Epson Home Cinema 5010 vs. Sony VPL-HW30ES
In this case, it's the Epson Home Cinema 5010 taking on a roughly $1000 more expensive projector. The Sony is more of a dedicated home theater projector, while the Epson is equally at home in caves and in family rooms.
Like the Optoma, the Sony costs a good chunk more than the Epson, but, the Sony is closer to the Epson in price, and it lacks the rough edges of the Optoma. For example, when it comes to CFI, the Sony is smoother than the Epson (or the Optoma, for that matter). It also has a really nice smooth dynamic iris. The smooth action won't get you quite as black blacks as the Epson, but the iris action will be even less noticeable, on those trickier scenes.
And of course, the Sony is in a near black case, In a dark home theater environment most prefer dark colored projectors. In fairness though, the Epson's front is pretty dark, with those dark vents and trim, so it's not reflecting much back at the screen. Still, the Sony "fits" cosmetically, better in a blacked out theater.
The Sony, like some other projectors, I like for being relatively natural looking, especially when dynamic features are implemented.
The Epson is a touch more visible projector, it's like the BMW vs. the Lexus. It's CFI isn't quite as good, but fine. And so on. From a bang for the buck basis the Home Cinema 5010 is the better value, and is better is several performance areas. On the other hand, if you like Sony in general, want a classy looking pure "theater" projector, quieter, and a touch less "visible" when you are watching it, then certainly go out and get one, I'm pretty sure you'll love the picture.
Epson Home Cinema 5010 vs. Sharp XV-Z17000
Another DLP projector, the Sharp XV-Z17000 is the first of the single chip 1080p DLP projectors to hit the market, and that makes it a year and a half older than the Epson. Street price puts it almost a $1000 higher. The Sharp did a lot of things better than the first generation and more expensive LCoS projectors, such as supporting the various optional 3D protocols that those others didn't. The Sharp could view all the 720p content on DirecTV when the Sony, JVC... could not. Now, though, we're talking about comparing the XV-Z17000 to the Epson Home Cinema 5010.
The Epson has far more placement flexibility, and overall better optics, as the Sharp is a touch softer in the corners. The Sharp isn't as bright. It has several very good "not quite best" modes, brighter than the Epson's "best", but the Epson's best, is brighter, and it's brightest is at least 50% brighter.
The Sharp will appeal to DLP fans, but it has to watch out, it can't compare in performance or feature set with the Epson, and for that matter it might have to start watching out for some lower cost DLP projectors like the Acer H9500BD I recently reviewed!
Epson Home Cinema 5010 vs. Epson Home Cinema 3010
What does the extra $1300 buy you (if both have 2 pair of glasses), when comparing the 5010 with the Home Cinema 3010?
First and foremost, you are getting a higher performance projector in terms of picture quality. The HC5010's black level performance is not only far superior, but it's also better than anything near its price above or below.
The HC5010 lacks the more "family room" friendly Home Cinema 3010 projector's pair of 10 watt speakers, but adds more placement flexibility with lens shift and a zoom lens with more range. Neither projector is particularly quiet in terms of audible noise. Both have the same excellent warranty. And same long lamp life.
The Home Cinema 5010 has dynamic features the HC3010 lacks. While the more expensive 5010 has full CFI for smooth motion, the Epson 3010 offers only the more basic FI - simple frame doubling. It also offers Super-Resolution a dynamic sharpening system the HC3010 lacks.
If you aren't a home theater fanatic, don't demand those really dark blacks, and just want a great projector for the family, with good color and a good feature set, go with the Home Cinema 3010. I doubt that any of those others, buying a Home Cinema 5010, when looking back, will regret their choice.
Panasonic PT-AE7000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8700UB
All I can say is this: If you are willing to take a pass on 3D, for the duration of your next purchase, then by all means, grab an Epson Home Cinema 8700UB while supplies last (Nov. 11). Besides 3D you'll give up the following:
Brightness. The 5010 is brighter when calibrated for 6500K, and a good bit brighter at its brightest.
Split Screen capabilities. A nice touch, but most of us have lived long healthy lives without this feature (not unlike CFI).
There are other minor changes, and firmware improvements, no doubt. And of course, the new panels and new physical design (same lens). Ultimately though, the 2D performance other than brightness seems to be pretty much the same. I don't expect that the 8700UB projectors will be around very long, though, but they make a good option, while they are.