Projectors

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Design of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector

The 3020e keeps the design concept of last year's projectors with a retro-Star Wars look that, to my eye, looks kinda cool. To distinguish it from the 5010 and 5020 models, the front vents are gray rather than black. The lens is center-mounted and fixed; there is no mechanical lens shift. Levers on the lens barrel adjust focus and zoom. There is also a slider for horizontal keystone correction. The slider doesn't mean the adjustment is mechanical; it is indeed a digital alteration to the image. It allows you to place the projector on a coffee table and get a square picture if you can't center it on the screen. Vertical keystone is adjusted with top-mounted buttons. The use of any sort of keystone will reduce resolution however, and should be avoided. If you need further help with image alignment, there are two leveling feet at the front of the chassis. Additional controls on the top panel include volume, power, menu and source select.

Around back there is a full complement of inputs that cover two HDMI 1.4a, one each of component and composite, and a VGA connector. If you include the five-port wireless transmitter, that brings the HDMI input count to seven. There is also a stereo audio jack, which lets you connect a DVD or Blu-ray player and power the two speakers for a temporary setup on a coffee table. Since the 3020e is both compact and quiet; this is a pretty nice option. All you need to add is a portable screen for instant movie night. There is a handy USB port there too, where you can plug in a thumb drive and view photos. And if you want to integrate the 3020e into an automation system, RS-232 is included. IR sensors are mounted on both the front and back of the projector so you won't have any trouble sending commands from the excellent remote.

Speaking of which, the remote is one of Epson's typically functional designs. It is backlit, but you have to press a dedicated key first; it won't light up if you press any other button. At the top are discreet power controls followed by a button for each input. Then you have transport, volume, and mute keys which can control components connected via HDMI CEC. Compatibility will depend on the electronics in your particular system. In the middle are the menu navigation keys along with a 2D/3D toggle and buttons for color mode (picture mode) and Super Res. The lower section has more direct-access buttons for various image adjustments and picture memories. Finally, there is a set of controls for the wireless HDMI transmitter.

The wireless HDMI transmitter has upped the ante from last year's model. It now has five inputs and a charge port for the 3D glasses. You can set everything up in the menu and once it's connected, you can pretty much forget about it. You'll need line-of-sight between the transmitter and projector for best results. An on-screen signal strength meter lets you know the status of the connection. If you don't want to use the wireless function, the transmitter can work as a traditional switcher since it has HDMI and Toslink outputs. The remote has buttons to control all its functions. This is far more usability than the unit I received with last year's 5010e which only had a single source input; and its output was wireless only.

Epson has also updated their 3D glasses from last year. The new model is much lighter and more comfortable than before. The battery is rechargeable through a micro-USB port. This can be connected, with the included cable; to a computer, the wireless transmitter, or the rear of the projector. The glasses charge fully in 40 minutes. In a pinch, a three-minute charge will give you about three hours of use. My favorite upgrade is the mechanical power switch. Now you know for sure if they're turned on or off. Connection is made via RF and has a range of 32 feet. I never had any issues maintaining sync once I realized I had to turn on the glasses AFTER switching the projector to 3D mode.