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Review Contents
Editor's Choice
Performance
5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe Projector Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe
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2600 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$3,179 Street Price
$3,299 MSRP

Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe 4K PRO-UHD 3LCD Projector Review

Rob Sabin, May 24, 2019

EPSON HC 5050UBe PROs
+ Good color accuracy and contrast

+ High-end optics with wide lens shift

+ Integrated wireless HDMI

+ Excellent value

EPSON HC 5050UBe CONs
- Visible artifacts under some conditions from the (defeatable) auto iris

- 4K/30 Hz wireless HDMI limit restricts UHD streaming from Netflix, Amazon

OUR TAKE ON THE EPSON HC 5050UBe
Epson has released a worthy successor to the popular HC 5040UB that makes subtle improvements in already superb image quality while retaining extremely high value.




The new Epson Home Cinema 5050UB and Home Cinema 5050UBe 4K PRO-UHD aren't the most expensive home theater projectors in the company's line-up, but at the moment they are arguably the most advanced, and make the loudest statement about how the company views today's still-evolving home projector market. Even in this update to the popular HC 5040UB and 5040UBe, a refresh nearly three years in the making, Epson has continued to not merely eschew native 4K imagers but has doubled-down on its 1080p pixel-shifting technology, touting incremental improvements that attempt to bring apparent resolution ever closer to (if not exceeding) full 4K. As before, Epson has chosen to bypass the expense of all those extra pixels, focusing instead on refinements elsewhere and retaining better-than-expected optics, build quality, and other features while keeping cost affordable and the value quotient high. EpsonHC5050UB-front

Before moving on, some housekeeping. First, the same projector is available as the HC 5050UB, priced at $2,999, and as the HC 5050UBe, a step-up package that integrates wireless HDMI technology based on the well-regarded WirelessHD standard and sells for $3,299. It is otherwise exactly the same as the HC5050UB. Our sample was an HC5050UBe and included this wireless kit, which I'll say more about later. But I approached the review, from a price perspective, as though this model was the base HC 5050UB; that is, as a $2,999 projector competing on its own merits without the wireless accessory. I will refer to them together in most cases as the HC5050UB/UBe.

Another sister product, the Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB priced at $3,999, is available for sale within the custom integrator channel and is identical in most respects to the HC 5050UB except for a black instead of white casing and other subtle differences. It adds lockable ISF calibration modes for installers and an extra display setting for use with an anamorphic lens. The 6050UB also enjoys a slightly higher rated contrast ratio—1.2 million:1 vs 1 million:1 for the consumer models—the result of Epson cherry-picking the highest performing units off the production line and steering them to the commercial channel. A three-year limited warranty adds an extra year compared with the 5050UB and 5050UBe consumer models. Finally, the 6050UB is packaged with a ceiling mount, cable cover, and an extra replacement lamp, accounting for the bulk of the $1,000 price differential.

Epson Home Cinema 5050UB Features

Many of the features on the Epson HC 5050UB/UBe mimic both the HC 5040UB it replaces and the new generation Home Cinema 4010 step down model we reviewed late last year ($1,999). All three models are built on a large, rugged chassis of approximately 25 pounds, a chunk of that attributable to the same advanced (for this price range) motorized lens with 15-glass/16-total elements, a long 2.1x zoom, and unusually wide-range lens shift (+/-96% vertical, +/-47% horizontal). The projectors all share a three-chip LCD design using 1080p imagers and Epson's aforementioned pixel-shifting technology, though the two new models use an updated system that benefits from revised processing and faster shifting of the pixels to improve clarity. As usual, the three-chip architecture brings the benefit of both equal color and white brightness plus immunity from rainbow artifacts found in some single-chip projectors with color wheels. The projectors all offer a dynamic iris to assist contrast on dark scenes. All offer HDR content support and wide color gamut claimed to hit 100% of the DCI-P3 color space limits currently used to master most UHD content.

The differences? Most critically affecting the higher price in the HC 5050UB/UBe (and their 5040 predecessors) is inclusion of Epson's "UB" UltraBlack technology, which uses a series of proprietary polarizing filters in the light path to greatly reduce stray light, with a resulting notable improvement in native black level and contrast. Like the HC 5040UB, the HC 5050UB/UBe is rated for 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, versus the HC 4010's contrast rating of 200,000:1.

The HC 5050UB/UBe's 2,600 lumen brightness trumps the HC 4010's 2,400 lumens and the earlier HC 5040UB's 2,500 lumens. The extra 100 lumens squeezed out of the HC 5050UB/UBe over its predecessor is said to be the result of improvements in this year's lens and improvements to signal processing. In fact, this year's models, both the HC 5050UB/UBe and HC 4010, benefit from a new processor arrangement in which updated algorithms that control signal processing for the pixel-shifting, HDR rendering, and general digital imaging are shared across three chips operating in parallel. The efficiency and extra processing power is said to allow for improved performance across all three areas.

Although all the models are compatible with HDR10 high dynamic range content, only the new HC 5050UB/UBe also handles HLG. Another valuable change in the 5050UB/UBe is a new 16-step slider control for HDR brightness, easily accessible from a dedicated button on the remote, that allows a higher degree of fine-tuning of the tone-map for specific HDR programs than previously available with the 5040UB's 4-position HDR control. I'll say more about this later.

An important update to the HC 5050UB/UBe is a pair of full-bandwidth, 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0 ports. This allows the projector to take in 4K, HDR content at a 60 Hz frame rate with HDR, something of importance to gamers and a capability absent from the new HC 4010 and earlier 5040UB due to the limits of their HDMI 1.4a ports.

Here's the full run-down on the key features:

  • 3LCD design free from rainbow artifacts

  • 1920 x 1080p imaging chips with improved 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting for input signals up to 4096 x 2160

  • High quality 15-glass/16-total element lens designed for edge-to-edge focus uniformity and elimination of chromatic aberrations

  • Up to 10 saved lens and settings memory positions for Constant Height Image (CIH) installations on a CinemaScope 2.4:1 screen without need for an anamorphic lens, or for storing application-specific calibrations.

  • 2,600 lumens white brightness; 2,600 lumens color brightness

  • 1,000,000:1 rated contrast ratio with auto-iris to optimize dark scenes

  • Proprietary UltraBlack technology to lower black level and boost contrast

  • HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range playback

  • Wide color gamut support to 100% of DCI-P3 color space

  • Up to 12-bit color depth for both standard dynamic range and HDR content

  • 2.1x motorized zoom with long +/-96% vertical and +/-47% horizontal lens shift

  • Full-size backlit remote with direct access to inputs and key picture settings

  • Support for 1080p 3D

  • Optional WiFi dongle

  • Two HDMI 2.0 ports accommodate 4K/60 Hz with HDR (4:4:4 up to 8-bit, 4:2:2 up to 12-bit)

  • Wirless HDMI integration (version 1.4) for up to four sources (HC 5050UBe only)

  • USB power port for fiber optic HDMI cable

  • Integrated Control4 and AMX device detection

  • Lamp rated for 3,500-5,000 hours max, replacement costs $299

  • Limited 2-year warranty (including 90-day limited lamp warranty), PrivateLine priority customer support, free two-business-day replacement.

Next Page
Performance, Conclusion
Review Contents: Introduction, Features Performance, Conclusion Connections, Measurements

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Comments (20) Post a Comment
Walter Posted May 25, 2019 1:00 PM PST
Great review - thanks Rob. This machine will be high on my list for my next projector purchase.
Terry Mitchell Posted May 25, 2019 3:44 PM PST
Very good review. I'd love to see a direct comparison with the 6050UB, including screenshots, to see if the "cherry picked" 6050s do in fact have better sharpness and contrast than the 5050UB.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 25, 2019 4:05 PM PST
Thanks, Terry. I just got asked whether we'll do that by one of the guys over at AVS as well, but it's not likely we'll put any immediate resources into that. The only performance difference as you know is the rated contrast, 1 million:1 vs 1.2 million:1 on the 6050. So while it's not a totally insignificant difference (about 18% I think), I think it would only be visible in very dark and challenging content, and even then, I suspect it would be like splitting hairs. Nothing like stepping up from a 4010 to a 5050, for example. But if the opportunity arises, it would be worth the quick comparo.
Kevin Attwood Posted May 25, 2019 4:31 PM PST
Hi Rob, Thanks for the great review. Being in Australia, I believed the equivalent model here to the 5050UB is the EH-TW9400 with a EH-TW8400 variant coming out next month. The 9400 is rated at 1,200,000:1 contracts ratio and the 8400 is 1,000,000:1.

You are showing the 5050UB as 1,000,000:1 with the 6050 rated at 1,200,000:.

It looks to me that the EH-TW9400 may be a 6050 without the mounting bracket and spare globe etc. Are you are able to clarify the difference with the international models?
Jon Posted May 25, 2019 5:00 PM PST
Brightness for 5040ub in high/dynamic was 3527 as measured by David Stone. Is that due to a different measuring technique, or is the 5040ub really that much brighter than the 5050ub?
Mark Posted May 25, 2019 10:25 PM PST
I am curious what has caused the 5050UB to lose around 1000 lumens in the brighter modes compared to the 5040? That seems very significant to me despite how similar the projectors are on most other respects. Hard to believe Epson would cut brightness by so much (around a third) on an upgraded model.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 25, 2019 11:04 PM PST
Mark, I acknowledge that Epson's projectors have often achieved well over their spec, and I know at least one other review I know of on the 5050 cited higher numbers more in line with the 3,000+ we saw on the 5040. The 4010 beat its own 2,400 lumen spec by a wider margin when I measured it in my studio, closer to what this 5050 sample measured. I can say only two things: 1) I had a lot of hours on the lamp when I finally got around to doing the lumen measurements at the tail end of my eval period, certainly more than 200 -- enough to at least marginally affect lamp brightness; and 2)the projector made its spec. I'll probably make it a point to measure lumen output earlier in the process going forward while reviewing, but there is a reason this is rated for 2,600 lumens and not 3,000 lumens or 3,500 lumens. If every sample coming off the production line could be counted on to consistently hit those numbers, I guarantee it would be reflected in the specs.
David Rivera Posted May 27, 2019 5:10 PM PST
Excellent review Rob. Unfortunately, Epson's decision not to bring to market a true native 4k projector means that my own Epson 5040UB will have to do for the foreseeable future. I remain hopeful that Epson will see the proverbial light and bring to market a true Native 4k (not DLP pixel shift) within the next two years. Maybe even with a Laser light. Epson has a strong loyal customer base, but Sony and JVC will continue to nibble at the market share with their good to great native 4k Projectors.
Daniel Posted May 28, 2019 8:59 AM PST
Since you spoke to the projector's performance in terms of black level vs the X790, did you notice anything in terms of clarity and HDR performance? Is Epson's newest 4K enhancement better than E-shift? Does the 50/6050s HDR implementation work better than an X790 with MadVR providing the tone mapping? Are the lenses equally sharp? I could live with marginally worse black level performance if the other features perform as good or better than the X790.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 28, 2019 9:01 AM PST
Daniel, I don't have all the answers to these questions as my comparisons during my 5050 eval were more casual and focused on the black-level/contrast performance; I was just trying to ascertain where the 5050 sat in the pecking order in that area. There's no question that the JVC is in a step-up class, despite how well the Epson did against it. But the detailed X790/5050 comparison is definitely compelling and one I plan to do. The one thing I will say up front is that the 5050 generally feels more modern and refined in mechanical execution, menu presentation and navigation, remote control /ease of use. Beyond that, the 5050's tone-mapping looked very, very good, and the JVC is an aging projector at this point. But I'll need to spend more time before passing judgements on HDR performance and sharpness. Nor have I implemented MadVR with this projector to date.
Trip Posted May 29, 2019 3:25 AM PST
Doing a shootout vs the 6050 would be super interesting considering the fact that I am assuming Epson sent you the 5050 test model that you have, and it was likely cherry picked. How much better can the lens get if they cherry pick amongst the cherry picked? :)
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 29, 2019 6:32 AM PST
Trip, I can't be certain that Epson doesn't qualify some samples coming off the line as what are often called "champion" models to put aside for reviewers -- who's to even say that they don't take what has already been identified to become a 6050 and put that in a white case, add the wireless transmitter to make it a 5050UBe...

But the 6050/5050 comparison still strikes me as a waste of valuable reviewing resources, and there are other projectors we would like to directly compare with this model with as we're able. My view is that the 5050 and 6050 are both a great projector and value...some will opt for the 6050 because (1) they're buying through an installer and paying for those services as well; (2) they must have the anamorphic lens mode only available on that model. Without those drivers, even accounting for the mount and extra lamp you're paying for up front, you're still probably looking at about a $500-$600 premium for that extra bit of contrast... hard to justify, I think.
Austin Posted Jun 1, 2019 6:25 PM PST
You should do an article on HDR optimization. Getting this projector I've come to realize dynamic iris and ambient light make static settings rather moot for users like myself without a dedicated isolated viewing room. For ambient light my plan is to utilize an optimization tool to create a curve for settings and utilize a light sensor to set things automatically. For the iris though, I'm not really sure. I wonder if the auto iris would be best left off for HDR.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 3, 2019 6:30 AM PST
Interesting thoughts here Austin. Trying to view HDR with a projector in any kind of ambient light is a tough thing; you will basically wipe out the dark and mid tones while greatly diminishing the impact of the highlights. I did find that the auto iris was really only noticeable on overall dark content that would typically not look very good in ambient light.
Bevan Posted Jun 5, 2019 8:19 AM PST
Could you make some recommendations for 4K players and receivers that would be compatible with this model? Perhaps that's not an issue anymore, but I know the 5040 had major compatibility issues and you needed to buy specific players/receivers to work well with it.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 5, 2019 4:22 PM PST
Bevan, I wasn't aware of specific HDMI issues with the 5040. What I can tell you is that I used a Marantz SR7010 receiver with it with no problems, and a Sony UBP-X800 UHD BD player with no problems out of the ordinary -- it's a slow, quirky player to begin with. If I were to recommend any specific Blu-ray player right now for anyone, it's one of the two Panasonics: either the DP-UB820 for $499, or the DP-UB9000 for $999.
Grady Posted Jun 9, 2019 2:26 PM PST
Rob, great review and I'm curious if you have any idea of when you might be performing and publishing a comparison between the 5050 and the X790. I'm very interested in how the two projectors handle tone mapping natively within the projector. I've read quite a bit about using the two Panasonic players or MadVR to get the best for movies, but I'm curious how the projectors handle sources that don't provide as much flexibility, like from Netflix, Amazon, etc.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 9, 2019 2:45 PM PST
Grady, I understand the interest and hope to be able to attack this comparo soon. No specific time frame right now, I'm afraid.
Don Posted Jun 10, 2019 11:13 AM PST
If I don't have a light controlled living room, but use is usually at night how much of an improvement would the 5050 UB have over the 4010. Any reason to consider the 5040 UB for the iris as a step up from the 4010?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 10, 2019 11:40 AM PST
Don, The 4010 does have an iris, but it's Epson's UltraBlack "UB" technology that actually gives the 5040 and 5050 their great contrast/black level advantage. That's executed with a series of filters in the light path that reduces scatter. The difference in blacks in both the 5040 and 5050 from the 4010 and prior generation 4000 is distinct, however, it will really only be seen on challenging dark material in dark room settings. It's definitely possible you'll see it in a dark room at night on this challenging content, though much less likely with artificial ambient lighting.

The 5040 may still be available at closeout now, which is a great deal. However, the 5050 has some notable improvements with its high bandwidth HDMI ports and new HDR control, not to mention whatever additional tweaking Epson has done with its tone-mapping. Also, as we've discussed in comments in our 5040 review and subsequent shootouts, the 5040 did suffer some widespread reliability issues that I'm certain have been dealt with sufficiently in this new generation model--so that's another reason to consider the newer model.

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