Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB
Home Theater Projector Review
November 15, 2013
Light output. The Pro Cinema 6030UB is capable of outputting quite a bit of light or very little light, depending on the needs of the situation. On the high end of the lumen scale is Dynamic, which on our projector measured 2211 lumens with the lens at its widest angle setting. Before adjustments, Dynamic has a greenish cast, but is useful whenever maximum light output is needed. We were able to reduce the green tint to a tolerable level using the 6030UB's RGB Gain/Bias controls for the cost of about 200 lumens. The end result is a much more balanced picture that is useful in a greater number of situations.
Living Room mode, measuring 1561 lumens on our projector, has a bluish tint that pushes color temperature up to around 8000K. This cooler tone actually helps to fight ambient light, which is predominantly yellow, when the projector is used in a living room or other non-theater environment. However, Living Room is also a great mode to use if you want a bright, engaging picture that does not require a lot of fiddling with the controls. By taking the Color Temperature slider from +3 to 0, you'll end up with a picture that measures 6400K to 6600K across the grayscale with no effort on your part, though green is under-driven slightly. Making this color temperature adjustment lowers light output slightly to 1395 lumens, a decrease of about 11%.
Natural and Cinema mode, at 863 and 796 lumens, are quite similar, with only some differences in gamma and color gamut separating them from each other. Both Natural and Cinema default to low power lamp mode, though our measurements were taken with the lamp at full power.
The 6030UB also includes B&W Cinema mode. B&W Cinema is tailored for the display of black and white movies and measures 818 lumens with the lamp at full power. B&W Cinema has a color temperature around 5500K, which is ideal for black and white films.
THX mode is the projector's default image mode and our preferred setting for home theater film and video. It has more accurate color than the 6030UB's other image modes, which calibration improves even further, and the best contrast performance as well. THX mode at its factory settings measures 675 lumens with the lamp at full power and 514 lumens at low power. Our calibration, which improved both white balance and color gamut, resulted in a final light output of 529 lumens at low power and 695 lumens at full power.
Switching to low lamp power reduces light output by 25% on average, though some modes (Dynamic, Living Room) lose slightly more light while others (THX) lose slightly less. Note that in THX mode, the low power lamp setting is called "Normal" while full power is called "Extra Bright." In all other image modes, low power is "ECO" and full power is "Normal."
The 6030UB's 2.1:1 zoom lens allows different amounts of light to pass depending on zoom position. The lens's wide angle position passes the maximum amount of light, which is reflected in our lumen readings above. But the maximum telephoto setting, which produces the smallest image size at a given throw distance, restricts light output by 43%. As an example, THX mode drops from 529 lumens to 302 lumens with the lamp at low power. This is important to keep in mind when mounting your projector, as a lack of brightness can impact your ability to use large screen sizes.
Contrast. The UB on the end of the 6030UB's name stands for Ultra Black, and if anything that's a modest assessment. The 6030UB has an automatic iris that effectively combines aggressive performance with unnoticeable operation, leading to the best black levels available in a home theater projector in this price range. When combined with the projector's sparkling highlights and well-defined shadow detail, the end result is a projector that can handle the most difficult Blu-ray content without breaking a sweat. The dynamic range of the 6030UB's image gives it a three-dimensional quality that makes it a real pleasure to watch.
If you want to fine-tune the 6030UB's handling of shadow detail, the projector has very good controls for gamma adjustment, allowing you to individually adjust ten points along the gamma curve. If you are more visually-minded or lack the required hardware to do a full calibration, the system will also allow you to pick a point in the image and then make adjustments from there. That can be especially helpful when you can see what's wrong in the image and want to fix it right away.
Color. When evaluating color on a home theater projector, we are looking for two things. The first is good, if not great, color performance straight out of the box. The second is the ability to fine-tune the projector until it looks even better. The Pro Cinema 6030UB delivers both.
Straight out of the box, the 6030UB defaults to THX mode. On our test unit, factory-preset THX mode has a consistent grayscale that measures about 6400K across the board, though the upper end of the grayscale is deficient in green and the shadows have too much red.
THX mode, factory settings
On our projector, we corrected for this by adding green and reducing red and blue in the highlights, and then decreasing red in the shadows to compensate for the shift brought on by our calibrations. This gave us smooth, consistent 6500K grayscale tracking across the entire spectrum.
|Epson 6030UB, THX mode
|Color Temperature: 6500K
THX mode, calibrated
The 6030UB has a full color management system, and while the gamut in THX mode wasn't far from the Rec. 709 color space to begin with, we found the system exceptionally easy to use. We ended up making a significant improvement to the 6030UB's color gamut with just a few minutes' work using our color meter.
Color gamut after calibration
Living Room, at its default settings, measures right around 8000K, but as stated earlier it can be corrected with a minor reduction of the Color Temperature control. The end result isn't nearly as precise as the THX calibration above, but it is a noticeable improvement over the factory settings.
Living Room mode with quick adjustments applied
Cinema mode can be every bit as accurate as THX mode, given a little bit of work. The factory settings of our projector give Cinema too little green, too much blue, and a color temperature that ranges between 6600K on the low end and 6800K on the high end.
Cinema mode, factory settings
After increasing green and reducing red to compensate for the shift towards blue this caused, our final Cinema calibration actually measured brighter than the factory setting. Grayscale tracking was much improved as well.
|Epson 6030UB, Cinema mode
|Color Temperature: 6500K
Cinema mode, calibrated
The Pro Cinema 6030UB is about as easy to calibrate as a projector can get. By the end of our adjustments, we were left with three accurately-calibrated image presets, each useful for different situations, that all made the projector look wonderful.
Input lag. If you're into gaming, you'll want the least input lag possible. That is achieved by switching the Image Processing control from "Fine" to "Fast." This setting is designed specifically to reduce input lag, and resulted in only 37 milliseconds of lag, which is a touch over two frames on a 60 frame per second signal. While this isn't the fastest home theater projector on the market, it is certainly a marked improvement over last year's 50 milliseconds using the same settings. Note that "Fast" processing has a softening effect on the picture that reduces the appearance of fine detail, and this reduction in apparent resolution is most visible when there is a lot of small text or other detail on the screen. Depending on what kind of game you're playing, that softness could be invisible, obvious, or anywhere in between.
If you use the projector's standard settings, which include "Fine" Image Processing, the 6030UB measures 91 milliseconds of input lag, equivalent to five and a half frames of a 60fps signal. That's slower than last year's Home Cinema 5020UB (67 ms) and equal to the Home Cinema 5010 (92ms).
Several features increase input lag even more when activated. Frame Interpolation is the worst offender at 183 milliseconds, or about 11 frames. It did not matter which level of Frame Interpolation was applied; all three settings result in the same increase. Super Resolution, on the other hand, only increases input lag to 102 milliseconds or six frames, a half-frame increase over the baseline.
The end result is that the 6030UB is faster in "Fast" mode but slower in other modes than the 5020UB was last year. Since gamers who care about input lag are unlikely to use anything but the fastest setting available, this comes out as a win for the new model.