Epson Home Cinema 4010/Pro Cinema 4050 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review – Special Features 1

Epson Home Cinema 4010, Pro Cinema 4050 Projector Review – Special Features 1:  4K Capable, Handling 4K Content, As Gaming Projectors

4K Capable

The Home Cinema 4010 and Pro Cinema 4050 are 4K content capable, 1080p pixel shifters.  They support HDR (HDR10 standard) and can achieve the new higher standard P3 color – rare for lamp based projectors as pixel shifters hit the screen twice, with overlapping pixels (4M+ pixels.)

By comparison, most of the low cost DLP 4K UHD projectors are also 1080p pixel shifters, but hit the screen four times for 8,000,000 overlapping pixels.  For example, the BenQ HT2550 and the Optoma UHD51A have the same native resolution, but pixel shift four times (well it fires once, then fires 3 more times at different locations).  Such differences, when looking at sharpness and detail are, at most, very slight.  If anything, the usual disadvantage of 3LCD and LCoS projectors compared to DLP is that the three color paths (Red, Green and Blue) are never 100% perfectly in alignment.  (Trade-off: By comparison, DLP causes some folks to see rainbows, etc.)

The truth is that each different technology, 3LCD, DLP, and LCoS, have their own advantages and disadvantages.  PRO-UHD is the name Epson uses for their suite of 4K capabilities.  The DLPs are 4K UHD (UHD of course means Ultra High Definition), while Sony and JVC now both offer a lineup of true, Native 4K projectors; that is to say they have 8.3+ million pixels, with no overlapping pixel shifting.  Those however start at $5K and up.

passengers image

By the way, I’m not a big fan of trademark names it comes to describing technology – the terms are quite convoluted and they all essentially say the same thing (not identical though), while trying to say that a particular manufacturer is the only one with a feature that everyone else offers to some degree or another, often with differences too slight to notice.

For example, when one company describes their technology with “We’re the only company with ‘SuperSmooth’ processing”, is just that – they are the only one with “SuperSmooth,” because that is what they trademarked – but in reality its CFI, just like everyone else has.  The only difference is they gave it a name.  This has been the running theme among the different manufactures for some years now.

When it comes to Native 4K versus 4K UHD, it is true that if you are not sitting particularly close to your screen, say 15 feet from a 100 inch diagonal screen, you almost certainly can’t tell which is sharper.  But the same image at 8 feet, the difference will become much more apparent, with one image appearing slightly sharper than the other.  Here’s the kicker though – due to the large amount of image processing that’s going on here, the sharper image may not actually be the one with the higher native resolution.

Bottom line: The Epson, which has some very good optics, appears very sharp on 4K content using pixel shifting.  When comparing to other projectors at a similar price point, your final decisions should likely be based on other features, as any perceived sharpness differences will be minor – or not visible at all – depending on how far away you plan on sitting.

Handling 4K Content

Epson’s 4K capabilities, like many projectors are not unlimited.  The HDMI on the HC4010 and PC4050 allows for just about anything, with one exception – 4K content at 60fps with HDR.  That’s not an uncommon limitation, though.  Sony’s under $25K 4K projectors have also not been capable of projecting 4K, 60fps content with HDR, until now: their newest models, just announced, do have this ability.  You are able to watch 4K content at 60fps, but only with HDR turned off.  Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of 4K content like that.  Netflix does stream 4K content at 60fps, I believe in some cases, but typically without HDR.

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As Gaming Projectors

horizon zero dawn
Image from game Horizon Zero Dawn. (not taken with the Epson projector), From a lower cost 1080p model.

But 4K gaming with HDR is definitely gaining popularity quickly if the feedback I’m getting from a few hard core gamers (mostly millennials) that I know.  And expect HDR to become a regular part of streaming services over the next couple of years.

The news here is mostly good news.  When it comes to input lag, the HC4010 and PC4050 are reasonably fast, around 30ms per my Leo Bodner input lag measuring device.  That’s considered to be “Good”, and works out to being right around one frame behind on 30fps games, or two frames on 60fps games.  Great times are considered to be about half of that lag – around 16ms.

If you want something fast than that, it’s likely not going to be with a projector – consider looking into a high speed gaming LCD/LED monitor.  And that monitor will be far more expensive than a monitor with typical input lag.

A downside is the HDMI, but that is fairly limited.  Epson is using a 10 Gbps HDMI, and while that’s fast enough for just about everything, it doesn’t work for 4K content at 60fps with HDR!  It is fast enough for 4K content at 60fps without HDR, though.  But, there are games now that take full advantage of both 4K and HDR.

Nikki was mentioning to me how great one game looked in 4K, 60fps without HDR on her projector, and another person I know commented to me that Nikki would like the picture even better if she saw it in HDR.  Anyway, that one limitation should not be the end of the world for most gamers, but you need to know about it.

More important than the HDMI/HDR issue is that the input lag is good, and overall it produces a great picture with almost any source.

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