Epson Home Cinema 5010 Home Theater Projector Review

Home Cinema 5010 Projector 3D

Click to enlarge. So close.This is the primary discussion area for the Epson’s 3D performance:

I really love most of what the Epson Home Cinema 5010 projector offers when doing 3D. It’s the two things it lacks, however, that does take a bit of the fun out of it.

First of all, the Epson Home Cinema 5010 projector is bright when doing 3D. We’re now seeing projectors hitting the market that are roughly twice as bright as all the ones we looked at in the first generation, last year.

This Epson joins its lower cost sibling, and the new Panasonic PT-AE7000, in being the three brightest home theater projectors when doing 3D, and under $5,000, and for that matter, under $10,000. A few others get close. The rest, left in the dust.

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The 3D picture really works for me. I’m not seeing any particular issues, beyond the usual one expects with 3D, which is to say, imperfect, compared to 2D. I’m still learning, and I know I’m not as sensitive to some aspects as are some other folk. Very fast motion cause a kind of flicker (or whatever the proper term is – I don’t think that’s part of what most call “ghosting”). A tiny football on a kick-off sort of flickers in and out of existence, as it flies – but the same “artifact” is true for the Panasonic, the Sony, the Optoma… I think those issues will work themselves out over the next generations, and I consider them a minor inconvenience. Let’s face it – 3D is still far more imperfect than 2D (except in the real world), when it comes to displays.

OK, so, lots of good 3D – where’s the beef?

For one, dynamic iris is not available in 3D mode. Now that’s not as bad as some might think, but it does mean we’re in for a discussion here, some of you might want to drop down about five paragraphs to the “bottom line”.

Actually Epson does not let you use the dynamic iris in 3D modes. Nor the CFI, and some other dynamic features (Super-Resolution). I can understand the logic with the iris – by the time a very bright projector is in 3D, it’s about 1/4th as bright as 2D. That’s huge. So while the Epson puts up a reasonable picture brightness, the blacks are going to be fairly dark. Remember this is still a “UB” projector, even with its iris off, it’s blacker than the lower cost 3010 with iris working on most darker scenes! I didn’t try this, but the Home Cinema 5010 would seem to do better blacks then almost all of those $1500 projectors, even with its dynamic iris turned off.

Being the black level fanatic that I am, the lack of the iris availability has concerned me. I have watched 3D – especially dark scenes, compared to the Panasonic PT-AE7000 and the Optoma HD8300, and both of those do a better job on blacks, since their irises are working.

For this reason, I spent a whole lot of time comparing, and then, watching chunks of my 3D library, using a 100″ sized normal screen or larger, and tried to determine how big a deal this is.

If it was 2D – a magnitude brighter – the advantage of the Panasonic and the Optoma would be significant, and it would cost the Epson dearly. 3D being darker, even at its best, however, mitigates most of this. No doubt about the advantage of the others, especially the Optoma, but I finally (for now) sorted it out this way:

Consider the difference between the 5010 and the Panasonic in terms of 2D blacks. The Panny’s really good, the Epson better. It’s sort of like that, in reverse. Oh, the difference is: Both greater in 3D, And less importan in 3D. In other words, I’d prefer the Panasonic’s blacks in this case, no question, but I could live with the Epson for my 3D viewing.

I watched tonnage, from movies like Alice, Step-Up 3D, some dark (inside the house) scenes in Monster House, other animation, Hubble 3D, Legends of Flight, some concerts and more. It was fine on most, but on a few things, I actually noticed that the blacks could be better. Not on content like Step-Up 3D, Flight, or Tahiti, but a few places in Narnia: The Dawn Trader 3D, and no doubt the cave in Bond’s Quantum of Solace if that was in 3D.

I wish Epson did allow the dynamic iris to function in 3D, but I have decided that I certainly can live with it.

Which brings us to CFI – also missing in action. In this case, I’ll give Epson a pass. Remember the football? I’ve played with the CFI settings on several 3D projectors now, and turned it off, and I still can’t get that tiny football to stay substantial.

It’s either the shutter glasses in general, or my eyes, or both, but that fast motion seems to be the area of greatest weakness in 3D viewing. In other words, if the smoother motion of CFI still leaves us with something more noticeable, it doesn’t matter as much. Even on boxing, on other projectors I’ve tried on and off with their CFI feature. You can tell the difference, just that other things are more noticeable. Ok? Done. I like having CFI, but even in 2D I’ve said many times, it’s a feature I could live without. On the other hand, the Epson would not be competitive if it didn’t have a Dynamic iris for 2D.

Bottom line on 3D: The Epson is Dazzling. I can kvetch (complain) all I want about the dynamic iris not being active, but the overall 3D is bright and stunning. The blacks could be blacker, but are black enough. The rest is killer.

My friends come over and are truly taken aback. (in fairness, that has also been the case with the Panasonic). I plant everyone about 4-5 feet from the screen and show them Hubble 3D, or Flight, or Tahiti, or maybe even football or boxing in 3D (amazing, truly amazing), or perhaps, a movie.

What a projector filling a large screen brings to the party is so euphoric, that the government should ban 3D on anything smaller than 90 inches! (and that from a guy with libertarian tendences).

Home Cinema 5010 Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion

The Home Cinema 5010 has CFI. It seems like previous CFI’s on the older UB projectors, which is to say, even the Low setting is too much for most movies, at least for any purist. It does its job nicely for sports viewing. As noted elsewhere, Epson only allows CFI functionality in 2D. My daughter understands the difference, and can easily spot CFI, but doesn’t seem to really mind a good CFI on a movie. For us purists and enthusiasts, though most of us will prefer OFF for movies.

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