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Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e Review

Affordable 3D and WirelessHD

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Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - Front View

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - Photo of Front View

Photo Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - Rear View - Cover Closed and Open

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - Photo of Rear View with Cover Closed and Open

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - WirelessHD Transmitter with Accessories

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e video projector - Photo 0f The WirelessHD Transmitter with Included Accessories

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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The PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e is a 2D/3D video projector from Epson that utilizes 3LCD technology, has 1080p native resolution, a maximum light output of 2,300 Lumens, and up to 5,000 hours lamp life.

 

The 3020e has plenty of connectivity, including two HDMI, and one each of Component, and VGA.

However, the big bonus is its WirelessHD connection option that allows up to five HDMI sources to be connected to a provided wireless transmitter.

To find out more about the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e, proceed with the rest of this review. After reading the review, be sure to also check out my supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.

Product Overview

Features of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e include the following:

1. 3LCD Video Projector with 1080p native pixel resolution, 16x9, 4x3, and 2.35:1 aspect ratio compatible.

2. Light output: Maximum 2,300 Lumens (both color and b&w), Contrast Ratio (Dynamic with Auto Iris On): up to 40,000:1.

3. Lens: Center-mounted Lens F=1.51 – 1.99. Focal length 18.2 mm–29.2 mm

4. Optical zoom ratio: 1.6:1.

5. Projected Image Size Range: 30 to 300 inches.

6. Fan Noise: 24 dB – 32 dB db in Normal mode and 22db in ECO mode.

7. NTSC/PAL/480p/720p/1080i/1080p60/1080p24 input compatible.

8. 3D display capable using the Active Shutter LCD system, supported by Epson's 480Hz Bright 3D Drive Technology. Two pairs of RF Active Shutter Glasses included. Compatible with Frame Packing, Side-by-Side and Top-and-Bottom 3D signal input sources.

9. Inputs: Two HDMI and one each of Composite, Component, VGA.

10. WirelessHD connectivity built-in (external 5-source transmitter provided).

11. Lamp: Ultra High Efficiency (UHE) E-TORL, 230 Watts power consumption, user replaceable. Lamp life: Up to 4,000 hours (normal mode) - 5,000 hours (ECO mode).

12. Built-in stereo amplifier (5 watts x 2) and speaker system.

13. Unit dimensions: 16.6(W) x 14.4(D) x 5.5(H) inches; Weight: 13.3 lbs.

14. Wireless remote control included.

15. Suggested Price: $1,899.99.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Home Theater Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR705, Harman Kardon AVR147.

Blu-ray Disc Player (2D/3D Blu-ray and Streaming Content): OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (5.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (7.1 channels): EMP Tek Cinema 7 Compact Home Theater Speaker System (on review loan).

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell Cables High Speed HDMI Cables provided by for this review by Atlona, and NextGen. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

 

Software Used Used to Conduct Review

Blu-ray Discs (3D): Adventures of Tintin, Brave, Drive Angry, Hugo, Immortals, Puss in Boots, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Underworld: Awakening.

Blu-ray Discs (2D): Battleship, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Setup and Installation

Projector Placement: Setting up the PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e is pretty straight forward. First install a screen (size of your choosing) or use a white wall to project on. Next, place the projector on a table/rack or on the ceiling, either in front or rear of the screen at the distance from the screen that works best. Epson's screen distance calculator is a great help. For review purposes, I placed the projector on a mobile rack in front of the screen.

Connecting Sources: The 3020e provides wired connectivity (HDMI, component, composite, VGA) for most sources, but also provides an additional wireless connectivity option for up to five HDMI sources using the provided external WirelessHD transmitter. Just plug in the transmitter to power using its provided AC adapter, connect your source(s), such as Blu-ray disc player, cable/satellite box, etc... to the HDMI inputs on the WirelessHD transmitter.

Next, turn on the source device that you plan to use - If using the WirelessHD option, also turn on your source and the WirelessHD transmitter. The 3020e will then automatically search for the active input source. You can also access the source manually via the remote control or use the onboard controls located on the side of the projector. Also, to access multiple sources the connected WirelessHD transmitter you can either push the input button on either transmitter, or the projector's remote control.

Adjusting the Projected Image: Once you turn everything on, you will see the screen light up, and the first image you will see it is the Epson logo, followed by an message that the projector is searching an active input source.

To fit the image onto the screen, raise or lower the front of the projector using the adjustable feet. You further adjust can also adjust the horizontal and vertical image placement using the Horizontal Keystone Correction slider on the top of the projector, behind the lens, and/or Vertical Keystone Correction function accessible via the projector's menu system.

Next, use the manual Zoom control located above and behind the lens to get the image to fill the screen properly. Once all the above procedures have been done, use the manual Focus control to fine tune the image appearance and also select the Aspect Ratio you desire.

 

Video Peformance

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e looks great right out the box, especially with HD sources, such as Blu-ray Discs. In 2D, color was very good, flesh tones were consistent, and both black level and shadow detail were more than acceptable, although not as deep and inky as higher-end projector would be able to provide.

One additional thing I was impressed with is how well the 3020e can perform in a room that may have some ambient light present, which is often encountered in a typical living room. Although a compromise has to be made with contrast and black level in order to provide a sufficiently bright image in such a situation, the projected image do not look overly washed out until you turn on most of the room lights.

On the other hand, when the lights are off, or the room has very little ambient light, that is more typical of a home theater viewing environment, running the 3020e in ECO mode (for 2D viewing) still projects plenty of light to produce an excellent cinema-like image on fairly large screen sizes (my main screen was 100-inches).

 

Deinterlacing and Upscaling of Standard Definition Material

To further check the 3020e's video processing performance when faced with standard definition source content, I conducted a series of test using Silicon Optix (IDT) HQV Benchmark DVD (ver 1.4).

Here the 3020e passed most of the tests, but did have trouble with some. There were inconsistencies in detecting some of less common frame cadences, and although it passed most of the deinterlacing tests with flying colors, it failed one test that I felt it should have easily passed. Also, although detail enhancement looked good from standard definition sources connected via the HDMI or WirelessHD input options, the 3020e did not enhance detail with sources connected via the composite video input.

For a more complete run down of the video performance tests I ran on the Epson 3020e, refer to my Video Performance Report.

Proceed to Page 2: 3D Video Performance, WirelessHD, Pros/Cons, Final Take

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