AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Douglasville, GA
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I'm pretty sure the 3100 tested with better DCR than the 3000 when it was released, and I'd expect that to be similar compared to the 3500... on calibrated black level alone, I don't think it'd really be a notable difference between the 3100 and 3500. The 3100/3700 are also supposed to be a bit sharper than the 3000/3500, but I never had any complaints about sharpness with my 3000. I think they all use the same lamp, so I'm not sure where the rated lumen difference is coming from and it's probably completely negligible once calibrated.
For the OP, if the 3500 is $80 less, maybe that saves enough budget to add a soundbar, speakers, streaming device, etc and that's the way to go. Honestly, I don't think you can really go wrong with anything in the 3x00 line. The last time Epson Outlet had the 3000 in stock they were only $50 less than the 3100, so for that small of a difference, I'd probably step up to the 3100. A 3500 for $80 less than a 3100 seems like a negligible quality difference with a bigger price difference, so the cheap side of me would probably lean towards the 3500.
If the budget jump to the 3x00 line is just too big or making it would sacrifice other parts of the build (speakers, streaming device, beer), the HC1060 is still a very solid choice with plenty (evidently more) available lumens at the sacrifice of black level. I think the OP is probably on a good track whichever direction he goes.
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