Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe 4K PRO-UHD 3LCD Projector Review
+ High-end optics with wide lens shift
+ Integrated wireless HDMI
+ Excellent value
- 4K/30 Hz wireless HDMI limit restricts UHD streaming from Netflix, Amazon
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.
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.
|Review Contents:||Introduction, Features||Performance, Conclusion||Connections, Measurements|
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