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Epson Home Cinema 4010
vs.
Optoma UHD51A

Rob Sabin, December 11, 2018
Review Contents

Epson HC 4010 vs. Optoma UHD51A: Performance


Brightness. Both projectors share the same 2,400 lumen spec for maximum output in their brightest mode. Our standardized ANSI measurements revealed that the UHD51A topped out at 1,690 lumens in Bright color mode while the Epson hit 2,621 lumens in its Dynamic mode. Both of these presets have a noticeable green bias typical of the highest output mode of any projector, though the Epson's Dynamic mode is more usable if you need that kind of output for ambient light conditions, and its Bright Cinema mode, which has much better out-of-box color fidelity, will net you about the same output as the Bright mode on the Optoma. The HC 4010's Natural and Bright Cinema modes are also color-accurate choices for ambient light viewing, while the Digital Cinema or Cinema modes are well-tuned for dark theaters. The Epson has three lamp power settings for most presets against the Optoma's two, allowing additional options for optimizing lamp life and fan noise.

The UHD51A's Cinema mode, with 1,153 lumens in the Bright power setting or 769 lumens in Eco, is the preferred mode for watching movies and offers good color with modest tweaking. For high ambient light conditions, the Optoma UHD51ALV mentioned earlier is a better choice, as it offers up to 1,756 measured lumens in its Cinema mode, about equal to the HC 4010's Bright Cinema and Natural modes.

Following are our measurements for both projectors.

Epson Home Cinema 4010 ANSI Lumens

MODE High Medium ECO
Dynamic 2621 2088 1703
Bright Cinema 1704 1356 1108
Natural 1787 1422 1162
Cinema 904 723 588
B&W Cinema 1539 1225 1000
Digital Cinema 928 742 603

Optoma UHD51A ANSI Lumens

MODE
BRIGHT
ECO
Bright
1690
1127
Cinema
1153
769
HDR Sim
996
664
Game
1044
696
Reference
754
503

Zoom Lens Light Loss. Going from the widest to the full telephoto setting on the Epson's long 2.1x zoom lens results in a 26% loss of light in any given color mode. The Optoma's 1.3x zoom only drops brightness 12%, which is negligible in selecting throw distance. However, the Epson's considerably wider zoom range means you are less likely to use its full telephoto setting and suffer the full 26% loss. For example, our ProjectorCentral throw distance calculator suggests that if both of these projectors provide suitable throw distance for your 120-inch screen installation, you'll be using the Epson's zoom near its closest position and can calculate less light loss.

Color Brightness. The UHD51A performed well on color brightness measurements, with color output exceeding 85% of white output in the most desirable color modes. The HC 4010, as a 3LCD projector, by default emits equal color and white brightness.

Brightness Uniformity. Per our standalone product reviews, we measured 81% brightness uniformity for the HC 4010's lens at either end of its zoom range and a range of 63% to 68% for the UHD51A's lens. The former is very good for this price range; the latter is a little low. Light shift on the Epson was undetectable on the screen with either a 100% white test pattern or program material. Light shift on the Optoma was dectectable as minor fading on the left and rightmost 5% to 10% of the image when viewing a 100% white test pattern, although it was not obvious with program material. In direct comparisons with the Epson on real content, I never noticed any issues.

Frame Interpolation. The HC4010 provides three settings for frame interpolation (Off, Normal, and High) and the feature can only be activated for 1080p/24Hz input signals. The High setting is effective for smoothing judder and improving motion resolution at the expense of introducing the "soap opera" video effect to movie-based content; the Low setting reduces the video effect to near negligible levels but is less effective at smoothing motion and could introduce occasional choppiness to camera pans.

The UHD51A provides four settings for motion compensation (Off, High, Middle, Low) and, critically, will work with 4K signals and the 1080p/60Hz signals coming off most cable set-top boxes, where this feature is desirable for live sports events. However, Optoma's application, even in High mode, is modest, and imparts only minor digital video effect while sacrificing some degree of motion smoothing compared with the high settings on most other projectors.

3D Video.With no DLP-Link glasses on hand for the Optoma I was unable to do a direct comparison with the Epson this time around. In our earlier tests both projectors performed well with 3D content. My colleague David Stone described "a highly watchable picture" before any adjustments on the UHD51A, with less drop-off in brightness from 2D to 3D than he's typically seen and no crosstalk artifacts. My own experience with the HC 4010 was good, with excellent punch in the image when the highest lamp mode is selected and a few tweaks made to contrast and brightness. I experienced just a modicum of crosstalk interference on some challenging scenes.

Rainbow Artifacts. As discussed, the 3-chip projectors like the Epson suffer no rainbow artifacts, and David saw few during his testing of the Optoma. I'm not particularly sensitive to seeing rainbows (some viewers are), and didn't actually see any in my many hours with the UHD51A beyond a few spotted against white-on-black credits or menu characters.

Input Lag. The Epson's measured input lag was 28 ms, less than half the Optoma's 68 seconds (with FI turned off). Neither is close to the 16 ms lag time delivered by the fastest gaming projectors, but both are acceptable for casual gamers.

Fan Noise. Fan noise is not objectionable for either projector except when using High power mode combined with High Altitude mode. Both are barely perceptible in a quiet room on Eco (or the Mid mode for the Epson) from a 5 foot distance, and won't be a noticeable over most soundtracks.

Onboard Audio. As noted, the Epson HC4010 has no onboard audio and isn't well suited to portability due to its size and weight. The Optoma's built-in stereo speakers will provide sound in a pinch and is better than what's found in most projectors, but using the UHD51A's audio output to feed a standalone powered speaker (for example, a decent Bluetooth speaker with an analog input) is a better choice even for temporary installations.

Conclusion

Here are some key takeaways from our comparison of the Epson Home Cinema 4010 and Optoma UHD51A:

  • The native 4K Optoma delivered slightly more on-screen detail with 1080p signals than the 1080p pixel-shifting Epson, though the projectors were more evenly matched in this regard—if not largely indistinguishable—with 4K content. Bottom line: both looked very sharp, and the Epson did not display any meaningful sacrifice of on-screen clarity against the UHD51A despite the absence of full 4K imagers.

  • Although both projectors offer excellent picture quality in their preferred viewing modes and can be calibrated to perform nearly identically in terms of color and contrast with 1080p signals, there are noticeable differences in their tone-mapping of 4K HDR, where the Optoma is tuned to roll off intense highlights to display more detail and the Epson is tuned (in its brightest HDR settings) to hit brighter peak highlights at the expense of detail. The Epson also delivers better contrast overall with HDR content.

  • While the Epson provides more substantial build quality, and other high end features such as a powered lens with wide zoom, the Optoma offers many other desirable attributes not found on the Epson, including Alexa/Google voice control, an integrated 4K media player, a built-in audio system, and a more portable form factor, all of which lend it to applications for which the Epson may not be suited. Additionally, it provides high-bandwidth HDMI ports that support 4K/60 HDR game content, and its frame interpolation feature is more valuable than the Epson's because it works with a wider range of signal types.

There's a $300 price differential today between the Optoma UHD51A ($1,699) and Epson Home Cinema 4010 ($1,999). That's about an 18% premium. If both of these are on your short list, your decision will likely come down to your installation needs, your intended usage, and your budget.

To begin, the Optoma's more limited zoom and vertical shift may automatically disqualify it in some rooms that the Epson's wide zoom and extensive lens shift capabilities would accommodate. On another note, if you want the ability to temporarily transport the projector for outdoor or vacation home movie nights, or to use it in business presentations, the Optoma would be the more obvious choice. And if budget is a concern, the $300 savings on the Optoma may come into play.

Ultimately, though, these are two surprisingly high-performing projectors that looked better than their price tags imply, and you'll likely be impressed with the image on either one. Both are superb values in the under-$2,000 4K price class.

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Picture Quality
Review Contents: Overview, Specs and Features Picture Quality Performance and Conclusion

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Buy the Optoma UHD51ALV online here:




Reader Comments(4 comments)

Posted Dec 18, 2018 11:40 AM PST

By Kurt

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Nice article. FYI For about the last month the Optoma has been below $1500, at times below $1350 on Amazon. Very close to pulling the trigger on one to replace my 5 year old (but going strong) Optoma HD131Xe.

Posted Dec 20, 2018 12:08 AM PST

By Manfred Wise

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I had considered this Optoma, and the BenQ's as they're nice for the money. Rainbows, lag and installation versatility were key for me in my main projector. I move every 2/4yrs. The HDMI 1.4 is the only major down side to the 4010. Fortunately I have a workaround and HDR isn't that important to me as I find it very artificial. I do have an ultra-portable DLP LED projector that I love for on the go. I would like to see Optoma put out a model without the speakers or Alexa support and put that into other features. My previous Optoma was creaky. They could definitely improve the structure of the projector.

Posted Feb 12, 2019 1:03 PM PST

By neil

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
We are currently building our home theater. We do not want it as a separate room, and plan to do some "lights on" watching for sporting events. My friend has the Sony 295, but, while the 4k picture is great, it seems so dark compared to my older epson. We are considering the Epson 4010, Optoma UHD51ALV, Optomo UHZ65, and have a max budget of 5k. I have read speculation that Epson may introduce the 5050 shortly, but, aside from that, would love to hear your thoughts regarding the best all-around projector that can handle some "lights on" viewing.

Posted Feb 17, 2019 10:20 AM PST

By Rob Sabin, Editor

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Neil, bottom line is that this is very much a light-output issue. The 295 is rated at 1,500 lumens. The 4010 met and went slightly beyond its much brighter published 2400 lumen spec in its brightest viewing modes, which also included some accurate-color options. That is a very big difference. Aside from this, the only comparisons I can draw are what's published in this review. Note that the UHD51ALV performs essentially the same as the 51A I looked at, but is brighter due to its different color wheel. We did a separate review on that which included a comparison with the 51A.

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