Projectors

Epson Home Cinema 2030 LCD 3D Projector Review

ARTICLE INDEX

The Epson Home Cinema 2030 LCD 3D Projector On The Bench

I installed the projector right-side-up at an 8-foot throw distance. Test gear included an Accupel DVG-5000 Pattern Generator, i1Pro Spectrophotometer, Spectracal C-6 Colorimeter, and CalMAN 5.2 software. Measurements were taken off the screen; Carada Brilliant White, gain 1.4.

Since few users of the Home Cinema 2030 will have their projector professionally calibrated, I recommend Natural as the best out-of-box mode. Cinema is subtly different in both grayscale and color and very different in its gamma response. I'll let the charts tell the story.

Cinema Mode

When I see Cinema mode on any display, I gravitate towards it as the likely best starting point for calibration. And hopefully, it will be pretty good out of the box.

The last few Epson projectors I've tested worked better in their Natural picture mode. You can see why Cinema is not the better choice here. Grayscale tracking runs visibly cool and gamma is far too low (too bright) across the board. The image is bright but lacking in depth and color detail. Delta E average is 3.17 and the gamma average is 1.70.

This is an odd result for the gamut measurement. Red and Green are under-saturated at the 100-percent point. Green and Yellow make a curve out of their hue as saturation increases. And Magenta tracks well until 100-percent saturation where it veers towards Blue. Looking at the luminance graph, we see that most colors are way too bright. Delta E average for Cinema mode color is 5.52

Natural Mode

Luckily, switching to the Natural mode cleans things up considerably.

This grayscale and gamma result is much better. Remember, I haven't calibrated yet. Errors are invisible at all brightness levels. Gamma is still too bright but it's a lot closer to 2.2 than before and the tracking is greatly improves. The Delta E average is 1.04 and the gamma is 1.91; much better than Cinema!

Some of the strange tendencies are still there from the Cinema mode but they're far less so. The CIE chart is a lot better and color luminances are much closer to a proper balance. The average color error in Natural mode is 3.41.

Calibrated

Grayscale tracking doesn't require too much work to bring the average error down to .83 Delta E. That is excellent performance. Gamma stays nearly the same at 1.90.

Epson's CMS won't help the under-saturated primaries but I was able to reduce the over-bright colors pretty well by lowering the luminance sliders. And magenta is greatly improved in hue. Because of over-saturation in the lower green levels, I wasn't able to improve the average error. It's still around 3.4 Delta E. Despite the average numbers, the color looks significantly better balanced and more natural when you make these adjustments.

I always like to see an auto-iris' effect on gamma. Usually it plays havoc but this time, it made very little difference. The only change is that the upper brightness levels are a tad brighter. The overall improvement in contrast is well worth this small tradeoff.

Contrast & 3D Performance

Contrast performance is definitely below what I've seen from other Epson LCD projectors. The HC2030 is designed for high light output rather than deep blacks. Usually I calibrate to around 16 foot Lamberts peak output but in this case, I experimented with different numbers to find the all-around best contrast ratio.

The only way to reduce output from the 30 fL default is to reduce the Contrast control. It has 24 steps on either side of center and I settled on -17 as the sweet spot. At that setting, with the iris turned on the maximum white level is 17.883 fL, the minimum black is .044 fL, and the contrast ratio is 406.9 to 1. That ratio increases as you turn up the Contrast slider. The best result I measured was 708.1 to 1 with Contrast on zero. At that setting, the max output is 30.7977 fL and the black level is .0435.

If you're after maximum brightness, turn the lamp to its Normal setting. You'll get an increase in fan noise as it spins faster. There you'll see a max white of 43.7695 fL, a black level of .0523 and a contrast ratio of 836.8 to 1.

In 3D mode there are two picture modes, 3D Cinema and 3D Dynamic. In 3D Cinema, I only had to make minor changes to the calibration settings to achieve similar results for color and grayscale. The lamp is automatically turned up to Normal which makes the gamma value a little lower than in 2D mode.

I measured an extremely low crosstalk number of .39 percent. This is completely invisible to the naked eye. I saw no crosstalk in any content unless I turned up the 3D Brightness setting which is unnecessary. In 3D Cinema I measured 5.3593 fL peak, .0083 fL for the black level, and a contrast ratio of 648.5 to 1. This is excellent 3D performance.

Video Processing

The HC2030 has decent video processing especially given its price point. The only failures were in the 4:2:2 chroma burst and plate patterns and mixed content vertical. The best signal mode to use here is RGB but 4:4:4 is nearly as good. I discovered that calibration settings are specific to signal format but not signal resolution. If you calibrate with RGB, you'll need to copy them over for YPbPr or vice versa. In order to display all above-white information, Epson SuperWhite must be turned on. Go to Page 6: Conclusions