Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB Home Theater Projector Review

EPSON HOME CINEMA 5030 UB vs. SHARP XV-Z30000,  EPSON HOME CINEMA 3020, EPSON HOME CINEMA 5020UB

Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB 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 HC5030 UB?

First is price. Start by forgetting the list price (MSRP) which is $4999.  A quick look online shows pricing is mostly at or below $2499, so these two are comparable price-wise. 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 HC5030 UB 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.

 

Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 3020

What does the extra $1000 buy you (both come with 2 pair of 3D glasses), when comparing the Home Cinema 5030 UB with the Home Cinema 3020?

First and foremost, you are getting a higher performance projector in terms of picture quality. The HC5030 UB’s black level performance is not only far superior, but it’s also better than anything near its price (above or below).  Even if you were to turn off the Epson HC5030 UB’s dynamic iris and leave the dynamic iris on with the 3020, the 5030 UB would still produce the blacker blacks.  Of course that’s all expected since UB stands for Ultra Black.

The HC5030 UB lacks the more portable friendly Home Cinema 3020 projector’s pair of 10 watt speakers, but adds a good deal more placement flexibility thanks to variable lens shift and a zoom lens with more range. 2.1:1 vs. 1.6:1  Neither projector is particularly quiet in terms of audible noise. Both have the same excellent warranty. And same long lamp life.

The Home Cinema 5030 UB has dynamic features the HC3020 lacks. While the more expensive 5030 UB has full CFI for smooth motion, the Epson 3020 offers only the more basic FI – simple frame doubling. Both offer Super-Resolution this year.

If you aren’t a home theater fanatic, don’t demand those really dark blacks, and just want a great projector for the family, with good color and a good feature set, go with the Home Cinema 3020. If you have the budget, tend to be “into” the equipment – an enthusiast, then it’s rather easy to rationalize the extra expense.  As I basically said above, comparing the 5030 UB to the Sony: Both offer similar price/performance – with the HC5030 UB projector, you will be getting your money’s worth.  You only need to decide what it is about the 5030 UB that you want, that makes you spend the difference.

Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB vs. Epson Home Cinema 5020UB

Each year, when a new projector comes out, such as this Home Cinema 5030 UB, there’s a period of a month or more where it competes against dwindling supplies of “last year’s projector.

So, is it worth paying more?  Generally I would say yes.  If you can still find HC5020UBs (there are some around now, mid Nov. 2012), then consider.  I find the improvements to be a number of small things that add up to a  better projector, especially in 3D.  I figure that the Home Cinema 5030UB is worth, perhaps $300-$400 more, over the 5020UB for those on a tight budget.  Less than that difference, would make the 5020UB not that good a value, as you’ll get less for the older 5020UB when it’s time to sell and upgrade.

My initial thoughts were that the HC5030 UB, despite the jump in contrast, offers only slightly better blacks.  Weeks of watching it confirms that.  Folks it’s a subtle difference.  You also get Super-Resolution working in 3D with the 5030UB.   Also of note, the Split screen of the 5020UB is gone – it allowed two same sized (or different sized) windows, side by side.  The problem is that only one could be an HDMI source.  With the 5030UB, that’s history, instead you get picture in picture, one full window, one small inset window.  The good news is that both windows can be powered from your HDMI inputs at the same time.

This is the story:  For those on a tight budget, saving a few hundred will still get you a great projector (5020UB), with just a little less performance than the 5030UB.  A good trade-off.

 

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