Epson 3020/3020e Home Video Projector
2D image quality. The Home Cinema 3020e has a lot going for it. For one, the default white balance puts it right near 6500K without doing a single stitch of calibration. Secondly, the combination of high brightness and good shadow detail give it a very three-dimensional image. Third, while it is best used in a living room or other bright-ish environment, it also has an automatic iris that makes it a respectable choice for nighttime movies. Finally, although it does not have frame interpolation, it has a motion detect system that can clean up standard-definition content from DVDs. In fact, standard definition performance is strong in general. If you still have a large DVD library, like I do, it's worth considering.
3D image quality. Last year, we weren't so keen on the Home Cinema 3010's 3D image. Granted, it was Epson's first 3D projector, but it also produced a lot of crosstalk and flickering instability. 3D has been vastly improved on the 3020e. First of all, Epson has switched to radio-frequency 3D glasses, which we prefer over the infrared variety for reasons discussed below. Second, the projector has very little crosstalk at its default settings, and can be made to have even less crosstalk by lowering glasses brightness to "low." Finally, the flickering instability is all but absent. The 3D flicker is something that bothers me quite a bit, but I did not find it objectionable on the 3020e.
RF 3D Glasses. Most active-shutter 3D glasses use an infrared synchronization signal to keep the timing correct. The problem with IR is that it can interfere with the operation of your projector's remote control, which also uses infrared. The Epson 3D glasses included with the 3020e use radio frequency (RF) sync instead. RF sync is preferred because it doesn't interfere with the operation of the remote control, does not require line-of-sight to work, and is less prone to breaking contact with the projector at random. Epson's glasses also have a dedicated on-off switch (something missing from the Optoma HD33's glasses, which also used RF sync) and are rechargeable over USB.
WirelessHD (e Model). Epson has added an improved WirelessHD system to the 3020e. Last year, the 3010e had one wireless HDMI port. This year, the 3020e has five wireless HDMI ports and uses a transmitter that is physically more robust. The transmitter also has an HDMI passthrough, allowing it to pass audio and video to an A/V receiver or another display, and an optical audio port if your receiver doesn't support HDMI. Like before, WirelessHD can handle the full range of HDMI signals. We tested it with full HD 1080p 3D plus sound and it ran like a dream. You can also switch inputs by using a row of buttons at the bottom of the 3020e's remote.
The most impressive part of the WirelessHD system on the 3020e is how you can use it to essentially "upgrade" your old A/V receiver. I know plenty of people still have A/V receivers that either cannot handle HDMI 1.4 or don't have any HDMI capabilities whatsoever. If this is you, you can plug all of your HDMI devices into the WirelessHD receiver, run audio out to your receiver, and ta-da -- you can now have one-button source switching without buying a new A/V receiver. And since the 3020e has HDMI Link, you can control most of your HDMI devices from a single remote control without any additional programming.
Placement flexibility. While the 3020e lacks lens shift, it does have a 1.6:1 zoom lens like the one found on its predecessor. It also retains that earlier model's rapid horizontal keystone adjustment slider, which allows you to quickly square up the projector in awkward placements. While applying keystone correction is never optimal with regards to image quality, the 3020e's keystone correction is cleaner than most other projectors, so it is a viable option for difficult situations.
Separate inputs, separate calibrations. All of the 3020e's wired inputs have their own memory settings, meaning you can store separate calibrations for each input you use. This can be helpful if you enjoy fine-tuning your projector to produce the best possible image. The only exception is WirelessHD, where all five HDMI inputs run from the same calibration.
10W stereo speakers. A real speaker system is always preferable to an onboard system, but the Home Cinema 3020e packs quite a wallop on its own. The projector features dual ten-watt speakers with enough volume power to give your favorite movie or television show the oomph it deserves. Even with volume cranked to maximum, there was surprisingly little distortion and no tinny character, which is something typically found on small speakers. There's also not even a hint of case rattle. All in all, while not a substitute for a real sound system, the 3020e's speakers are much better than those found on many other home video projectors.
|Review Contents:||The Viewing Experience||Key Features||Performance||Limitations|