Pros: HD clarity, 3D capability, focus, ease of placement and mounting, value.
Cons: Occasional lamp light issue, start-up time, fan and lens noise, SD clarity, 3D brightness.
2) Setup - mounting using a ceiling mount is fairly straightforward - I used a universal ceiling mount purchased with the projector and the positioning capabilities are excellent. I ran a 35-foot HDMI cable from the equipment rack to the ceiling mount and use this as the sole input.
This projector was a replacement for an old Sharp XV-H37U SD unit, which doesn't even warrant a comparison as it is not HD and quite old. The Epson 3010 is easy to set up. It came with a WOW calibration disc but I did not calibrate, as the built-in picture modes worked very well with my application. I am using the Epson to project against a 120-inch 16 x 9 film screen, which was bundled with the projector. Zoom and focus controls are right on the lens barrel but it would have been nice to see these built-in to the remote. Manually adjusting the focus and zoom means having to go to the projector for adjustments and I feel this should be motorized and remote-capable at this price point. Even my old Sharp had remote-controlled zoom and focus.
3) User Interface - The remote and menu system are easy to use. The remote is back-lit, which is a must for a home theater. The menus are good and easy to navigate - they provide usage statistics as well as color mode details and quick input selection, should you need it.
4) Performance - overall performance is good. My main gripe is with the excessive loss of brightness when viewing 3D content. Avatar in 3D is an excellent test title but the lack of brightness for 3D content is definitely a minus. Whether this is an issue with the specific built-in technology of Epson's 3D itself, I don't know. If you do a comparison between the 3D version of a title against its Blu-Ray 2D version, the difference in brightness is palpable. Black levels are good with Blu-Ray 2D titles. Dynamic mode for gaming is basically a boost in brightness and contrast but can over-saturate the colors on occasion. I did not notice visible artifacts with any content thus far. SD content is of course a major setback but then this unit is really intended for HD content and this issue seems to be inherent with most HD units. I have had to deal with slow start up times on this projector before the Epson logo appears as well as the red 'lamp' LED indicator on a few occasions. When this happens the unit needs to be unplugged, allowed to rest and plugged back in again. I contacted Epson and they advised me to re-seat the bulb, which did not remedy the issue. In fairness to Epson, this has only occurred a handful of times. A nice option is the Living Room picture mode which presumably works in situations where there are other light sources (such as daylight) in the room. My application is a dedicated light-controlled room so I can't really speak to performance in a living room scenario.
The unit has plenty of ports on the back - 2 HDMI ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 external 3D IR port, 1 USB port (digital camera anyone?), 1 component bank, 1 composite bank, 1 PC port and a serial RS-232C port. I use only one of the HDMI ports due to the home theater receiver doing all of the work for me with regard to input switching.
The projector comes with two pairs of Epson 3D glasses. They are very comfortable and much better quality than others on the market. You can replace the button batteries when they are depleted.
Gaming on this projector is fantastic. I use only a PS3 with this projector and all I can say is wow! A truly immersive experience. When using the PS3's broadband video streaming capabilities (Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, etc.) the Epson does very well indeed.
Fan noise and lens noise are factors with this projector. Especially as I sit under the unit. Fan noise is more noticeable when the unit turns on at first but lens adjustments can be heard throughout the viewing of content, regardless of input.
Overall, I think for the money this Epson is a good buy. I'm sure some of the issues I mentioned are not present in its more expensive counterparts, but for me this projector does the job nicely.