Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB Home Theater Projector Review

$2500 and change gets you great black level performance, and a first class projector in terms of picture.  3D, and 2 pair of glasses, best warranty…for excellent price/performance.

Projector Overview

The Epson HC5030 UB, aka the Home Cinema 5030, gets some evolutionary improvements.  In the US the projector has just started shipping when I received the projector to review. Of course this Epson projector uses 3LCD technology, as do all Epson projectors.  Overall it looks the same as the Home Cinema 5020UB and 5010UB projectors that came before it.  The Home Cinema 5030UB has a near identical twins: The Pro Cinema 6030UB.  We received one of each to play with.

Editor’s temp note:  Before I continue, those of you reading this review when first published will notice that there are relatively few images.  We encountered a bit of a problem relating to calibration of the Home Cinema 5030UB and also the Pro version):  Mike started working on calibrating the projector only to notice that the gear he’s been using for years was producing bad results on the 5030 UB. He concluded that he needed new gear so immediately ordered some… 

As I publish this review, his new gear and software has just arrived, and he just returned the 6030 UB which he tackled first. He’s doing the 4030 next and then the HC5030 UB. I took a limited number of photos so far, the rest are scheduled to be taken and added over the next 48 hours using the Pro Cinema 6030 UB, (and the Home Cinema 5030 UB when he brings that one back) They will all be added this week. 

Before I forget, there’s still one more version, the Home Cinema 5030 UBe. Otherwise identical to the standard 5030UB, the UBe has WirelessHD, a lossless wireless HDMI solution built in.  For this year, the transmitter that you put near your gear has been improved from last year’s version. More under Special features. It sells for an additional $300.

The Home Cinema 5030 UB is sold through online, and local dealers, while the Pro version is sold only through local dealers, costs a bit more and has more goodies included in the box.

As Epson’s newest, the Home Cinema 5030 UB, it replace the projector that was last year’s Best In Class winner in the $2000 to $3500 price range.  Like last year’s the 5030UB officially sells for $2599 with the sales price including two pair of 3D glasses.

For this year, brightness remains the same, with Epson claiming 2400 lumens.  On the other hand, Epson has upped the contrast, now claiming 600,000:1 on paper, a significant improvement, up from 320,000:1.

 

The competition gives Epson a huge break this year.  Normally every year there’s a new Epson UB projector, and every year, using the same Epson built LCD panels, there’s a new, directly competing Panasonic projector.  Last year it was the PT-AE8000 vs. the 5020UB.   This year, projector fans get nothing new from Panasonic, so last year’s projector must do battle with this year’s Epson, with it’s additional improvements. This Epson has some other serious competition, but the most serious are more expensive.  Count those as the JVC DLA-X35 and DLA-RS46U (they are essentially identical projectors sold through different channels).  That projector is starting its second year, no refresh.  The thing is, those JVC’s which have their own strengths, but officially they sell for $3499.  By comparison, Sony is launching the VPL-HW55ES at $3999 but it comes with spare lamp and mount so we treat that as $3500, the “55″ replaces last year’s HW50ES.  Like with the Epson’s some minor improvments to create a newer slightly better projector.

Those have been Epson’s 3 most serious competitors, all costing more, two not refreshed this year!  At lower price points the most serious projectors, the Sharp XV-Z30000 and BenQ W7000 are back again, as well, with the W7000 starting the 3rd year of its product cycle.

The HC5030UB Earns Hot Product Award

This is so simple.  Last year’s 5020 UB won a Hot Product Award.  This projector is better.  Most of the competition hasn’t even updated their projectors this year!  So, the award is basically:  Obvious.  Seriously though, it’s the performance first, but really it’s the whole package:

The strengths that make this projector an award winner include easily having the best black level performance available under $3000 (rivaling many projectors costing more than double), being exceptionally bright in brightest modes making it suitable for caves/home theaters or family/living rooms. This Home Cinema 5030UB also offers really great placement flexibility and a better warranty than any competitor.  Plus, of course, it has a very capable feature set.

Highlights

  • Multiple 2D and 3D modes with best in class brightness in both 2D and 3D
  • THX mode for good looking color, right out of the box (there’s a 3D THX mode too)
  • Ultra-high contrast for excellent black level performance
  • 2400 lumens claimed at brightest suitable for family room / media rooms, etc.
  • Expect 600 – 700 lumens calibrated enough for large (120-130″) screens in home theater setups
  • Newly improved 2.1:1 Fujinon manual zoom lens with lots of vertical and horizontal lens shift
  • Very long life lamp, reasonably priced replacement lamps
  • 3D glasses are RF and rechargeable, 3rd party glasses available
  • Super-Resolution – Epson’s dynamic detail enhancement feature
  • Great warranty and support programs
  • Comes with 2 pair of 3D glasses, a spare lamp, and a ceiling mount
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News And Comments

  • chip

    I have a 3 year old benq w6000 are the epson 5030 or sony 55es noticable improvements to the benq when it comes to watching sports or is it to soon to upgrade.

  • ProjectorReviews.com

    Hi chip, I’d have to say no. If you wanted the absolute best color when at brightest, the Epson would be a bit better, but it certainly won’t be any sharper. Kick back and relax, hopefully true 4K will be somewhat affordable in another two years. -art

  • Jeff Brannan

    I have the JVC RS-20. It’s a terrific projector if not a tad dated. Would you consider the Epson 5030UB an upgrade in performance from the RS-20?

  • kirftis

    i have a optomat hd 20 dlp projector would this be considered an upgrade ? the hd 20 has a 4,000 to 1 contrast and the 5030 has a 600,000:1 would that be a noticeable difference, amd i gonna turn it on and see an obvious difference

  • Venkoon Jb

    stunning review really i loved !!! since i am in india.. ur site is highly helpful ..for a while i was planning to get my dream epson 5030ub/EH-TW8200(non usa model) ..my purpose is solely watching movies ..in pitch black room i have some doubts since there is no demo of projectors in my home town .. my doubts are

    1..color vibrancy of plasma tv VS epson 5030ub ….?? WHICH IS BETTER ??
    2.. led tv black level VS epson 5030ub black level with dynamic iris on/off
    3..epson 5030ub VS Sony VPL-HW55ES vs Sony VPL-HW50ES….
    PLZ KINDLY HELP ME…THANK U .

  • James

    Which is better for bigger screen like 180″, epson 5030UB or Sony HW55ES?

  • Carter

    I am in the air about purchasing the Sony 55 series or a Epson 5030/6030. I am leaning towards the Epson but am on the fence. One thing I am dubious about is the “fast” mode and the softness it adds to the picture. Can you comment on it? Any advice? Also do you think now is a bad time to purchase (heard rumors of fall update to the projector lines)…?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Carter,

      First, yes in less than two weeks time most of the new projectors that will hit the market in the next six months will be announced at CEDIA show in Denver. So, it’s a good time to wait 2 weeks so you have an idea what your alternatives are if you wait a bit longer. That said, most of the projectors announced there will start shipping late October, November, and some of them won’t ship until January/Feb. I don’t know if Epson will have a 5040UB. I’ll no doubt find out before the show, but I’m on a non-disclosure agreement, so I couldn’t say before then. I can say Epson has brought out a new UB projector 7 years in a row. (On the other hand Panasonic had a new pj I think 9 years in a row and didn’t last year.)

      As to Fast mode, I don’t recall any softness in the picture in fast mode. Perhaps because I wasn’t looking for that. Fast color reduces the full color pallet down to 24 bit – 16.7 million colors, for faster processing. That leads to flatness, perhaps a few less shades on a close up of a face, but softness? -art

      • Carter

        I heard it referred to several ways. Basically, in searching forums for input on the projectors, I found that some stated that in fast mode the picture is noticeably less fine to slightly blurry when compared to fine mode. And the only other major complaint was fan noise. Some said that it wasn’t bad and some said that it was close to unbearable…One more thingIf it were you would you go with the Epson over the Sony HW55ES?

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Hi Carter,

          Thanks for that info. I believe features such as Super-Resolution are disabled when in fast mode (I’d have to check again, but it makes sense), which might account for someone saying it doesn’t appear as sharp.

          As to the choice between the HW55ES and the 5030ub – These projectors are so close. The Sony is a touch sharper (when comparing with all those fancy dynamic features working), and on occasion, the Epson will have the slight advantage on very dark scenes. But these two are close. Look for other areas – relating to what you watch, your room, etc. to pick your winner. Epson wins on things like max brightness, placement flexibility. The Sony has more calibrated lumens (unless you calibrate living room mode on the Epson.

          I consider each to have some trade-offs, but if I had to say, I’d give the Sony the slight overall advantage, except in one area, where the Epson has a fairly substantial advantage, and that’s pricing, at least here in the US. -art

          • Carter

            Thanks! I’m not going to have complete light control. This will be going in a man cave and not a dedicated theater room. That being said, if I understand you correctly, the Sony will actually be brighter once calibrated even though the lumen claims by the manufacturers is actually higher on Epson (except for living room mode)? If I were to calibrate the living room mode would that swing the advantage back to the Epson?

          • ProjectorReviews.com

            If you are suffering from even modest ambient light, I doubt that the difference between a calibrated THX mode, and a calibrated living room mode in terms of color precision would be noticeable, or barely.

            I’d say depends a lot on budget. Think on this. CEDIA is next week (Sept 10th), then we’ll see what’s going to be coming out in between Oct and March/April.

            So, you might want to wait, unless you are getting some incredible deal. At least to see if the 5030UB will be replaced. I don’t expect a replacement for the HW55ES but ya never know.

            Budget is important, or it is from my perspective, I’ve advised a lot of folks to consider when buying, to think about 4K – mostly true 4K. Today that starts with the $15K Sony, but I have to think that true 4K projectors will be out below $5K in another two years time.

            And “pseudo” 4K projectors such as the $5K JVC X500R/RS49, are likely to be down in the $3K range perhaps in another year.

            So, my thought is that if there’s a noticeable price difference, save the bucks now, and get that next projector a little sooner… -art

  • http://batman-news.com Jason

    Always a fan of the site, bought my first projector long time ago after reading reviews. Epson 6500UB and have been super happy with it. It’s 1080p, my use turned from movies to every day. Video games, movies, tv, sports, all are good with the 6500. Wondering though, is it time for an upgrade to the 5030. Not big on 3d so thats not a major feature for me. But how much different is a 6500 as still 1080? I have blackout blinds so light not really an issue. Suggestions? Buy a $300 replacement bulb or upgrade?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Jason,

      It’s always a personal call, based on your long term thinking and budget.

      Without 3D the improvements are mostly black level, and while visible, not dramatic.

      With the new firmware upgrade, you will be able to do more “detail enhancement” and “super-resolution” sharpening. So you will be watching what seems to be a sharper image.

      That said, your alternative is buy the replacement lamp, and hunker down for another year, or two, or maybe 3.

      Myself, I’m sold on 4K. I can see the advantages of 4K image processing and what’s called “pixel shifting” which is used by Epson in their LS10000 and the three top of the line JVCs (they call theirs e-shift).

      The problem is that you are looking at around $5K or more to get into pixel shifted projectors (least expensive JVC is $4999 but some discounting can be found.

      On the other hand true 4K is coming. I’m hoping we’ll have true 4K in the US for under $5000 in two years. Sony is the only true 4K player in the industry. IN the US that’s $15K before discounting. But Sony just announced a true 4K projector for outside the US (EU at least) that should come in at less than $10,000.

      So, perhaps it will be three years before there’s true 4K for $3000… Hard to guess.

      (Japan claims they will be doing broadcast 8K content by the year 2020), so 3 years from now for affordable 4K seems reasonable.

      I’m holding off until I can afford a true 4K projector, but one of my reviewers – Ron, who’s a hard core enthusiast, by comparison, is looking at replacing his 8xxx series Epson UB with the LS10000. I must admit the LS10000 produces the sharpest looking image this side of the $15K Sony. But its pricy at $7999 (in part due to the very nice dual laser light engine, which has to account for $1000 – $1500 of its cost.

      On the other hand, if a projector as sharp as the LS1000 were under 4K street price today (lamp or laser), I’d be buying it.

      Bottom line: Are you patient? Hope that helps… -art

  • John Mastroleo

    the advanced calibrations for the Epson 5030 did not say the size of screen. What size and gain screen was used for the calibration? Nice review.