Epson Home Cinema 5020 UB Home Theater Projector Review

Epson Home Cinema 5020 vs. Sharp XV-Z30000

Another DLP projector, This XV-Z30000 launched earlier this year, and was a major improvement from the older Z17000 (which was the first 1080p 3D projector on the market in the US).

Truth is, the old and the new are very different, and the Z30000 is far more competitive.  So, what’s the story vs. the HC5020?

First is price. Start by forgetting the list price (MSRP) which is $4999.  A quick look online shows pricing is mostly at or below $3499. Prices vary a lot, the question is, which ones are authorized dealers?  I always recommend buying from authorized dealers.  I’m just not familiar with how Sharp handles their channels. With Epson pricing tends to be very consistent, and Epson is fanatical about post sales support, so you really don’t have to be concerned.  Online it seems there’s a smattering of many types of dealers, from camera shops, to the we carry everything PC type dealers.  Choose your dealer as wisely as you choose your projector.

By any measure, the Epson will cost less, the question is - $400-$500 less, or closer to $1000 less.

The Sharp is one of your alternatives to consider if you want a wide screen, as it offers Lens Memory, similar to the Panasonic’s.  And to do so, the Sharp offers a 2:1 zoom, that’s almost as much range as the Epson’s 2.1:1.

Sharp’s 3D  glasses are IR, and battery powered, the Epson’s are RF and rechargeable.  The Epson glasses are also significantly lighter.

Black levels are very good with the Sharp, but not up to the Epson.  I’d put them somewhere in the middle between the Epson and the Panasonic.

Native sharpness – (forget dynamic detail enhancement for now) – the Sharp has the advantage.  It’s that single chip aspect – no panels to converge.  The difference is slight, but real.  You aren’t likely to notice or care on film based movies, but switch to all digital content, and then, without digital enhancmeent, the Sharp has the advantage

Brightness:  No contest here.  The XV-Z30000 would be considered an average projector in terms of brightness before 3D hit, and a number of new projectors out these days are about twice as bright the old average.  The Epson HC5020 is obviously one of those.   While calibrated, the Epson is only about 20% brighter than the Sharp projector, it’s when you need every last lumen – including 3D – that the Epson is close to twice as bright, and that folks is significant.

Think this way. If you have a 100″ screen for the Sharp XV-Z30000, then you would get a similarly bright image with the Epson, on about a 140″ diagonal screen.  But only when comparing brightest modes.

The Sharp therefore is an overall excellent projector, but best on screens 110″ and smaller, especially if 3D is going to be a signficant part of your world.  It has a lot of appeal in that case, especially to those folks who, from experience know they prefer DLP.

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