If you want to game in 3D, this is your beast.
When you think of Epson, you’ll either think of a printer or a projector. This beast might be big enough to be mistaken for a printer, but with the size it certainly delivers some serious oomph to the screen. Coming in at approximately $1,750, it carries a bit of a thud for the pocket as well. The Epson 3020 weighs in right at the mid-level, not exactly for hardcore home cinema enthusiasts nor is it a casual living room sized-projector. It’s got some great main stream tech, including native 3D support as well as 2D to 3D converstion. It has a 3D split-screen feature, which is very cool for gamers. And it is just plain nice to see two pairs of 3D glasses bundled in the box for you and yours. It is missing lens-shift, which can be frustrating if you need to offset the projector from the screen – then again this projector is really not meant for portability.
In terms of connectivity you are looking at a pretty standard set: 2 HDMI inputs, VGA, Component and Analog. Once again I really dislike the trend of projectors not carrying audio outputs, forcing you to keep your home audio system close enough to your projector unless you invest in some serious wiring real estate.
Let’s get to the meat of the equation. The biggest point worth mentioning here is that the Epson 3020 is an LCD projector, versus a DLP projector. DLPs are notorious for a ‘rainbow’ effect that can appear when the projector tries to produce a variety of colors, however they are much better are producing truer black levels and better contrast. LCD projectors are typically much larger devices, as the Epson 3020 so handily demonstrates. This technology does produce a much more consistent image – akin to an LCD TV. In higher end projectors, I prefer LCD like the 3020 delivers – it takes a little more effort to tune the picture settings but in a dedicated home theater environment – the Epson 3020 will trump most DLP projectors.
Packing a heavy 2300 lumens bulb, the projector delivers enough brightness to be very clear in ambient light. It truly shines, pun intended, in a dark theater setting. The image just pops, there is incredibly clarity and color even at 150″ screen I had setup for the purpose of this review. Rich, would be the one word I would use to describe the picture quality. Watching an episode of Orphan Black via HDTV – the Epson 3020 produced a crisp 1080p image with no noticeable artifacts or ghosting. The bright colors and crispness do come at a cost however, with black levels never really approaching natural darkness. DLP will usually win out in that department. Crisp image, or better blacks – you’ll have to pick your poison in the sub $2,000 range of projectors.
Switching over to 3D mode – I hooked up a PS3 and ran through a round of ‘Resistance 3’ that was designed perfectly for depth perception. The image retained its awesome color from 2D viewing, as well showing absolutely no visible cross-talk even through fast-moving sections of the game. This is certainly one of the best 3D experiences I’ve had outside of an actual cinema. There is a neat 3D depth setting as well, allowing you tone down or exaggerate the 3D effect. I most certainly went with the latter, with bullets and sniper rifle trails whizzing all over the place. I’m not a big fan of the use of 3D in films, but with games its a totally different experience.The Epson 3020 is hands down one of the best choices for 3D entertainment.
The Epson 3020 is not for the faint of heart. No matter my complaints about the lack of portability or black levels, the projector delivers excellent bang for the buck if you have the right setup for it. That right setup is a dedicated basement or home theater room, with plenty of wiring to connect your devices to the projector. For smaller rooms I’d recommend sticking to sub-$1,000 projectors. The 3020’s biggest competition in the sub $2,000 price range would be the BenQ W7000. I have not personally reviewed that device but it is said to deliver incredible black levels but it is missing some of the 3D features and 3D performance the Epson possesses. If you’re looking for 3D entertainment, skip past the competition and even LED TVs – and buy yourself an Epson 3020.
And a basement, if you don’t have one.