The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Epson HC5020 UB Projector – Competitor's Page Update

I have finally posted the Epson’s competitors page, which includes many paragraphs comparing it to the Panasonic PT-AE8000, as well as sections comparing to the other key home theater competition:  Sharp XV-Z30000, Optoma HD8300, Sony VPL-HW50ES (it’s most formidable competitor), as well as the lower cost Epson HC3020, and last year’s HC5010UB.

Some of you are going to ask… where’s the annual Panasonic vs. Epson multi-page comparison?  Fear not projector fans, that’s why the delay.  I really had hoped to “knock off” the comparison in a couple of days, but it’s only half done, so I took a few hours to get the Epson competitor’s page done first.

Those of you who are going to ask about the Panasonic’s competitors page…  I’m going to drop in the same Panny vs. Epson you’ll find on the Epson page.  I still have the rest of PT-AE8000′s page to do, it’s just I’m here buried in projectors with the Mitsubishi HC7900DW waiting to be written up, and 3 more here, and several more due at month end (including at least 1 JVC).

I’m trying to stay focused on the “current” while occasionally sparing some time to catch up on old, unfinished business.  This is the time of year where being the only home theater projector reviewer means there’s never enough time.   -art

News And Comments

  • Alex

    Hey Art, one issue you brought up prior to your reviews for the Epsons was cross-compatibility of the glasses, specifically with the Panny RF glasses. Any word there? I did catch your mention that the 3020 was not backwards-compatible with any of the IR glasses, which saved me from buying a bunch of the PS3 glasses on the cheap only to have to return them.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Alex, let me look into that. I do not believe the Panny and new Epson glasses are compatible. I definitely seem to recall that from side by side, but then, unless I’m spacing out, the Panny glasses are also rechargeable, but I think they are still IR glasses. Ah, my brain seems clogged with too much data today. -art

  • Jim Chatterton

    Enjoy your reviews. I hope that you will keep us up to-date on 4K up-converting projectors

  • Kevin

    Hey Art,

    Thanks for posting these fantastic updates to your reviews. I’d be lost without them.

    One other thing that might be worth noting in the “Epson HC5020 vs HC5010″ section: the 5020 lagtime (~50ms) is significantly lower than the 5010 (80ms); this alone could justify the price difference for the gamers our there.

    Thanks as always,

    • Lisa Feierman

      Thanks Kevin, I will add that in. It was an oversight. -art

  • Wayne Louks

    I have my choice narrowed down between the Epson 5020UBe and the Panasonic PT-AE8000U projectors but I have a question for which will be best for my consideration .. first a little info:

    - I have read your reviews and your “comparison” .. and it looks like you would be more apt to recommend the Epson 5020UBe
    - This will go into my basement home theater .. controlled lighting .. mostly will be quite dark
    - Will be used primarily for watching movies (blu-ray/DVD)
    - Will be on an 88” Carada Classic 1.0 Gain white screen .. hung (basically flush mounted) from low ceiling (replacing an older NEC HT1100 DLP with Anamorphic Lens) about 12ft from screen positioned upside down around the top edge of the screen (assuming I can use my current mounting with either projector .. most likely very little TV content will be viewed as I have a projector in my family room for that primary viewing
    - Am interested in good 3D viewing .. though obviously with content, 2D will be the majority (though I have accumulated several 3D titles when I have had the choice/chance) .. though may be wanting to see how the 2D to 3D conversion will work out
    - As for cost .. right now, it looks like the Panasonic PT-AE8000U would be a little less expensive as it looks like I can get it for around $200+/- less expensive with a price $100 rebate .. plus 2 sets of glasses included

    I noticed the Panasonic PT-AE8000U supports 1080p/24 but it does looks like the Epson 5020UBe supports only 1080p/60 .. was wondering your thoughts with my considerations if the Panasonic might be the better “film” and “3D” projector (considering 24fps support and/or what seems to be better FI) or if this would not be a concern and should still consider the Epson the better option?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Wayne,

      First, both support 1080p 24. It’s always at tough call between these two. From my perspective, you don’t have to worry about brightness, at any point, not even 3D, due to the size and gain of your screen. I never got around to viewing the Panasonic’s 2D to 3D conversion. The Epson’s is not good. Generally I’m not a fan. Mitsubishi’s HC7900 does a much better job than the Epson, but I’m still not watching theirs either for 2D to 3D, I’m too likely to be “observing” the flaws. I think it’s fun, though for personal “home” videos.
      I’ve always given the Panny the slight edge on natural, the Epson, a touch more “pop”. You had an anamorphic lens, so I would assume that your 88″ screen is anamorphic? In that case, the Panny’s lens memory is a critical feature for you. The 5020 doesn’t support an anamorphic lens, only the 6020. If you do have a 16:9 screen, then that’s a moot point. However, from your list of items, most would favor the Panny, with just one major exception, and that’s black levels. Both will be a drastic improvement over your NEC, but the Epson definitely is a “cut above” at blacks, but otherwise, including the pricing you mentioned, it would seem the Panasonic is in your immediate future.
      Let me know how it turns out. -art

  • James Simpson

    Hi Art,

    I’ve just brought home an Epson 5020UBe thanks in part to your thorough review. It is my first projector! A question for you related to lens shifting. In their setup guide, Epson recommends aligning the lens of the projector with either the top or bottom of the screen. Why wouldn’t they recommend the vertical center of the screen as the optimal position for the lens?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Greetings James,

      Great question. I’m not sure of the answer, but I’ll take a stab at it. First, recognize that positioning even with the center of the screen is not practical for most folks. They either don’t mount, or they mount up high. High so that people aren’t blocking the image when they are moving around, etc.

      Second. Like most things, the optics are hardly simple. Various lens shift schemes have different strengths and weaknesses. In rare cases, for example, we’ve measured more than a 30% difference in brightness, depending on how much lens shift used, and in the case of one old top of the line InFocus, it actually got substantially brighter when use used lots of shift. That may be an issue here, it may be optimized to be at it’s sharpest around the 0 offset points, or it may simply be because Epson recognizes that 0 offset is near where most of us use, and that maximum lens shift is often used by folks with very high ceilings (or a very low table). It may be that at maximum lens shift (and even at center point), the lens setup Epson uses has more optical distortion, is less bright, etc.

      I’ve never really attempted to figure out that stuff. Why? because it would seem that if you “need” lots of lens shift, then you are going to mount where you need it to. This may be Epson’s way of saying – yes we give you more lens shift that just about everyone else, but you are best off, not using all of it (for whichever reasons).

      Those are my guesses, your’s are probably just as good. I could ask Epson, but they probably don’t really know… -art

  • George Hoenninger


    Did you see any convergence issues with the 5020? I have been reading about this issue over at AVS and it has me concerned.

    Also, how does this latest offering from Epson compare to my much older 8500UB? I am trying to determine if there is enough of an improvement to upgrade.

    Thanks for your thoughts.


    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi George, I’ve had both a 5020e and a 6020 here. Neither had great convergence, but then a projector with 3 panels with great convergence is rather rare. Epson’s LCD “alignment” feature, like others, still isn’t adjusting the actual panels, just doing some digital fixing where it can. (If you don’t do it well, there are some interesting side effects such as one time, much of the small text was bluish that should have been white. Redoing it however, produced far better results.

      There are always complaints about pixel alignment on AVS. I think if you look back far enough you’ll find similar complaints about your 8500UB and the 8700UB, and the 6500UB before them… Considering Epson’s almost unquestioning replacement program, I wouldn’t worry about it. It should be more of an issue with any other 3 panel projector, be they Panasonic, JVC, Sony, etc. None will converge perfectly (or that close), but only Epson will replace your projector if you complain that the convergence is way off.
      As to upgrading. Two reasons that count: A lot more brightness, and 3D. You’ll also get an improvement in black levels, but even your aging 8500UB can still take on current Panasonics and Mitsubishis, with only JVCs and Sonys being able to do better blacks than what you have (and the newer Epsons of course). -art

  • Lemar

    Review by Diffractionlimit for Rating: This is a wonderful all-in-one pjtceroor. Wonderfully intuitive controls, fantastic sound (especially with an Epson subwoofer), tremendous picture quality with upconverting DVD player. At first use, the image seems a bit dark (lamp is rated up to 1200+ lumens), but then we figured out the brightness control on the remote, and it is more than adequate (with 4 levels) for most situations. The enclosed CD .pdf manual answered all our questions once we got beyond the no-brainer quick start guide. I did not print out this extensive manual, but can find what I need to know quickly on my computer on those rare occasions when it is not obvious from the wonderful design of this pjtceroorWe got this for use in our church, for both movies for family and youth gatherings, and also for documentaries and educational situations. Ease of use, portability, and wonderful close to HD quality from upconverted DVDs make this a wonderful improvement to our old TV style video presentations. If one were to show an image to an entire church gathering (100+ people) then a brighter pjtceroor might be in order, but you will lose the ease and simplicity of this great design! And while the sound is superb, in such a case one might wish to use the church sound system for great reach.This pjtceroor is a wonderful way to get high quality theatre presentations without a lot of wires and hookups. I would heartily recommend it for families at home, or small to medium sized groups in organizations. I would recommend the Epson subwoofer (or similar) for that added oomph with newer films, and a screen for the brightest of presentations, though a white wall would be fine in a pinch! Highly recommended!

  • Serge

    Great reviews as usual, although I’m surprised that you haven’t mentioned that Wireless HD implementation is really lame. It feels like an afterthought, especially for the second gen product. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but good luck switching between inputs when your current Wireless HD input produces no signal. Basically, you will have to do your switching blind since the projector won’t show on-screen display in this case, nor is there a dedicated button for each input. For example, say your wireless HD box has input 1 selected which has no signal. To switch to input 2 on wireless HD box, you need to press input button on Epson remote once, wait a second, then press input twice on remote. Remember, you’re doing all of this blind, and there is 3-4 sec lag between switching and time the projector syncs and recognizes the signal (if there is any). Where it gets fun is when you don’t know which input is actually selected on wireless HD box. Had I known, I would’ve bought 5020 without Wireless HD, because this implementation basically makes Wireless HD input switching useless. At least I should be able to buy a a/v receiver and do my hdmi switching there.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Thanks for the comment Serge, and count on me passing it along to Epson at my meeting with them at CES. Honestly I missed completely some of what you reported. I was primarily concerned with basic functionality, could it deliver a solid image at a good range. Slow times to lock on to images is always a pain, and as we all know you don’t need wireless for a projector to take several seconds to grab an HDMI signal, especially with HDCP. Now that you refreshed my memory, I do remember screwing around trying to figure out where I was, but I just wasn’t focused on that at the time. Alas. -art PS. If I learn anything useful, I’ll add it here (don’t count on it).