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Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3900 & 3700 3D Full HD 3LCD Projectors

Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
March 13th, 2017
Manufacturer:
Epson

PROS

-Vertical and horizontal lens shift.

-2700 lumens output

CONS

-Must provide your own external speakers.

-Not 4K compatible and no 3D Glasses included.

EDITOR'S NOTE



The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3900 projector is only available through Epson's network of custom installers, which is why the Amazon links on this review direct you to the Home Cinema 3700. The 3700 and 3900 are sister models, sharing components and performance capabilities. In terms of differences, the 3900 offers ISF picture calibration modes plus an ethernet port, while the 3700 offers 10w internal speakers. If you're interested in buying the 3900, specifically, please call Epson at 800.463.7766 and talk to a sales agent for information on pricing, shipping, and professional installation. To buy the 3700, please consider supporting High-Def Digest by clicking our Amazon links (it's free for you!). Thanks so very much for reading. Cheers!

INTRODUCTION


We've discussed quite a few projectors here lately with the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2045 and the Home Cinema 1440. We always like to give you the best bang for your buck and Epson does an excellent job with that, providing great features, brightness, and sleek designs with their home theater projectors. No matter if you want Wi-Fi capability, a 3D option, or something portable, Epson has all areas covered.

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3900, which is very similar to the Home Cinema 3700, has the incredible lens shift options, full calibration controls, and amazing lens, 3D compatibility and an impressive 2700 lumens of color brightness and 2700 lumens white brightness. It's not 4K, but is an excellent standard 1080p HD picture. There is a $2000 price tag with this, which I imagine will scare away some of the cost-conscious consumers away. However, if you're looking for a new projector for your media room, or to replace an LED TV, and you have a modest budget with a good sound system, this 3900 model is right up your alley. Whether you're playing video games on the XBOX ONE, watching Netflix on an AppleTV, or the latest Pixar film on Blu-ray in 3D, this Epson 3900 model sure stands at the top of the competition, if you have the right setup.

What do I mean by having the right setup here? The Epson 3900 does not include internal speakers, therefor you will have to hook up your own speakers to use it by way of a receiver or speakers with a Trigger Out cable. In my case, it was as simple as an HDMI cable. In my opinion, the Epson 3900 looks significantly better than any LCD or LED television of sizable proportions and, with the lens shift option, installation is very easy.

SETUP & DESIGN


The Epson Home Cinema 3900 has an amazing 3LCD chip that provides an excellent picture. It comes with a 250-watt lamp, which brings a big level of brightness that will allow the image to remain bright and clear when lights are on in the viewing room or when windows are open. I wouldn't go as far as to say this is the most portable unit, though. The 3900 is at about 15 pounds and is 16.1" x 12.0" x 6.4" (W x D x H), meaning this is a fairly big unit. I don't see myself or anyone else carrying this in their bag to a friend's house to watch the latest 'Walking Dead' season. The unit has a sleek, curvy off white and gray design with an off center lens that gives ample room for ventilation and fans. Fan noise is very soft when in normal or cinema mode, but when in dynamic mode, the fan ramps up and is a bit noticeable if it isn't mounted to your high ceiling.

The unit has a sleek, curvy off white and gray design with an off center lens that gives ample room for ventilation and fans. Fan noise is very soft when in normal or cinema mode, but when in dynamic mode, the fan ramps up and is a bit noticeable if it isn't mounted to your high ceiling.

That being said, the amount of light this unit produces is well worth the slight noise in certain picture modes. There are also two adjustable knob feet that will give more height to your unit if need be. The lens shift is easy to use and has a 60% vertical shift and a 24% horizontal shift with 1.6x zoom capability, which will allow you to virtually put this unit anywhere and get the best picture. The zoom and focus ability are on the lens itself and is amazingly sharp. Around back, there are two HDMI inputs, one in which has the MHL capability for all of your mobile devices; a USB port for photos, videos, and documents, as well as a mini USB (service only) port; a VGA port for computer hookups; a RS-232C input for controller integration; and a wired LAN connection for internet service.

In addition to that, there is a Trigger Out port and a 1000mA port where you can use an adapter to hook up your favorite devices. The remote itself does not feel cheap in anyway and is nicely backlit. There are individual input buttons and other selectors that go straight to the 3D option. There are color and image enhancement buttons and navigation controls as well. The remote is very easy to use and very responsive. The unit does NOT include 3D glasses, which is unfortunate given the $2000 price tag, but, luckily, my Samsung 3D glasses worked just fine.

All Epson projectors have an excellent and extensive setup menu, where you can toggle with just about every aspect of the image and all of its capabilities. Every setup tab is here from calibration, 3D, signals, inputs, screen position, network and more. After plugging in the Epson 3900 unit in my viewing room and hooking up my Denon via HDMI port with all of my devices, I began setting up the unit. If you want to calibrate your unit, you will find white balance, gamma settings, and all of the color options very easy to toggle. Since Epson did such an excellent job with the 3900, there is very little to adjust here right out of the box. The color modes are Auto, Dynamic, Living Room, Natural, Cinema, 3D Dynamic, 3D Cinema.

Auto is the preferred method, with Dynamic looking the brightest (however, it made the internal fan blow at full blast). There are also a few Image Preset modes and settings where you can adjust tint, color, and sharpness. Frame Interpolation gives you an excellent glossed-over look if that's how you like to watch your films and tv programs. The bulb itself also has three power settings. If you have it on the Eco setting, the bulb will last much longer and have almost zero fan noise. If you go higher than that, you will lose bulb life and gain fan noise. Even on Eco, the brightness is very powerful. The contrast ratio goes up to 120,000:1, which is fantastic. Lastly, there are no internal speakers here. You will have to hook up your own receiver that is connected to your devices and speakers, or connect your speakers directly in, using the correct cord. Otherwise, you won't get any sound with your picture. 

SPECIFICATIONS


From Epson.com...

Projection System: Epson 3LCD, 3-chip technology
Projection Method: Front / rear / ceiling mount
Driving Method: Epson Poly-silicon TFT Active Matrix, 0.61- inch wide panel with MLA
Pixel Number: 2,073,600 dots (1920 x 1080) x 3
Color Brightness - Color Light Output: 2700 lumens
White Brightness - White Light Output:2700 lumens
Aspect Ratio: Native 16:9 widescreen
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080) 2D, 3D
Resize: 16:10, 4:3
Lamp Type: 250 W UHE
Lamp Life:
    ECO mode: Up to 5000 hours2
    Normal mode: Up to 3500 hours2
Throw Ratio Range: 1.32 (Zoom: Wide) – 2.15 (Zoom: Tele)
Size - projected distance: 30" – 300" (29' – 47.3')
Keystone Correction:
    Vertical: ±30 degrees (Auto)
    Horizontal: ±30 degrees (Slide bar)
Contrast Ratio: Up to 120,000:
Color Processing: Full 10 bit
Color Reproduction: Up to 1.07 billion colors
Projected Output: HD, 2D, 3D, Full HD 1080p
Projection Lens: Manual optical zoom / Manual Zoom
F-number: 1.51 – 1.99
Focal Length: 18.2 – 29.2 mm
Zoom Ratio: 1.0 – 1.6 manual
Lens Shift:
    Vertical: 60% max (up and down)
    Horizontal: 24% max (left and right)
Terminal Inputs:
    HDMI x 2
    Computer: D-sub 15 pin x 1
    USB connector Type A x 1 (for JPEG Slideshow, Wireless LAN, firmware update)
    Mini USB x 1 (service only)
    RS-232C
    RJ45 Wired LAN
    USB x 1 (optical HDMI® power only)
    Audio out
Video Compatibility:
    2D: WXGA 60Hz, WXGA, SXGA, XGA, SVGA, VGA
    3D: 720p 50/60Hz, 1080i 50/60Hz, 1080p50/60/24Hz
Computer Compatibility: PC, Mac®
Weight: 14.6 lb
Security: Kensington Security Lock Port
Case Color: White and Gray
Color Modes: Auto, Dynamic, Living Room, Natural, Cinema, 3D Dynamic, 3D Cinema
Input Signal:
    480i / 576i / 480p / 576p / 720p / 1080i / 1080p
    HDMI, HDTV, Analog RGB
Speaker: Two integrated 10 W stereo speakers
Fan Noise: 24 dB – 35 dB
Projector Dimensions: 16.1" x 12.0" x 6.4" (W x D x H)
Remote Control Features: Front and rear directional
    Operating Distance: 32 ft (10 m)
    Operating Angle:±30 degrees left/right; up/down

PERFORMANCE


With this high-end 3900 model, you will get excellent contrast and amazing clarity with each passing moment. From edge to edge of the screen, the clarity is super sharp and vivid on all accounts with contrast levels being perfect. Black levels looked significantly deep and inky throughout as well. To give it a test run, I watched 'Suicide Squad', since the film has a very dark and low-lit environment in almost every scene. In every low-lit scene, whether it be the Squad roaming around town at night or the dark setting of Harley Quinn's jail cell, the image looks dynamic. There was zero crush with black levels looking rich and healthy. The small amount of color on some of the costumes stood out nicely here too, and especially the neon logos during the beginning of the film just popped off screen.

The bigger action scenes that involved fire looked excellent and had no noise, banding, or any compression issues. The detail was phenomenal as well in both wider action sequences and big closeups that reveal every facial imperfection and makeup effect on the actors. When dealing with some projectors, you might get a sense that the black levels are softer or lighter, but not with this 3900 unit. Everything was deep and inky, which was fantastic for those darker horror movies we all like.

Next, I headed to Netflix through my AppleTV and put on an episode of 'Breaking Bad', which has a ton of warm colors and is almost the opposite in visuals as 'Suicide Squad'. In season two, the iconic pink teddy bear simply pops off the screen with its color and looks amazing. The warm colors of Walter White's house and clothing look excellent as well here with bright greens, yellows, and browns throughout. The dusty ambiance of New Mexico looked incredible and had no pixelation or noise associated with dust popping up from the ground.

Before I went to the 3D film, I turned on the XBOX ONE and decided to see how the video game 'Overwatch' looked and felt while playing. The animated screens were seamless and looked crystal clear in every fluid motion. When my character's gun would shoot, I could see every hit point and flash and spark from the gun nicely. Lag time was virtually non-existent too, which is crucial in gameplay, particularly with 'Overwatch' where a couple of milliseconds can decide the outcome of any game match. Colors were bright and robust throughout.

The Home Cinema 3900's 3D capability is outstanding on every level. I'm not a huge fan of 3D, but with this unit, 3D has never looked better. I popped in the 3D version of Pixar's 'Inside Out' and right from the get-go, it looked phenomenal. The depth inside Riley's mind, with all of the emotion orbs and characters running around, has tons of depth in every scene. The beautiful scenes in the animated San Francisco also look wonderful. The pop out effects looked amazing and every time Anger caught fire, you can see every spark and flame perfectly with great depth.

The giant walls of orbs looked richly detailed from top to bottom in the decaying memory banks as well. There was absolutely no ghosting or banding at any point here. Black levels looked incredible with zero crush as well. If you want to switch picture modes while watching a film, it takes only a second to switch back and forth. Lastly, if you want to calibrate the two 3D modes individually for your best picture, you can do so with the settings menu.

FINAL THOUGHTS


When looking for a home theater projector, most of us want brightness and vivid detail in the picture. The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3900 -- as well as the Home Cinema 3700 -- have both. Colors pop off screen and the black levels are rich with no crush. From edge to edge - no matter the screen size, every detail is perfectly vivid and sharp. The 3D capability here makes me want to watch more 3D as well, which is something I thought I'd never say. If you have the right set up in your viewing room, this unit could very well replace your LCD or LED television, and you'd be one satisfied customer.

While the $2000 price tag might be scary for some, please know that projectors with these features and capabilities typically cost a lot more. The Home Cinema 3900 is extremely bright, easy to use, device friendly, and has excellent 3D and colors. Unfortunately, this unit is not 4K compatible and does not come with 3D glasses (you can purchase Epson 3D glasses HERE). Even with those small complaints, you still won't find a better model at this price point.

If you're looking for an affordable high-performance 1080p projector with 3D and ISF Calibration, the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3900 is Highly Recommended.

OR

If you don't need the ISF Calibration modes, the Home Cinema 3700 is an absolute steal and currently on sale for less than $1,300. Run-don't-walk to buy one.

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