Epson Pro Cinema 4030 Projector – Review

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Super-Resolution

Over the years, sharpening tools and other image enhancement solutions have become more sophisticated.  Many are dynamic, making split second decisions comparing one frame to the next.  It’s more than just sharpening, it’s contrast and more.  Overall I refer to such controls as dynamic detail enhancement.  Epson has offered Super-Resolution on UB projectors for the past 3 years, but the Pro Cinema 4030 is their first home theater projector to have Super-Resolution that lacks the “UB” label.

It’s a very effective tool.  You’ll find it crisps up the image slightly, without any noticeable artifacts in the lower settings, and at setting 3 out of 5, it seem visibly sharper, without loss of detail. You can spot some artifacts if looking closely, and it’s in part, dependent on the content.  I often used 1 or 2 for movies and sometimes even 3, and 3 for sports.

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Dynamic Iris and Contrast

The Pro Cinema 4030 may not have the UB (Ultra black) designation, but this projector (which claims 120,000:1 contrast) offers some pretty good black level performance.  No, it’s not a match for the 6030UB and 5030UB, but it should be able to hold its own with other ultra-high contrast projectors including the Panasonic PT-AE8000U, BenQ W7000, Sharp XV-Z3000, and perhaps the JVC DLA-X35R (which has no dynamic iris, but has better dynamic range).

Remember, better blacks is something you might barely notice in a bright scene where some blacks are present, but the difference is almost “night and day” on very dark scenes.  It’s really more like “night vs. dusk.”  Consider:

 

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Picture In Picture

Congratulations to Epson for having a Picture – In – Picture feature that lets you use two HDMI sources.  That’s been a sticking point for years in the few projectors sporting PIP.  Last year, in the 5020UB and 6020UB, there was side by side viewing – two equal sized images (or one slightly smaller than the other), but you could only use 1 HDMI source, and had to use a different source for the other window.  This year Epson let’s you use HDMI 1 and 2, but the limitation is that it’s PIP, so one image is full screen and the other a small inset.  Still, better than what else is out there. A nice touch, for those who like PIP.   I might have for football, but instead I shell out for DirecTV GameMix which gives me up to 8 games at once.

In the image shown here, you can see in the upper left hand corner of the main image, the smaller picture.  The larger image in this case is off of DirecTV while the smaller picture is the main screen of my Sony PS3.  Takes but a second to swap large for small.

Still PIP is a good way to keep your eye on a second screen, maybe you are watching something in real time, it goes to a commercial so you put something else on the main screen, the show you are watching in the window, and then when commercials are over, switch the windows, and close the one you don’t need.  It’s all a quick click or two!

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HDMI-Link

HDMI-Link allows a projector like this Epson to talk to other devices that have HDMI-Link.  That’s why the Epson remote control has a whole section of buttons that look like they belong on a DVR or Blu-ray player.  I’m talking about play, fast forward, skip chapter, pause, stop, etc.

HDMI-Link works.  I can control my HDMI-Link equipped Panasonic Blu-ray player using my Epson remote.  Setup is mostly a matter of identifying other devices on a list.  You can determine if the Epson will be able to power down another device, or allow that device to be able to shut off the Epson.  It’s not rocket science, but it is HDMI, so perfection remains out of reach.

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