Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 4010/Pro Cinema 4050 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review – Special Features 2

Epson Home Cinema 4010, Pro Cinema 4050 Projector Review – Special Features 2:  New Pixel Shifting Hardware, More HDR Than Before, Excellent Calibration Controls, Lens Memory – For Wide Screens

New Pixel Shifting Hardware

Pixel shifting device
Epson provided photo of new pixel shifting mechanism.

This is one of the three significant improvements Epson is touting in the Home Cinema 4010 and Pro Cinema 4050 projectors compared to past models.  With pixel shifting, we are talking about a physical shifting.  In this case – the faster, the better.

What Epson has done is, per their description of it, is significantly reduce the time it takes for each pixel to go from one pixel position to its other.  That means each pixel spends more time correctly centered on where it should be, which should result in less distortions and a slightly brighter picture.  Epson gave me a more detailed rundown at CEDIA 2018, but the rest is more of the technical stuff.  I’m not sure if Epson has published any details about it, but suffice it to say the end result looked better in sharpness than the 5040UB.  If you are an audiophile, think of the Epson improvements in pixel shifting like better power amps that can better do square waves.

Better HDR Than Before

Everyone supports HDR10, so this is the primary HDR standard that most people are talking about today.  It is the same one used on BluRay UHD discs, and is found in uses elsewhere.

For broadcast, and I believe most streaming, a second “software” based HDR called HLG, or Hybrid Log Gamma, is utilized.  It is a more recent standard, so that a lot of products still do not support it.  So far, the Netflix movies etc. that I have watched have lacked HDR, but I expect to see a shift over the next couple of years – likely sooner than later.  With projectors, at least, it’s only been about a year since anyone has supported HLG.  I assume Netflix, Prime and others will want a decent installed base of “TVs” that have HLG support before they will switch to working with HDR content.

The third method is DolbyVision, which is hardware based.  You will find that in X-Boxes, but few (I think) consumer TVs at this time.

But, back to the Home Cinema 4010 and Pro Cinema 4050.  Overall, the updated Auto Bright setting (which was available for the older 4000/4040 as a firmware update), definitely improves overall picture quality.  Epson seems to continue to work to get HDR right, and thanks to that work, overall, these projectors do not exhibit that “dim” tendency that the original 5040UB/6040UB exhibited as well as the early 4000/4040s.

Superior Color vs. Competitors

The Epson Home Cinema 4010/Pro Cinema 4050 supports and claims to achieve the DCI/P3 color standard, thanks to a Cinema filter that slides into place when you demand the best possible color.  While lamp based DLP competitors can barely get to REC709 (the older color standard, and a lot don’t even make it to that!) P3 offers a 50% larger color range, delivering color quality comparable to what the better digital projectors at your local theater complex deliver!  True, there are some trade-offs: for instance, the Cinema filter drops the projector’s brightness by about 40%.  From that perspective, you get to choose either more brightness, or better, P3 color.

At least you get a choice, unlike the competition.  By the way, if you go with a really good laser DLP UHD projector, you can find P3 or close, but those typically run $3K to $6K and most we’ve tested still come up very short on some colors, even if they should be able to get to P3. Per Eric, who has now calibrated something like 10 4K UHD DLPs, including 3 lasers, not even the laser projectors are close to P3.  That said, there’s nothing inherently preventing a company from building a 4K UHD laser projector and achieving, or getting extremely close to P3, but we just haven’t seen one yet.  My guess is that some of the very expensive 4K UHD projectors such as those from Digital Projection, may already be doing P3 or close, its just that we never seem to be able to bring any of those in for review.

Ghostbusters P3/HDR image
4K HDR/P3 from Ghostbusters, looks dynamic, rich colors (Digital Cinema mode, post calibration)

Excellent Calibration Controls

HDR menu
HC4010/PC4050 Dynamic Range menu with two Auto modes. We recommend Auto Bright

Eric, our calibrator, reports that not only do these two Epson projectors start out with impressively good color, but it can be improved with a full set of controls that do not exhibit bad habits, or lack the range needed.  Not just color, gamma, etc.  The HC4010 and PC4050 have controls for adjusting the HDR as well.  We recommend the Auto Bright setting, so that the projector can auto switch between HDR and non-HDR content. The older, regular Auto mode tends to be a bit too dark in the lower mid ranges. An alternative to using Auto Bright, is to create a custom gamma, as we did originally for the Epson 5040UB/6040UB.

Lens Memory – for Wide Screens

These Epson projectors allow you to save 10 different settings for lens memory.
These Epson projectors allow you to save 10 different settings for lens memory.

Most movies, less some of those made for TV and those from the Casablanca era – and many animated films, are typically much wider than HDTV.  As a result, serious movie fans may wish to go with a wide screen for the purpose of filling the entire screen with a Cinemascope type movie.  When projecting 16:9 content, you’ll end up with a letterbox on the left and right, so that football game or HDTV program will use less of the screen.  What you get is the maximum size for wide movies, and a bit smaller for everything else.

With Lens Memory, you can set the image size separately for each aspect ratio.  Two can be quickly changed with one button operation on the remote control.  There are 10 memories in all, although few users will find a use for more than three or four of them.  I only have two set up myself.