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Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBe Projector Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBe
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Street Price: n/a
3D: Full HD 3D
Weight: 18.0 lbs
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:3 LCD
Lens:2.1x manual
Lens Shift:H + V
Lamp Life:4,000 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  Composite, Component, VGA In, HDMI (x5), USB, RS232, 12-Volt Trigger
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p

Epson Home Cinema 5020 & 5020e
3D Home Theater Projectors

Bill Livolsi, November 1, 2012


Light output. The "UB" in the 5020UBe's name stands for Ultra Black, but it could just as easily mean Ultra Bright. The projector's specifications state a maximum brightness of 2400 lumens, and our test sample met this easily.

Dynamic is the brightest preset image mode available on the projector. On our test sample, Dynamic mode measured 2432 lumens with the lamp set to Normal, the full-power setting. Dynamic mode emphasizes light output above all other considerations, and as such black level is not as impressive nor is color as accurate as in the 5020UBe's other image modes.

The same is not true for Living Room mode. Living Room mode is, as the name might suggest, an image mode designed for use in a non-traditional theater space with significant ambient light -- i.e. a living room, family room, or other such gathering area. Contrast is much improved compared to Dynamic mode, and color has an intentional blue tint. Why? Well, most folks' indoor lighting tends towards the warm side, especially if that lighting is from incandescent bulbs. In the additive color system, if you want to cancel out an excess of yellow, you add blue. Living room mode measures 1820 lumens.

However, let's say you just want a very bright picture because you want to use a large screen, and you don't need to cancel out any yellow. In that case, you can still use Living Room mode -- just change the "Abs. Color Temp" control from 7500K to 6500K. The result is a bright, perfectly color-balanced picture at 1725 lumens.

The remaining three modes can get a little confusing: they are THX, Natural, and Cinema. THX mode is best suited for traditional dark-room home theater use in a room with zero ambient light and blacked-out walls. It measures 766 lumens with the lamp set to Normal, but it has a very subdued, natural appearance with regards to color and contrast. This is the mode the projector defaults to upon startup, and after viewing the Natural and Cinema modes it didn't get a lot of use.

Which brings us to Natural and Cinema modes. Natural and Cinema are nearly identical. They both have excellent color balance, only needing a small amount of adjustment. They both offer the best contrast available on the 5020UBe. They even have similar light output, at 908 lumens for Natural and 914 lumens for Cinema. The only significant difference we can find is that Natural mode's color gamut closely adheres to the Rec. 709 standard, while Cinema offers an expanded gamut which gives the image a bit more pop.

Most of our testing occurred in Cinema mode because it creates a bright, colorful, high-contrast picture that is nonetheless easy to calibrate and easy to watch. Some folks will be drawn to THX mode either due to its subdued appearance or because of those three magic letters that add some kind of mystic legitimacy to the picture on the screen. We would urge owners of the 5020UBe to cycle through the three modes using a variety of content and decide for themselves which they like the best.

One thing you may have noticed is that none of the preset modes drop much below 800 lumens, which can be far too bright on a smaller-sized screen. Even a 120" diagonal screen at a modest 1.3 gain doesn't need that much light. In these instances, the best choice is to switch to Eco lamp mode, which drops light output by 25% in each of the above modes. That brings Cinema mode to a much more reasonable 685 lumens. If you need further light output reduction, consider moving the projector back for a longer throw distance; using the telephoto end of the lens will decrease light output by up to 32%.

Contrast. Last year, the 5010 had the best black levels in its price range. This year, while we haven't yet seen all of the home theater projectors under $5,000, indications are strong that Epson is coming back for a repeat performance. The 5020UBe features the same deep black levels that the 5010 had, especially in dark scenes. The projector's auto iris has two settings, Normal and High Speed, and while they differ in terms of response time and sensitivity the net effect is the same -- dark scenes receive a significant black level boost.

In terms of shadow detail, the 5020UBe's gamma settings are good even before calibration. The default setting of 2.4 preserves deep shadow detail without blowing out highlights or crushing blacks. If you plan to use the 5020UBe in areas with ambient light, a milder gamma setting like 2.2 will lighten some shadow detail, making it more visible in that environment.

Color. The 5020UBe has excellent, comprehensive color controls for both white balance and gamut. However, we ended up not using the gamut controls, because our instruments indicate that the differences between the 5020UBe's gamut and the Rec. 709 gamut should not be visible to the human eye. There are some differences between the various image modes, as illustrated below.

Note that THX and Natural have nearly identical gamut plots, and indeed the measurements are very similar. The difference is that Natural has quite a bit more "pop" behind it, and is overall quite similar to Cinema in terms of white balance, contrast, and overall appearance on screen. Some folks will prefer Natural over Cinema for this reason. The expanded gamut present in Cinema mode is a preferential thing; some people will enjoy it while others will not. Other than this gamut shift, Cinema and Natural are largely identical.

Dynamic mode, as mentioned earlier, pushes green in order to enhance light output. As a result, its RGB levels look a little wonky, especially as you move towards pure white.

In Cinema mode, the projector measured about 6000K out of the box, but it was easy to bring the projector up to 6500K with a bit of fine-tuning. Below are pre-calibration and post-calibration graphs of Cinema mode's RGB levels, along with the settings we used to get there.

On our test sample, the RGB settings looked like this:

R Offset-6
G Offset8
B Offset-2
R Gain-2
G Gain4
B Gain1

The real surprise of the 5020UBe's color performance, though, was Living Room. With not a single stitch of adjustment save for a quick change of the Abs. Color Temp control from 7500K to 6500K, we obtained a white balance that looked like this:

Above: Living Room, pre-calibration. Below: post-calibration.

The long and short of it is that the 5020UBe has solid color out of the box, but a touch of adjustment -- in some cases a very small touch -- can make it really shine.

Sharpness and clarity. The 5020UBe looks great when you feed it native resolution 1080p material, but the same is true for most 1080p projectors. The days of worrying about de-interlacing and scaling are long since over. However, the 5020UBe does have a leg-up on the competition when it comes to standard definition material, such as that pile of DVDs you haven't watched in years. It's called Super Resolution.

Super Resolution is a smart sharpening algorithm that picks up the latent detail in standard definition material and makes it stand out more. I don't know if you've looked at an average DVD lately, but they tend to look kind of muddy and ill-defined at all but the best of times. Super Resolution takes those scenes and makes them look almost high-definition. It's not as good as buying the Blu-ray version, but DVDs look better on the 5020UBe than they do on most other home theater projectors.

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Comments (28) Post a Comment
Lahoree Posted Nov 1, 2012 3:19 PM PST
Great review but would love to see screenshot comparisons with other projectors in the same price range and how it compares to Panasonic's AE-8000 :)

Erik Posted Nov 1, 2012 3:43 PM PST
Will there be a comparison with the Panasonic PT-AE8000?
JNo Posted Nov 2, 2012 5:17 PM PST
Thanks for the input lag analysis - absolutely brilliant!

And it sets your reviews apart so keep 'em coming!

Silverfox Posted Nov 3, 2012 8:37 PM PST
Thanks very much for your informative review. Needing to upgrade from a Sanyo PLV-Z5 with a throw of 19` to a 120" 1.2 gain, 16:9, so it appears IMO that this Epson will be a huge upgrade in eye candy and specifically brightness. Glad i waited for the latest and passed on the 5010.

Silverfox Posted Nov 3, 2012 8:41 PM PST
Forgot to ask but could you please comment on the Fan noise in the brightest modes since it was not mentioned in your review ?

Jason Posted Nov 7, 2012 10:25 AM PST
Would love to see a comparison of the Epson 5020, Optoma HD33, Panasonic PT-AE8000, and Mistubishi HC-8000D. Would be very very helpful.

Thanks ProjectorCentral!! JD
russell mclaughlin Posted Nov 7, 2012 6:12 PM PST
Noone else has been able to reproduce your input lag time of 50 msec, and you provided no photo. Everyone else is getting 62msec. Please retest and post photo.
Siddhant Gupta Posted Nov 12, 2012 8:57 PM PST
I wanted to buy a short throw lens for this projector. So i wanted to know how much it would cost and where it would be available? Thank you
Siddhant Gupta Posted Nov 12, 2012 9:14 PM PST
Does epson 5020 have a ready feature supporting an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 Thanks
James Posted Nov 13, 2012 3:04 AM PST
Please make also a comparison between Panasonic PT AE8000 and Epson HC 5020. Which has better blacks? JVC HD1 or Epson HC 5020? Thanks
terraformer Posted Nov 21, 2012 1:35 PM PST
Just bought and installed this projector to replace my aging Panny AE900U. What a difference! Inky blacks, quiet fan in Eco mode, and amazing clarity. I've got it ceiling mounted @ 15ft onto a 104" screen. Very pleased so far. The wireless HDMI is really great, as when I bought this house the previous owner had only run component cables behind the walls and ceiling. I didn't need to buy a new receiver either as the optical out from the wireless box sends all HDMI sound from whatever is plugged into it to the receiver.
Hops Posted Dec 1, 2012 7:46 AM PST
I'm debating putting à projector in basement but not habijt dedicated theater room. I was looking Epson 3020 or 5020. There is à soffit above my screen, so i was concerned about the pack of lense shift on 3020. THE soffit is about 13 inches. If i don't want THE projector hanging down 15 inches off ceiling, is THE 5020 THE way too go?

I know the site has 5020 as home theater projector vs home video, any thoughts on how it handles ambient light.
Bill Livolsi Posted Dec 4, 2012 11:53 AM PST
Thanks to everyone for their comments.

Lahoree - Screenshots aren't a helpful measure of relative performance, so we don't include them. In many cases, either due to camera settings or a user's monitor settings, they can actually be misleading. Never base your purchasing decisions on screenshots. As for the comparison, I hope you've read our comparison piece, available from the homepage.

Erik - Yes, it is available from the homepage.

JNo - thanks, we will!

Silverfox - You're right, the 5020UB is a massive upgrade from the Sanyo Z5. Hope you enjoy it. Fan noise kicks up quite a bit in 3D, but overall we didn't find it objectionable.

Jason - We wrote up a comparison with the AE8000; go check it out!

Siddhant - I'm not sure what you mean. Any short-throw add-on lens would be a third-party product and therefore not projector-specific. And no, anamorphic stretch mode is not supported; for that feature you need to upgrade to the 6020UB.

James - Having not tested the 5020UB against the HD1, I can't say.

terraformer - Glad you enjoy the projector, and glad you found our review helpful!

Hops - Living Room mode is great in ambient light, and lens shift will make your life much easier. I'd recommend the 5020UB.
David Collister Posted Dec 7, 2012 5:39 AM PST
Hi, advice please, my Mitsubishi hc2000 bulb has gone and I have had the projector for 6 years anyway, so a new piece of kit is required. However I have a 100" diagonal screen and the projector housing is 5.5 mtrs away(19ft) also it is set horizontal with the top of the screen. I want 3d as I have upgraded all my kit to 3d, but 6 months ago I was told by a retailer there are no 3d projectors that throw out 19ft thus I have held off buying, does the new Epson do the job or do I understand correctly that I will lose all the brightness because of the distance in throw. My room is total blackout if required. Thx for any advice
Tommykaroutsos Posted Dec 11, 2012 6:22 PM PST
Hi,I'm looking to buy a new projector and I am looking at this one and the sony Val-hw30es.Which one in your opinion is better and why? Thank you.
Chris Posted Dec 12, 2012 5:47 AM PST
In your review you are very positive about the wireless capabilities (you say performance/quality are almost similar to hdmi).

Does this also go for a fullHD 3d movie streamed over wireless hdmi?

In your review you don't clearly specify this.
Bin Posted Dec 13, 2012 8:54 PM PST

I have got a Epson TW9000 – equivalent model of 5010e. Does anyone know if I can get the new 5 in 1 wireless transmitter designed for 5020ube somewhere so that I can use it on mine?

Clark Posted Dec 29, 2012 5:23 PM PST
Could this fit a 150 inch Diagonal with 1080p picture?
bbobbo Posted Jan 2, 2013 1:44 PM PST
chris asked:

"Does this also go for a fullHD 3d movie streamed over wireless hdmi?"

according to the epson's specs, the 5020ube supports version 1.0b of the wirelesshd standard:

however, streaming of 3d content doesn't seem to be supported until version 1.1 of the standard:

therefore, it seems that the 5020ube doesn't support streaming of 3d content.
roger Posted Jan 9, 2013 3:37 AM PST
Chris' question was never addressed. Many people are dying to know more about the 5020e and its wireless capabilities but nobody will comment. WILL the wireless (replacing HDMI) provide as good a signal as Epson claims when we're talking FULL HD and 3D??? I need to know if I need to make swiss cheese out of my ceiling or not. Has anyone really tested to see if the wireless picture is equally as good?
Clif Brittain Posted Jan 11, 2013 3:22 PM PST
I find the wireless transmission to be very difficult to use. I must have two separate inputs, one for cable, the other for DVD. There is no easy way to switch between them. It requires at least a minute and in one direction, five separate manual inputs. I have been unable to program the protocol into a universal remote. The result is that I am the only person in the household that knows how to use this device.
Han Solo Posted Jan 15, 2013 1:17 PM PST
regarding Wireless HD 3D streaming. I was reading the Owner manual for 5020Ube and the closest thing I found that talks about wireless 3D connectivity is on Page 81 which talks about "3D CONTENT ISSUES" Here is the text: "If your video device is connected to the WirelessHD Transmitter (PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBe only), see page 85. " Then I went to page 85 and there is nothing there that talks about 3D streaming. Basically there is no direct disclosure that it cant support HD 3D wireless streaming. But again standard rev 1.0 does not support it and 5020e is 1.0 standard. Can the Epson Wireless Transmitter be software updated with the 1.1 standard or that a hardware thing.

So... idecided toemailed Epson and they responded same day:

Here is the response from Epson rep Matt S. @ Epson: Thank you for contacting Epson regarding your Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBe.

The wireless HD supports 3D or I may say when watching 3D movies and running through the wireless HD. The projector supports Frame packing, Side by side and top and bottom 3D format. As long you are streaming these type of 3D format to the wireless HD to the projector should not have any issue.
Abe Posted Jan 16, 2013 9:36 AM PST
I read one buyer review noting that wireless HDMI will only work if transmitter is front/forward of the projector; his transmitter is on the side and is not working out for him-he is upset about that. anyone buying the wireless model should review the wireless beam path Epson pointed out in the spec. to make sure they are ok with it first. the high frequency that these transmitters operates on (60 GHZ) is much more selective.
Jon Posted Feb 28, 2013 10:10 AM PST
I have to thank Projector Central for bringing this model to my attention. After waiting a month and a half my 5020 was finally delivered yesterday and I have to say it was definitely worth the wait. I haven't had the chance to run any level of calibration on the unit yet but it has a very impressive picture right out of the box, especially considering that I cheaped out on the screen (Elite Screens - Manual - 100").

The only negative thing I have to say about it so far is the wireless can be finicky. It took a few minutes to get it setup initially and it seems to work fine now. That said, it will drop the connection when transitioning from the PS3 menu to the bluray menu and even sometimes going between menus on the disc. If you get impatient and start playing around with the buttons and trying to force it to reconnect it'll only take more time. As it is, these little episodes only last about 10-15 seconds if you leave it alone. I think I've avoided some of the issues others have had as I have all of sources using HDMI that's routed through my receiver (Marantz NR 1603) so I don't need to switch inputs on the wireless.

Any hint of buyers remorse ($2900 for a projector is a bit of a stretch for some (many) of us) was quickly eliminated after watching the first 30 minutes of Prometheus.
Dodgey Posted Mar 30, 2013 3:37 PM PST
I'm very interested in purchasing this projector for my home theater. Having never bought a projector before, I was curious about ceiling mounting. Can anyone confirm this projector mounts upside down or right side up? What's the setting to flip the image if it's an upside down mount?

Also, can anyone recommend a good ceiling mount that's still somewhat inexpensive?

gprangers Posted Jul 7, 2013 2:47 PM PST
Not Happy Just bought this projector after reading all the rave reviews on different web site and Home Theather Mag. SO DISAPOINTED On sharpness and clarity my old Mits HC 5000 blew it away on my old dvds. They looked very good on the mits HC 5000 and very clear. The new Epson is grainy on the old dvds. Yes it is more bright and the colors pop, but all the reviews said it really shines on STANDARD 2D. Both look great on Blue Ray, what does'nt now days. But on standard dvd its is a step backwards for sure. Not sure if its because the HQV in the Mits was that much better. Again the Mits was RAZOR SHARP and this EPSON is clearly lacking in that department. Longing for my Mits HC 5000 back, but I sold it. Not Happy
Mike Posted Sep 26, 2013 10:58 PM PST
All projectors that I know of including this one now have a setting to allow for inversion of the image to allow for ceiling mount.
Jon Posted Oct 30, 2013 7:06 PM PST
After 500 hours everything seems to be going great. Swapped out the Marantz for a Yamaha and the wireless connection lag has all but disapeared. Havent had any issues with image quality from DVDs like one gentleman had mentioned. I'd venture a guess that either his DVD player isn't upconverting or he got a bad unit.

I ran one optimization disc but not terribly impressed with the results over the standard settings. Currently debating whether it's worth having it professionally calibrated. For the most part I watch movies and video games in Cinema/Eco.

Still very happy with the.purchase.

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