Epson Home Cinema 5020 – Competitors 6

Epson Home Cinema 5020 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5010

Usually when a new projector comes out, such as this Home Cinema 5020, there’s a period of a month or more where it competes against dwindling supplies of “last year’s projector.

So, is it worth paying more?  Generally I would say yes.  If you can still find HC5010s (there are some around now, mid Nov. 2012), then I offer this advice.  I find the improvements to be a number of small things that add up to a much better projector, especially in 3D.  That said, if anyone’s into 3D, they probably should be willing to pay hundreds more for the HC5020.

My initial thoughts were that the HC5020UB despite the 320,000:1 contrast (up from 200,000:1 on the 5010UB), did not seem to have blacker blacks.   Mind you, at some point I forgot that they had raised the contrast ratio (they didn’t raise the HC3020 compared to the HC3010).

I had both projectors here for a couple of weeks, but never really took a close look, or photographed my favorite “dark scenes”.

But two things now say “Yes” the Epson does better blacks.  First, I saw the Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs PT-AE7000 here, when Panasonic brought both a few months ago.  The Panasonic PT-AE8000 had slightly improved blacks.   But, when I looked at my photos of the PT-AE8000 vs. Epson 5020, it seemed that the black level difference was greater (favoring the Epson) than in the images of the older HC5010 vs the older PT-AE7000.

Further “subjective proof”  When I reviewed the HW50ES, my initial comments included that the HW50ES slightly outperformed in most cases, the HC5010 (that was well before the HC5020 shipped).  Yet when I ran my comparisions and side by side images, the two were virtually a tie, but the Epson was slightly better at blacks most of the time, the Sony only occasionally.

From that as well, I would have to say, yes, you are getting better blacks with the HC5020UB.  However, it’s not going to be much of an improvement.  The difference between the blacks of the HC5020 and the PT-AE8000 is probably 5-10 times greater than between the HC5020 and the HC5010.   In other words, score a slight improvement in black levels for both Epson and the new Panasonic compared to their last year’s versions.

If, there really turns out to be a price spread of say $500 give or take, I would say that the 5010’s greatest value are to the folks shopping for under $2,000 projectors who simply can’t rationalize spending $2600 for the new version.

If the price spread is more like a couple hundred dollars, and you really don’t care about 3D, then the HC5010 again should be considered, especially if the budget it tight.   It comes down to this:  There isn’t one thing (other than possible price), that the HC5010 and do better than the HC5020 so it needs to be at a discount that makes sense to you.

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