Part 3 of the Best Gaming Projectors of 2019 Report features our winners for Bright Room Gaming and High-End Gaming.
Part 3 of the Best Gaming Projectors of 2019 Report features our winners for Bright Room Gaming and High-End Gaming.
|Optoma HD243X Specs|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Best Mode Lumens||2,184|
The ViewSonic PX706HD is a gaming machine, with one of the fastest input lag times around: 16.4ms. That makes it one of our top picks for gaming speed! It has the same input lag performance as the Fastest Input Lag winner, but, although the Optoma HD243X has a higher brightness claim, its measured lumens came in lower than this ViewSonic, making the PX706HD a clear winner for Bright Room Gaming.
Speaking of lumens, the PX706HD has a brightness claim of 3,000 lumens (the HD243X has a claim of 3,300). This ViewSonic got super close to its claim when I measured it for the review – 2,972 in its brightest mode – and the two “best modes” for color were both around the 2,150 lumen mark. That’s still enough for a living room environment with some degree of control over ambient light. By comparison, the best brightest mode for the Optoma HD243X was 1,401 lumens. Still enough for a living room with good lighting control, but not good enough to win the Bright Room Gaming award.
The ViewSonic PX706HD is a 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080) short throw projector. That means it can be placed on a coffee table, several feet back from the screen. For those of you who don’t know, a normal throw projector will typically be placed about 10+ feet back from the screen to produce a 100” diagonal image. A short throw projector usually is around 5 feet back, give or take. It’s a pretty good option for a teenager’s bedroom, a dorm room, a studio apartment, or other small spaces.
The projector has a small footprint – only 5.9 lbs, and is barely larger than a sheet of printer paper (11.5” x 8.7” x 4.5”). That makes it portable enough to pack up and take in your carry-on bag, put in a backpack and take to a friend’s place, or move it around from room to room with ease. It has a 5-watt mono speaker that’s plenty loud for gaming, movie watching, and binge-ing Disney+. It’s currently going for $628.48 on Amazon – a steal of a deal for this powerful gaming machine.
|Epson HC5050UB Specs|
|Resolution||4096 x 2160|
|Best Mode Lumens||1,224|
The Sony VPL-VW295ES has been a Projector Reviews favorite since we first reviewed it in 2018. This is a true 4K projector (4096 x 2160) for under $5K – the first of its kind. Sonys are well-known for their phenomenal color, right out of the box – so much so, that we don’t even bother calibrating these anymore – and their superb black level performance. The color is just that good. It features HDR, as you would expect, and also – HGL (hybrid log gamma) for HDR on broadcasts.
In our 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report, it lost to the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB for Best Performance – not because it doesn’t perform just as well as (or better) than the HC5050UB, but because the HC5050UB performs so well, and for $2,000 less than this Sony. It did win an award, of course it did, but we saw fit to give it a new one – “Best Media Room Projector” in the $2,000 to $5,000 Class.
Why would you want this projector over the HC5050UB? For $2,000 more, you are getting true 4K resolution – no pixel shifting. The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has 1920 x 1080 x2 resolution, which is to say, about half the resolution of this Sony. Why does it get to be called 4K capable? That is because it accepts 4K content, projects it at 1080p (but looks better than straight 1080p content due to its higher starting resolution) and shifts the pixels up diagonally to get the number of pixels on screen that meet the 4K UHD standard. The Sony VPL-VW295ES as all of those pixels naturally, making it sharper than what you can expect from the HC5050UB or the 4K UHD projectors on the market.
The VPL-VW295ES has the same input lag as the HC5050UB – 27ms! That’s great, and honestly, I’m really impressed this Sony measured so low, for being true 4K. With this projector, you get to experience truly immersive gaming, with a large screen, and the best of the best when it comes to graphics. Not only can you play 4K games on the Sony – thanks to the 18 Ghz HDMI ports – but those games will actually be, pixel for pixel, in 4K. Guys, this is as good as it gets. You get to experience the game as it was meant to be experienced, in all its 4K glory. Not only that, but your movie-viewing experience will be seriously upgraded, too.
As we always say, there’s no such thing as the “best” projector around – it will always depend on your needs. For gamers, the top need is for a good input lag speed. What “good” means to you will depend on how competitive you are. Those who game in competitions, and those who spend A LOT of time playing online, will want the lowest input lag possible, such as what we saw with the Optoma HD243X and ViewSonic PX706HD. The other two projectors, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB and Sony VPL-VW295ES, with 27ms input lag, are excellent projectors all gamers except the most hard-care, competitive. You’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re one of those people, so if you’re not feeling that full-body YES knowing that you are a hard-core gamer, 27ms will do just fine.
The room conditions are something to consider when it comes to choosing a gaming projector. What are your room conditions? Is there a lot of ambient light coming in through the windows? Can you draw the blinds, and do they help darken the room? Can you install blackout curtains, where those blinds may be leaking too much ambient light? All of these projectors will fair well in a room that has a good amount of control over the light coming in from windows, and light coming from fixtures around the room. The ViewSonic PX706HD will be your best bet if you feel like you have a truly bright room.
Resolution also plays a part in your decision. Do you care about 4K gaming? Check out the Epson Home Cinema HC5050 or the Sony VPL-VW295ES. Don’t mind playing in 1080p? Consider the Optoma HD243X or the ViewSonic PX706HD – it will cost you thousands of dollars less. Speaking of price, those 4K projectors cost $2,999 and $4,999 respectively, while the two 1080p projectors are close to – if not right on – the $500 mark. Are there other projectors that would be suitable for gaming? Tons. Many of those 4K UHD DLP projectors will be just fine for the casual gamer, but for those who consider themselves to be serious, or who game every day – look no further than the projectors featured in this report.
Part 2 of the Best Gaming Projectors of 2019 Report features our winners for Fastest Input Lag and Best 4K Gaming.
|Optoma HD243X Specs|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Best Mode Lumens||2,184|
The Optoma HD243X is the update to the HD143X, which we reviewed. Because the two projectors are so similar, we didn’t opt to review the HD243X. As such, the photos included on this page are from our review of the HD143X. That said, we’ve grouped these two projectors together twice now, in two different reports. They won an award for “Best Value Home Entertainment” in the 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report, and were included in our 2019 Holiday Guide for Seven Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000. It has a normal throw distance, a 1.10:1 zoom lens, and a 10-watt built-in speaker.
When I reviewed the older model, I was seriously impressed. For a mere $499, you get excellent color and good black levels, with the HD243X. We can almost never say that an entry level home entertainment projector has good black level performance, and that’s one of the things that makes this projector such a steal of a deal. This is due to a feature called Dynamic Black, which mimics the function of a Dynamic Iris by modulating the brightness of the lamp to produce deeper blacks. During dark scenes, the lamp is dimmed, and during bright scenes, the lamp is brightened. The result? Better than entry-level black level performance, for about a third of the cost you would expect for them.
The Optoma HD243X has the fastest input lag around! 16.4 ms is about as good as it gets when it comes to projectors. It actually has the same input lag speed as the ViewSonic PX706HD, which we chose for the Bright Room Gaming Award. Interestingly, this Optoma has a higher lumen claim than the ViewSonic PX706HD (3,300 versus the ViewSonic’s 3,000), but the ViewSonic got way closer to its claim, while the Optoma (HD143X, mind you) measured way less. Its best brightest mode measured at 1,401 lumens, as opposed to the ViewSonic’s, which had two best modes, each measuring around 2,150 lumens. That made it a clear winner for the Bright Room Gaming Award.
So, we have the same input lag speed, and the ViewSonic is obviously much brighter than the Optoma, but there are some trade-offs (always). The Optoma has way better black levels and its color performance is more natural than the ViewSonic. That’s not to say that the PX706HD doesn’t have good color – it does – just not as good as this Optoma. Since the gaming performance is the same on both projectors, it’ll come down to your room environment, and personal preference. If you’re room is bright and you can’t control the lighting, the PX706HD may be for you. If you have a room with good lighting control, and value great color and black level performance, the Optoma HD243X is one to consider. Hold off on making any decisions until you check out our discussion of the ViewSonic PX706HD, though!
|Epson HC5050UB Specs|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 x2 (4K UHD Pixel Shifter)|
|Best Mode Lumens||1,842|
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is the update to one of our top picks for 4K entertainment, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. The HC5050UB takes an already-superb projector and adds several improvements, such as the ability to game in 4K. 4K gaming requires an 18 Ghz HDMI port, which was lacking on the HC5040UB, so although it was a 4K capable projector, one could only game in 1080p. That is, the projector could only accept the game’s 1080p signal rather than a 4K resolution signal. This was a deal breaker for many.
You spoke, Epson listened, and now we have 4K gaming on a projector that has superb color, right out of the box. Of course, you’ll want to calibrate this projector – settings are provided in the HC5050UB’s review – to get the full range of beauty this Epson can provide. It has a 2,600 lumen claim, which is plenty bright for your dedicated home theater or gaming room, and even a living room with good lighting control. In its best mode (calibrated, of course) the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has 1,842 lumens available – again, plenty bright for any room that has good lighting control.
This projector won an award in our 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report for “Best Performance – Home Theater” in the $2,000 to $5,000 Class, and for good reason. Not only does it have excellent out of the box color, and even better color when calibrated, but Epson made significant improvements on the HDR and added HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which is HDR on broadcast content. It has a Dynamic Iris for better black level performance, an impressive 2.10:1 zoom lens for excellent placement flexibility, and that lens is fully motorized (Lens Shift + Lens Memory).
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has 27ms input lag! This is less than one frame behind on 30fps games, and just below 2 frames behind on 60fps games. You remember from our discussion of input lag times that 21ms to 32ms is considered “Great,” so 27ms should be perfect for anyone who isn’t a hard-core competitive gamer. Those who game for fun, and even get a little competitive in Call of Duty online, will enjoy this projector immensely.
One thing to note – this projector does not have built-in speakers. That is because the Epson HC5050UB is, first and foremost, a home theater projector. It is assumed that if you’re spending $3K for a projector, you have a sound system to go with it. You’ll want an A/V receiver that can handle 4K content.
There’s no Audio Out – audio served through an HDMI cable – but if, for whatever reason, you don’t get an audio system, you can hook up stereo speakers to a 4K-capable switcher and get sound out of your projector. This is what I did with my HC5040UB when I first got it, because the living room we had at the time was awkward for having surround sound.
Part 3 Publishes Monday, December 23, 2019
There’s nothing quite like the immersive experience of projector gaming. Video games have evolved to a point of portraying reality in a way that looks more real than our own at times. Skin tones, hair, the texture of clothing – all these things have become so realistic. With such a beautiful advance in rendering abilities, it’s almost a crime to play these games on a tiny 60” LCD TV. 4K or not, the size really can’t do the video game justice.
Playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order on a 100” (or larger) screen, allows the player to be fully immersed in the world of the game. Whether you’re into first person shooters, third person RPGs, or any other style of gameplay, there’s nothing quite like having your screen extend to the edge of your peripheral vision. Until we reach the days of Ready Player One levels of immersion, projector gaming is as good as it gets. And that’s pretty darn good!
There are many factors to consider when choosing a projector for gaming. Games have been rendering in 4K for some time now, but many projectors lack the necessary HDMI port to translate that data – the HDMI input must have a speed of 18 Ghz, otherwise your game will just be projecting in 1080p, even if you have a 4K capable projector. The two 4K capable projectors included in this report both have that 18 Ghz HDMI port.
The most important factor to consider when purchasing a gaming projector is not resolution, but input lag. Input lag is a term that relates to the gaming speed performance – that is, the amount of time between when the game system sends out a signal to the moment it is received by the projector and perceived by you on the screen. This speed is measured in milliseconds, and there are three categories these speeds fall into: Acceptable, Good, and Optimal.
Acceptable input lag the category of the casual gamer. These are the gamers who do it for fun, and do not compete. They’ll typically stay offline, and play games with their friends and family in person, or by themselves. These are your Nintendo Switch gamers, RPG players, and first-person shooter types who don’t spend much time playing against other gamers online. They might, but with these input lag times, you could be put at a disadvantage when other players have a faster reaction time than you simple due to having a system with lower input lag. This range is from 41ms to 50ms+. None of the projectors in this report have such high lag times.
Good input lag is in the 33ms to 40ms range. Any projector that lives within these speeds will be suitable for all but the most competitive gamers.
With good input lag, you’ll be able to play Call of Duty online and do some serious damage. 33ms to 40ms of lag will put you behind just over 1 frame per second on a 30fps game, and 2 frames behind on a 60fps game. This isn’t enough to make a difference for most people – again, unless they are highly competitive, such as a career gamer type, or those who play a lot of online maps.
Anything below that 33ms mark can be considered “really good” or “great,” but truly excellent input lag is 16ms to 20ms, with 16ms being the aim for manufacturers who are positioning their model as a gaming projector.
The final thing to consider when choosing a projector for gaming is your room environment. If your room has a lot of uncontrollable ambient light – such as a living room, media room, or den where you aren’t able to fully darken it – you’re going to want a projector with a high lumen count. Some of the projectors included in this report are suitable for such rooms – some better than others – while some will perform better in a home theater environment.
Check out our full review of the BenQ X1300i
BenQ also has a new gaming projector, the TK700STi, keep an eye out for that review coming soon!
Check out our full review of the Optoma UHD50X
Over the last year, we’ve reviewed many home entertainment and home theater projectors – not all of them considered to be great gaming projectors. Only a handful have earned that right, and we’ve awarded them based on what they’re best for. Let’s meet those winners:
The LG HU85LA, being an ultra short throw projector, is sure to be of some interest to the gaming community. Ultra short throw projectors are particularly attractive to gamers because of their ability to produce a large image just inches away from the screen. This allows us to keep all of our gaming systems and streaming cameras in one place – in front of us.
The ultra short throw design also alleviates the mildly irritating issue of your game getting blocked by a human standing in front of the light of the projector, as is often the case with a normal throw or even a short throw projector.
The HU85LA was the subject of one of our most recent reviews, and was featured in this year’s 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report. This LG has a feature that may drive many gamers to investigate this LG as a candidate for their next projector purchase. We thought it apropos to discuss the projector’s qualities that will make it a suitable projector for some gamers, and not others. Whether or not this projector is right for you will depend on what kind of gamer you are.
Before we get into the gaming aspects of this projector, let’s talk about the basics. This is a 4K UHD resolution projector that utilizes pixel shifting. That is, it takes a 1080p (1920x1280) resolution image and pixel shifts it four times to get a sharper imager, and reach the pixel standard for 4K UHD resolution. The LG HU85LA is a laser projector with a 20,000 hour lamp life claim, so you can get about a decade of use out of this projector without much maintenance whatsoever.
As mentioned, it’s an ultra short throw projector, so it sits just inches away from your screen surface to produce and image of up to 120” diagonal. It has 2,700 claimed lumens – it measured just above that in some modes – and Art calls this a “living room” projector, rather than a dedicated home theater projector. That’s fine, as most gamers will either be using this projector in their living room, or in a gaming/media room. It even has a pair of 5-watt speakers, but as with all built-in speakers, if you want any real bass, you’ll want to hook up an external sound system.
The LG HU85LA is a smart projector. It comes with Netflix, Amazon, Prime, Crackle, and Hulu pre-loaded. LG also provides an app store for the purchase or download of many more applications, just like their TVs. If you already have or have had an LG TV, there will be no learning curve. It also has a built-in TV tuner, media player, and the Magic Remote. The Magic Remote is a gyro-based smart remote that has a microphone built in for voice control. It even has a media player and wireless capabilities, including screensharing for iOS and Android mobile devices.
This is a projector that has more than enough color modes. There are eight picture modes for non HDR content, and five for HDR content. Some of these modes are able to be calibrated, while others aren’t. As far as picture quality goes, the LU85LA performs well, with out of the box color being just a touch too blue. This is an easy fix in most cases, but you’ll dig that blue for sports viewing. Speaking of sports viewing, there are several smooth motion options.
Alright, onto the good stuff. You already know that this LG will quench your thirst for a smart projector, but what about gaming? The LG HU85LA has a feature called Instant Game Mode, which would have you thinking this projector is well-suited for all levels of gaming. Before we get into that, we need to talk about input lag.
Input lag, for those of you who need a refresher, refers to the gaming speed performance on displays – in this case, projectors. That is the time between when your game system sends out a signal to when it is received by the projector, measured in milliseconds. 50ms or a little above is acceptable to casual gamers, as its just around 2 frames behind on a 30fps game, and 4 on a 60fps game.
No serious gamer will be happy with a 50+ms input lag. We’re talking the hard-core, competitive gamers who are super good at Call of Duty Online, and games like it. They might even be professional gamers – the ones you’ll find at competitions, or who make their living streaming on Twitch. They wouldn’t be happy with the next tier down, which is around 33ms to 40ms of input lag. As far as projectors go, the best of the best measurements for input lag rest in the 16ms to 20ms range, which is what these types of gamers should be looking for.
For the rest of us, 33ms to just above 50ms should be just fine. That said, without Instant Game Mode activated, the lowest measurement we got for the HU85LA was 75ms. Ouch! No good. After turning Smooth Motion off, and Instant Game Mode on, the lowest input lag we were able to squeeze out was 57ms. Bottom Line – this is not a projector for serious gamers, but for the casual gamer, it’s right at the edge of acceptable.
We talk a lot in our reviews and articles about “casual gamers,” but rarely go into detail about what that means. For us, a casual gamer is someone who games for fun. This is a person who plays single-player games, online games with friends, and doesn’t stream or does so for fun, rather than as a living. Casual gamers are found in families that play video games together as a way to bond and have fun with each other.
If you’re an Nintendo Switch user, you are unlikely to be bothered by the input lag of this projector. Games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, Let’s Go Pikachu, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and other such Switch games will be unaffected by the HU85LA’s higher input lag. Racing games where you are racing against computer players, or other players that are in the same room as you, should not be affected.
If you’re playing a single-player game such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Red Dead Redemption 2, your gameplay will not be disturbed. It’s when you get into online gaming, such as playing the online versions of Call of Duty, Battlefield 5, Red Dead Redemption 2 Online, or GTA V Online, that concern arises. This is due to the fact that other players may be using a TV or other such display that has a lower input lag than you, and that 2 to 4 frame per second lag could mean the difference between a successful heist or getting WASTED.
Should you be someone who digs the online gaming world more than playing solo, or who games on a system that is more hard-core than the Switch, there are plenty of other projectors out there that are better suited to your gaming needs. We wrote an article this spring about The World of 4K Gaming that provides insight into what you need for 4K gaming, and some projectors currently on the market that can handle 4K. I’ll be doing a round-up article soon about projectors that are good for gaming, starting with non-4K projectors.
The LG HU85LA won the Laser TVs (UST)/Bright Room Performance Award in our 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report. If you’re interested in this LG for your bright room, living room, family room, or other “common” rooms, check out the LG HU85LA’s Winner’s Page. To dive into what we think are this year’s “best” home theater and home entertainment projectors, start at the beginning and read through the 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report.
With E3 just around the corner, we believe some education is in order! For those projector fans who are looking to break into the world of 4K gaming – or those who are finally fed up with their tiny 60” LCD TV – this article will provide some insight into what you’ll need to get started. From input lag to 4K projectors, you’ll find valuable information on how to navigate your buying journey.
Input lag is an important term in the world of projector gaming. It is a word that relates to the gaming speed performance on projectors – the time between when the gaming system sends out its signal, to the time it is received by the projector, and is measured in milliseconds. The range of acceptable input lag speeds range from as high as 50ms (and a little bit above), to as low as 16ms.
50ms or a little above will be “acceptable” to all but the most hard core, high-speed gamers. We’re talking the competitive, first person shooter, career-gamer types. Some will begrudgingly admit that the display is fast enough around this speed, but no serious gamer is going to be truly happy with 50+ ms.
The next tier down is 33-40 ms, which we would consider to be pretty good. These speeds will be fine for all but the most aggressive gamers. My projector, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, performs well on graphics-heavy games, such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (my current play) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (my husband’s current game). When he hops online to posse up, the gameplay is smooth – especially now that they updated online play from beta. If you didn’t get the beta version of online, trust me that the graphics and gameplay have significantly improved.
But back to input lag – my 5040UB is in and around 33ms, which is just over 1 frame behind on a 30 fps game, or 2 frames behind on a 60 fps game. That’s nothing to cry about unless you are, again, one of those career-gamers. If a projector measures in the 33-40ms range, consider it to be worthy of your short list (provided it meets your other needs) for casual gaming.
The best of the best measurements for input lag is in the 16-20ms range. Of course, 0 would be ideal, but it’s been years since we’ve reviewed any projector with less than a 16ms input lag. Manufacturers – if you’re reading this and have a projector you believe can end this sub-16ms-lag drought, send Art an email at email@example.com – I’m dying to get my hands on it for review!
HDR is a feature that appears on many 4K UHD projectors on the market, but not all. The acronym stands for “High Dynamic Range,” and refers to a type of image processing in 4K capable projectors and TVs that saturates the colors to become more vibrant, with more “pop and wow” factor. It does so by expanding the contrast and color, often significantly. On most projectors, HDR will considerably reduce the brightness of whatever color mode it is being used on.
The list of projectors that have the ability to handle 4K games with HDR gets significantly shorter than the list of projectors that have HDR. This has to do with the type of HDMI port that is used on projectors that can handle 4K gaming with HDR, and those that cannot. To project a game in 4K HDR at 60 fps, the projector requires an HDMI port that is 18 Ghz.
Though my projector performs admirably in all other areas, this is where the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB falls short – it does not have an 18 Ghz HDMI port, so it cannot process the signal to project my beloved games in 4K HDR. Bummer. This is an issue that has been remedied with their upgrade to the 5040UB, which goes by the name of Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. You can check out its first look review by Art Feierman to see if this projector peaks your interest.
Speaking of projectors that can handle 4K gaming with HDR, there are at least a few others besides Epson’s Home Cinema 5050UB. All of the new Sony 4K projectors have 18 Ghz HDMIs, and those are true 4K projectors – that is, 4096x2160, as opposed to 4K UHD, which is 3840x2160 pixels. The lowest cost of these is the Sony VPL-VW295ES, a $4,999 projector with an input lag of 27ms on 1080p games, and up to 40ms on 4K games.
The Optoma UHD60 is a 4K UHD projector priced at $3,799 list at the time of its published review last year, and has that 18 Ghz HDMI port. I found it online for about half that price, so shop around. Its sibling, the Optoma UHD65, also supports 4K gaming. I’ve seen that one for $2,299. All the new JVCs have support for 4K gaming, and are ones to consider. If you do, you’ll get an added bonus – JVCs are known for having the best black level performance around. Their price points are comparable to that of Sony’s.
The lower-cost 4K UHD models don’t tend to have support for 4K gaming. And, while we’re on the subject of projectors you shouldn’t look at if you want your games projected in 4K, steer clear of the Epson HC4010 and HC4050. Though these are fine projectors in their own rite, they do not have the 18 Ghz HDMI port – only the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB does at this time. If 4K gaming is important to you, make sure to choose a projector with that 18 Ghz HDMI feature. If not, there are plenty of lower-cost 4K UHD and 1080p pixel shifters capable of satisfying your desire for 4K movies!
Star Wars Battlefront 2 officially comes out on November 17, 2017, with early access for those who pre-ordered on November 13th. I was one of those people. The early access date happened to line up perfectly with my new Epson Home Cinema 5040UB’s arrival, which graced my doorstep on the Thursday prior. We got everything set up with a new bookshelf, our speakers, our record player and the best of our record collection, as well as all our movies and video games, and some Star Wars Legos to top it off. Awesome. The setup is a millennial dream.
For those of you who don’t know, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB is a 2,500 lumen home theater projector that accepts 4K content, has great color and excellent black levels for a mere $2,699. This 1080p pixel shifter (1920 x 1080 x2) won the top award in our 2017 Best Home Theater Projectors Report for the $2000 to $3500 range, and was featured in our 2017 Holiday Guide to Four Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000. Since it’s a pixel shifter, it takes the already phenomenal 1080p graphics of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and doubles the pixels for a beautifully sharp image. That the HC5040UB has such great black levels is a major plus for all of those space scenes in the game, which all look really “wow.”
The video above shows just one example of the excellent black levels provided by the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB. This is near the beginning of the campaign mode, right after the second Death Star is destroyed. Here, your Tie Fighter is flying through the wreckage. It was shot on an iPhone 7 rather than my DSLR, because this is the moment when I had the idea to write this blog for you guys. I noticed it overexposed some areas when the camera was adjusting to light differences in each scene, so the next video is shot with a DSLR.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a great improvement upon its predecessor. Previously, there was no campaign mode. You could battle at Hoth, in the Junland Wastes, on Endor, and a few other planets alone with bots or with a friend and bots. Alternatively, you could dual as heroes like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, etc., which was fun but always the same. Of course, there was the online mode, where you could get wasted by other people or your friends, and waste them in return.
The new one has a campaign mode, and it is canon. You start out the game as the Commander of Inferno Squad, a special forces squad for The Empire. I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that you do also get to play as heroes in campaign mode like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. The story takes place right at the end of Episode 6, with the destruction of the second Death Star. That the story is canon is awesome, because you get to find out what happened following the victory in Return of the Jedi. As an added bonus, you can read the book, “Inferno Squad,” to extend your knowledge of Star Wars lore even further.
If they kept everything else the same, Star Wars Battlefront 2 would still be a better game than the first. But they didn’t. There’s multiplayer co-op and dual, where you can choose from many planets and scenarios, as well as choose to dual as heroes, one on one, versus with bots, co-op with bots, and no longer have to find a “Hero Power Up” to play as a hero – you can simply choose from several heroes when you start the game and switch when you respawn, if you desire. To be honest, we’ve only just scratched the surface of the game, and we bought the one with all the extras – the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition. There’s a lot there to wrap your head around. So far, it’s an awesome, fun experience and totally worth the purchase for diehard Star Wars fans.
To say the picture projected by the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB is gorgeous would be an understatement. Art raves about the projector being the best value 4K capable projector for the price, and now that I have one, I’d have to agree. Textures are incredibly detailed. I can count the pores on the Star Wars Battlefront 2 characters’ faces. Their uniforms, the environments, the lightsabers… the graphics are truly next level. But it’s not just the graphics of the game that make everything look so good – it’s the projector.
We played on the calibrated Cinema mode, with BT.2020 color space selected, and Preset 2 turned on. The already-cinema-quality cutscenes looked phenomenal projected by the HC5040UB, so much so that we constantly are in awe of the beautiful image. The projector has a mild input lag of 30.9 ms, which means it’s essentially one frame behind on 30 fps games, two frames behind on 60 fps games.
With 30 frames in a second, being one frame behind is not going to make much of a difference for most people. The only time it may be an issue is with hardcore gamers who play team games online, like Call of Duty WWII, though when we played that game online, we didn’t detect the lag. Any lag under 50 ms is considered acceptable in most cases, so consider the HC5040UB to be a serious gaming projector for all but the pros.
Below, I have a short video of co-op mode on Mos Eisley, Tattoine. We played as The Dark Side (our go-to). I’m a pro at sword fighting in games, so I favor the lightsaber-wielding types. Darth Maul is my favorite – I’ve heard complaints that he’s too strong, but I think that’s just something people say when they’re losing (we’ll see) – and my teammate was Kylo Ren. This game mode is interesting – each kill you make adds time to your clock, so games can be pretty long or fairly short. I started the video a ways in, where most of the action was happening. Enjoy the video, and get yourself the game when it comes out tomorrow!
Check out our review of the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, written by Art Feierman. Art goes into detail about the many, many special features, tours the hardware, discusses picture quality and performance. He raves about the black levels, favoring the HC5040UB over some of the newer, higher-resolution 4K UHD projectors like the Optoma UHD65 because of it. He says that with the 4K UHD projectors, you get a slightly sharper image, but the black levels can’t compete with this Epson. After having viewed those 4K UHD projectors myself, and spending the last week with my new HC5040UB, I’d have to agree.
So, read the review, and also check out our 2017 Holiday Guide to Four Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000. This award-winning projector is fantastic for watching 4K movies, regular 1080p content, and for gaming. I am extremely happy with my purchase, and don’t even have resolution-envy of those 4K UHD projectors. The Epson Home Cinema 5040UB has a great value proposition, and would look good in your home theater this holiday season.