Epson Home Cinema 4000 Home Theater Projector Review – Summary

EPSON HOME CINEMA 4000 4K CONTENT CAPABLE PROJECTOR SUMMARY:  General Comments, Picture Quality, The Competition, Bottom Line and Value Proposition, Pros and Cons

The value of the Epson Home Cinema 400 is first and foremost, being one of the least expensive projectors at this time that can “play nicely” with real 4K content from sources such as a 4K Blu-ray UHD player.  I’m not talking about using with some low cost, upscaling 1080 resolution Blu-ray player that can take 1080 content and upscale to 4K, but lacks the other goodies, such as HDR and wider color space found only with 4K content..  I’m talking about when reading a 4K disc, processing, and playing it.  More on the specific competition below.

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Epson’s Home Cinema 4000 – A feature laden, 4K content capable projector for a rock bottom list price of $2199

 

The Epson uses a lot of “advanced processing” to make this happen.  After all, true 4K is 8 million pixels (aka 8 megapixels). By comparison the HC4000 and other 1080p projectors with pixel shifting, are working with individual pixels 4x the area (twice the diameter) of true 4K pixels on a true 4K projector.  Thanks to pixel shifting, though, the Epson outputs 4 million pieces of information, not the basic 2 million of straight 1080p.

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Fancy processing creates some artifacts.  Some of what appears as impressive sharpness and detail, is nothing more than “noise.”  But, remember, at the end of the conversation, it’s your perception, which is why I like to use terms like “perceived sharpness and detail.”

Personally, I’m no longer the “purist” I once was, when I would pooh-pooh fancy processing.  At this point, I can appreciate that all that processing, despite adding some hardness to the image (noise) if you push it hard, definitely gives the impression of a sharper, more detailed image.  And that’s a noble goal, if not as good as having true extra sharpness and detail.

So, I really like these “pixel shifters” capable of working with 4K content, whether they come from Epson, JVC, and now, a host of DLP projectors using pixel shifting and DLP’s new 4 megapixel chip.  (Native 4 megapixel – double 1080p pixel shifters, but still half of true 4K.)

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Image (uncalibrated) from Victoria Secret’s Swim Suit special, in Bright Cinema mode

Of the new 4K UHD DLP projectors,  the least expensive announced so far is $200 less at $1999.  that would be the Optoma UHD60, the home entertainment version of the $2499 Home Theater UHD65 projector we reviewed last month.  More below.

Epson rates the Home Cinema 4000 at 2200 lumens at full power in its brightest mode.  Whoa!  We measured over 2900 lumens, making it as bright as the 2500 lumen claimed HC5040UB, which measured similarly.

For those interested in the virtually identical Pro Cinema 4040 – $2499, but comes with a spare lamp, mount and cable cover, and a black case, we didn’t do full measurements on that projector but figure they should measure almost identically to the HC4000!

For those of you who skip the middle pages of this review, the HC4000 is the full package when it comes to handling 4K content.  I say that because it not only works with the 4K, but it supports HDR and BT.2020 the larger, more impressive color space used in movie theaters.

But it may be the full feature set that makes the HC4000 the value it is.  Lens Memory is an important feature for those of us wanting to go “widescreen” for movie viewing.  It has picture in picture, lots of fancy image processing, including detail enhancement, as well as CFI for smooth motion.

The projector sports and performs really well with 3D.  It is about as feature laden as you will find. Oh, there are brighter projectors, and ones with better black levels, but finding a superior performing projector overall, with a large feature set, around the Home Cinema 4000 projector’s  price point is likely to prove frustrating at this time.

The HC4000 is a bit noisy at full power, claiming -32 db.  Most of us can live with that, but the projector is a whole lot quieter in the other two power level modes.

I like the Epson remote, it’s the same as for the Home Cinema 4000’s siblings and give or take a button or two, like the remotes provided for a great many Epson projector models.



The Bottom Line on Picture Quality

The photos don’t begin to capture the projected image.  Sadly colors are off a bit, especially when HDR and BT.2020 are shot.  The slider above has a number of images mixed together, including 4K, HDTV and the last two, which are 1080p movie content.

Post calibration, colors were dead on, for 1080, but not quite as good with 4K content and BT.2020.  The Epson can’t quite reach the whole BT.2020 color space, but it gets a whole lot closer than any of the new 4K UHD DLP projectors, or at least those below $10,000.

Black levels are good, for a $2200 projector, but as you’ve heard many times, the slightly more expensive 5040UB does drastically better in this one area where they differ.  Dark shadow detail handling is excellent.

The Value Proposition and the Competition

Current 4K capable competition of course includes the Epson 5040UB, and for $3999, JVC’s X570, with even better black levels.

Now if you aren’t concerned about 4K compatibility and HDR, then the most immediate competition is the $1999 list price Sony VPL-HW45ES.  That’s a projector without a dynamic iris.  Like the Home Cinema 4000, the Sony is not quite “ultra high contrast” caliber black level performance.  Other than that, I’ll favor the Sony for almost perfect “right out of the box” performance, and being especially natural when it comes to skin tones.  And a lower selling price.

On the plus side, however, for the Epson, is additional brightness, more zoom range – 2.1:1 vs. 1.6:1, and motorized lens features, which allow for having a wide screen, as I, and many home theater movie enthusiasts who have the option, will choose. The extra brightness is also a plus if viewing 3D.  The Sony makes no attempt at handling 4K.

Epson’s own Home Cinema 3900 at $1799 (no bundle), I believe, shares the same panels as the HC4000.

Optoma’s UHD65 and UHD60 are probably the strongest competitors from the field of DLP projectors with the TI 2816x1528x2 panels.

Of those, the UHD60, which I haven’t played with, is slightly less than the Epson, while the UHD65 is $300 more.  The UHD65 will have more color lumens than the 60, thanks to using a “home theater” color wheel instead of a business/home entertainment one. Still, the color lumens will be well below the Epson which claims as many color, as white lumens.  There’s also the almost (at this time) shipping Vivitek 2288, but with one in house at this time, the Vivitek comes up short overall compared to the Optoma, so the Vivitek is even less of a competitor.  In fairness, we’ve been working with a pre-production HK2288 projector.

The Optoma looks good, and is clearly slightly sharper, although with Epson’s Image Enhancement you can crank up the processing, and create a sharper more detailed seeming image, but one that’s not as natural, and may have a slightly hard look to it.  Still those 4K UHD DLP’s win the sharpness battle.

The toughest competition near the price, of course, for $500 more is the Epson 5040UB. It is superior, since other than the much higher contrast 3LCD panels, the projectors are pretty much identical.

So if you don’t have that extra $500 lying  around, or your lighting situation situation is never ideal, the HC4000 may well be a bette value proposition than the 5040UB.  That makes a pretty strong case for this Epson projector, when it’s toughest competition is it’s own big brother.

Summary - Pros and Cons

The HC4000 is, at this moment, the 2nd least expensive projector to accept 4K content with HDR, and the least expensive that also has  motorized lens features including Lens Memory.  It is the lowest cost three chip – in this case, 3LCD.

No projector, though is without limitations. One thing I have to cite the PC4040 for is audible noise.  Like the UBs it’s pretty noisy at full power, so I normally run it at medium power to keep the fan noise down.  Mind you it’s not terrible, by any means, just on the noisy side at full power.  I wouldn’t even think of lowering brightness in exchange for lower noise, if watching sports, but, for a quiet movie, sure.

  • Pretty Bright (2200 lumens claimed, far more measured)
    • equal number of white and color lumens
  • 4K and HDR capable
  • 10 Lens Memory, motorized lens features
  • 10 User savable picture memories (+ 2 ISF)
  • CFI for smooth motion
  • Many image processing choices
  • Five preset modes + 2 more for 3D
  • Picture in Picture
  • Lens cover closes when power off
  • HDMI-Link to control other HDMI devices
  • Excellent, backlit remote control
  • LCD panel alignment
  • Full set of calibration controls that work well
  • 3 year warranty with 3 years replacement program
  • Networkable
  • Good lamp life (3500 hours at full power, 5000 in Eco)
  • An impressive projector for $2199

PC4040 Cons

To me, the biggest “con” is not using the same 3LCD panels as the 5040UB/6040UB, but then, if it did, it would pretty much be a 6040UB and cost at least $1000 more.

So, I see the HC4000 as a compromise projector – give up a bit on black level performance, in exchange for the lowest price on a 4K, HDR capable projector.

  • Black level performance (while respectable) could be better – not quite “ultra high contrast”
    • These 3LCD panels are a step down, performance wise, compared to the 5040UB’s
  • Fan noise is a bit high at full power (-32 db)
  • Could use a 3rd HDMI
  • No Wi-Fi built in (but there is wired networking)
  • Does not support 18 ghz HDMI (that means no 4K HDR at 60 fps, 4:4:4)
    • No content out, or expected anytime soon that would require that, and it would take said content and adjust to play with less color depth, etc.

Obviously the many strengths should easily outweigh the few “cons.”

That’s it! Thanks for checking out our Epson Home Cinema 4000  review.

Current dealer prices for Epson Home Cinema 4000

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Visual Apex 
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Adorama 
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News and Comments

  • Michael Toler

    What are the post calibration settings for the Epson 4000 that were used for this review?