Winner – Best in Class (Under $2000): Epson Pro Cinema 4030
The Epson Pro Cinema 4030: Why It Won
The PC4030 is a bit unusual in the Epson lineup. Epson is known for marketing two similar projectors with relatively minor differences in each price range, such as the Home Cinema 5030UB and the Pro Cinema 6030UB, which we treat as essentially the same projector despite those minor differences. In this case though Epson created the Pro Cinema 4030 as more of a serious dedicated home theater projector this past year, while on the Home Cinema series, Epson has the now vintage 2D only Home Cinema 8350, or the Home Cinema 3020 and 3020e. All three of those are completely different projectors from the 4030, which is really an “almost UB.”
The Pro Cinema 4030 offers really good brightness for a dedicated home theater projector but more importantly, it offers perhaps the best black level performance under $2000 which makes it a really great projector for the money. The Pro Cinema 4030, like all Epson Pro Cinema projectors is sold only through Epson’s extensive local dealer network in the US. By comparison, the just mentioned 3020 and 3020e are sold online as well as locally. As is always the case, we net out the price of projectors – that is we subtract the value of extras that come with it so we can best compare apples to apples. The Pro Cinema 4030 right now is $2499, but comes with 2 pair of Epson 3D active glasses, a spare lamp, and a ceiling mount, which we value at $500, and which place it at the top of the “$2000 and under” price class.
The Pro Cinema 4030 may be twice the price of the W1070, but if its in your budget, it’s definitely and obviously the superior of the two. (That’s fair, as the Epson, being twice the price, you would be expected to be a real step up!) Consider the Pro Cinema 4030 to be the high performance projector in the class, while the BenQ W1070 is the value proposition.
Note, last year we really liked Sharp’s XV-Z30000 which is back this year, but Sharp had launched it with aggressive pricing. Seems now that the projector is local dealer and typically selling for upward of $2500, so no longer competing here. It too had very good black level performance, but now faces the much tougher competition in the next higher tier. I should note that of the online offerings from Epson, the 3020 and 3020e – the e with its wireless HDMI costs $200 more. You may remember I pointed out that that BenQ W1500 was $500 more for its wireless HDMI. The 3020 projectors are more of home entertainment, brighter not as good blacks, more suitable for your brighter family room type environments.