Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB Home Theater Projector Review
Out of the Box color performance is just dandy. Even Brightness control is right on the money for not crushing dark shadow detail in most modes. Natural and THX modes look very good. Living Room is extremly bright and very watchable, great for sports. Dynamic as expected is a strong on greens/yellows, but not too bad. Use it when you need every last lumen.
But, as I post this review I cannot yet report accurately on the final calibrated result. I will add those comments in 2-3 days, once Mike returns the Home Cinema 5030 UB to me after calibrating it with his new equipment. That said, Epson’s have always had the controls to be dialed in extremely accurately.
If anything these Epsons tend to lean just a tad towards green calibrated, just as Sonys tend to lean a touch red, at least the way Mike calibrates projectors (he’s a THX certified calibrator). Mostly I only notice this when placing projectors side by side. On paper the Epson should produce near perfect calibration results, if past models are any indicator. The picture will be pleasing.
Still, it’s the black level peformance the HC5020 UB that is it’s single greatest strength in terms of the image. You’ve got to spend roughly an extra thousand to find two projectors that are, competive as far as blacks go.
Here’s the thing, on bright and average lit scenes the difference in how black the blacks of a projector are, makes but a small difference to the picture, but on really dark scenes, it’s virtually night and day, or rather; night vs. dusk. The image quality differences between projectors gets rather dramatic when the scenes are very dark and mostly very dark.
Lower cost projectors with very good black performance such as the BenQ W7000, The Panasonic PT-AE8000U and the Sharp XV-Z30000, do well, but there’s still a significant difference between any of those and this Epson on dark scenes. That’s the ticket, on dark scenes the Epson’s just plain better than those others.
Now you know placement flexibility shouldn’t be a problem. The combination of lots of vertical and horizontal lens shift, plus the 2.1:1 zoom ratio Fujinon lens a 2.1:1 zoom lens can’t be beat if you are going with the typical 16:9 screen. If you want to go “wide screen” (2.35:1), you should opt for the Pro Cinema 6030 UB with two modes to support anamporphic lens.
The Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB in a Family room, Living room, Media Room
The Epson has roughly 2000 usable lumens. There are only a few real home projectors out there that are brighter, and none I can think of more than 50% brighter. For these types of rooms we presume less optimized rooms, likely without dark walls and ceiling. We also presume that in these environments that watching with ambient light present is more often than not.
Match this Epson with the right screen and it should be about the best picture quality projector you can put in a room (including being bright enough, without spending drastically more. True, Epson just launched three much brighter projectors for these types of rooms, starting at $3500 and 4000 lumens, but those projectors are not as great movie projectors due to the lack of serious black level performance, when you do fully darken your room.
The Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB in a Dedicated Home Theater
I’ve been using the older 5020 UB for about 25% of my total viewing time this past year. I would assume if you have a good theater setup your experiences in your theater with a 5030 UB should be similar to mine. So, here goes: My room is a pretty good home theater with walls ceiling and floor all dark black or blue. There are some surfaces not really dark, but it’s a great room for viewing. In this room you would never have need to watch a movie in any mode but your calibrated, unless you wanted some lights on for social. For general TV or sports normally running select lights on some light coming in the window, if well controlled is fine when you punch up to brightest modes with the 5030 UB. Sports are sensational, with CFI engaged, lamp on full Super-resolution on 2 or 3, and people in the room.
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