The Art of Gaming

Review – Epson 5020e Projector

Hey All!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a projector of this caliber in my theater.  It was great to get a chance to take a look at this year’s Epson flagship.  No doubt, the Epson 5020e threw one of the most impressive images I’ve ever had on my screen. But how does this projector hold up in the game room?  Read on to find out!

Whether you are looking into buying your first projector, or someone who follows the yearly model revisions and improvements, I’m sure Epson is a brand you are familiar with.   They have been very competitive in the entry/mid level price range projector market for many years and the Epson 5020e is this year’s flagship.   It’s hard to believe, but it is the four year newer version of the projector I currently own, the Epson 6500UB.

Over past four years, this flagship model has been given quite the face lift.   Physically, the designs of the newer Epsons are very modern and stylish, kinda rugged and large without being clunky.  When first placed the projector on my rack in my theater room, the first thing I said to a buddy of mine was “Wow, that thing looks badass!”  and it is… :)

The Epson 5020e is not just a pretty face.  Under the hood is all the latest technology and features, including 3D, Wireless HDMI and Creative Frame Interpolation.   One thing worth repeating, however, is this projector is large.  It doesn’t even come close in terms of portability to some of the more recent projectors I have reviewed.  It is easily 4-8x the size and is really not meant to be moved around.

However, the placement flexibility on the 5020e is about as good as it gets.  It has physical lens shift (not digital keystone correction), a feature I have found extremely useful over the years moving to different rooms/setup configurations.  If this projector can’t put the image where you want it, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that can.   This to me is a selling point and the reason why I purchased my 6500UB at the time.  I hope Epson continues to provide this level of placement flexibility in their projectors for years to come.

I’m not going to talk too much about the overall image quality of the 5020e, because to be quite honest it is outstanding.  The colors are very accurate, it throws an impressively bright and sharp image with fabulous shadow detail and inky dark blacks that leave me drooling.   If you are thinking about buying this projector, I can tell you the image quality will not disappoint…

I do, however, want to take some time and talk about a couple of the different extras included with the 5020e.  I spent a good deal of time playing around with 3D and Wireless HDMI and want to share some of my thoughts.

I know I’ve stated a number of times before that 3D capabilities are not a feature that I would search for if I were in the market for a new projector.   Especially, in the the entry level market, most folks are trying to get as much bang for their buck as they can.  I feel many times, people get lost in the specifications, flashy features and marketing gimmicks and lose sight of what is actually important to them.  In that price range, your money is still better spent finding a solid 1080p projector with good optics and a good warranty without concerning yourself with 3D, CFI, etc.

However, to me, the Epson 5020e is an entirely different animal.  This is not an entry level projector, it is a mid level projector.  Naturally, at 2-3X the price of many of the entry tier units, the manufacturer can afford to invest a bit more into this projector, and it shows.

The 3D was…enjoyable…and something I could see myself using.  It was bright enough that my eyes didn’t hurt, and pretty smooth all around.   I watched a couple 3D movies to get a feel for the projector in general and played Gran Turismo 5 as my 3D demo gaming material.

 

I usually wait until the end, but I’ll jump right into it and say the Epson 5020e lag  numbers are ~50ms.  With all image processing turned off, my measurements ranged from 30ms to 80ms and very consistently measured 50ms lag.

 

This is an improvement over last year’s numbers, and in my opinion, this would be acceptable for the type of gaming I do.  I’d still like to see Epson get these numbers in the <30ms.

What is really interesting is that I tested the input lag with both a physical HDMI connection and with wireless HDMI receiver included with the 5020e.  To my surprise, the wireless HDMI worked near flawlessly.  It took me a bit to actually get the projector to recognize the wireless HDMI receiver, but after it was “found”, I couldn’t tell the different between the two connections qualitatively at all.   To make sure, I ran the input lag tests again and there were no differences in lag numbers.  The photos don’t lie folks!  I can definitely see adding a wireless HDMI receiver to my home theater.  I really enjoyed the convenience and can see it saving some headaches with wiring.  So, great job Epson!

Keep in mind, these lag numbers are with all forms of image processing OFF.  As soon as, CFI or other image processing is turned on, the Epson’s lag increases, as expected, to around 100ms+.

Here are a few more screen shots of a couple games I ended up played on the Epson.

All around, I think the 5020e is a fabulous projector.  If you are looking in this price range, this is definitely worth a strong consideration.   For those looking for the fastest of gaming projectors, the Epson 5020e may not be for you, but anyone looking for a home theater projector that can also double as solid gaming projector, the 5020e fits the bill.  For what it’s worth, the 5020e is the first projector in four years that has seriously given me the upgrade itch… :)

That’s all for now.

-Pete

 

P.S.  I have both the BenQ 1070 and ViewSonic Pro9000 in house and I’m taking a look at them this weekend.   Keep an eye out for their reviews sometime next week.

News And Comments

  • Ignatius

    Thanks for the review Pete. Just wanted to ask if there is any added lag with 3D gaming vs 2D gaming or should the lag be the same with all those settings turned off?

    Was Gran Turismo 5 in 3D still ok to play? Lag not too bad and how was the 3D in terms of adding to the gaming experience.

    The 3020 is more in my price range so I’m leaning towards it so hoping the lag numbers are the same. Might wait for your BenQ W1070 review before I make a commitment to the 3020 which retails at the cheapest for $2100 in Australia. BenQ have yet to make an announcement on an Australian release date for the W1070 but an early news report suggests it will retail for less than $1000. At that price as long as its solid in all categories it should be the best deal around. Especially saving $1000 which you can put away towards spending on the next gen of 3D projectors a few years down the track.

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Ignatius,

      Unfortunately, I have no way of testing 3D lag times at this time. I play Gran Turismo pretty casually, but I personally did not see any significant differences between 2D and 3D in terms of response.

      I really enjoyed the 3D feature in GT5, I find it much easier to judge speed and how close you are to the next turn. All around, my skills seem to get a bit of a boost in 3D mode so naturally I enjoy it better. If you do go 3D, make sure it’s bright enough. A couple of the projectors have been dim enough to have me switch back to 2D.

      Stay tuned for the BenQ.

      -pete

  • TS

    Looking forward to the ViewSonic Pro9000 review….impatiently…I’m planning to buy a new projector for christmas :D

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      TS,

      I’ll try to get it done as soon as I can! This isn’ t a full time gig for me you know… :) Stay tuned!

  • Brian Miller

    Hey Pete, thanks for the 5020 review. Maybe you could compare the W1070 against the 5020 since you have both? Although they are in different price classes, it would be interested to know if the W1070 could keep up with a projector that is over twice the price!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      I can tell you, the W1070 is a very solid performer for the price. Overall, the 5020e is a better projector. Like I said, different classes. More to come!

      -Pete

  • Craig

    Nice review! Looking forward to the W1070 review :D

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Been working on both the W1070 and the Pro9000 this week. Hopefully have the reviews finished this weekend. :)

  • Craig

    Nice review! Looking forward to the W1070 review :D

  • http://www.canadianonlinegamers.com Kirby Y

    I appreciate you took the time to do this. I like that you consider processing featured off and on too. I don’t think I would turn on any of the processing features you speak of, heck, I don’t even know which features I would consider for that matter of fact.

    I am wondering if you may ever do a full on comparison with all the “popular” projectors that people may use for gaming. I for one am intereted in a couple, with the 5020 being one, but I am also considering the Panny (8000) and a JVC one.

    I watch movies and game, so a comparison of most used for this may be beneficial. That being said, do you know where Lag numbers could be found for those you don’t look at yourself?

    Thanks for all that you do.

    Kirby Y

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Kirby,

      I’m glad you like the blog! There has been a lot more requests for these type of comparisons lately, I will speak with Art to see what he thinks is possible. In the end, it’s really up to him. He does do yearly home theater projector reports on http://www.projectorreviews.com . You may be able to find most information there. In terms of lag numbers, unfortunately I don’t know of anywhere other than maybe http://www.AVSForums.com . They are tough to find, which is why I started including these numbers in my reviews. :)

      Regards,

      Pete

  • Devin

    Pete,

    Got a pretty big question that I was hoping you could help with. I bought the Epson 8700UB about two years ago. I paid 2000 for it. I have someone wanting to buy it from me for $1100. I am a bit of videophile and really want the epson 5020. I can get it for $2500. So I would be losing about $1400 between the two. I have not seen both these projectors, but I saw you have the 6500ub and I wanted to know if the 5020 was that much of a step up from 8700. The 8700 has been excellent, howver after about 1000 hours it seems like the brightness starts going down dramatically. I am on my 3rd Epson replacement bulb, which they have replaced for free. I have a 120″ white 1.0 screen, and the projector is at its closest distance, Aproximately 12-13 ft from the screen.

    I do about 60% gaming, 20%movies and 20% internet web surfing. Will the new motion panels and added brightness be worth that kind of money for the gaming aspect? Also was the lag on the 8700 in the 50s? or should I wait a few more generations before upgrading?

    Thanks for all you guys do!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Devin,

      This is definitely tough. The input lag on the 8700 from what I know is ~30ms. So you are looking at 66% increase to 50ms with the 5020. If you are concerned about input lag…I would wait. :/ Having said this, the PQ improvement on the 5020 are significant and the 3D capabilities are appealing. As I said in my review, the 5020 was the first projector since I’ve started reviewing that gave me the urge to upgrade my 6500UB and one that I felt was worth the increase in price. Like I siad, if you are concerned about input lag…I would wait. 50ms is acceptable, I would like to see it at ~30ms.

      Hope this helps!

      Pete

      • Devin Thayer

        Thanks, Pete, I think the input lag could be an issue. It looks like I will wait till the 5030 or whatever they call it unt they get this down to 30Ms. I really wanted the increased brightness, the improvents to the firmware, and the improved contrast ratio for my screen. Ill just hold off on selling for now. Its a tough call, I know the PQ will be better, but the input lag concerns me considering the amount of gaming I do on the projector. If you and Art talk to Epson, let them know 50Ms, just isnt going to cut it for gamers.

        • Devin Thayer

          Also, perhaps if i boost the CFI on my 8700 to high I can get the 8700 to mimic 50ms. Then play some games and see how it looks. I would likely use the 5020 in dynamic mode with CFI off and auto iris on for gaming, and Ive heard that can get arough 58-70ms. So that may just completly ruin fighting games and FPS.

          • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

            It’s possible, but that will boost it to about 75ms if I remember correctly. So if you can deal with that, then you can deal with the 5020 with CFI OFF!

        • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

          Art told them 50ms last time and they got it. That recommendation came from me because he asked “what would you consider acceptable”. 50ms in my opinion is acceptable/playable/whatever you want to call it. Sub 30ms is ideal. Hopefully he will pass this along.

  • Joel

    Hey Pete-

    I play online games often but normally just for the fun of it. I don’t really do it to compete. But what I’m trying to ask is this: is the latency that horrible to where I should not get this projector even if I play casually? Also, can you even tell when your gameplay is lagging to the screen?

    Thanks!

  • Ryan Weaver

    Besides CFI and Iris, what qualifies as image processing? A list of things to turn off would be great. I haven’t installed my 3020 yet but want to get a jump start on what to tweak. Thanks

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      I’m at CES, so I don’t have all my info at my fingertips, but look for a choice of FAST or FINE Image processing. I think the 3020 has that (2nd menu I think) I also turn off 3D auto sensing.

      That should about do it, but anything that “looks ahead” is what you need to turn off. -art

  • Sean Burkley

    Great review, but you do mention that 3D shouldn’t be a huge thing we look for in a projector this price. Is there any 2D projector you could recommend with similar specs that will deliver the same image quality and allow less game lag for games like call of duty?