New Epson Home Cinema 4000 Projector: Taking Handling 4K Content To New $Lows
The Epson Home Cinema 4000 aka HC4000, is the little brother of their top rated HC5040UB projector. The HC4000’s low $2199 list price, makes it the least expensive home theater projector today, that handles 4K content with the major enhancements in contrast and color intensity.
That certainly is one of the most important skills of the HC4000, but it’s hardly the only. The lens system is fully motorized, allowing for Lens Memory, giving you the choice to go full wide screen in your screen selection, a major plus for many “movie first” home projector owners. The screen images shown below are from Epson’s Pro Cinema 4040 a more expensive model that is the most similar.
2200 lumens gives the HC4000 plenty of punch for use in a dedicated home theater, and it’s enough to tackle HDR with respectable results, which is good, as HDR is a bit challenge for just about all projectors that offer it. It will also be enough power to tackle your favorite sports in a not overly bright media, family or living room when paired with the proper screen.
You’ll want to consider what are often referred to as ALR type screens because they are optically designed to ignore most ambient light, if you prefer your projector in most non-dedicated home theater environments.
The HC4000 accepts 4K content with both HDR (High Dynamic Range) and BT2020 color. Those two “extras” that are offered with 4K UHD Blu-ray and some other sources. Most folks will find, that those features combine to make a far greater difference in the picture than going from 1080p (2K) content to 4K. The resolution boost is a plus, it definitely improves sharpness and detail, but for me, it doesn’t trigger the wow factor you get upgrading to BT2020 color and HDR!
We’re seeing a host of new projectors called 4K UHD, that can also handle 4K content, but so far, none even remotely near the price of this Epson projector is able to accept both BT2020 and HDR. That’s a big miss for those projectors, the ones anywhere near this Epson’s price.
When it comes down to it, the primary difference between the Home Cinema 4000 and the 5040UB comes down to the LCD panels being used. Epson’s offering you a $500 lower cost projector if you feel you don’t need their UB level panels, which offer the best black level performance anywhere near the price. The 3LCD panels in the HC4000 do, however, offer noticeably better contrast and black levels than the lower cost Epsons (and lower cost most others). And note, that the HC40000 has the same very fast dynamic iris as its big brother, to help out with those black levels. The HC4000 uses the same panels as the PC4040 that was used for these photos.
That may be an easy $500 saved, say, if you are more of a family room user, where the room is never fully darkened. In that case, you would barely notice the difference between the two projectors, and most likely only on very dark movie scenes.
For you gamers, I expect the HC4000 to serve up input lag at about 30ms, which is acceptable to all but the most hard core gamers.
All considered, the Home Cinema 4000 looks to be one great value. In part because of all the 4K abilities, but part for the fact that it is a fully featured projector in all areas. Did I mention, the excellent warranty – two years parts and labor, but Epson offers a rapid replacement program for both years. If you have a warranty problem, call them up (the number they provide goes right to projector specialists), identify the issue and they will ship out a replacement typically same or next day. When it arrives you send your “broken” one back in the box provided, with Epson paying all the freight. Extended warranties (including their “road service” will be available.
I almost forgot to mention Color Lumens, because I was so pleased to tell you about the most affordable projector with both BT2020 and HDR. When trying to get great color, you need lots of color lumens. 3LCD and LCoS projectors normally have as many color as white lumens, but most of the other projectors out there have far less color lumens. As a result, their best color modes are a lot less bright overall.
Figuring that most of you reading this blog are familiar with Epson. For those that aren’t that familiar, not only is Epson a major printer manufacturer, but they are by far, the largest projector manufacturer, with (per industry analyst PMA), 52% market share in North America. BTW, you also know them for their Seiko watch brand!
The Epson HC4000 should be arriving at dealers by the time I post this. It will be sold online, and also in “big box” houses, and local dealers. My understanding is that they will be featured in most of the top tier Best Buy stores, so go check one out.
Bottom line – at this moment in time, this is your best entry point into full fledged 4K content, with all the high performance trimmings. As I already said, $500 more will buy you a very similar projector with better black levels for the movie fanatic that has, perhaps, a dedicated theater.
Cool! A brand new HC4000 arrived at my front door today for review. Even sooner than I expected! Give me some time though, I’ve got three other projectors here in various stages of review. Stay tuned! -art