This year's CEDIA trade show in Denver saw Epson refresh its entire home theater projector line. The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB is this year's upgrade to the Home Cinema 5020UB, one of last year's hottest projectors. While the 5030UB is in many ways an incremental improvement over its predecessor, it is an impressive machine in its own right.
The Home Cinema 5030UB is one of three new home theater projectors released at this year's CEDIA show. The others, the Pro Cinema 4030 and Pro Cinema 6030UB, are restricted-distribution products sold through specialized dealers and custom installers. The Home Cinema 5030UB, on the other hand, is in open distribution -- meaning you can find it at a number of authorized resellers online. Currently priced at $2,599 from authorized sellers, the Home Cinema 5030UB is an excellent value in today's market.
The Viewing Experience
While the projector is laden with features that make it easy to install and use, the primary draw of the Home Cinema 5030UB is image quality. The 5030UB's image in both 2D and 3D is the best we've ever seen from Epson, and the picture on screen makes it clear where every single dollar of the projector's purchase price went. In other words, it looks more expensive than it actually is.
The Home Cinema 5030UB is built primarily for use in a light-controlled home theater environment, and it is tailored to deliver maximum impact in such a situation. The "UB" in the projector's name stands for Ultra Black, a designation that does not disappoint once you have the projector properly configured. For part of this review we set up the 5030UB on one of Stewart's new screens, the Cima by Stewart Filmscreen using the 1.1-gain Neve white fabric. This screen is a superb complement to the 5030B for dedicated home theater, and it costs less than the Studiotek 130. The 5030UB already has very deep black levels and light output is highly adjustable, so this neutral white screen with low gain and a very wide 80-degree half-gain angle is ideal for dark theater installations.
The Epson Home Cinema 5030UB
In 2D, the 5030UB's image is smooth and life-like. Highlights are bright, but not blown out, while shadow detail is excellent and overall dynamic range makes the image appear three-dimensional. Black level, which has long been the strong point of Epson's home theater projectors, is as deep as it has ever been once the projector's automatic iris is turned on. The Home Cinema 5030UB shares the color performance of its predecessors, with good color saturation and comprehensive color adjustment controls. The projector's factory configurations need a little bit of fine-tuning, but this isn't unusual in home theater projectors.
The 5030UB produces a bright, engaging 3D image that makes large-screen 3D display attainable. The projector has three dedicated 3D color modes that can be fine-tuned independently of their 2D counterparts. Bright, well-saturated colors and good shadow detail make 3D viewing a pleasant experience, even for this jaded reviewer.
If you still watch a lot of standard-definition content, technologies like Frame Interpolation and Super Resolution improve image quality and give new life to your DVD collection. And while no amount of image processing can turn SD into HD, the Home Cinema 5030UB can clean up standard-definition material enough to make it easier on your eyes, now that you're used to high definition.