Affordable 4K Projectors Comparison - Summary

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Art Feierman

This is our summary page of our Affordable 4K Capable Projectors Comparison report, where we will discuss cost of ownership, calibrated brightness, and the bottom line.

Cost of Ownership

Lamps. Both companies sell replacement lamps for under $200. The Optoma’s lamp, however, lasts up to 50% longer, depending on modes. That would apply to either the UHD65 or UHD60. At full power, the Epson claims 3500 hours while the Optoma claims 4000, but in eco modes, the Optoma extends the difference.

The Epson lamp draws 250 watts the Optoma 240. Typically, DLPs use higher wattage lamps, but in this case, remember that the 5040UB easily out measured the Optoma UHD65 in brightness when calibrated, peaking out at over 2900 lumens in brightest mode vs. just shy of 1900 measured lumens on the UHD65.

Calibrated Brightness

Calibrated, the projectors were all similar in brightness in their best modes for 4K UHD, because all the Epson projectors are using their cinema filters to get the maximum color capability for BT.2020.

The Optoma UHD65, however, has no such filter. However, starting with less overall lumens, the Optoma’s Reference mode we used for 4K HDR measured 870 lumens.

That compares to the HC4000 at 1011 post calibration for HDR BT.2020.

Eric didn’t re-measure brightness when doing the recent calibration, but we can interpolate that the 5040UB in Digital Cinema should match, or in theory beat, the HC4000. No promises, it would just seem logical.

The Bottom Line: Why We Gave Out the Awards We Did

Optoma UHD60 vs Epson HC4000 (and PC4040 bundle)

Optoma UHD65:  Best In Class – Best Performance: $2500 - $8000

Epson HC5040UB:  Best In Class – Best Value

The HC4000 might actually perform better compared to the UHD60 than the UHD65, but for these purposes, I assumed that other than extra white lumens, but not extra color lumens, wouldn’t change things much with doing HDR. If they do, it’s probably not to the benefit of the Optoma.

Still, the UHD60 takes the Best Performance Award, primarily for the extra native sharpness, despite less placement flexibility, etc. I would expect overall color to be about the same, post calibration. With no dramatic difference in black level performance, the Performance award has to go to the projector with the best picture – no matter that the Epson has far more features, including Lens Memory.

And the Epson HC4000 takes the Value award, because in some ways it bests the Optoma slightly, but only in feature set does it dominate. So, it’s almost as high performance a projector, but with far more features, and that equals Value.

Optoma UHD65 vs HC5040UB

Epson HC5040UB:  Best In Class – Best Performance: $2500 - $8000

Optoma UHD65:  Best In Class – Runner Up, Best Performance  $2500 - $8000

This time, based on my usual, well reported biases, the top honor, Best Performance in the $2000 - $3500 class, has to go to the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB.

Consider the one major difference, (since we’re assuming the UHD60 is close enough to the UHD65, that we’re treating them as slightly different but equal), is the 5040UB’s black level performance. The Epson crushes the Optoma, and that is, in my opinion, far more important than the slight sharpness difference, (or a bit more than slight), but it certainly be reduced to slight – or less, if you don’t mind pushing Epson’s Image Enhancement feature up a bit.

In other words, it came down to the UHD65 simply not lacking great black levels.  Without direct comparison, I’d say that the UHD65 will beat most entry level DLP projectors at black levels, but it will be much closer to the best of those than to the Epson 5040UB. It really is a huge difference on those dark scenes.

Now, if you value a slight amount of sharpness as more valuable than a huge difference in black levels and if you don’t need the Epson’s feature set, the Optoma will be for you. But, for me, the black levels make it virtually no contest for my viewing in my dedicated home theater.

One could argue, despite the Epson’s lower native resolution, that thanks to the overall feature set, it’s also the Best Value. One could counter-argue that it is the lowest cost 4K UHD projector designed for a dedicated home theater, and rate it the Best Value based on that. Instead, I chose to make them Winner, and Runner-up. I think that’s more straightforward, in this case.

I always come back to – am I focusing too much here, on the 4K aspects – sharpness, HDR/BT.2020, in making my calls. Well, I figure that if both the UHD65 and HC5040UB were exactly the same, but with no 4K capabilities, the Epson would still win on black levels.

Remember what I said in main report. There are no perfect projectors, so ultimately, we have to make decisions on which flaws we worry about least, and which strengths are most important, etc., in choosing the best for our individual tastes and viewing conditions. Again, if a little extra sharpness in your room environment is more important than a much larger difference handling dark scenes, for example, if you will always have some ambient light present, the Optoma may be a stronger choice for you.

Choose wisely!

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