Before I begin a somewhat negative "impression" of the HC3800, I want to say I like Epson projectors. My two HC2000s (dual rooms at the time) where mostly issue free and my HC3700 was great for 27 months. Even with what I consider a major let down with the HC3700's break down at 27 months/5000 plus lamp hours (auto iris issue blue screen of death), I decided to give them another try and purchased the HC3800.
Well...the HC3800 arrived after a week in transit from Amazon. I think a moron boxed it. The projector box was in a huge box with one small section of brown paper which allowed the projector to bang against the sides every time the box was moved. Surprising no apparent damage upon firing it up.
First impression, hated it
. On Friday at 9 in the morning, I received it, opened it up , fired/set it up, used it a couple of hours and then walked away from it for a day in disgust. Out of the box settings were far inferior to the old HC3700 and the 4K enhancement results in a soft image when fed what Comcast calls HD. Looks much better with the enhancement turned off. Unlike the HC3700 which took a few minutes to set up, I found myself going back and adjusting the projector over and over during Friday and Saturday trying to dial it in. Initially I would focus the center and the top and center would be sharp while the bottom and sides looked soft. I was about to send it back, but I finally grabbed a level and a laser pointer for one last round of adjustments. It seems to be much better now, but it still seems like the HC3700's focus was superior. (I ran into this with my two HC2000s. One focused sharper/more uniformly but had a "louder/harsher" fan while the other was a softer focus/not uniform with a quieter fan. This focus difference wasn't noticeable during movies/shows but I would catch it when trying to dial in the projector.)
Second impression, back to the out of the box settings, the HC3700 was far superior. The image looked great right out of the box in terms of color accuracy while the HC3800's modes all look slightly off in terms of color and tint. Even after my layman's "advanced Disney Wow" disk calibration I'm not completely satisfied with skin tone/color as I change sources unlike the HC3700 which always looked great. One show/movie looks great while the next looks slightly off. Unlike the 3700 which I always used on natural, I think with the 3800 I'll have to jump between natural and cinema depending on the content.
After 10 hours of use I've decided to keep it...I think.
While the 3700 was much better suited to 99% of my content, Blu-rays look do look great and the black level of the HC3800 is...seems noticeably superior to the HC3700. If I ever get the 3700 repaired, I'll know for sure...a week with the old HC2000 may have impacted my opinion before seeing the HC3800's image. The true projector test will come when I purchase a 4K blu-ray player and sample true 4K content. Honestly if I had it to do over and know what I know now, I'd have probably grabbed one of the last 3700's from BB or a 3100. Failing that I might have gone down to a HC2150 since most use is 1080p or less. It is just that the 3800's 4K seems wasted since 99% of the time I'll have it turned off. I just think it comes down to my Comcast "signal" and the 3800's entry level 4K up-scaling...it results in a soft image with some distortion. (Last night Target's kid in electronics kept trying to tell me 4K up-scaling blu-ray players were the same as the higher priced true 4K one with either handling 4K disks...since I refused to consider the one remaining 4K Sony unit they had since it looked like a car had ran over the box. He was 100% sure...direct statement...that I was wrong even with my telling him I have a 4K up-scaling player and it will not play my 4K disks.)
Finally....admittedly when I jumped to the 3700 I was using a HC2000 which had a "softer" focus and contrast of 324:1/1170:1 to the 3700's 2142:1/25,207:1, it was a major image quality jump for my media room unlike the 3800 which is more of a lateral move (or even a slight downgrade) given our use...mostly 1080p or less.