens shift. The lens will put a 120" diagonal image onto your screen at distances from 11' 6" to 18' 9", and it will display a 100" diagonal image from only 9' 7" - meaning you can potentially get a 100" diagonal screen into that bedroom you aren't using.

These features make the Home Cinema 3000 easy to install, and they eliminate those moments of hair-pulling frustration when you realize you installed your ceiling mount three inches too far to the left. On projectors without horizontal lens shift, you'd have to uninstall the mount and start over. With the Home Cinema 3000, you turn a dial instead.

Placing a projector on a shelf is possibly the easiest way to get it set up, and is a popular option amongst the do-it-yourself crowd. With this in mind, Epson put the exhaust vents on the 3000 series projectors on the front of the case, angled away from the lens. This allows for placement in tighter quarters, such as a bookshelf, without overheating the projector.

P-in-P. Epson calls it "P-in-P," but you probably know it as picture-in-picture. While watching one thing, you can pull up a smaller "subscreen" that will display a second source. Unfortunately, only one of those sources can be HDMI; the higher-end Epson home theater models can display two HDMI sources at once.

Panel Alignment. All three-chip projectors are potentially susceptible to convergence problems, which occur when one of the imaging elements shifts slightly in relation to the others, causing color fringes and a loss of sharpness. These shifts can occur during shipping or as a consequence of years of wear and tear, as a projector heats up and cools down over and over again. Whatever the cause, the Home Cinema 3000's Panel Alignment feature means that you can correct for small errors without sending the projector in for service.

2 year warranty. Most inexpensive projectors have a one-year warranty, with a few notable exceptions. The Home Cinema 3000 comes with a two-year warranty, and offers extended warranty periods of up to two years on top of the existing warranty. The warranty also includes 90 days of coverage on the lamp.

No rainbows. As the Home Cinema 3000 is one of the few entry-level 1080p projectors that isn't a single-chip DLP, it's worth mentioning that 3LCD projectors are completely rainbow-free.

Performance

Light output. We've already mentioned the Home Cinema 3000's impressive brightness several times. Out of a 2,300 lumen specification, Dynamic mode measured 2,495 lumens with the lamp at full power. Ironically, we've come to expect that Epson projectors will exceed their advertised lumens, despite a tendency in the projector industry to publish sanguine specs.

Cinema mode, our preferred setting for film and video, measures 1703 lumens at full power on our test sample. Dropping to Medium power brings light output to 1,533 lumens, a reduction of 10%, and significantly reduces audible noise. Eco mode, the lowest setting with the least audible noise, still measures 1196 in Cinema mode. That's a reduction of 30% from full power, but still plenty of light.

The Home Cinema 3000's 1.6:1 zoom lens is notable for causing a very small reduction in light output, even at its maximum telephoto setting. Whereas other projectors with 1.6:1 zoom lenses tend to lose about 20% of their light output, the lens on the Home Cinema 3000 reduces output by a scant 11% at full telephoto. You can put the projector in the back of your room without fear.

Contrast. Built for big screens and bright ambient light, black level on the Home Cinema 3000 can't measure up to the performance of dedicated home theater projectors like the Home Cinema 5030UB. It still produces an engaging picture with good definition in shadows, and is perfectly capable of creating a compelling image for home theater, but the Home Cinema 3000 is not a less-expensive 5030UB. Likewise, the Home Cinema 5030UB is wasted in a room with ambient light, because you aren't getting the super-deep black level that you paid for. Folks shopping for a projector need to understand the difference between the two.

Color. At factory settings, Cinema mode's grayscale is within spitting distance of 6500K, so most folks will probably just run with the projector as it comes. If you already have calibration equipment and want to take a crack at improving the picture, the Home Cinema 3000 has full color controls, including high-end and low-end adjustments for red, green, and blue in addition to a full color management system.

Input lag. We measured 104 milliseconds of input lag in all of the Home Cinema 3000's image modes when Image Processing was set to "Fine." That's six frames of a 60 frame per second signal. At that speed, an audio delay circuit would improve your home theater experience and ensure that the audio doesn't arrive before the video. Switching to "Fast" Image Processing reduces lag to 46ms, or 2.75 frames. That's fast enough for most gaming use, but still a bit pokey for serious fast action gamers.

Limitations

Black level. The Home Cinema 3000 is built for living rooms, media rooms, and multi-purpose rooms - in other words, places where there is likely to be significant ambient light. However, the high brightness that makes the projector appropriate for such spaces limits its black level when it is used in a darkened home theater. If you need a projector for a darkened theater, Epson makes the Home Cinema 5030UB, which is selling for $2,299 right now.

Iris flicker. When high lamp mode is paired with any iris setting except "off," you will see some dark flickers in the image caused by the iris fluttering closed at inappropriate times. They only last for a split second, and they are limited to high lamp mode, so they are unlikely to cause problems in everyday use. The Home Cinema 3000 is bright enough that high lamp mode is best used to combat ambient light, in which case the iris won't help anyway.

Audible noise. Fan noise on the Home Cinema 3000 is something to consider. If you run in Medium mode (which reduces light output by just 10%), or in Eco mode, fan noise is not a problem. But in full power mode, it becomes much more noticeable and may be objectionable in a quiet theater setting, especially if you're sitting near the projector. It will sound louder if you are sitting in front of the projector due to the forward-facing exhaust vents. Conversely, placing the Home Cinema 3000 on a coffee table in front of the seats is an easy way to reduce fan noise.

No frame interpolation. It's not uncommon for inexpensive projectors to lack frame interpolation, though some entry-level projectors do offer the technology. Frame interpolation, if you've never seen it before, inserts interstitial frames to smooth out fast motion and reduce judder in film and video. None of the 3000-series projectors currently available have frame interpolation; to get it, you'll have to step up to the 5030UB.

No super resolution. The Home Cinema 3000 delivers all of the detail and clarity that one expects from a high-definition picture, and its bright, punchy picture only enhances that impression. However, one thing that the Home Cinema 3000 lacks is Super Resolution, a staple feature of other Epson home theater projectors that enhances the appearance of fine detail by performing selective, limited edge enhancement. If you're a fan of Super Resolution, you'll want to look at the Home Cinema 3500 ($1,799). If you're not a fan, this isn't an issue - you're not getting a feature you wouldn't use anyway.

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.


For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson Home Cinema 3000 projector page.

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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