Epson Home Cinema 5020 & 5020e
3D Home Theater Projectors
November 1, 2012
Manual focus. The 5020UBe has manual lens adjustments. It's not uncommon for projectors to have manual lens shift, and it's even fairly common for projectors to have manual zoom and focus. But on a projector like the 5020UBe, with its extensive zoom range, it becomes difficult to nail perfect focus as the distance between projector and screen increases. You end up walking up to the screen to check focus, then walking back to the projector to make a small adjustment, et cetera. It helps to have a friend around to check your adjustments.
3D Limitations. Unfortunately, some things don't change. The 5020UBe's 3D modes still force the projector into high lamp mode with its own preset color calibrations. Frame Interpolation does not work while watching 3D content. These limitations were also present on the 5010. On the upside, iris control has now been returned to the user.
No Anamorphic. High-end theaters may opt for anamorphic lenses to create an ultra-wide 2.4:1 constant image height setup. However, for that to work, the projector needs to be able to take 2.4:1 content and vertically stretch it to fit the 16:9 native frame. The 5020UBe cannot do this. If you like the 5020UBe and want this capability, you'll need to step up to the 6020UBe, which is nearly identical in terms of capabilities but comes with an extra year of warranty, a ceiling mount, an extra lamp, and anamorphic capability.
Input Lag. Last year, we measured 92ms of lag on the Epson 5010, which was about the worst performance we saw that year. On a 60Hz signal (what you get from most PCs and gaming systems), that is 5.5 frames of delay.
This year, a series of input lag measurements reveals that the 5020UBe is faster than its predecessor in several areas. If you are serious about games, you can get a 50 millisecond delay out of the 5020UBe by changing the amount of processing the projector does to the signal. Go to Signal>Advanced>Image Processing and switch from "Fine" to "Fast." Using Cinema mode with Frame Interpolation off, that gets you 50ms (3 frames) of input lag, the fastest time the 5020UBe is capable of.
The 5020UBe's other modes are not quite as responsive, so gamers should probably skip them. In a typical mode of operation for home theater -- Cinema mode, iris enabled, Frame Interpolation Low -- the 5020UBe had a whopping 118 milliseconds (7 frames) of input lag. Frame Interpolation almost always slows down a projector's response time, so gamers are going to turn it off. In this case (Cinema, iris on, FI off) our test unit measured 67ms (4 frames) of delay.
One interesting quirk found during testing is that the 5020UBe has less input lag with its iris enabled than with its iris disabled. For example, if you use Dynamic mode, Fine processing, and no Frame Interpolation, the projector measures 83 milliseconds of delay with the iris off and 67 milliseconds of delay with the iris on. Note that this does not have any further improvement once Fast processing has been turned on; 50ms appears to be the fastest time the 5020UBe can muster.
The short version: if you are going to play games on the 5020UBe, use Fast processing and no Frame Interpolation. Super Resolution, lamp power, and image mode have zero effect on input lag, so feel free to use whatever you like. Also note that using WirelessHD does not add to input lag, as far as we can tell. Tests of the same modes over HDMI and WirelessHD link returned results within a few milliseconds of one another.