Epson Pro Cinema 6020 UB Home Theater Projector Review
The Epson Pro Cinema 6020 (click for specs) projector is nearly identical to the Epson Home Cinema 5020UB, which we reviewed in October 2012. We had both the 6020UB and 5020UB here, but to write two fully separate reviews on these two projectors made no real sense. After all, image quality and performance should be identical, except that the 6020 fully supports use of an anamorphic lens.
As such, the following pages discuss the 6020, but much of the text is taken directly from the Home Cinema 5020 review.
1/27/2013 - Art Feierman
Epson Pro Cinema 6020 Projector Overview
The Epson Pro Cinema 6020, aka the Epson 6020, aka the Pro Cinema 6020UB, is Epson's second generation 3D capable projector. Like all Epson projectors, it is an LCD projector. Epson is the primary manufacturer of this LCD technology, with most of the worldwide marketshare. They supply LCD panels to other manufacturers, including to their most direct competitor, the Panasonic PT-AE8000. That Panasonic uses the same panels as this Epson Pro Cinema 6020 UB.
The Pro Cinema 6020 is virtually identical to its siblings, the Home Cinema 5020UB and 5020UBe (wireless HDMI capabilities), except that it comes in black (not white) and is only sold through Epson's local dealer network. It has a MAP (minimum advertised price) of $3499, but for that price it comes bundled with a spare lamp, two pairs of 3D glasses, and a ceiling mount, plus a 3-year warranty with replacement instead of two.
Star Trek image from the Pro Cinema 6020:
Let's talk brightness. The claim of 2400 lumens makes this Epson Pro Cinema 6020 projector a light canon. It is bright. Of the 3D capable home theater projectors, only the Panasonic ties it in terms of manufacturer specs (though the Epson did measure brighter, both calibrated and in "brightest" mode - but more on those numbers, on the Performance page.
The real competition for Epson's HC6020UB are other 2D/3D projectors. That includes other major players besides the Panasonic PT-AE8000, including the Sony VPL-HW50ES, the Optoma HD8300, Sharp XV-Z30000, and JVC DLA-X30 (RS45). Of course there are more expensive projectors as well, but all of these are essentially under $3500 street price, though some by only a few dollars.
Another Hot Product Award for Epson
The Epson Pro Cinema 6020 will share it's Hot Product Award with both of its siblings; the Home Cinema 5020e and the Home Cinema 5020. I realize the Pro Cinema 6020 has a slightly different value proposition, but this year, with the Pro Cinema models now sharing features like THX with the Pro, they are similar enough, and have a similar price performance ratio (when considering the various "Pro" value adds), to put them all together.
The HC6020 is designed for your home theatre.
But thanks to its brightness, the HC6020 is just as capable in those not so perfect "media rooms", family rooms, living rooms, bonus rooms, etc.
In fact, this Epson is the brightest of all the over $1000, under $10,000 home theater projectors, with 3D, (and only 1 2D projector - Panasonic's PT-AR100U) -we've ever reviewed. (I'm not talking about those business projectors adapted (a bit) for the home. Those can be far brighter, but they do not approach "home theater" quality.
Epson Pro Cinema 6020 Projector Highlights
- 2D and 3D capable with best in class brightness for both 2D and 3D
- THX mode for excellent color, right out of the box
- Great black level performance - as has been the case with each of it's previous 4 generations
- Rated 2400 lumens (and comes very close) making it very bright for a home projector targeted first for a dedicated home theater, but just as happy in a family room
- Excellent placement flexibility thanks to a 2.1:1 zoom and lots of vertical and horizontal
- Long life lamp, reasonably priced
- Split screen capability
- 3D glasses are RF - radio frequency - they stay in sync when you look away - and the new ones are very lightweight
- Super-Resolution - a dynamic detail enhancement feature
- Wireless HDMI (significantly improved)
- 3 year warranty with replacement program for both years
- Includes 2 pair of 3D glasses (active shutter) 3rd party glasses available
- Excellent price/performance value
- Black finish
- Comes with spare lamp and ceiling mount
Basic Specs for Epson Pro Cinema 6020
HC6020 UB MAP: $3499 including 2 pair 3D glasses, spare lamp and ceiling mount
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2400 lumens, 2178 measured max, 602 lumens, post calibration in "best" mode
Zoom Lens ratio: 2.1:1 manual zoom
Lens shift: Horizontal and Vertical (manual)
Lamp life: 4000 hours at full power, 5000 hours in eco mode - Lamp replacement cost: $299 (at list price)
Weight: 18.4 lbs.
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor and replacement
View full specifications here: Epson Pro Cinema 6020
Epson Pro Cinema 6020 Special Features
Pro Cinema 6020 Anamorphic Lens
Sporting a 2.1:1 zoom lens, and more vertical and horizontal lens shift than almost anything else out there, nothing can match this Epson as long as you are purchasing a 16:9 screen. This means you can place the projector relatively close, or, in almost any room, instead, place on a shelf in the back of the room. However, this will be giving up some brightness placing it far back, as is always the case.
If you want to go "wide screen" (2.35:1), you can, as this 6020 also has an anamorphic lens.
Pro Cinema 6020 Dynamic Iris
A dynamic iris is detectable, sure. They all are to one degree or another. I prefer the High Speed setting (there are two settings).
What's special about Epson's iris, is that it seems to have more range than most others. Consider; the more range to the iris, the more likely it's going to be noticeable. It also depends how clever the design is. The end result, this Epson's iris delivers darker blacks than any other sub $3000 projector I know of. And it accomplishes this while still having one of the least noticeable iris actions around.
Comparison image of the Pro Cinema 6020 (left) and the JVC DLA-X55R projectors.
Pro Cinema 6020 Projector: 3D
Better than last year.
How is it improved? Let me count the ways:
1. Black levels drastically improved in 3D, thanks to the dynamic iris, which now works when in 3D (assuming you want it to). Last year's model did not allow the iris to be usable in 3D. I really wasn't happy with that, and complained to all who would listen (including Epson). As I said at the time, why deny users the choice? Considering that 3D is darker to begin with than 2D, last year, Epson wouldn't let you use the iris in 3D.
2. New, lighter (and brighter) glasses, which are pretty comfortable, when on the head of a large headed, glasses wearing, reviewer
3. Glasses are now RF (radio frequency - no line of sight required) not IR. They don't drop the sync if you look away briefly, or
4. Overall a rather noticeable increase in brightness, thanks to the new glasses?, plus "who know's what" other technologies inside the projector.
Pro Cinema 6020 Gaming Abilities
Lag times coming soon. Epson has indicated that this projector would have sub-50ms lag times. Last year they were around 80. Generally under 50ms is acceptable to most serious players of fast games such as first person shooters. I had the opportunity to measure lag times using the same timer that my two gaming bloggers use. These are based on using the timer on my MacBook Pro, feeding the projector via a high quality HDMI cable (8-10 feet). In multiple photos (about a dozen) of the two timers (on the projected image and the laptop screen, almost all cases it measured a 50 ms lag difference, the three cases where it did not, the projector measured 48, 49, and 49. I think at least relative to the MacBook 50 ms should be the number. The 6020UB is on the way now, to one of my gamers, for a more indepth look at gaming on the HC6020 UB.
Pro Cinema 6020 Creative Frame Interpolation
The Pro Cinema 6020 has CFI. It seems like previous CFI's on the older UB projectors, which is to say, even the Low setting is too much for most movies, at least for any purist. It does its job nicely for sports viewing. My daughter understands the difference, and can easily spot CFI, but doesn't seem to really mind a good CFI on a movie. For us purists and enthusiasts, though most of us will prefer OFF for movies. In 3D, as was the case last year, CFI is disabled.
Below, an image from the last Star Trek movie.
Epson's Fujinon 2.1:1 zoom lens
Epson's been using this lens since the original Pro Cinema 1080 more than 5 years ago. It's got a touch more zoom range than anything close (such as the competing Panasonic). The optics do look pretty good. The lens allows a really sharp look at your pixels if you stand next to the screen. This is a 3 chip LCD projector, which means there's never perfect conversion. With the Epson Pro Cinema 5010, no issues on the optics, and more placement flexibility than other lenses, very few of which offer more than 1.6:1.
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, and brightest, when the projector is at its closest.
Lamp life is most impressive. Epson specs their Pro Cinema 6020 lamp at 4000 hours running at full power, and 5000 hours in eco-mode. This puts it in a rather select, small group that offer 4000 lumens at full power. I don't believe I have heard of any projector claiming more than 6000 (and only one claiming that).
The lamp lists for $299, which is less than most, and not much more than half the price of some competitors. That combined with the long life makes for a very low cost of operation, and further separates these Epson projectors from several good competitors in terms of overall cost of ownership.
Of course all of these projectors with high pressure lamps lose brightness over time
Bottom line: Excellent lamp life at a most reasonable cost, makes for a very low cost of operation. Compared to projectors with the old 2000/3000 hour lamps, a heavy user can save a couple hundred dollars a year, more if the competition's lamp costs a lot more, considering some sell for up to $500!
Picture In Picture
Once again, Epson offers Picture in Picture, which is always a nice touch for the small percentage who will use it. Keep in mind that you need two sources, but they both can't be HDMI. Epson has 2 HDMI inputs, but, essentially, as with other projectors, there's only one HDMI circuit, with an electronic switch between HDMI 1 and 2.
Other Dynamic Controls
As is the case with most home theater projectors today, there are multiple additional dynamic features, which can come into play for sharpness, gamma, etc. We do most of our testing with these turned off. Every cool dynamic feature takes something else away, when it adds some other performance. There are always trade-offs. That makes most of those dynamic controls personal preference based.
There are almost an infinite number of combinations of dynamic controls when you consider sharpness and detail enhancement, contrast (dynamic iris), gamma, and the others. Adjust one a bit, and something else reacts slightly. Mike found the gamma to be another improvement compared to last year.
Ultimately, the Pro Cinema 6020 has a lot of small improvements over last year's, and a couple of bigger ones. Add them up, though, and you end up with a better, more refined projector. Not such a bad thing considering last year's Homc Cinema 6010 was our Best In Class winner - our second highest award, with only our Outstanding Product of the year, being of even greater significance.
There's lots more to discuss, so it's time too take look at the hardware.