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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 Home Cinema 5050UB/UBe Connections

Connection panel inputs are listed below. Both wired HDMI connections are HDMI 2.0b with 18 Gbps bandwidth, which can carry 3840 x 2160 signals at 60 Hz with HDR (4:4:4 up to 8-bit, 4:2:2 up to 12-bit).

The wireless HDMI transmitter provided with the 5050UBe and its companion receiver built into the projector are based on the WirelessHD (WiHD) 4K standard developed by Silicon Image and licensed through the WirelessHD Consortium. The transmitter accepts up to four switchable HDMI sources (three on the rear, one on the side), and a dedicated button on the remote calls up an on-screen menu that lets you select any of the four inputs.

Epson-4kWireless-Transmitter-800
Epson-4kWireless-Transmitter-connections-800

WirelessHD is a well-regarded in-room solution, and in my limited tests with UHD HDR Blu-rays played back at 24 Hz, the system never displayed any artifacts, dropouts or latency issues. However, potential buyers of the HC 5050UBe should know of a couple of significant limitations.

First, the reception pattern for the projector's internal HDMI receiver is strictly in front of it. If your source components or A/V receiver are at the rear of your room or anywhere behind the projector, as might easily happen with a ceiling mounted unit, placing the transmitter in that location will result in no signal lock. Even moving the transmitter just two or three feet behind the projector broke the connection in my tests. I gather that purchasing the base HC 5050UB and a standalone WirelessHD kit, such as the DVDO Air 4K, could provide the flexibility in receiver and transmitter location and orientation to get around this issue—but at the sacrifice of the on-screen integration and input changing allowed with the 5050UBe kit.

More critical for many is that the WiHD 4K technology's inherent bandwidth limitations and HDMI 1.4a connections restrict it to sending and receiving 4K/30 Hz signals. This currently prevents the streaming of HDR/wide gamut content, or in some cases even UHD resolution, from the major streaming services. This is no fault of Epson's; it is wrought from the combination of the WiHD system's inherent bandwidth and how the individual streaming services currently handle signal delivery when they see a device on the receiving end that won't accept UHD/60Hz HDR signals. This varies by service, with some (like VUDU) allowing the passage of 4K resolution without HDR or wide gamut, while others (Netflix and Amazon) automatically downscale the stream to 1080p. You can read more about both the performance of the WirelessHD system and our tests with the streaming services in our review of the DVDO 4K Air system based on the same technology.

Epson-hc5050ub-connections

  • (2) HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2
  • (4) Wireless HDMI 1.4a, HDCP 2.2 (available only on HC 5050UBe)
  • (1) USB Type A (for optical HDMI cable 300 mA max. power supply only)
  • (1) USB (for wireless and firmware)
  • (1) Mini USB (service only)
  • (1) LAN (RJ-45)
  • (1) Computer/D-sub 15 pin
  • (1) RS-232c (D-sub 9-pin)
  • (1) Trigger out (3.5 mm mini-jack) 12 V DC, 200 mA maximum

Brightness. Lumen measurements for every color mode were taken with the lamp power mode set to High and with the lens at the widest zoom position. However, the factory defaults for lamp power vary based on mode, with Dynamic at High, Cinema at the lowest ECO setting, and all other non-3D modes at Medium. Users therefore have some flexibility in tuning brightness to their individual needs. The projector is also equipped with a manual fixed iris for setting baseline brightness in any mode or power setting. Compared with the High power setting, I measured about a 22% drop in brightness to the Medium power setting, and just over a 27% drop in the ECO setting (this should hold for any color mode).

The Dynamic mode provided just over the rated 2,600 lumen (ISO 21118) specification but has an obvious green bias. All other modes delivered more balanced color but produced considerably less output, especially Cinema and Digital Cinema, which engage the projector's DCI-P3 color filter.

The Natural and Bright Cinema modes measured nearly identically at just short of 2,000 lumens and provided the best color for ambient light viewing. However, Natural with my calibrated settings for dark room SDR viewing (Eco power mode, manual iris turned down to -11 from its default 0 setting) delivered only about 500 lumens on peak white—a surprisingly low number given the measured 21 ft-L reflected off my 92-inch, 1.3 gain screen. The Digital Cinema mode, optimized for dark room viewing of HDR in its default Medium power mode, delivered 680 lumens—good for about 30 ft-L off my screen prior to any tuning of the HDR brightness control to customize the image for specific content. Of course, the projector had extra horsepower in either of those modes to accommodate a larger screen or high ambient light.

Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe ANSI Lumens

MODE High Medium ECO
Dynamic 2635 2061 1916
Bright Cinema 1972 1542 1435
Natural 1979 1547 1438
Cinema 1016 795 739
B&W Cinema 1749 1368 1272
Digital Cinema 1058 828 770

Zoom Lens Light Loss. Going from the widest to the full telephoto setting on the 2.1x zoom lens resulted in a little more than 28% loss of light in any given color mode. However, most setups are not likely to require full telephoto capacity, which would allow placement of the projector as far away as 20.5 feet for a 100-inch image. (You can check our Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe calculator to determine throw distance range for you specific screen size.)

Brightness Uniformity. With the zoom at its widest position, brightness uniformity was 84.2%. This dropped to 78.8% at the longest zoom. Both numbers are acceptable results. Measurements revealed that the brightness dropped off slightly in the bottom-right quadrant of an otherwise uniform image, but the difference was so gradual as to not be visible on either a 100% white test pattern or in any real content.

Fan Noise. Epson rates fan noise as a range from 20 decibels in ECO power setting to a max of 31 dB in High Power setting. Both the intake and exhaust vents are on the front of the projector. From a 5 foot distance below and in front of the projector (approximately simulating an 8-foot ceiling mount above and somewhat behind the viewer), Mid and ECO fan noise were barely audible in a quiet room and not perceptible over typical soundtracks. The High setting raised the volume and also the pitch, making it harder to mask and obvious in quiet moments. The High Altitude mode, which Epson recommends above 5,000 feet elevation, adds perhaps 2 to 3 dB to any given setting. If it's required along with the High Power mode, consider options for mounting the projector further away from viewers or isolating it.

Lamp Life. The supplied 250w UHE lamp is rated for up to 3,500 hours in High power, 4,000 hours in Mid, and 5,000 hrs in ECO. A replacement lamp (model ELPLP89) costs $300.

Input Lag. The best results for input lag with 2160p/60 signals, as measured with a Bodnar 4K lag meter, was a fairly low 22.5 milliseconds in Dynamic mode. Results were about the same (around 23.5 ms) in the Natural, Bright Cinema, and B&W Cinema modes, and got as high as 28.5 milliseconds in the Cinema and Digital Cinema modes. With 1080p/60 signals, as measured on a Bodnar 1080p lag meter, all color modes measured between 28 and 29 ms. Though these results are still a ways off from the 16 ms or even quicker lag times found on some of the fastest projectors, they are still very good—particularly at the low end of the range—and should be suitable for all but the most serious gamers.

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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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