Cigar Aficionado

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020E

Whether you’re enjoying the big game, giving a big presentation or watching The Big Lebowski on Blu-ray, you pump up the impact when you maximize the screen size. And if the show can go on anywhere from your living room to your backyard to your office conference room to your buddy’s house, so much the better.

The 13-pound Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e is excellent even in challenging environments. Yes, you can mount it permanently to the ceiling (using an optional kit), hermetically darken the room, position the chairs just right, set up a drop-down screen and enjoy your own private home theater installation. But my first instinct after unpacking the Epson unit was to set it on the dining room table, stick some batteries into the remote, hang a big white sheet from the ceiling about 12 feet away, connect it to a Blu-ray player and fire it up. In a few seconds I had the X-Men beating the hell out of Magneto’s minions on a giant screen, with loud, clear sound coming from the pair of built-in 10-watt speakers.

That’s not to say that you can’t adjust the image—from ensuring the corners are perfectly square to precisely fine-tuning the brightness and color reproduction—with impressive precision, but right out of the box you have a handsome picture and room-filling audio. Darkness is nice whenever you use a projector, but with its powerful 2,300-lumen light output, the Epson projector delivers a fine experience even with some room illumination leaking in—or when you choose to invite the neighborhood for a viewing under the stars.

The PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e lets you connect a wide range of sources simultaneously and switch between them with a click of the well-designed remote. High-definition gear equipped with HDMI output (the cable box, Blu-ray player, game console, computer, high-def camcorder, digital camera and so on) doesn’t even have to be positioned near the projector thanks to the included Wireless HD system. Just plug HDMI cables from up to five devices into the included transmitter and place it in a convenient spot—the projector’s built-in receiver wirelessly accepts the full high-def signal without having to run cables across the room.

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020e, complete with two pairs of lightweight rechargeable 3-D glasses, runs $1,899. A version without the wireless HD feature costs $300 less, for those satisfied with more limited entertainment options.