The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3600e is the logical conclusion within their sub $2000 entertainment range. Fitting in a trifecta of blurred lines including the addition of WirelessHD and the premium needed to justify it. But this is far from an inadequate projector for movies, even though the pricier options aren’t essential to the package.
It is typical practice to base similar models off of a few unique features, and the 3600e tries to set itself apart from its immediate step-down brothers: the Home Cinema 3500, and the entry-level Home Cinema 3000, which all look the same.
Speaking of the exterior, the shape is bulbous and thoroughly curvaceous sporting a 19.1 square inch measurement and a weight of 14.9 pounds better suited for permanent installations. The unit retains a simplistic glossy white profile with just few buttons and just two H/V lens shift dials (for vertical and horizontal orientation) for placement flexibility are found on top, while the manual 1.6:1 zoom and focus are situated on the outside of the lens. Around back are two prominent 10-watt speakers, enough A/V ports for your choices of modern (and legacy) DVR and consoles, and finally a 12-volt trigger and RS-232C serial for professional ISF customization.
The charcoal remote on the other hand is a ham-fisted buffet of necessary options at the push of any button and separate controls for the WiHD transmitter (which I’ll go over later), and adds backlighting as a consolation. The menu system is carried over from other Epson projectors and retains a functional layout seen in cheaper models, however, with the plethora of options available are a little more daunting thanks to additional secondary adjustments buried within. It goes without saying that newbies shouldn’t touch the advanced stuff until they’ve familiarized themselves with the basics beforehand.
The advertised lumen count of 2500 belies its true potential for viewing in ambient and indirect sunlight with our tester sitting at a bright 2686 ANSI, holding up very well in most open living rooms despite the intended purpose of working in a darkened room (recommended maximum screen size of 190” to 254” diagonally by the SMPTE). Other additions such as Picture-in-Picture utilize two HDMI sources for simultaneous viewing, it’s a great throwback and works for everything except 3D capability and Active Image Processing.
Epson’s Super Resolution adds a touch of sharpness and separate detail enhancement. The projector comes out of the box with it already enabled at 3 (between 0 and 5) but the effect looks too processed with aggressively sharp edges, however, legacy inputs such as standard-definition DVDs and gaming consoles like the PlayStation 2 and Wii will benefit considerably, which is probably the point anyways – not exactly like true HD but just enough to work wonders nonetheless.
We didn’t have a problem with how the Home Cinema 3600e looked though, as image quality was nearly excellent overall. Color reproduction was the most impressive as skin tones and palettes were well calibrated between each preset, “Cinema” and “Natural” gave us a nice all-around result for much of our viewing with just a quick tweaking of the gamma. Blacks were also an improvement over the BenQ HT1085 DLP but lacks finer detail and not nearly as deep like the Epson Pro Cinema 5030UB. There are a couple of issues for films and slight motion judder that can easily be seen in films with plenty of panning scenes – an inherent trait synonymous with 24 frames per second cadence.
Our experience with stereoscopic 3D was identical to the Epson 750HD except that you get two pairs of $99 ELPGS03 active-shutter “Full HD 3D” glasses (our tester only had one pair but you get the idea), and a convincing field of depth that exhibited a negligible amount of crosstalk. Input lag was measured at 104.6 milliseconds (roughly six frames out of 60 frames per second) that’s reduced to 53.7 milliseconds with Fast image processing enabled and reduced image quality; better but still less ideal figures for gaming.
We’ve seen WIrelessHD in action before, and had high expectations since it’s built right into the Home Cinema 3600. with an included transmitter that has five additonal HDMI (plus one MHL) inputs, a HDMI output, and S/PDIF optical output for pass-through. Unfortunately, integration into existing surround sound systems was a no-go (unlike standalone kits such as the DVDO Air3), and communication time is quite leisurely when establishing a proper synced connection. For casual viewing the perks of WiHD are obvious with a clean, uncompromising HD picture, and strong line-of-sight reception at 34 feet.
Capability and a load of niceties is the crown jewel for Epson’s Home Cinema 3600e Projector, but overall performance can be divided between living room duties and being a personal theater display. However, the Home Cinema 3500 does almost everything at $1,499, and other DLP projectors can be cheaper in general. Nonetheless, the 3500/3600e is a compelling Editors’ Choice pick, and relatively affordable after taking WirelessHD out of the equation.