3rd Comparison: The Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. the Sony VPL-HW40ES 3

Sharpness and Detail Enhancement

Interestingly, the Sony starts out a little sharper, and when you start engaging those dynamic detail enhancement features on both projectors, the Sony maintains that slight advantage.  When both are using detail enhancement, for a comparable “improvement”, the Sony not only does have that edge in perceived sharpness, but also ends up with more visible image noise (Reality Creation set for 20 (out of 100) which is the default.

I find the HW40ES definitely shows more such image noise than the more expensive HW55ES, which seems to allow detail enhancement up to about a setting of 50 before the noise rivals the HW40ES set to 20.

Give the win to Sony for a modest advantage in overall real, and perceived sharpness, and give the Epson the advantage in background noise, and also in handling slow panning at certain speeds on 24fps movies.  I like Reality Creation on the Sony projectors more than Super-Resolution on the Epson, since you can push RC a lot harder, you just have to deal with the extra image noise.

Watch the comparison!

In this video, we compare detail enhancement solutions. For Epson, it’s called “Reality Creation,” and for Sony, “Super Resolution.”

For our subscribers only: We also have more videos here demonstrating how the Epson and Sony compare in terms of black levels, plus another comparison of detail enhancement solutions.

Audible Noise

Audible noise is another area where he Sony has the advantage.  It’s quieter than the Epson at full power, and probably also when both are in eco-modes, although both are sufficiently quiet in their eco-modes to not be of concern.  The Sony probably as a real 3-4db advantage, not great, but enough to notice when I’ve got them side by side.


Well, if you don’t care about 3D, that’s a plus for the Sony.  With the Sony, you’ll need to buy 2 pair of RF 3D glasses, and an emitter, to have parity with the Epson which has an internal RF emitter and comes with 2 pair of RF 3D glasses.  Figure $300+ if you go with the XPAND emitter and Sony glasses, although if you go with really inexpensive 3rd party glasses, that should drop to under $250 total.  BTW, Epson and Sony RF glasses are cross compatible.  I use extra Epson glasses when I have a group here, and the Sony is doing 3D, or use the Sony glasses with the Epson 3D…

Between the two 3D choices, I favor the Sony, in that it can produce a brighter 3D picture with good color.  The Epson can put more brightness into your eyes, but at the cost of better color accuracy.


Break out your calculators again.  Sony’s got your basic 3 year parts and labor warranty – no replacement program.  Epson’s got two years, and two years of replacement.  I’ve always considered those to be about equal.  Length vs support/hassle free!   You can rate those warranties differently if you choose.  BTW Epson’s Black, local dealer only version, the Pro Cinema 6030UB has 3 years with 3 years of replacement.  Or you can buy a 3rd year of Epson warranty and replacement – that would cost $287.  If you when the 6030UB or if you went with the 5030UB and bought the extra coverage, then the Epson would clearly have the advantage, but you obviously are paying for it.

The Bottom Line

OK, this one could go on, but at the end of the day, my pick is the Epson.  It has to be since I consider the Epson’s most direct competition to be the Sony HW55ES, which I consider a step up.  For me, the black level performance was the most distinguishing difference.  Perhaps this will help.  A while back I wrote that between the Epson and the more expensive HW55ES, that were it my money, I just might spend the extra roughly up to $1000 for the Sony HW55ES, but that I definitely considered them a tie overall, and the Epson definitely  the better value.

With The Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. the VPL-HW40ES, however, the Epson may still be a slightly better value, (probably a tie if you have no plans to watch 3D) but it is my take, definitely the slightly better projector, and definitely the one I would choose of the two. Of course special promotions, future price drops, etc. are not factored in.

You May Also Like

News and Comments

  • Tom Collins

    No discussion of input lag. I personally use my projector 25% for gaming. The Sony has one of the best input lags, the epson has a slight defocusing of picture in their gaming mode and is slower. I love epson, own one now for 5 years, would buy the epson in a heart beat if they improved input lag while not softening picture. If you don’t game the epson is my first choice, especially if you like 3d.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Tom,

      My bad. Of course I discussed input lag in the reviews themselves. Off the top of my head, I don’t recall the Sony’s input lag times but should be in the regular review. The Epson, of course is marginal. All of the Epsons seem to be either 33-34, or 50-51 ms (2 or three frames), compared to my MacBook Pro. Not exactly ideal. I trust you are turning the image processing to fast, from fine, which reduces input lag, but limits you to a mere 16.7 million colors… -art