Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector


Setup of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector

Without lens shift, I had to place the 3020e right-side-up, aligned with the bottom of my 92-inch screen. My shelf was a bit too high but you can install the projector upside-down if you have the right offset (.1-.3 inches below the bottom or above the top of the screen). I ran my usual 50-hour burn-in slides in order to settle the bulb before calibration.

I tested both wired and wireless connections. In each case, I output the signal directly from an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player. The wireless worked well as long as I had line-of-sight between the projector and transmitter. I did have to reset it once after a few days of non-use. Overall though, it worked better than the previous version I tested in the 5010e. It does take longer for the image to appear on startup and the opening sequences on Blu-rays are rough since the refresh rate changes so often. Every time this happened I watched a black screen for several seconds. If you want faster response during frame-rate changes, the wired connection is best. Still, there are many installations where wireless can solve a multitude of challenges.

Since Epson's menu system has always been a model of efficiency and logic, and I was happy to see they hadn't changed anything. All the controls you need for calibration are in the Image menu. There are five 2D picture modes, and two for 3D. Unless you need lots of light output, Natural or Cinema are the ones to use. And in 3D, Cinema provides the most accurate starting point for calibration. As you'll see later in the benchmark section, the 3020e can really benefit from a professional calibration. While it may seem excessive to spend another $300-$400 on an inexpensive model like this; the end result is well worth it and you'll still have a great picture for not a lot of money.

2D calibration was no different than past Epson models I've worked with. I observed clipping of white until I turned on the Epson Super White control in the Advanced menu. Then I dialed down the contrast control 12 clicks to set the peak light level at the 20 foot-Lambert mark. I found this sweet spot provided the best compromise between contrast and absolute black level. I could have dropped contrast even more to get a better black level but the image lost some pop. While the auto iris does a good job at improving perceived contrast, a manual iris would have been even better. Since there's so much light available, closing down would have increased contrast and deepened the black level. All of my tests were done with the bulb in eco mode. And viewing was done with the iris set to fast.

The rest of the calibration was straightforward. Gamma tracking was already very flat so I raised the preset one click to get to an average value of 2.2. I used the absolute color temp control to get the grayscale closer before visiting the RGB menu to adjust the highs and lows individually. The color management system (called RGBCMY) was helpful but not entirely functional. I was able to improve the color points with the saturation controls but I found this negatively affected accuracy at lower saturation levels. See the benchmarks for a more detailed explanation of my findings. I settled on simply changing the color brightness controls to achieve a nice balance.

Turning to 3D; I had hoped to use the same settings as the 2D calibration but I was unable to. I had to adjust both the white balance and the CMS to achieve an accurate image using the 3D Cinema mode. You can create separate calibrations for 2D and 3D but you have to use the 3020e's memory feature. Simply switching into 3D mode won't change all of the settings. Luckily there is a dedicated remote button that brings up the memory list. And you can't select a 3D memory in 2D and vice versa. See the benchmark section for a better explanation of 3D calibration with the 3020e.