Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 4000 Projector Review – Special Features

HC4000 PROJECTOR – FEATURES – Page 2:  Gaming and Input Lag, Motorized Lens with Lens Memory,  3D, Picture In Picture, HDMI Link, Long Lamp Life

The Epson Home Cinema 4000 is identical in terms of these features with the Epson UB projectors launched late last year. As a result, much of this content below is the same or only modestly modified from either the 5040UB, or 4040 reviews, whichever is the more appropriate… However, some parts have been written fresh, such as my Ghostbusters comments.

HC4000 As A Serious Gaming Projector

Epson’s got game! The HC4000 isn’t a world class gaming projector, there are a few with virtually no input lag. Most Epson projectors we’ve measured for input lag over the past 4-5 years have not been able to do better than times in the 50ms input lag range (1/20 of a second).  Basically 2 frames behind, on a 30 fps game.

But that has changed in the last year or two.

league of legends graphic
League of Legends graphic


We consider that previous input lag (50ms) to be acceptable to most of us, but too slow for real hardcore gamers, looking (and spending) for every advantage, including minimal input lag.

That’s the case whether playing FPS, auto racing, team games etc, like Call Of Duty, Legends, etc.

Here’s the good news, I put the HC4000 here into Fast image processing mode, broke out my Leo Bodnar input lag measuring device, plugged it into the Epson’s HDMI port and took measurements.

Voila – Input lag measured a consistent 30.9 ms.   Still not world class, by any means, but that’s one major step faster!  That translates into being almost 1 frame behind on 30 fps games and almost 2 behind on 60 fps.  That’s pretty good, and typical of most of the better projectors.

Interestingly, when I switched the Epson back to Fine image processing, to my surprise, it still measured at 30.9.  You do need to turn off “look ahead” features, like CFI, but that’s true for any projector or display.

Bottom Line.  Input lag is now small enough that most gamers looking for home theater projectors will be happy instead of “great projector but I really wish the input lag was a bit better.”  Of course it could be faster still – we have encountered a few gaming projectors down in the 16 to 17ms range over the past few years, and Acer, was bringing out a high end gaming projector that should have close to 0 input lag, but I haven’t seen it, except a year ago at an Acer announcement event.

Bottom line:  The HC4000 should prove to be a good gaming projector for all but the most hard core players. Enjoy! -art

Motorized Lens, Lens Memory, Improved Light Engine

This Epson Home Cinema 4000 is using the light engine that was basically “all new” with the launch of the Epson UB models in the fall of 2016.  Oh, I’m sure there are components, menus, etc. from previous versions, but like the UBs, the HC4000 sports an improved system, compared to the previous light engine which was in use for several years.

For openers, there’s a new 2.1:1 zoom lens.  The old one was a Fujinon lens.  Not sure about the new one but pretty sure it is still Fujinon, but with superior optical qualities.  Of course some of that perception is likely the lens, but also contributing would be the light engine design itself, or even the reworked dynamic iris.

One of the obvious improvements I noticed was the reduced blooming around objects (such as white text on a black – or dark background in credits, but some blooming would be visible in any really dark scene with a bright white object in it). With the newer Epsons, it’s simply noticeably less blooming!  Count that a real improvement.

I also notice some additional detail on dark scenes such as the Bond night train scene we so love to use here.  For example, on that image, there’s more detail in the water, in the stream on the left.  (You’ll find that image on the Picture Quality page).

So, that’s great – better optics – important, as we’re now working with 4K content and pixel shifting, which can resolve more detail than the older Epsons.  And, that’s exactly what Epson says about the new lens – needed because the Epson can project from more detailed data.

Lens Memory – A Major Feature

Most folks have 16:9 screens – the HDTV standard, but some of us (10% almost, I believe) with home theater projectors, have chosen to go with a Cinemascope type aspect ratio wide screen, as I have.  Without lens memory, one would have to get up, and adjust the lens zoom and shift every time one switches from HDTV, to widescreen content, or back. That really isn’t practical if you have ceiling mounted your projector.

Finally, I don’t have to get up each time I change aspect ratio, as I have with the loaner 5030UB I’ve had here.

I believe that having lens memory – is a major enhancement for some of us.  I also like we can save up to 10 different Lens Memory settings.  Better still, the first two saved are accessible from their own buttons (Lens1, and Lens2) on the remote.  Thus I can switch over to a widescreen movie, quite literally with a single touch of a button, and just a few seconds later, it’s done, and I’m taking full advantage.

Because the Epson UB series is so popular, this may even cause a noticeable shift in the percent of wide screens to HDTV screens being sold out there.  (Not a huge shift, but enough to “move the needle.”)

To Epson for giving us Lens Memory, I can only say:  “It’s about time, and Thank You!” Because I have a wide screen, I make use of Lens Memory regularly.

The Light Engine

As we know, light starts out from a lamp, and for most 3 chip projectors gets split into 3 beams, one for each red, green, and blue designated LCD panels. Then the light gets recombined to provide a color image (using a dichroic prism), out the lens and onto the screen.  Designing a great light engine isn’t easy.  You want to keep dust out, minimize reflections within the tunnel the light passes through (a contributor to bloom), and minimize any reflected light off of the back lens elements.  New projector, new physical design, new light engine!

Based on the reduced blooming and improved detail (related), the new light engine must be at least as good as the older Epsons.  Whether the reduced blooming, etc. is due to the lens, or the light path/engine, or both, doesn’t really matter to me, only that we get a cleaner image (which these Epsons deliver) matters.

Dynamic Iris – Epson has changed the overall design of their iris significantly with the UBs, and also in the HC4000.  That’s most noticeable on “black frames” where the iris can shut down to its most minimum opening, but according to Epson, an improvement is there whenever the iris is engaged.

Since the HC4000 doesn’t have a direct predecessor, I’ll say, from playing with the iris on the 5040UB, that there is definitely a slight improvement in black levels with this new iris over the one Epson was using prior to the 5040UB.

Home Cinema 4000 on 3D

Naturally I teed off my 3D viewing with Ghostbusters 2016, since I’m using that disc for a variety of comparisons, including HDR on (with BT.2020) or off (REC709) , 4K vs 1080p, etc.  Epson’s 3D moved from pretty good, but always a bit of crosstalk, to very clean – not perfect, but noticeably better – close enough for me.

I’ve seen much of Ghostbusters 2016 way too many times.  I would say that I do prefer watching in 2D, with 4K and HDR and the larger BT.2020 color space, over the 3D, but once in a while I’ll put in the 3D disc, it’s still fun.

Epson projectors have  serving up 3D abilities pretty much since the 3D content started shipping for Blu-ray.  I have only spent about 4-5 hours watching 3D with this Epson. Again, this Epson does an pretty clean job on 3D.  3LCD and LCoS projectors until recently seemed to not do as well as DLPs when it came to crosstalk, but they are much improved lately as this HC4000 proves. 3D works great!

Epson still offers rechargeable 3D glasses, but there are plenty of lower cost (under $20 a pair) 3D glasses to choose from as well.  Personally I use Samsung’s that are around $15 last I looked.  They use a lithium battery instead of being rechargeable, but considering you should get at around 50 movie views off of one of those batteries, that should work for most of us!

3D is one of a number of features that is disabled when you kick in pixel shifting – when you are using 1080 content.

In a sense, there’s no problem with “4K 3D”, but that is simply because there is no consumer standard for 4K and 3D.  4K so far for us, is strictly plain old 2D,  It’s interesting that many LCD TVs are now hitting the market that don’t do 3D, but that’s hardly surprising.  But of greater note, some competitors to the HC4000, such as Optoma’s UHD60 and UHD65, and Vivitek’s HK2299 (our next review), lack 3D.  Now that’s a shame, because projectors are great for 3D, LCDTVs are too small.

Picture In Picture

Pictures in this set are old ones from the UB review.  PIP works the same on the HC4000.

Four images above:  First is PIP with movie in main screen, HDTV (Olympic swimming) in the upper left (that’s the larger size window), the 2nd image shows the smaller sized window, and the menu to change sizes.  The third image puts the “in window” on the upper right.  The last image switches sources so that the movie (Ender’s Game) is in the window, and HDTV is filling the main screen.

Note, PIP does not work with 4K content.  My attempt to put 4K in a window resulted in a blue screen in that window.  The images were shot as part of the 5040UB review, as they behave the same.

Epson has long offered Picture In Picture.  On many projectors, including older Epsons, Only one HDMI source could be used, the other source had to be something else – analog computer, s-video, composite video, etc.  Since we’re all pretty much living in an HDMI world, most could not take advantage of watching two HDMI sources at the same time.  For example, in this image, I’ve got a movie from my Blu-ray UHD player as the main image, and an HDTV picture from my DirecTv box in the upper left corner.  Both are HDMI, and both are live!  Nice.

My primary complaint with the HC4000 when it comes to PIP is that the smaller image is pretty small.

The smaller window comes in two sizes:  Large and Small, which would be better described as Small, and Tiny, or Small and Smaller.  Still, on my 124″ screen, the small window is still almost two feet wide when in “Large” and about half that in Small.  (The smaller setting is probably best for when you change sources, while watching the small window to see when the commercials are over, then switch back.)

Count Picture in Picture as a nice extra- but for most of us, a feature that we could easily live without if it wasn’t available.

Now I wouldn’t mind, for my football watching, to have one game in the main screen, and the other in the small window, and switch back and forth as desired.  But to do that, I’d need a cable satellite box with two outputs (unlikely) or have to rent two boxes.


Here’s a feature found on a lot of home projectors but one I often forget to mention.  For those not familiar, if you look at the Epson remote, you’ll see a whole bunch of controls suitable for controlling a DVD or Blu-ray player, or other HDMI devices.

Interestingly I haven’t been able to get the HC4000 to see my Sony player, but my HC5040UB does.  I’m checking on the “why” I haven’t had luck. The 5040UB was already doing HDMI link before a few months ago when I got my new AV receiver, so that could have something to do with my problem.  Checking on it.

With HDMI link I should be able to just press play on my Epson remote to start play on my Blu-ray or Blu-ray UHD players, as they are HDMI link compatible. With the 5040UB, from the HDMI Link button, it shows me my HDMI-link compatible devices. I can select a device, hit Enter, and it goes to that source.  With my Samsung player, I can without further setup, do all the usual controls – fast forward, advance chapter, pause, play, “rewind”, etc., all from the controls on the Epson menu.  But I still need the player’s remote for a full set of controls, including power, accessing the menus, etc.

BTW I really like HDMI-link, because it is a great solution when you really hate a remote control, as I do the remote that comes with the Samsung UHD Blu-ray Player.

At least I like the Sony’s remote, but most often I use the Epson’s remote to control the play, rewind, etc. functions of the Sony as well when using the UB.  When I figure out the problem with the HC4000, I’ll mostly use the Epson remote for transport control of the Sony 1000.  You can have it the other way – the other devices remote will turn on the projector, or you can set it up for bi-directional – grab either remote…

Epson HC4000 Projector: Lamp Life

I never know where to mention lamp life. This time, it ended up right here.

Epson has three power modes on this projector:

  • High (full power) which they rate at 3500 hours
  • Medium at 4000 hours
  • Eco mode at 5000 hours.

That’s fairly typical for home projectors in this price range, except that most have only two modes.  We are seeing some longer claims with a couple of competitors – up to 5000 hours at full power.  Even so, Epson may have the edge since they sell replacement lamps for lower – often a lot lower, than the competition.

Medium and Eco settings have the fan running in its noticeably quieter mode.  With my screen running 124″ diagonal for movies, and 99″ on 16:9 content, I rarely run on High, unless: It’s sports and I’m letting in a fair amount of ambient light, or, if I’m watching a 4K movie in HDR.  Then I appreciate the boost in brightness.  I almost forgot, I’ll be at full power for 3D as well.