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2015 Holiday Guide To The Five Best Home Theater Projectors Over $2500 - Part 3

By Art Feierman
Our featured projector screen on this page is the Screen Innovations Slate, which is a pretty amazing light absorbing screen. Our last two projectors for this Guide, are both from Epson.  One is the venerable Pro Cinema 6030UB (also sold in white as the Home Cinema 5030UB).  The other is Epson's rather amazing pixel shifting, 4K compatible, laser projector:  The LS10000.  Since having dual blue lasers and support for 4K definitely makes the Epson LS10000 sexier, let's start with it.

Epson Pro Cinema LS10000

Epson’s  Pro Cinema LS10000 is a $7999 priced projector.   It won our Best In Class award for 1080p projectors ($3500 and up)  in our 2015 Best Projectors report.

I've had the opportunity to spend more than two months with the LS10000 projector, and at the time I concluded that the LS10000 would be the projector I would own, if wasn't determined to be patient, holding out until a great, and true 4K projector hits the same price point or less.  I still think about scoring one of these.

It’s very bright, has truly excellent black level performance and Epson’s Super-Resolution on this projector produces the sharpest, most detailed looking image using pixel shifting, that I’ve encountered to date.  Only Sony’s far more expensive 4K projectors appear sharper on 4K content.

Above images are standard 1080p (the football and Victoria Secret model photos are 1080i, essentially half the resolution of 1080p).  4K images are below.

The rest of the technology is fun too.  Although Epson has long been the primary manufacturer of the LCD’s that go into projectors.  No 3LCD panels for the LS10000, though.  The LS10000 and it’s non-pixel shifting little brother (the LS9600e) both use Epson’s new reflective panels, Liquid Crystal on Quartz.  not LCoS (silicon) panels.  BTW, nice irony:  Epson is Epson Seiko, legendary for Seiko watches – and the folks that invented those highly accurate quartz watches that impacted the entire watch industry.

Epson LS10000 Handling 4K Content

In the player above you are looking at full screen, and in some cases - close-up cropped images, all from true 4K content.

There's more.  a highlight feature of this Epson is the dual blue laser light engine (see the light path illustration above).  I’ve reviewed quite a number of projectors with solid state light engines – lasers, LEDs and hybrids, but this is the first one I’ve seen (outside of $100K+ projectors), that really looks great as a home theater projector.  As Mike our calibrator said, basically, it looks like a lamp-based projector when viewing, with no laser artifacts, nor the usual disadvantages of lamps.

While the Epson may not be true 4K, it would appear to be not only the sharpest seeming, but a fairly future proof projector for one that doesn’t have true 4K panels.  It accepts 4K content. It’s 3D performance is extremely good, and bright!  Everything is in place to meet the new Blu-ray UHD standards when those products start shipping next year.  Epson is able to offer up user installable firmware upgrades (as they did for the 5030UB and 6030UB), so I expect that over the next year we'll see more UHD processing options supported.

Ultimately it really is about the picture.  The LS10000 not only produces an image that seems sharper than anything below the price of the Sony 4K projectors, but it has no lamps to change, and with a laser engine, color accuracy should hold for years, not just for hundreds of hours of use as is typical of lamp based projectors.

Expect to get years of awesome viewing from the LS10000.  By the time you get tired of this impressive projector, it will probably be time to upgrade to 8K!

High-end Light Absorbing Motorized Screen: Screen Innovations Slate

Ahh, the Screen Innovations Slate.  I own one.  Pretty awesome.  I use a different screen in my home theater setup, but I use a Slate in my living room paired with a very bright projector because my room - at certain times of day - is projector hell.  The light absorbing properties of the Slate 1.4 were at least as instrumental in having a great picture under pretty bright room conditions as the 4000 lumens I was throwing at it.

You have to see this to believe it, so we even have a video showing the Slate screen in action at different times of day and night, including the worst minute.  Check out the video and you'll see what I mean.

Here's an image from that video:


The Slate 1.4 in my home, on a very sunny day. Yes, that's sunlight reflecting onto my ceiling.

As you can see, mine is a motorized Slate.  It comes with that fascia cover over the mechanism above the screen, and an RF remote control.

Here's a product shot (thank you SI)  of SI's Zero Edge version of the Slate, and it looks killer!  (It hast an LCDTV type of look thanks to almost no border.)

Slate Zero Edge

This Zero Edge style really looks great close up. These product shots give you a good idea of how the screen looks

Now please be aware; SI's Slate screen isn't their most light absorbing screen, they have their Black Diamond series holding that honor, but the Slate, using the same technology, still provides a lot of light absorption (both vertical and horizontal) and at a much more attractive price.  I was tempted to opt for the even better bright room abilities of the Black Diamond, but felt that I would rarely need the difference in performance (I have a dedicated theater, too, after all), so I saved myself a good deal of money.

As you would expect, motorized versions of the Slate - like the one I have, cost far more than fixed wall ones.

To give you an idea of pricing:

A 100" fixed frame lists for $1890, while the more contemporary and stylish Zero Edge (with LED back lighting) is $3040 for the same $100 inch diagonal.  A motorized like mine, at 100" is $3885.  That's a lot of high performance in a screen that will serve you for a great many years

So check out these images.  And definitely that video.  Even with sunlight pouring in, they show the image is really watchable. Most of the time it's fabulous, and most of the time I'm running in Eco mode, in one of the less bright, but superior color modes.

Want more info on screens? Check out our Projector Screens directory for some general information, plus the full collection of our projector screen reviews. We've also got a two-part video series about Choosing the Right Projector Screen (Part 1 and Part 2) that you may find helpful.

Epson Pro Cinema 6030UB and Home Cinema 5030UB

I've got a pricing problem here.  The Pro Cinema 6030UB (which comes finished in black) sells for a little over $3000, but the white Home Cinema 5030UB sold online, is only $2299.  In other words, one or both could have been put in our other Guide.

The extra bucks for the Pro Cinema 6030UB is primarily because it comes as a bundle from your local (installing) dealer.  That bundle includes an extra year of warranty - 3 years total, with 3 years of rapid replacement program, a spare lamp, and a ceiling mount. The net on it then, is really more like $2500.

And it's a bargain at that price.  Both models have the same performance, and that means, extremely good color right out of the box (THX mode), and the best black levels available for the price.

Above, images from our shoots of both the Pro Cinema 6030UB and HC5030UB.  Don't worry about which are which, the performance of these two projectors are identical.

These projectors can play in your dedicated theater/cave, or in a brighter environment, as they produce upwards of 2000 lumens in their brighter modes (2400 lumens claimed).  Much as the JVC's offer the best black levels available, Epson, by comparison, provides the best black levels per dollar spent.  And that makes them a bargain, in the quest for the "holy grail" of picture quality:  Black level performance.  Calibrated these Epsons can handle a 130" diagonal size without trouble with a typical 1.3 gain screen in best mode, but can handle a good deal of ambient light in Living Room mode which is easily twice as bright.

You can definitely pair these Epsons with either the Elite CineGrey or in a really bright room, the SI Slate, to deal with most situations.  Sweet!  Myself, I run a 5030UB (as my medium cost "reference" projector) in my home theater on a 1.3 gain matte white, and have tons of brightness allowing me to have rear lights on, or window shutters partially open.

I recommend these projectors for either environment, but they are still at their best in a very good room with great lighting control for truly impressive movie viewing.

It was just about a year ago, that Epson upgraded these projectors, by improving their overall sharpness and "detail enhancement" with an improvement to their Super-Resolution feature.  For those who already owned one of these, users were able to upgrade their projectors at home rather easily.  (We created a video showing how).

Nothing new has hit the market that can do battle with these two at their price point.  Sony's new HW65ES is definitely a challenger, but still more expensive.  And the JVC RS400, X5000 discussed in this guide, is still about 50% more expensive than the net on these guys.

Again, these Epsons are highly recommended as best bang for the buck, and a great "first projector" for those shopping in this price range, but looking forward to a true 4K projector when they become affordable.


"Wrapping" It Up!

That folks, ends our recommendations.  We’ve served up what I personally think are the five best projectors and values, spanning a price range from around $2500 to $14,999.  For those of looking to spend a little less, do check out our five, under $2500 picks, in our "more affordable" Projector Holiday Guide.

Thanks and happy holidays -art

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