Posted on August 17, 2014 By Lisa Feierman
Epson’s UB projectors are once again our top pick in this price Class. The HC5030UB and the HC5030Ube are identical but for the extra $200 for the “e” which gets you wireless HDMI. That can make for a real savings if it saves you a lot of additional installation costs. The Pro Cinema 6030UB, of course, is sold only by local authorized dealers, and has only minor differences from the HC5030UB, notably it comes in a black case rather than mostly white with black. And, as a Pro Cinema projector, it comes with a ceiling mount, a spare lamp, and a 3rd year of warranty with a 3rd year of rapid replacement program. Like the HC’s the Pro comes with two pair of Epson’s 3D glasses.
Why the top award? First it’s a great value proposition. From a performance standpoint, it’s the bargain in the class with the standard 5030UB now officially $2499 Black level performance – the “holy grail” of home theater performance is excellent and is unbeatable in this price range, and for that matter, many projectors at $5K, $10K, and more. There are only a few projectors that do better at blacks and the least expensive of those is our Runner-Up in the more expensive price Class, and that one sells for twice the price. The Epsons look pretty great out of the box and calibrate beautifully, producing about as accurate a picture as we get to see.
Although not the brightest “home theater” projectors calibrated, they are capable of roughly 800 lumens when calibrated, and that’s enough for a 130” diagonal screen without breaking a sweat. When I watch movies on it, I’m usually at 124” diagonal, so I can attest to the lumens to spare. Low power costs about 1/3 of the lumens, and even that does a respectable job at 124” diagonal.
These Epson’s though have something else going for them. They are also the brightest projectors in the class, when in brightest mode. That makes these projectors great if you don’t have that “theater” setup, but rather the typically less lighting controlled family/bonus/living/media room. The Epson has no problem putting up over 2000 lumens, and with calibration of one of its bright modes, which won’t be quite as accurate as it’s “best” mode, still allows for about 1300 lumens. Tweaking brightest mode itself (dynamic) for improved color still allows for more than 1800 lumens at full wide angle. Count these Epson’s as light canons.
True, the HC5030UB and HC5030Ube don’t have the best warranty of the class, that honor, instead belongs to the Pro Cinema 6030 with its extra year of both warranty and replacement.
No projector is perfect. These Epsons could be a quieter at full power, and their iris can rumble a bit, but those tend to be minor things compared to the overall capabilities and value provided. Also on the downside, the Epson’s aren’t the sharpest of the field, typically a little softer than some of the others. Thanks to it’s pretty good detail enhancement feature it is pretty competitive.
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