Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE8000U

Here, we will compare two competitive home theater projectors, the Epson HC 5030 and the Panasonic PT-AE8000U.

Comparing the Epson HC5030 and the Panasonic PT-AE8000U

The 5030UB and the AE8000U are two inherently similar projectors - they share the same LCD panels, similar in size, similar in zoom lens, and lens shift as far as placement flexibility goes.  Both are ultra high contrast projectors, but on the opposite ends of the that spectrum.  Warranties and support are very different. Brightness very close, a major change from two years ago when the Epson was clearly the brighter by a very significant margin.

1 of 2

PreviousNext

The Projectors

The Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB

Below, we will discuss how this projector compares to the Panasonic PT-AE8000U.

The Panasonic PT-AE8000U

Below, we will discuss how this projector compares to the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB.

Comparison Images

Epson’s Home Cinema 5030UB (and Pro Cinema 6030UB) are a year newer than the Panasonic.  As a result, not having had the Panasonic here in a year, the side by side comparison images above are the Panasonic (left) and the older HC5020UB (right).

Comparing Operational Cost

Both claim the same lamp life, but Panasonic charges $379 compared to $299 per lamp.

Comparing Warranty

Warranty:  The hidden cost. We know most folks don’t give warranty differences much thought, even though we do.  (We know that the warranty page is always the one least read, in every home projector review.)  In this case, the Warranty differences have the potential to affect long-term cost and convenience. Both have two years, but Panasonic limits their two-year warranty to 2000 hours. That means anyone who remotely sees himself/herself as a heavy user (let’s say more than 20 hours a week), such as those who use their projectors as a primary “TV”, is going to run out of warranty before the two years are up. A very heavy user like (when I’m not reviewing) – my usage is similar to the national average for TV viewing – upward of 40 hours a week.  That means that for folks with usage like mine (and there are a lot of us), the warranty might not even last one full year. But the Epson has another advantage Epson will immediately replace any projector that is suffering from a warranty problem, by shipping right out (within 1 business day) a replacement which you keep), they pay the freight, including to get your busted one back.  Basically: a great warranty and minimal hassle. Warranty is a clear and important advantage for Epson.  It means nothing if you never have a problem, but their replacement program will prove awesome for those who aren’t lucky, and need warranty service!

Comparing Picture Quality

Both calibrate well, and are similar in terms of color in best mode, and also similar after slightly improving both of their brightest modes.  Skin tones are excellent on both post calibration, but this year’s calibration of the 5030 UB, looks better than what the Panasonic PT-AE8000 was capable of last year. The PT-AE8000U also tends to have a softer, and a touch less contrasty (pop) look than the Epson, but that tends to be personal choice.  It’s the black levels and dark shadow detail where the Epson proved superior.  The Epson does better dark shadow (not by much).  But there’s no contest, the Epson is truly superior on dark scenes, thanks to its noticeably better black level performance! I should note that Panasonic does sometimes reveal a little more detail in the lighter ranges.   (For example compare the detail of the river water, in the night train scene, but again, that’s last year’s Epson)

The Epson simply looks visibly better on dark scenes, thanks primarily to the black level advantage, which will give you the feel of a lot more pop to the image. While that may not mean much on a typical bright scene, as we all know, other than sporting events, there are usually plenty of dark scenes in most other content, especially movies, and plenty of HDTV.  (How many vampire shows are out there?)

Comparing Special Features: Lens Memory vs. Picture in Picture

Lens memory let’s you use a 2.35:1 screen instead of the usual 16:9.  That’s great for folks who primarily watch movies.  As I’ve learned, I like the wide screen, but hate that my sports are so much smaller, with my wide screen.  I’m flexible, I’m getting an even bigger 16:9 screen for my sports. If you don’t care about smaller HDTV, etc. and you really want to not have to see letter boxing on those widescreen movies consider a 2.35:1 screen, then the Panasonic is your clear choice.  The Epson with it’s manual zoom lens simply can’t have a way to use a widescreen short of an anamorphic lens and outboard processor (buy the Pro Cinema 6030UB in that case, as it supports anamorphic lenses with two modes, so that no outboard sled is needed). Thus for those wanting 2.35:1, the Panasonic is the practical and affordable choice. Split screen is gone from the Epson this year, replaced with Picture In Picture, which can work with two HDMI sources.  Panasonic has nothing like that. If you can’t live without Picture In Picture, then the Epson is for you. Other than those two special features, you have a real choice.

Comparing 3D

Two years back I considered the Panasonic to be the clear winner in terms of 3D.  True, it wasn’t as bright, but that Epson would not allow their dynamic features to work in 3D – the dynamic iris, CFI, and no Super-Resolution… put it at a distinct disadvantage for 3D.  This year, the most important by far, of those dynamic features – the Dynamic Iris and Reality Creation are available in 3D  The Epson for example, goes from seriously inferior blacks two years back (in 3D) to easily superior blacks this year in 3D… The Home Cinema 5030 UB this year, now allows virtually all dynamic features to work in 3D, more than last year. The Panasonic’s 3D may actually be a touch more precise than the Epson’s due to some extra parallex correction, but what they are doing is hard to spot.  The real difference is 3D brightness.  While the PT-AE8000 pretty much closed the gap on 2D brightness, it’s no contest, the Epson is very visibly brighter in 3D.  Whether its the glasses, the processing… no matter, they are not close in brightness when viewing 3D comparing both in their brightest modes, which is where you probably want to be unless you have a really smaller screen.

The Bottom Line

Bottom line:  I definitely think the Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB and Pro Cinema 6030 UB have the overall advantage picture wise, with the blacks are the key reason for that.  Also though, this year’s 5030UB calibrated and produced a more natural, accurate image than the 5020 UB that I used for the only direct comparisons a year ago.  The Epsons also have real wins in 3D (due to brightness), warranty and support.

Click Image to Enlarge

The Panasonic is the winner if you want an anamorphic shaped screen, thanks to lens memory.  It’s also got cool features – the Waveform monitor and side by side image analysis.  Regarding that, ultimately, it’s estimated that less than 10% of people use wide screens, and most of those are owners of some very expensive projectors, equipped with anamorphic lenses and sleds, and they are probably viewing in some very classy home theaters where the owners have spent far more for seating than both of these projectors cost combined. (I’m talking about projectors from Runco, SIM2, and throw in Sony’s $24,999 VW1100ES and $14,999 VW600ES, their two true 4K home theater projectors.) Other than lens memory, placement flexibility is essentially a tie.

From a personal note, I would pick the Epson for my personal use, but once again, I can fully understand why many choose the Panasonic. Like Brightness, Size matters.  In this case, I’m talking the size of the price tag.  Even at the same price, everyone’s going to line up with a favorite of the two, but keep that wallet in mind. The Epson is currently $400 less, and that can jump to $600 if the Panny glasses promo goes away. In years past – really until last year, it was usually the Epson that cost a few hundred more.  With the Epson being a serious chunk of change less expensive, and still a bit brighter calibrated, and in 3D, it would seem that if you can live without lens memory that the Home Cinema 5030 UB is the better value proposition of the two. Enough!

Want more info? Click for the full reviews:
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB Review
Panasonic PT-AE8000U Review

You May Also Like

News And Comments

  • Max Heidrich

    The Panasonic currently has $350 rebate available, and Projector People currently has a price of $2399. That makes the Epson $550 more expensive. How does this change the game?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Well, I’m still a fan of the Epson over the Panny, but you have to decide. I strongly favor the better black levels of the Epson, though I wish I had the motorized lens with lens memory abilities of the PT-AE8000, which is great for having a “widescreen” instead of the usual 16:9. It was only with the release of the PT-AE8000 (or maybe the PT-AE7000) that Panasonic became more expensive than the Epson. For the previous 7-8 years, the Epson always commanded an extra $300-$500.

      Both are fine projectors, with the Panasonic definitely having more cool feature/gadgets.

      BTW if you are one of our paid subscribers, we at Projector reviews, in conjunction with Projector People, will give you a $25 rebate (with either projector) as long as you are purchasing at least $100 of accessories at the time. Further, Epson is also offering a $25 rebate at this time only for our subscribers. – art

  • James Fraser

    Hi, I am considering going for the Epson 5030 using a 2.35:1 cinescope screen. The projector would be easily accessible to adjust the manual zoom/shift which I am happy with but your review states the Epson “… simply can’t have a way to use a widescreen short of an anamorphic lens and outboard processor..”. is this accurate as it seems a little misleading to me? I assume you are simply referring to convenience of using lens memory rather than manually adjusting the zoom/shift.

  • Darryl Lowe

    I am noticing that your reviews on Panny vs Epson are increasingly becoming biased toward the Epson over the years, and not just due to the barely visible black level difference in some scenes. I also noticed the Epson advertising has increased on your new site more than ever before. Reading similar reviews from other sites, they are not so biased, so it starting to make me question the credibility of your reviews at this point. Off topic, but one additional thing to add…don’t like your new site…the old one was far superior, easier to find things, and more user friendly.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Darryl,

      Ah, I get to do a response to an inquiry like yours, every year or so. Last time was on one of the forums. First I’ll say, I recommend what I like, my biases, and I explain them in my reviews, so there’s no confusion:

      But let me start by saying this: If you believe my opinions are wrong, please state why. If you just don’t like that we take advertising about the things we write about, then you are stuck with only Consumer Reports for your projector advice. So, let’s get my biases out of the way.

      I favor black level performance over powered lenses, I favor slight pixel mis-convergence over rainbow effect, and I don’t like CFI for movies. I do like well designed detail enhancement solutions. I like a projector that has the horsepower to do sports with a decent amount of ambient light in the room. And most recently, I believe that to be a true 4K projector, individual pixels need to be 1/4 the size of 1080p pixels. I’m also a 3D fan, but like the immersion so much that I’m very forgiving of color issues. Minor crosstalk doesn’t bother me.

      So first, let’s see, yes, Epson has our largest manufacturer advertiser when they are running and Panasonic is now number 2. Epson is the largest advertiser in the US of home theater projectors I’m told, so no surprises there.

      Your topic, the two projectors: Regarding vs. the Panasonic, this year Epson made modest improvements to the 5030UB while Panasonic left the same model in the lineup for another year, unchanged except for an occasional rebate. Hard for Panasonic to gain ground that way in our review comparisons. My “arguments” / my “reasons” when comparing these two are the same as they have been in facing off PT-AE projectors vs. Epson UB projectors for the last 6 years.

      I must correct you. Epson US advertising has not increased on our site in the last 3 years, it’s been about flat in the US.

      But with Mitsubishi’s exit (our former #2 advertiser), it probably looks that way. Mitsubishi, like Epson also had lots of marketing dollars for dealers so there used to be a ton of Mitsubishi banners from our dealer advertisers as well. That all ended last Oct. with Mitsubishi quitting the projector industry.

      Now if you look at the site closely, the bulk of the Epson advertising is from dealers, because Epson seems to distribute more marketing dollars to dealers than anyone else. I just about beg dealers to advertise more brands. When they do, that’s better for us. The more brands advertised, the more advertising dollars we net… you know. Pay Per Click! It’s a tough sell, though when the manufacturers don’t give dealers spending money.

      Funny you should post this now, as Epson isn’t running any ads at all at the moment, it will probably be a couple of months before they start again, but that’s besides the point. You perceive the advertising to be Epson’s. BTW: Epson is by far the largest player in home theater space, with the most models. Their strength is $1000 and up, while in sales, under $1000 is dominated by Optoma and BenQ. Even so, Epson, according to PMA (Pacific Media Research) the primary analyst of the projector industry in the US) recently indicated that Epson had 2 of the top five selling spots in “home entertainment” per them, with BenQ and Optoma one each, and a closeout of a Mitsubishi with the 5th. But that’s on the entry level side, Epson’s obviously much stronger (in terms of lineup) as people have more to spend.

      But still it’s about the individual projectors when it comes to reviews. I still believe that the UB’s are, buck for buck the best value, but not necessarily the best projector’s for everyone. I encourage everyone to find the right projector for them, not some “award winner”. And, since not everyone cares about having the ultimate performance, (some want a great projector with no hassles), it doesn’t hurt that Epson’s got a great warranty with a replacement program, that almost no one else has.

      But, the bottom line is I’ve always been consistent. Which is why I have plenty of defenders on the forums. Epson was racking up more Hot Product awards on my site than anyone (starting with the Home Cinema 1080UB), despite the fact that Epson didn’t start advertising with us for another year or two. Mitsubishi and Panasonic were multi-year advertisers before Epson ever ran their banner on our site. Even when Mitsubishi was our largest advertiser, and Epson wasn’t yet advertising, Epson scored better in reviews.

      Optoma is 2nd in awards, they haven’t advertised with us in years, and were a very small advertiser when they did. Sony, who has been winning a lot of awards of late, and who’s HW series has moved from being rated by me well below Epson year after year, last year tied the 5020UB with the HW50, but has never spent 1 cent advertising with us. Sony received the last Outstanding Projector of the Year award, without spending a dollar, and is a strong contender this year. By your logic, Sony wouldn’t be receiving any awards from us, nor JVC for that matter, and I sure shouldn’t have made the BenQ W1070 my favorite sub-$1000 projector, if I was giving out awards based on advertising dollars.

      Back to the Panasonic PT-AE8000U, which is a fine projector. If you are more into needing lens memory than needing better black levels, then I highly recommend it over the UB as I have stated many times. However, I would buy the Epson over the Panasonic, myself, for my personal use, and my reviews reflect my biases, which have nothing to do with advertising. I favored the BenQ W1070 over the lower end Epson HC2030…

      BTW of the various contractors I use, over the years to write reviews, work on the site, etc, from Mike, our THX calibrator, to Tony, to our now gone two gamer bloggers, all have Epsons. Just about all manufacturers offer similar discounts as accommodations. All these people did reviews or blogs about the projectors, and they all bought Epson’s including Mike who came from a JVC. (I still own a JVC as you know, but an old one I’d like to sell.) -art

      • Darryl Lowe

        Again, thanks for the response Art!

        Since many years now, I have enjoyed the Panny vs Epson rivalry and reading the various reviews on it. I have read every review you have done on all their latest models starting around year 2007 up to the most recent reviews, such as with the Panasonic AE3000U, AE4000, AE7000, AE8000, and Epson 6500UB, 8500UB, 8700UB, 5010, 5020UB, 5030UB, and all shootout comparison reviews.
        Maybe the advertising dollars don’t play into your reviews, but my logic in what I said was not that I was certain there was a direct correlation between your reviews & the perceived increase in advertising, but rather it made me question that this correlation could be possible. I guess the last time I was on your site (weeks or months ago/can’t quite remember) I saw 5 or 6 Epson ads on the main page 4 of which were all beside/below each other, and it got me questioning things about your reviews. I trust that it was likely a perceived thing on my part and maybe bad timing of when I visited the site…

        I don’t think a review & especially a comparison review should have so much bias or personal taste in it. The best reviews are ones that leave it up to the consumer without leaving them questioning why one product is the clear winner, while at the same time some of the most important qualities are not considered with enough weight due to personal opinion or bias…and other qualities may be over-exagerated, when the differences are so small between the two, that it can only be spotted by a professional or videophile viewing them side by side, such as black level and shadow detail. In many cases the Epson had less contrast or lower black levels in much of the scenes that aren’t really dark, but that never makes the headlines in the reviews. I just think professional reviews should be ‘relatively’ unbiased overall.

        When you say “I recommend what I like, my biases” & “my reviews reflect my biases”, I don’t agree that a review should reflect them so strongly that it affects the outcome as too which product wins the award, because some of those biases are against things that others like in a projector, and it affects our decisions or makes us question if we are making the right decision or not. I hold lens memory, black levels, brightness, 3D quality and CFI for movies as equally important to me, but I am now questioning whether I will make the wrong or right choice if I choose the Epson. I would just like to read a review that doesn’t stress bias so much and doesn’t give out awards based on those biases. In the past I’ve seen you give shared awards between the Panasonic & the Epson when they clearly had differences in what made them stand out…more recently that doesn’t seem to be the case.

        Maybe it’s because I have been on the fence for so long between Epson and Panasonic, and now finally after all these years, when I am months away from being able to afford one, it makes it that much harder to make the decision when I read a review that stresses black levels for darker scenes & warranty more than other features that are also equally important to many consumers, such as 3D quality, lense memory, brightness both 2D & 3D, and yes CFI technology, including for movies (Peter Jackson & James Cameron are paving the way of the future and more movies are going to have that look and feel, but also most TVs have it built in now…many are becoming accustomed to it, so I feel it should be an important consideration when handing out product awards that could sway a consumer. “Bottom Line 3D Winner: Epson Home Cinema 5020″, how can Epson win 3D just because of brightness and subtly better black levels, when the Panasonic had the better overall 3D quality & CFI technology? And maybe I have to read up on the 5030 again, but didn’t the AE8000 (aside from brightness & black levels) also maintain best 3D quality & CFI even against the newer 5030?

        I am intrigued by the new 4K projectors and I am completely on the fense as to whether I should wait until the fall to see if Epson, Panasonic, Sony or any manufacturer comes out with a AE9000 or 5040UB 4K projector to replace the current AE8000/5030UB, but with all the bells and wistles of the current models…!? Or will that technology not be fully ready & I should maybe not wait and go with one of the 1080p models with their enhanced resolution technologies? Is there that noticeable a difference between 1080p with enhanced resolution turned on, and 4K?

        Darryl

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      And on your second point–Darryl, you don’t like the new site. The survey we did run a while ago indicated that most do prefer it, but at the same time, we’re trying to speed it up, which is a frustration for some, and we’re still fixing some things. You probably didn’t notice, but we also reduced the number of banners per page by about 1/3.

      The primary complaint we hear about the site is the occasional one about the players rotating images too fast, or just being distracting. We’re always trying to improve it.

      In the future, it’s helpful to provide us details – what do you disagree with about my review of the Epson vs. the Panasonic? What is it that you don’t like about the site. That info helps us all. Thanks! -art

      • Darryl Lowe

        Hi Art,
        Thanks for your response. What I don’t like about the new site…it’s hard to fully describe, but I find it hard to find a solid list of all reviews on Home Theatre projects in chronological order, or checking out your blog..I can’t figure out how to get the blog to show like it did before where I could read through them in chronological order and read replies or reply myself. I can’t fully pinpoint it, but I really really liked your old site. It was so well laid out and easy to find reviews (full lists of all reviews even) based on date, based on manufacturer, based on the latest ones, etc. I can’t even fully remember how you had the old site laid out, but I never found myself having a hard time looking for the latest or specific reviews or the blogs, and it just had a good flow to it…
        I hope the new site has improvements and gets closer to the old one was.
        Darryl

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          We actually do have those chronological lists still, but they’re in a different spot. In the first rotating pane at the top of the homepage titled “Newest Projector Reviews and Features,” the first two rotating pages are the “Business and Education Projector Reviews Directory” and the “Home Theater Projectors Review Directory.” If you click those, you’ll be taken to the full lists of every projector reviewed in chronological order, and a paragraph description of each–exactly the same as was on the homepage of the old site. Direct links are below:

          http://www.projectorreviews.com/review/business-and-education-projector-reviews-directory/

          http://www.projectorreviews.com/review/home-theater-projector-reviews-directory/

          Also, lists by manufacturer are also still available. You can click “Manufacturers” on the top masthead to find a list of all manufacturers, which will lead you to pages listing all of the reviews from that company in chronological order.

          Hope that helps.