Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3010/3010e 3D Projector Review 2012

1. Introduction

I was thinking for a while to make the transition to 3D, but I held back due to less than satisfactory equipment and experience. Like many, I went around the show rooms and tested various 3D TV sets, only to be disappointed by the viewing experience. While 2D TV is absolutely fine on most TV sizes, to watch 3D you need in my opinion a certain perspective, otherwise it feels like you are watching an aquarium. I wanted to feel like I am being immersed in the 3D scene, and I soon realized there is no way I can achieve my goal with a regular size TV set, so I started looking to some reasonably priced 3D full HD capable projector. Reasonably priced would been the entire setup around $2000, or $2500 at most. After a couple of months of researching (and about the same time spent in convincing my wife that we “need” yet another electronic toy), I bought Epson’s new PowerLite Home Cinema 3010 (3010e version) from Amazon (no taxes in California and they have the lowest price by far), 4 pairs of Panasonic 3D 3rd generation glasses (yes, they are compatible)  and a 120 inches FAVI motorized screen. I put everything together and the impressions will be fully detailed in this Epson 3010 review.

2. Unpacking

Amazon did a very good job, like usual in shipping everything fast, and in 3 days of ordering it, the UPS truck stopped in front of my house. Obviously I couldn’t wait, so I took everything apart to unwrap my new (and quite expensive) toy.

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2.1. Box Content

Beside the projector itself, the box contains the remote control, power and HDMI cable,  the WirelessHD transmitter (I got the Epson 3010e version which, as you’ll see immediately, features Wireless HDMI 1080p 3D connection) , a DVD containing the manuals and a printed quick setup guide. Note: if you buy the WirelessHD-less version, the Epson 3010, you’ll get two pairs of 3D glasses as well.

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3. Epson PowerLite 3010/3010e Technical specifications

SPECIFICATIONS
 Projection System  Epson 3LCD, 3-chip technology
 Projection Method  Front / Rear / Ceiling mount
 Product Color  White and Gray
 Driving Method  Epson poly-silicon TFT Active Matrix, 0.61-inch wide panel with MLA
 Projected Output  HD, 2D, 3D, 1080p
 Pixel Number  2,073,600 dots (1920 x 1080) x 3
 Color Light Output  2200 lumens
 White Light Output  2200 lumens (Iso 21118 standard)
 Aspect Ratio native 16:9 widescreen (4:3 resize)
Compatible with 4:3 and 2.35:1 video formats
with normal, Full or Zoom Modes
 Native Resolution  1080p (1920 x 1080)
 Resize  16:10, 4:3
 Lamp Type  230 W UHE (E-ToRL)
 Lamp Life Up to 5000 hours (ECo mode)Up to 4000 hours (normal mode)
 Throw Ratio Range  1.32 – 2.15
 Size (projected distance)  30″ – 300″
 Keystone Correction Vertical: ± 30 degrees (Auto)Horizontal: ± 30 degree (slide bar)
 Contrast Ratio  Up to 40,000:
 Color Reproduction  Full-color (1.07 billion colors)
 Color Processing  Full 10 bit (Digital only)
 PROJECTION LENS
 Type  Manual Focus / Manual Zoom
 F-number  1.51 – 1.99
 Focal Length 18.2 – 29.2 mm, widescreen image size
(projected distance): 100″ diagonal
(wide: 9.7′ – tele: 15.7’)
 Zoom Ratio  1.0 – 1.6 Manual
 OTHER SPECIFICATIONS
 Display Performance  1920 x 1080 native 1080p; HD, 2D, 3D
 Color Modes 2D: Dynamic, Living room, natural, Cinema, Auto3D: 3D Dynamic, 3D Cinem
 Input Signal DVD region code 1Composite: nTsC / nTsC4.43 / pAL / M-pAL /
n-pAL / pAL60 / sECAM
Component: 480i / 576i / 480p / 576p / 720p /
1080i / 1080p
HDMI: TMDs
HD-DVD and Blu-ray®
(external source only)
 Terminal Inputs  1 RCA (composite), 3 RCA (component), 2 RCA(1 audio L/R) stereo. 1 VGA D-sub 15 pin
(computer input), UsB Type A, UsB Type B
(service only), 2 HDMI, 1 Rs-232c
 Terminal Outputs  RJ-45 (external 3D emitter)
 Video Compatibility 2D: WXGA, sXGA, XGA, sVGA, VGA;
3D: HDTV750p, HDTV1125i, HDTV1125p
 Speakers  Two integrated 10 W stereo speakers
 Audio DTs Digital surround and Dolby®
Digital
 Power Supply Voltage  100 – 240 VAC ± 10% , 50/60 Hz
 Power Consumption  100 – 120 V372 W (normal Mode)
285 W (ECo Mode)
0.26 W standby (Communication on)
0.26 W standby (Communication off)
Fan Noise 24 – 32 dB
Security Kensington security Lock port
 Dimensions (W x D x H) Including feet 16.6″ x 14.4″ x 5.5″
Excluding feet 16.6″ x 14.4″ x 5.4″
Weight 13.3 lb
 Remote Control  Front and rear directionalOperating Angle
± 30 degrees
Operating Distance
32 feet (10 meters)
Parental Controls
Power Button Lock
Hinders projector from being turned on without
parental supervision
 WirelessHD Transmitter Compatible with: Epson powerLite Home Cinema 3010e and 5010e 3D projectors
Power Supply: AC adapter, 100 – 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, 5V2A Wall
Mount type
Power Consumption: 5 V, 1.1 AOperating Temperature: 41 – 95 °F
Interface: HDMI Type A female
Dimensions 2.4″ x 6.2″ x 2.4″
Weight 7.5 oz

4. Design

Epson 3010/3010e has an attractive white finishing that should match the ceiling in most homes. The projector features center lens and dual large front vents ensuring a good cooling and a reasonable level of noise. The front legs feature adjustable length and it is perfectly suited to be installed on a table/platform or on the ceiling. I had mine for a couple of weeks sitting on a coffee table but I eventually decided I should go pro and install it in the ceiling.

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The stereo speakers are located on the back surrounding the input panel. Epson placed the physical buttons on top which will make access fairly once it is installed in the ceiling, however, the remote control has a really good range/angle compared with other remotes I have used.

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5. Installation / Hookup

As I mentioned, after about two weeks of using it on a coffee table, I decided to go ahead and install it in the ceiling. I have never performed this kind of job before, but everything was actually easier than I thought. Go ahead and purchase a compatible projector ceiling mount (I don’t recommend using a universal one even if they are cheaper). One example is this PCMD All-Metal Projector Ceiling Mount for Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3010 from Amazon. Made from aluminum, it is light and quite attractive.

Epson 3010 features  Horizontal V-shift capabilities and centered lens allowing for a lot of flexibility with the mounting position.

As a projector screen, I bought the FAVI 16:9/120-Inch Electric Projector Screen (HD-120), a quite cheap 120 inches motorized projector that works flawlessly with the Epson 3010. I will write a standalone review for the projector screen in the following days.

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I mentioned I have never installed a projector in the ceiling before, but after a bit of study, the whole process is fairly easy. All you need to do is identify the middle of the room and the relative distance to the projector screen. Hint: To ensure the maximum brightness, mount it as close as you can to the screen and ensure a bit of leeway when adjusting the zoom. The image should cover the entire screen, but the zoom slider should have a bit of space left for later tuning.

Fortunately, for the whole process I had my Dad who is quite skilled helping me (it is a two person job) and we crawled together through my dusty attic (thanks Dad!!!). Once I decided the optimal spot, I drilled a tiny hole through the ceiling and stuck  a sipping straw through it. Then, I identify the nearest beam and screwed one side of the projector mount into it. The other side can go directly in the ceiling (drywall) using the ceiling mount provided anchors. The entire setup is strong enough to easily sustain the projector weight, even during earthquakes.

Once the projector is installed, you will need to drill a circular hole for the power / audio video cables. I highly recommend using HDMI…If you buy the Epson 3010e model, you can use its Wireless HDMI capabilities as well.

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Before transforming the room into a “dedicated” home theater, I got the audio/video signal from my equipment rack. For this, I bought a 50ft HDMI cable (this particular model – BlueRigger HDMI Cable (50 ft) – CL3 Rated for In-wall Installation). I was a bit worried at first about the cable capability of carrying 3D 1080p signal over that distance with no hiccups but I am happy to report than this particular cable model did the job perfectly.

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Alternatively, you can get a network cable and install a media streamer like Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player if you want a standalone system (see the photo below). It is small enough, has Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, DLNA, network shares access and plays everything under the sun…highly recommended!

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6. Performance

6.1. Video

I performed all the tests using a Favi 120 inches motorized screen with a 1.3 gain. There are several brightness modes in which PowerLite 3010 can be used depending on your ambient light. If you want to use it in the living room, with some ambient light, it is recommended to user the normal mode. In a darkened room Eco mode is bright enough for everything but the 3D mode (the projector will switch itself in its brightest mode while watching 3D). I also tested normal mode in a darkened room and it is too bright in my opinion. The brightness difference between normal / eco mode is about 30%. There are some photos in the gallery section, but they really don’t do justice to the film like image quality Epson 3010 is capable of producing. The convergence, while not matching a DLP projector like Optoma HD33 is very good and you can actually see many individual pixels. I actually found myself liking more the film like image of the 3010 vs the Optoma HD33 one.

Obviously, larger the screen, brighter the resulted image will be, but for my setup, the results are as described – Eco mode for dark room is more than bright enough, normal mode is too bright. There is a large number of correction methods available, including keystone correction which is quite remarkable – I was able to place the projector on a side table, outside the left side of the projector and i was still able to project a geometrically perfect image.

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In terms of colors, they are vibrant, with a good contrast and saturation. We watched Rio and it really looks amazing. All across the spectrum, the color temperature is around 6000K in average, and you can change it by either using predefined modes as Cinema or Natural, or by tuning the components if you are inclined to do so.

While 3010 doesn’t have frame interpolation, I found the projected image to be smooth and artifacts free.

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Epson 3010 crosstalk: I have to admit that I did noticed some crosstalk while watching 3D movies, but not to the degree where it could make an impact on the movie experience. As the 3010 family is still very new, Epson might release firmware updates in the future to correct this issue.

Epson 3010 Gaming: The pleasure of playing videogames on a 120 inches screen…There are no words to describe the experience. While the vast majority of the gamers including myself will find the 60ms lag of absolutely no consequence,  the fans of fast playing games might be a bit disappointed. I played a number of games including racing and FPS, but for me as an occasional gamer, the lag is not big enough to be noticeable.

Picture in Picture: 3010 can project two images side by side, from two different video inputs. While this feature works well, unfortunately there is no side by side using the WirelessHD input. A bit disappointing since the WirelessHD input is my main source.

6.2. 3D

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On a 120 inches screen, the image is bright enough to exceed the minimum brightness standards for a 3D image, however if I could get an even brighter image, I would certainly go for it. The crosstalk is present but not terribly noticeable and I have to say I am impressed about how well the 3010 works in 3D mode for both movies and videogames. I even tested some top/bottom and side by side encoded MKV at 1080p and I have to say that the PowerLite 3010 can decode them with no effort. The 3D format detection is only automatic for Blu-ray / videogames, so if you are using movie rips you’ll have to specify the encoding manually.

6.3. Audio

PowerLite 3010 has two 10W speakers and while the quality is decent for their size, it is obviously nothing to write home about. They are more than good enough for an occasional presentation or if your kids are watching cartoons, but useless in a home theater setup. Some amount of distortion will be noticeable if you push the volume above 70%.

6.4. Compatibility

I decided to add a compatibility section not to comment around the multitude of inputs available but to describe the variety of 3D input formats Epson PowerLite 3010 is capable of. I tested various combinations, from a Sony PS3 streaming via TVersity, the same PS3 streaming a 3D VUDU movie, a 3D PS3 videogame, XBOX 360 3D games, a WD TV Live Plus box streaming a number of MKV movies encoded in both Top to Bottom and Side by Side (3D-SBS) 3D formats. In all these cases, Epson PowerLite 3010 performed flawlessly. You will have to manually specify top/bottom or side by side 3D signal as the projector won’t detect anything other than 3D Blu-ray/videogames automatically, but again, everything works really well.

6.5. 3D Glasses

I cannot review the Epson 3D glasses since my 3010e model doesn’t come with any, but I bought the Panasonic TY-EW3D3MPK2 3D Glasses (Panasonic 3rd generation) that are compatible with the Epson 3D projectors and work really well. I’ll post a complete review soon. If you are interested in other compatible glasses to the 3010/3010e projector, I created a Epson 3010 3D compatible glasses list which will hopefully be helpful to anyone looking to find 3010 compatible glasses.

Update: I purchased an additional two pairs of PlayStation 3 3D Glasses (review), for cheap around $50 shipped from Amazon. Happy to report that they are perfectly compatible and the cheapest Epson 3010 3D glasses I found to date.

6.6. Ergonomics

Beside the image quality, a very important part of the experience is the sound. While the sound in most home theater setups comes from a dedicated audio system, the projector “contributes” to the general noise level by its own components – fans and iris. The fans are unfortunately a necessary component of any projector considering the amount of heat it produces. Epson 3010 is very quiet in 2D mode but the fans spins continuously at a higher level in 3D mode. The noise level is still quite low, but I would advise against placing your projector too close to you. From the ceiling, it is almost inaudible.

Epson 3010 is also using auto iris technology to automatically change the aperture thus dynamically modifying the contrast and brightness during various scenes. The noise is similar with one made by a had-drive and can be heard during the quiet scenes. It didn’t really bothered me – I watched Puss in Boots with my son and I think I heard the iris about 4 times during the entire movie.

7. Remote Control

The remote control is very well designed and has a really good range and working angle. The IR signal reflects from carpet/furniture and you can use in from any position. Eventually, you’ll probably want to integrate it with your universal setup, the way I have done to my good old Logitech Harmony.

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8. Wireless HD Link

Quite new in a projector at this price range, Epson embedded a WirelessHD receiver in the PowerLite 3010e variant and the box also contains the WirelessHD transmitter. The entire system is based on Silicon Image chip-set and is capable to transmit 1080p full 3D with surround sound signal. For those interested in standards, here are the technical details:

  • 4Gbps over-the-air data transfer rate
  • FCC and EU regulatory tested and passed modules
  • Industry standard compliant (WirelessHD 1.0, HDMI 1.4a)
  • Embedded CPU for managing WirelessHD protocol
  • Fully compatible with HDMI-CEC
  • Low-power designs need only passive heat-sinking

Epson states that the range is 32 feet line of sight, but on the website, it doesn’t specify the recommended position of the transmitter relative to the receiver. I made several tests and unfortunately the stated 32 feet range is correct only if you have the transmitter facing the front of the projector. If you try to place the transmitter on the side, the tested range is much shorter, down to about 15 feet. The whole WirelessHD capability helps immensely when you want to install it by reducing the cable clutter.

One annoyance found while testing – if you turn off both projector and the AV / receiver, upon restart, you’ll need to power cycle the WirelessHD transmitter, otherwise the handshake is not properly performed.

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9. Conclusion

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3010 / 3010e is by far the best projector I have ever tested in this price range. It has plenty of brightness, very good 3D capabilities and a large number of video inputs. It can also detect side by side and top to bottom 3D signal beside the standard one, and it is in my opinion the best projector for home theater enthusiasts at this price range. With a 120 inches screen, my family really feels like in the theater and my friends upon visiting start to make their own calculations of how to fit a similar system in their own homes. I was less than impressed with the 3D effect on various TV I tested, and now I understand why…To fully enjoy 3D, you need an immersive experience, something that you’ll never have with a small screen. With 3D TV sets, I always felt I am watching an aquarium…Using a 100+ inches screen offers a completely different perspective.

I feel that I should say, I haven’t been this excited as a gadget lover in a really long time. Highly recommended!!! If you want to save some money, Amazon usually has the lowest price.

WO (Wife Opinion) Section: This new toy, which was my husband X-mas and B-day present, is really, really cool!!! The screen is humongous, the picture  is very clear and the 3-D is better than the one in the theater ….Oh well…it should better be good considering the cost :)

10. Gallery

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