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Your 2018 Holiday Guide to Four Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000 - Part 2

By Nikki Zelinger

Sony VPL-VW295ES – True 4K with Phenomenal Color!

It’s a Sony!  The lowest cost native 4K projector available today, is the $4999.99 VPL-VW295ES!  And boy, what a great projector this one is. If you want more info than in these paragraphs, just posted the full review yesterday, thanks! -art (your friendly reviewer and editor).

The VW295ES is by far the least expensive projector using native 4K panels, and that means drastically smaller pixels (50% - 75% smaller) than any of those 4K “capable” projectors including those called 4K UHD projectors.

Translated: All else being equal, you get a sharper, more detailed image than anything you can buy for less.  But that’s not the real reason to buy this Sony. Truth is, this Sony is only incrementally sharper than some of the better lower cost pixel shifters using lower resolution panels, to handle 4K.

The real difference is the picture itself, True a big plus is the sharpness, but even more so, it is the color - beautiful, the black levels are not as good as even more expensive Sonys but definitely respectable, which is perfect for putting your new Sony projector in your family room, living room, or whatever other less than perfect room you have.  That makes this a family projector - one everyone can enjoy. Just pair with a good ALR type screen LINK and enjoy movies, sports and general HDTV.

This Sony does a great job of not just being sharp, but handling HDR - high dynamic range - and P3 color - same as the movie theaters and a real improvement. The VW295ES gets extremely close to P3, while I can only think of a couple of Epsons (both in these guides) that cost less and do every bit as well. Almost all of the 4K UHD DLP projectors work hard just to meet the much older REC 709 standard we’ve had for two decades.

With a great picture, comes one of the most capable, feature laden projectors around.  The zoom lens has motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift (lots of lens shift), making for a projector that’s easy to place in almost any room.  And for you movie fanatics it works well with wide “cinemascope” screens!

The Sony VPL-VW295ES is simply a great native 4K projector.  You can spend more - thousands more - to get another such projector with better black levels.  That’s a benefit in a dedicated fully darkenable home theater, true, but when you don’t want pitch black, its far less important.  I thoroughly enjoyed over 75 hours of viewing this Sony in doing my review.  I watched in my theater, fully darkened, and also pretty bright with most window shutters open.  The moves were great, the football was great, and so were my fav 1080 and 4K shows off of Netflix and satellite.

Considering the amount of time you will spend enjoying your new Sony over the many years, count the VW295ES as a great quality of life investment.

Epson Pro Cinema 4050 – 4K Capable With Improved Pixel Shifting Technology!

Epson recently announced the new Pro Cinema 4050 (read our First-Look Review here, full review coming soon) and HC4010 (take a look at the Under $2000 Holiday Guide for that one!) with some definite improvements in their pixel shifting technology. This 3LCD projector is listed at $2399.99, which is just $300 more than the HC4010.  What does that extra $300 get you?  I’m glad you asked!  Being that the HC4010 and PC4050 are the same projector, the premium in the price gets you extras!  Included with the PC4050 are a good quality ceiling mount, extra lamp, cable cover, and additional year on Epson’s stellar warranty – 3 years warranty with 3 years of rapid replacement – making this the best warranty in the business!

This projector claims 2,400 lumens, which is plenty bright for a room with good control over ambient light, and looks wonderful in a fully darkened room.  The Pro Cinema 4050 has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, and it is a pixel shifter, but Epson improved on their pixel shifting tech from what was used in their benchmark Home Cinema 5040UB (also included in this guide), thanks to the introduction of their new 4K PRO-UHD panels. The 4K PRO-UHD panels offer extraordinary color accuracy, dramatic contrast, HDR10, and gives the Epson Pro Cinema 4050 top-of-the-line pixel shifting, which means a sharper image than Epson’s previous 4K-capable models.

Epson has made the claim that the Pro Cinema 4050 can reproduce 100% of the P3/BT.2020 color space – a claim that we have seen a lot of manufactures claim at this year’s CEDIA – and a claim that, so far, everyone has fallen short of. Art is just about done reviewing this one, so you can expect to see the review published in the next week or two. (We’ll link to it here when it’s done.) If past experience is anything to go by, we expect the PC4050 to have impressive, accurate and vibrant color, and a sharp image you’re sure to enjoy.

Home theater projectors usually don’t have built in speakers (come on, if you’re going to be getting such a nice projector, go get yourself a nice sound system to go with it!) That, of course, is the assumption of the manufacturers and the reason this Epson doesn’t offer built-in speakers. The simplest way to get sound out of your source (Playstation 4, Xbox One, BluRay UHD player, etc.) is to use an AV receiver and surround sound system. These are available in one package by purchasing a Home Theater In A Box system, that we talked about in the Under $2000 Guide. Obviously, quality increases as price increases.

Again, like it’s lower priced twin, the Epson Pro Cinema 4050 has an impressive 2.10:1 zoom lens with convenient powered focus, powered zoom, motorized lens shift, and even lens memory for those who have a widescreen – it’s so convenient to push a button and switch lens position from Wide Screen, to Cinemascope, to old-school TV. As is typical of Epson, there are plenty of inputs and connectors including two HDMIs, one 1.4 and one 2.2 for accepting 4K content. This projector has support for 3D, including Blu-ray 3D, with enough brightness to do a good job. For the sports-ball fan… the PC4050 offers CFI to make the action all the more enjoyable.

The Pro Cinema 4050 offers that great warranty I mentioned previously – 3 years warranty and 3 years rapid replacement, Epson PrivateLine dedicated toll-free support, and 90 days on the lamp. This is the best warranty in the business.  Let me elaborate on just how this warranty works:  Your projector stops working suddenly – through no fault of your own; you pull the warranty card out of your wallet (or look at the label on the bottom of your projector) and call the toll-free, dedicated Epson Projector Support line and speak with a REAL person!  After explaining the situation, they ship you a replacement projector, not a loaner.  You receive the replacement projector within two business days and send the busted one back at no charge.  Of course, Epson will require a credit card be on file (that just makes good business sense, after all, we are talking about a $2,399 item!), but if you send the broken projector back within 30 days you won’t be charged.  It’s that simple!

With the improved pixel shifting, this Epson is one of great interest to us. The list price is $2399.99, which isn’t bad for an Epson projector – especially when you factor in the extras.  One of the advantages you get from the 3LCD technology found in this projector is that you’ll get as many color lumens as white ones, ensuring a more vibrant image in ambient light than its DLP competition is capable of offering. There are advantages to both technologies, to be sure, but for me, I will always choose 3LCD.

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