Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB Home Theater Projector Review

Dynamic Iris

Epson’s dynamic iris is one of the keys to the great black level performance of the Home Cinema 5030 UB.  For this year, Epson claims to have improved the iris in terms of reducing light leakage especially when it’s closed down the most for dark scenes.  That is attributed as the primary reason for th increase in the contrast claim. As was the case last year, I believe Epson’s iris simply has more range than most others. The trick is to keep the iris from being noticeable.  You can always spot dynamic irises on some types of scenes if you are looking for it, the trick is to not notice it on those same scenes when you are just watching content.  There are two modes – Normal and High Speed. Both actually work very nicely although I have tended to stick with High Speed in the past, and while reviewing this projector.

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WirelessHD

We did test a UBe last year, and found the WirelessHD to work well.  The UBe version, if you recall, is $300 more.

Using it is “different.”  Wireless, in combination with HDCP (Blu-ray copy protection) tends to make you have to wait patiently when starting up a new movie.  You know how your Blu-ray player changes resolutions back and forth as it works through launching discs and trailers and the main movie screen.  Well, with HDMI cables, there are still obvious delays. But you see things happening or going away on your screen, with some pauses with nothing displayed  When you go wireless, it often takes a few seconds extra, so many of the transitory screens never get projected. It’s not a problem, you are just “in the dark” longer!  You can hook up five HDMI sources and also Digital Audio (Toslink connector, fibre).

Consider the Home Cinema 5030 UBe if it can save you a bundle of installation expense opening walls to run wiring, or, if it’s just the way you want to go!

The system is lossless – that is, the picture quality should be every bit as good as when using expensive wiring.

Creative Frame Interpolation (CFI)

The Home Cinema 5030 UB has CFI, of course. I did not inquire as to whether there were any changes to the CFI.  I tend to only use it for sports.  For those sports I stay away from the highest setting.  I consider CFI to be a nice added feature, but not a critical one, although some folks may like it more than I.

New for the Home Cinema 5030UB, CFI works when watching 3D. That’s one of the small improvements you get with this new generation projector.

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HDMI-Link

Of course the Home Cinema 5030 UB supports HDMI-Link, considering the 5020 UB did, that’s no surprise.  From the Epson remote control, you can control other devices such as one of the many Blu-ray players that support HDMI-Link. A full set of DVD type controls can be found on the Epson remote.  We’ll take a look at the Home Cinema 5030 UB remote control on the Hardware Tour pages.

After Mike recalibrated with his new equipment:  X-rite Display 3 PRO colorimeter with ChromaPure Standard software.

First is an image we always use, from his first calibration. It was obvious to him that he needed new gear when it told him this was “dead on”!

The second image is after his new calibration:  Skin tones look great!

 

Epson's Upgraded Fujinon 2.1:1 zoom lens

Epson’s been using a Fujinon 2.1:1 manual zoom lens since even before the UB series.  The original projector to sport it was the old Epson Home Cinema 1080, perhaps 7 years ago.  For this year, however, Epson reports that the Fujinon lens itself has been improved.  According to Epson, the new configuration has reduced lens flare.

Just remember, if you are going to place the projector at the maximum distance from your screen, as with all projectors with zoom lenses, the optics are at their least bright, conversely they are brightest, when the projector is at its closest.  On the other hand, and that same maximum distance, you get a little less optical distortion such as barrel roll.  There are always minor trade-offs.

Lamp Life

Lamp life claims are the same as last year:  Epson says that the Home Cinema 5030 UB lamp will provide 4000 hours of life running at full power, and 5000 hours in eco-mode.  That’s about as good as it gets.

The lamp lists for $299, which is less than most, and not much more than half the price of some competitors. JVC I is still charging $499 for their replacement lamps, including the one that fits this Epson’s closest compeition.  The lower cost of the Epson lamp, combined with the long life provides a very low cost of operation, and further and enhances the Epson’s value proposition.

No question that the lamp life is one of the longest, and the replacement cost definitely on the low side for projectors in this price range. My own, old JVC, is only rated 2000 hours on its lamp.

Picture in Picture

Epson again offers Picture in Picture.  The 5030UB allows you to put up two sources at once.  You can decide where to place the smaller “In Picture” window in terms of top or bottom, left or right.  The smaller window comes in two sizes – small, and very small.  I’d estimate that “large” in window, is a about 300 pixels wide (compared to 1920 pixels for the whole screen).

What sets Epson’s Picture in Picture capability on the Home Cinema 5030UB and other new UB projectors (and the Pro Cinema 4030 too), is that this projector can display two HDMI sources at once.  That effectively means Epson has enough circutry to support two HDMI’s not just have one circut and a switch as with almost all other projectors.  With BenQ and others only one source can be HDMI.  In some cases, with Picture in Picture, I’ve even encountered designs where the small window is static only.

Not so these Epson’s  And you can swap back and forth between which source is filling the large window, which the small.  Well done, although a Side-by-Side feature be a great addition so that we could have two of the same size images side by side.  (Or at the least give us a third larger size, perhaps 500 pixels wide, so that you can really see some details in that “small” window.

Super-Resolution

Super-Resolution is back.  This is Epson’s “dynamic detail enhancement system”.  More clever than a basic sharpness control, it adds a reasonable amount of extra sharpness – detail enhancement – via dynamic use of contrast, sharpening and other tools. I have always found Super-Resolution to work pretty well.  Settings 1 and 2 do some minor improvement, setting 3 really makes you notice, but on 3 or higher, you may also start noticing some artifacts from the process.  Still, using 3 on all digital content such as Blu-ray travel discs, such as those from Discovery HD, Travel HD, etc, can really add some “amazement”.  (On cable or satellite where there’s more compression and other noise, 3 is more likely to have artifacts noticed.)

The Super-Resolution works well, although I’ll definitely say that Sony’s Reality Creation is a bit better, of the two.  JVC’s “4K e-shift3″ (not true 4K) is another competitor, which works very differently, but is both more different and more comparable to the Epson, than the Sony which has the best I’ve seen.  Still, Super-Resolution is a good feature to have.  Use judiciously.  Remember, none of these is going to get you particularly close to the true 4K content that’s coming, shown on a true 4K projector.

New for this year Super-Resolution now works in 3D modes.

Hardware time!  Let’s take a tour!

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