Best In Class – Value $1000 – $2000: Epson Home Cinema 4000

It’s strange to give the Epson Home Cinema 4000 the Best Value award in the price range of $1000 to $2000 when its street price is $1999 – the top of the range, but in this case, I can’t think of another less expensive projector we reviewed in the class that is a better value proposition. Let’s consider.

First of all, the Home Cinema 4000 is one of the two 4K capable projectors you can buy today “just” under $2000. The rest cost more! The other, of course, also at the $1999 price, is the Optoma UHD60. It’s bright – 2200 claimed color and white lumens, and it easily bested it’s claim – by over 20%, while most projectors miss their claims.

Epson Home Cinema 4000
The Epson Home Cinema 4000 is the little brother of the top-rated Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, which won an award in the next class up.

I like the idea of 4K capable projectors, even if most of us can’t afford true 4K projectors.  4K spoils us with HDR and better, more intense colors. So, you can buy a 4K UHD Blu-Ray player and start investing in 4K movies instead of still buying regular Blu-Ray – those movies often come with a regular Blu-Ray disk as well. Long term, that should save you the money it will cost to replace your favorites in your library with the 4K discs when you land a true 4K projector.

It should be noted that in the next price class up, $2000 – $3500, it’s these projectors’ big brothers – the Optoma UHD65, and the Epson 5040UB – that are doing head to head battle for the top honors as well. In this case, it made sense to give the Epson HC4000 the value award, and the Optoma UHD60 the performance. You’ll discover different results in the higher up class.

Epson Home Cinema 4000 Overview

OK, being one of the two lowest-cost 4K capable projectors inherently makes it a value, but, it’s the feature set that wins it the award.

Not only can you play your Blu-Ray UHD discs and other 4K content, but you can’t beat the placement flexibility – a 2.1:1 motorized zoom lens, and a huge amount of lens shift – far more than any competition. It also supports HDMI link so I can use the Epson remote control (an excellent one – notably a fairly large one), to control other HDMI Link compatible devices. For example, I have four different Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray UHD players here, and I can control three of those four (only one at a time, of course).

Now, keep in mind that this Epson is a 1080p native resolution pixel shifter that can put 4.15 million pixels on the screen (with overlapping). That’s half of the Optoma’s ability, so this Epson simply isn’t as natively sharp as the UHD60, but thanks to a lot of sophisticated processing, it gets close, very close.

The HC4000 supports HDR, and the BT.2020 color space (achieving P3). That’s better than any of the DLP 4K UHD projectors we’ve seen so far regarding the color space, except for the $8995 BenQ HT9050 with its LED light engine. But since that projector is two classes up, ‘nough said!

Epson’s color performance right out of the box is excellent in its best modes and it calibrates beautifully for that extra slight improvement.

There’s CFI, dual HDMIs, but no speaker system. That’s ok, as very few serious home theater projectors have built-in sound. The manufacturers assume if you went to the trouble of buying a great projector, you would want at least a respectable surround sound system for your audio. No offense to home entertainment projectors with 5 or 10-watt speakers, but that’s low-grade boom box quality we’re talking about with internal speakers.

And there’s more, including 10 user savable picture mode settings, Lens Memory so you can choose to go wide screen – like I have – with a 2.35:1 or 2.4:1 screen that matches Cinemascope movies (that would be most movies not made for TV, or ancient). And let’s not forget picture in picture!

Lamp life is respectable, although not great, with the three modes claiming 3500 (full power), 5000 in Eco (they don’t provide a rating for Medium). On the “bright” side, Epson charges a lot less for their lamps than pretty much everyone else.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the Epson gets the value award because it’s just not as sharp as the 4K capable Optoma. Now, if it had substantially better black levels, that might have ranked it higher, but I’m assuming that the UHD60 which we didn’t review has black level performance close to that or the same as the UHD60 (with a different color wheel there will be some differences, but probably slight). Ah, I should note that the Epson also has 3D, which the new 4K UHD projectors, for some reason, seem to be omitting. Too bad!  Or rather “go Epson” as I’m a big 3D fan.

Epson provides its usual Home Cinema warranty – two years parts and labor, and a great rapid replacement program for both years. Tough to beat. If you have a warranty issue and call Epson immediately, you should be back up and running in 2 business days. That sure beats waiting weeks for a repair! And that, too, is part of the value.

Personally, for those who can swing the extra $500 plus, and have a theater/cave type ability – that is, a very dark room – to blow the bucks on the Epson’s big brother, the HC5040UB. The difference, other than price?

The UB has better 3LCD panels, and they provide a drastic improvement in black levels, surpassing easily any non-Epson projector under the list price of $3995, and beating out many much more expensive ones.

Those black levels are what you are paying for, and it’s kept those Epson UB’s consistently at the top of the next more expensive price class. It’s your budget, your environment, and your call.

I won’t further discuss differences with the UHD60, as I am writing a comparison piece.  Suffice to say this is one rather awesome projector for the price. Highly capable, and flexible. This is home theater performance that will dazzle your friends and family, and, you, too. Enjoy!

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