Editor's Choice Award
Our Editor's Choice award goes to products that dramatically exceed expectations for performance, value, or cutting-edge design.
The Epson Home Cinema 4010 is the latest in Epson's line of 4K-compliant projectors that rely on pixel-shifting technology with native 1080p LCD imagers to deliver "4K Enhanced" resolution. Over time, Epson has progressively closed any visible gap between its pixel-shifted 1080p and other manufacturer's 4K-resolution projectors, and the 4010 is significant in its introduction of 4K PRO-UHD, a group of advancements that includes a new algorithm said to deliver on-screen results that equal or even exceed projectors rated at 4K (some of which also rely on pixel-shifting). We can't argue with this claim, as the resolution and detail observed from the 4010, aided by its 15-element glass lens, is tremendously sharp and dimensional, and suffers no observable smearing or other artifacts to call attention to the pixel-shifting or suggest the projector isn't full 4K.
The 4010 offers some key improvements from its predecessor, the Epson Home Cinema 4000. It is rated at 2,400 lumens for both white and color brightness versus the 4000's 2,200 lumens. The 4010's dynamic contrast has also been bumped to 200,000:1 vs. the 4000's rated 140,000:1—still well short of the claim of 1,000,000:1 in the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB step-up model, but enough for a noticeable improvement in black level and shadow detail with dark content. Beyond this, Epson says it has worked on its tone-mapping algorithm for improved rendering of HDR content (with processing for up to 10-bit color depth). Other key benefits from the 4000 are carried over, including the aforementioned lens, a dynamic iris to boost contrast and deepen blacks on dark scenes, support for 1080p 3D Blu-rays; a Digital Cinema mode that delivers 100% of the expanded DCI-P3 color space; a 2.1x zoom with motorized focus, zoom, and lens shift; and up to 10 lens memory positions.
Furthermore, the Home Cinema 4010's $1,999 list price comes in $200 less than the original introductory price on the HC4000, and its $1,799 street price (as of late October 2018) brings the 4010 closer to less-featured, full-4K budget projectors using the latest DLP imaging chips. This gives buyers a more clearly defined choice between full-4K resolution and a 1080p pixel-shifter offering more traditional premium features not often found under $1800, including robust build quality on a heavier and more substantial chassis than its competitors; a high-quality, wide-zoom, motorized lens with lens memory; and a dynamic iris.
Readers should note that the Epson Pro Cinema 4050, introduced just prior to the 4010, is the same projector housed in a black case instead of white, packaged for the commercial integrator market with a mount, extra lamp, and more generous warranty. All findings in this review apply equally to that model.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Features/Advantages
- 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-element glass lens designed for even light throughput and elimination of chromatic aberrations
- Up to 10 saved lens memory positions for Constant Height Image (CIH) installations on a CinemaScope 2.4:1 screen without need for an anamorphic lens.
- 2,400 lumens white brightness; 2,400 lumens color brightness
- 200,000:1 rated contrast ratio with auto-iris to optimize dark scenes
- HDR10 high dynamic range playback
- Wide color gamut support to 100% of DCI-P3 color space
- Up to 12-bit color depth for standard dynamic range content; 10-bit for HDR
- 2.1x motorized zoom with long +/-96% vertical and +/-47% horizontal lens shift
- Support for 1080p 3D
- Optional WiFi dongle
- USB power port for fiber optic HDMI cable
- Lamp rated for 3,500-5,000 hours max
- 2-year limited warranty
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Limitations
- No support for 4K/60 Hz HDR. HDMI version 1.4 ports with 10.2 Gbps bandwidth (one with 4K-compliant HDCP 2.2 copyright management) limit the projector's playback to a maximum of 4K/24 Hz signals with 10-bit, 4:2:2 color processing for HDR, or 4K/60 Hz with up to 12-bit, 4:4:4 color processing for SDR.
- Measured input lag of 28.4 ms may be inadequate for some gamers.
- Frame Interpolation motion enhancement only available for 1080p/24 signals.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Picture Quality
Color Balance. Among the color modes, Dynamic has the obvious green tint common among projectors in their brightest setting, and B&W Cinema leans noticeably warm to affect a dated look with black & white content. All of the other modes on default settings measured acceptably (if surprisingly) close to the industry standard D65 color temperature for white balance, tracked reasonably well across the grayscale, and had RBG color points well within range. There are RGB gain and bias adjustments for grayscale and a color management system for RGBCMY color points for those with instrumentation who wish to tweak further.
Natural mode was alone in providing a dead-on D65 white point and its associated neutral-gray tone, but it was uncomfortably bright for a dark-room setup with a 100' diagonal, 1.3-gain screen. The Cinema and Digital Cinema modes were the least bright and showed a very slightly red bias that's not uncommon with movie modes, but one click up on the Color Temperature setting (to 6 from the default 5) pushed these to a more neutral/slightly cool tone. Either the Natural or Bright Cinema modes should serve well for moderately high ambient light environments.
Digital Cinema is the only setting that enables full DCI-P3 wide color gamut and proved suitable for both standard dynamic range 1080p as well as UHD Blu-rays that make use of the wider gamut and HDR. Reference clips of outdoor settings with grass, sky, and foliage looked stunningly natural, and the projector easily delineated different skin tones with no hint of red oversaturation. The Skin Tone adjustment, which tunes the default more toward either green or red, was never needed.
The 4010 processes 4K/SDR content with up to 12-bit color depth and 4K/HDR content with up to 10-bit depth. Banding artifacts were almost wholly absent from a 10-foot viewing distance for the duration of our audition. The only exceptions were a few difficult scenes, such as earth/space transitions seen in sci-fi movies and the animated Planet Earth opening trailer, and only when the projector was presented with 8-bit signals from a Blu-ray player. Even then, the banding was subtle and might not have captured attention without the viewer looking for it.
Detail/4K Enhancement. Epson's 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting vastly sharpened 1080p content to where turning it off imparted obvious softness to the image. With pixel-shifting turned on, there are five graduated Image Enhancement settings, with Preset 2 as the default. On most movie content, the high settings Preset 5 and Preset 4 noticeably increased detail and improved the contrast and three-dimensionality of objects without creating any obviously artificial ringing artifacts, though already-sharp video-based material or movies with coarse film grain required a lower setting to avoid looking pasty and unnatural. With native 4K/UHD content, the differences between the lower and higher settings was less obvious, but the maximum Preset 5 setting typically delivered best results. Details in extreme tight close-ups—Scarlett Johansson's eye lashes and skin wrinkles in Lucy or Tom Cruise's stubble and skin pores in Oblivion—were absolutely razor sharp and free of artifacts.
Contrast/Black Level. There are three settings for the auto iris including Off, Normal, and Fast. The Fast setting occasionally engendered visible light pumping on severe scene transitions or during rapidly edited sequences as the projector's logic struggled to settle on an appropriate aperture. These issues disappeared with the same content on the Normal setting.
The value of the iris was clearly visible on challenging, dark scenes with low overall average picture level punctuated by brighter highlights. There was a modest but noticeable improvement in deep black level and the rendering of shadow detail that naturally put the highlights into greater focus and relief against the darkness. The same scenes without the iris appeared more washed out and dull in A/B comparisons.
Though the 4000's overall contrast and black level is highly satisfying and never takes the viewer out of the scene with apparent deficiencies, direct comparisons with the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB step-up model, with rated contrast five times higher than the 4010's, did reveal the limit of its black floor. Still, it fared surprisingly well against a projector that carries a $500 premium. Our shoot-out report will be issued separately.
HDR. The 4010 recognizes only HDR10 high dynamic range content, the most common form and the one found on all UHD Blu-ray discs—there is no support for the emerging HLG standard expected to take hold for streaming and broadcast, though this remains a rare feature among projectors. The four HDR Modes each progressively darken the image. While in any given color mode, the projector can be set so that it automatically selects its brightest HDR Mode 1 (use the Auto Bright option), or HDR Mode 2 (Auto), when it sees an HDR flag in 4K content. This allows seamless switching between 1080p SDR and UHD HDR content, but not dedicated image settings for each type. However, the projector's 10 user memories (separate from its lens position memories) do allow storage and recall of separate settings within the same color mode and the ability to name them (SDR and HDR, for example). You can also save different calibrations in separate color modes for SDR and HDR, and recall them either with the remote's Memory or Color Mode buttons.
While using the Digital Cinema color mode, HDR Mode 1 was preferred for most viewing. It delivered the most dramatic/punchy highlights at minimal sacrifice of the black floor, though it sometimes clipped intense highlights (such as a setting sun) resulting in some loss of surrounding detail compared with the other HDR modes. This was a reasonable sacrifice for more brightness. For HDR viewing, Epson recommends the full-on Preset 5 for Image Enhancement and bumping color saturation to 55 from its default 50, which worked well for most content. Note that it's also possible to select any HDR mode while playing 1080p SDR programs, but with washed out, undesirable results.
The HDR experience on front projectors varies program to program based on uneven mastering practices among UHD movies, and is most effective in the dark. It doesn't jump out quite the same way as HDR on a flatpanel TV. Still, with HDR showcase titles viewed on the 4010 (Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, Mission Impossible 3: Ghost Protocol, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Oblivion), there was obvious extra brightness to fire, suns, spotlights, and other bright highlights against dark backgrounds that made them more visceral compared with the same content in 1080p SDR. Colors were also more saturated generally, and reds in particular more natural with some discs as a result of the wide color gamut. As usual, some individual tweaking of contrast, brightness, and color saturation may be required for the best image with each HDR program.
Motion Processing. Frame Interpolation is available only for 1080p/24 input signals, either with or without 4K Enhancement. Unfortunately, this means there is no motion processing for sports coming off a set-top box that outputs video at 60 Hz (where it might be most helpful), and it limits this feature primarily to movie content, where many viewers will choose to keep it turned off anyway to avoid imparting the so-called soap opera video effect. Nonetheless, on its Normal and High settings Frame Interpolation effectively reduced or fully removed judder from camera pans and improved resolution on moving objects. The Low setting imparted only modest video effect, but was less effective at smoothing motion and could introduce additional choppiness to the judder of some pans, making them more obvious.
3D Video. The HC 4010 automatically recognizes 3D signals and defaults to either 3D Cinema or 3D Dynamic, whichever was last used. 3D Dynamic, with its lamp power bumped from the default Mid to High and with tweaks to contrast and brightness, provided the most satisfyingly bright 3D experience on a 100", 1.3 gain screen.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Performance
Brightness. In Dynamic color mode, with the zoom at its widest setting, contrast at its maximum, and the default lamp power mode High, the 4010 measured 2621 lumens, about 10% greater than its rated brightness. Selecting the Medium power setting reduces brightness across all modes by approximately 20%, and selecting the ECO setting reduces power by approximately 35%.
Lumen measurements for every color mode were taken with the lamp power mode set to High. However, the factory default settings for lamp power vary from one color mode to the next. Bright Cinema and Digital Cinema for example, are set to Medium power by default, and Cinema to ECO. You therefore have the option of adjusting light output up or down for some color profiles by altering the Power setting.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 ANSI Lumens
Video Optimized Lumens. The Digital Cinema mode, with its Color Temp moved to setting 6 from the default 5 (more toward blue) was preferred for dark-room viewing on a 100", 1.3 gain screen. With larger screens, or with moderate ambient light, the Bright Cinema or Natural modes should work sufficiently for most set-ups while retaining good color accuracy.
Presentation Optimized Lumens. The Natural and Bright Cinema modes were both effective for presentation of still graphics and should provide enough output with moderate ambient light without turning to the green-tinted Dynamic mode. The sharpness of letters and numbers was greatly aided by turning up the Image Enhancement to its maximum Preset 5.
Zoom Lens Light Loss. Going from the widest to the full telephoto setting on the 2.1x zoom lens results in a 26% loss of light in any given color mode. But given the long zoom, 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 in a dark room.
Brightness Uniformity. With the zoom at either end of its range, brightness uniformity was 80.9%, a solid result. Light measurements revealed that the brightness on the right side of the image dropped off slightly from the left and middle in our sample, but the shift was so small and so gradual as to be impossible to detect with a 100% white test pattern, and totally invisible with real content on the screen.
Lens Focus. The 4010's 15-element glass lens provided exceptional edge-to-edge sharpness, and the powered focus offered precise control of adjustment. The lens is protected when not in use by a motorized dust cover—another nice feature at this $1,799 price point.
Input Lag. Epson says the best response time is achieved with 1080p/60 Hz sources (independent of color mode) and the following settings: Image Processing Fast; Super Resolution, Noise Reduction, Frame Interpolation, and Keystone Correction all Off; and Aspect Ratio Normal. With a 1080p signal, we measured input lag at 28.4 ms with either the Fast or Fine settings for processing. The results were the same whether 4K Enhancement was turned on or off.
Fan Noise. Epson rates fan noise at 31 decibels in High Power setting and 20 dB in ECO. 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 costs $300. If you watch a lot of HDR or are running the projector near peak brightness for an ambient light setup, consider earlier replacement.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Setup
The 4010's 2.1x zoom and broad vertical and horizontal lens shift adjustments (+/- 96% vertical, +/- 47% horizontal) provide exceptional placement flexibility for either a shelf or ceiling mount, and the precision powered adjustments for focus, zoom, and lens shift further simplify setup. These facilities, along with 10 lens position memories (suitable for maintaining a constant height image with 2.4:1 'Scope screens without an anamorphic lens), are unusual perks for an $1,799 budget projector.
For a 120" screen, the zoom allows throw distances between 11'9" and 24'8". For a 100" screen the range is 9'10" to 20'8". Epson specs the range of image size as 50" to 300". You can check the Epson Home Cinema 4010 Projection Calculator for the throw range for your screen size and estimated light output.
Epson Home Cinema 4010 Connections
Connection panel inputs are listed below. Of the two HDMI inputs, both are version HDMI 1.4 with 10.2 Gbps bandwidth, and one has the HDCP 2.2 copyright management required for protected UHD content. The 4010's processing tops out with 4K/60 signals with SDR, 4:4:4 chroma subsampling, and up to 12-bit color depth; or 4K/24 Hz signals with HDR at 4:2:2 at up to 10-bit depth. Additionally, it will accept a 4:2:2 HDR signal with 12-bit depth, but processes it at 10-bit.
The lack of an HDMI 2.0 port with full 18 Gbps bandwidth in a 2018 model-year 4K projector, especially with HDMI 2.1 coming down the pike, is disappointing, even in a budget projector. Practically speaking, though, it will mostly effect gamers intent on using their projector for 4K/60 Hz games encoded with HDR. Movie lovers can enjoy most UHD HDR discs at their native 24 frames per second, though any HDR movie content streamed or delivered on disc at 60 Hz would be restricted to SDR.
- (2) HDMI 1.4 (one with HDCP 2.2)
- (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
Our Take On The Epson Home Cinema 4010
As of late October 2018, the ProjectorCentral database shows 18 4K-compatible projectors ranging from $1,300 to $1,800 (including several redundant models that differ only in color wheel or other modest variations). While the Epson Home Cinema 4010 shares the spot for most expensive, it is among the most flexible and easiest to set up and the most fully featured. To the extent that build quality is any indicator, it is also the largest and heaviest among this group (along with its predecessor Home Cinema 4000). No one taking this 25 pound beast out of the box will fail to acknowledge its solidity. That's part of what you pay for here.
It is also among the best performing in this group, despite its reliance on pixel-shifting of 1080p LCD imagers instead of either native 4K LCOS or DLP chips found in pricier projectors or the DLP devices in this class that use pixel-shifting to achieve full 4K resolution. Epson has, for now, chosen to deliver at this price some traditional higher end projector perks that can have more substantial effect on image quality and the user experience than 4K imagers, all while shrinking any visible difference in the rendering of detail to virtual invisibility with most content. The sharpness of the lens is impressive for an $1,800 projector, while the inclusion of a helpful dynamic iris to boost contrast is rare in this group (if not exclusive to the Epson 4010 and 4000). And extra care has been taken to insure that several preset viewing modes are well-tuned out of the box for critical viewers.
The 4010 won't be for everyone. You can get better contrast and black level from more expensive projectors above $2,000, including the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, which we plan to face off with the 4010 to gauge the value of the 4010's updated pixel-shifting, contrast, and HDR. The 4010's lack of support for 4K/60 Hz HDR and its 28 ms input lag may limit its appeal with serious gamers. And some buyers intent on high ambient light viewing may also require more brightness, albeit at the likely expense of some black level and contrast performance in dark room conditions.
But for the serious home theater enthusiast who's looking for a 4K-compliant projector to play the best quality UHD HDR movie content out there in dark to moderately lit rooms, it's hard to imagine getting much better than this level of image quality for anywhere near this price. Although several projectors in the under $1,500 bracket may get you in the game for less, what you pay for with the Epson Home Cinema 4010 compared with what you get puts it in another class. It is in many ways a high end projector at a budget price, and its exceptional value rightfully earns it ProjectorCentral's Editor's Choice Award.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson Home Cinema 4010 projector page.
The Epson Home Cinema 4010 is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Epson EH-TW7400 and the Epson CH-TW7400. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Epson for complete specifications.