Epson Home Cinema 4010
The Epson Home Cinema 4010 (along with its commercial-line twin, the Epson Home Cinema 4050) is Epson's first new projector of the 2018-2019 model year. Since its recent introduction, the HC 4010 has gotten a positive review from ProjectorCentral (where it was awarded our Editor's Choice designation) and also received good notices from other enthusiast websites. It currently sells for $1,999.
The popular Optoma UHD51A shares relatively similar specifications and, at this writing, a lower $1,699 street price. The Optoma UHD51ALV, a near-twin sister model that performed similarly to the UHD51A in our recent face-off while offering additional brightness for ambient light viewing, sells for $1,799. Both offer savings over the Epson HC 4010. So what are the real feature and performance differences between the HC 4010 and UHD51A?
What Are the Differences Between the Epson HC 4010
and Optoma UHD51A?
Below are key specifications from both projectors:
Imaging Technology. The most obvious difference between these projectors is the type and native resolution of their imaging technology. Epson uses 1080p-resolution LCD imagers assisted by its latest 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting to approximate a full 4K image. This is a two-phase shifting process that delivers to the screen twice the number of pixels per frame that an unassisted 1080p chip could present—about 4.15 million in total. The Optoma UHD51A uses Texas Instrument's 0.47-inch 4K-resolution DLP chipset, which also relies on pixel-shifting from a native 1080p imager. However, a rapid four-phase shifting process of the DLP micromirror device allows it to deliver to the screen all of the pixels in a 3840x2160 UHD signal—some 8.3 million. Still, as we've said many times before, the stark math here belies the relatively inconsequential difference in on-screen detail with most content between the late-generation 1080p pixel-shifters from Epson and JVC and competitive full 4K-resolution projectors. Other factors, such as lens quality, video processing, and a projector's inherent contrast also play a role in perceived resolution.
Another difference here is that Epson's 3LCD technology uses separate imagers for the red, green, and blue primaries, and does not require the color wheel used by most single-chip DLP projectors. The HC 4010 is therefore immune to the rainbow artifacts that can affect DLP models. Nonetheless, our review of the Optoma UHD51A revealed that, like most Optoma DLP projectors we've tested lately, it suffers less from this anomaly than others. For most viewers, this shouldn't be a factor.
Finally, a characteristic of the 0.47-inch DLP chip used in this Optoma and many other projectors is the existence of a very subtle gray border surrounding the image. It is approximately 5% of the image width (I measured about 4 inches around a 100-inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect image) and is completely hidden by the black light-absorbing frame around most projection screens. If you're projecting on a wall or a retractable screen with modest borders, it might be detectable on the surrounding surfaces if you look for it, but this also shouldn't be a concern in most viewing conditions.
Lens Features. Key differentiators among projectors are the optics quality and features of the lens, which can be major contributors to image clarity and ease of set-up. Epson takes the cost savings afforded by using 1080p imagers to provide a variety of features not usually found in a $1,999 projector, including a high quality, 15-element glass lens that was designed for more expensive models.
Along with better optics than typically found at this price point, the motorized features on this lens and its zoom characteristics offer significant set-up advantages. The HC4010's 2.1x optical zoom affords a broader range of throw distances for a given screen size than the UHD51A's 1.3x optical zoom. Additionally, the HC4010 offers unusually wide-range +/-96% vertical and +/- 47% horizontal lens shift versus the UHD51A's 15% vertical shift. The Epson also features +/-30% vertical keystone correction (though it's always best to avoid its use to retain image quality).
Critically, the motorized lens functions in the HC 4010 (focus, zoom, lens shift) assist in initial setup, but also allow lens memory setings—desirable for those considering a wide, 2.4:1 screen. This feature allows the projector to re-zoom and re-position the image with a couple of button pushes in order to retain constant image height (CIH) with either 16:9 broadcast or theatrical movie content. You can view ProjectorCentral's throw distance calculators for the Optoma UHD51A and the Epson HC 4010 to establish placement options for your screen size.
Connectivity and Ergonomics. The UHD51A offers a key advantage with its two full-bandwidth, 18 Gbps, HDMI 2.0 input ports. This allows the projector to play back 4K HDR content at 60 frames-per-second, an important capability for some gamers. The HC 4010's HDMI 1.4 ports top out at 10.2 Gbps and can only play 4K/60 Hz in standard dynamic range (SDR) or 4K/24 Hz with HDR (the latter being fine for most movies). Additionally, the Optoma UHD51A has an integrated USB media player that can handle 4K content from a flash drive, a potentially helpful feature lacking in the HC 4010.
From an operational standpoint, the HC 4010 has a full-size, back-lit remote that provides direct access to many features and adjustments. The UHD51A's compact remote, although intuitive in use and also conveniently backlit, may be cumbersome for large hands and has a thin form factor that seeks shelter in the crevices of your couch. On the other hand, your need to reach for the remote may be curtailed by the UHD51A's unusual ability to be controlled by Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands (provided you have a mic-enabled smart speaker like an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini nearby). Along with power on/off and input selections, you can also control transport functions on an Alexa- or Google-compatible streaming media player.
Although part of what you pay extra for with the Epson HC 4010 is substantial build quality on a large, 24-pound chassis—better than what's usually found at this price—the UHD51A's more compact case and lighter weight may allow for an easier and less obtrusive install, and provides the option of portability. To that end, the Optoma UHD51A's built-in audio system (a stereo pair of 5-watt speakers)—another feature found only on the Optoma—may come in handy.
3D playback. Both projectors support playback of 1080p 3D content, something of a rarity among under-$2K UHD projectors.
|Review Contents:||Overview, Specs and Features||Picture Quality||Performance and Conclusion|
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