Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector


The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e LCD Projector On The Bench

You may have noticed a recent change in our video display testing here at Secrets. We've upgraded to the latest version of CalMAN, 5.0 for starters. This software adds many new tests to our benchmark suite. In fact, there are far more measurements available than we could ever hope to include in a single article. We're keeping the usual grayscale and gamma tests but we've added a new color test, the saturation sweep. This shows us a lot more of how a display's true color performance stacks up because it measures each primary and secondary at multiple saturation points.

We're still using the i1Pro spectrophotometer to measure color, and a C-6 tri-stimulus colorimeter to measure light output, but we've brought in a new Accupel signal generator, the DVG-5000. This unit supports all resolutions and refresh rates up to 1080p/60, includes motion patterns, and adds a 3D mode that allows measurement of crosstalk. It will also display any pattern at any luma level allowing for much finer resolution in color and grayscale measurements.

Color and Grayscale Performance-

Out of the 3020e's five picture modes, Natural and Cinema provide the best out of box performance and the best basis for calibration. In fact, they're nearly identical with Natural having just the slightest edge in accuracy. I used that mode for all my 2D measurements. Here is the default grayscale and gamma chart.

You can see it's pretty warm at all levels except 100 percent. Gamma is nice and flat though and tracks just a hair below 2.2. Delta E numbers are just above the point of visibility.

Here is the eight-point color sweep with luminance levels and Delta E values.

This is a pretty good result. Delta E measurements are right on the edge of being invisible to the naked eye. Luminances are also quite good except for blue which is about 18 percent too low.

We can see a little more of the story with the saturation sweep.

As it turns out, blue is just fine until the 100 percent level where the luminance drops below spec due to clipping. A reduction in the contrast control can fix that, or you can turn on the Epson Super White, which reveals all the color information up to video level 255.

Calibrating the RGB controls and adjusting the gamma control to its 2.3 setting produced an excellent chart with flat grayscale tracking, flat gamma and Delta E levels all below three. In fact only 100 percent was above two.

The CMS does not work quite as well as it could. Even adjusting the saturations to their max wouldn't get the color points on spec. It's pretty close though and the luminances are excellent.

The CIE chart doesn't tell the whole story however. In the saturation sweep, you can see the luminances below 100 percent are not as good as they could be, especially for red.

My first result was actually worse than this. Adjusting the saturation and hue controls in the CMS made the measurements at 80 percent and above look great but everything below was poor. I went back and changed only the brightness controls for each color and tweaked the hues for just the secondaries to balance things out better.

3D Performance-

Using the crosstalk pattern in the Accupel generator, I measured 0.78%. This is a very low figure, invisible to my eye at least. This means only 0.78% of the one eye's image bleeds to the opposite eye. It also indicates fast response from the projector's LCD imaging chips. There was a slight increase in measured crosstalk, to 1.1%, when the auto iris was engaged. Again, this is invisible to the naked eye.

Color and grayscale performance was about the same after calibrating in 3D mode. I had to make major changes in the CMS to achieve the same accuracy as 2D mode. Grayscale required a change to the green gain control, and I had to increase the absolute color temp to its maximum setting of 10000K. I left the gamma set at 2.3 but tracking was not quite as flat, rising slightly below 50 percent.

After adjusting the 3D Cinema mode, I wound up with charts that looked almost exactly like the ones pictured above. You can expect the 3020e to perform the same with either 2D or 3D content provided you calibrate the modes separately.

Contrast Performance-

The Epson 3020e proved to be a very bright projector. In the Natural and Cinema modes, the peak output was nearly 40 foot-Lamberts before calibration, which is bright enough to compete with a medium level of ambient light. And this was at the bulb's Eco (low-power) setting! After calibration the peak output was a more eye-friendly 22.526 fL with the iris off. Turning it on didn't change the max number but it did reduce the black level from .009 to immeasurable. Therefore the native contrast ratio was 2472.8:1; very respectable for a projector in this price class.

In 3D, light output is significantly reduced. With the iris on or off, I measured 8.232 fL peak through the glasses. The black level was immeasurable regardless of the iris setting. While this may seem like a low number, the almost complete lack of crosstalk, and the ability to dial in an accurate calibration, made 3D content look bright and punchy. This is one of the better 3D projectors I've reviewed in terms of overall image quality and brightness.

Video Processing-

The 3020e did extremely well in our video processing tests, passing all of them, with the exception of 2:2 pulldown which is a common failure. It locked on for a moment but then lost the cadence and was unable to restore it. In single-pixel multi-burst patterns, RGB fared best with 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 just a little less clear, but still passing. If your disc player is capable, RGB is the best signal output choice. The projector failed the WTW clipping test initially until the Epson Super White was turned on. It's off by default.