From the Home Cinema 5020 remote control, you can control other devices such as many Blu-ray players that support HDMI-Link. Note, you'll find a full set of DVD type controls on the Epson remote, which we discuss on next page.
Epson's Fujinon 2.1:1 zoom lens
Epson's been using this lens since the original Home Cinema 1080 more than 5 years ago. It's got a touch more zoom range than anything close (such as the competing Panasonic). The optics do look pretty good. The lens allows a really sharp look at your pixels if you stand next to the screen. This is a 3 chip LCD projector, which means there's never perfect conversion. With the Epson Home Cinema 5010, no issues on the optics, and more placement flexibility than other lenses, very few of which offer more than 1.6:1.
Just remember, if you are going to place the projector at the maximum distance from your screen, as with all projectors with zoom lenses, the optics are at their least bright, and brightest, when the projector is at its closest.
HC5020UB Lamp Life
Lamp life is most impressive. Epson specs their Home Cinema 5020 lamp at 4000 hours running at full power, and 5000 hours in eco-mode. This puts it in a rather select, small group that offer 4000 lumens at full power. I don't believe I have heard of any projector claiming more than 6000 (and only one claiming that).
The lamp lists for $299, which is less than most, and not much more than half the price of some competitors. That combined with the long life makes for a very low cost of operation, and further separates these Epson projectors from several good competitors in terms of overall cost of ownership.
Of course all of these projectors with high pressure lamps lose brightness over time
Bottom line: Excellent lamp life at a most reasonable cost, makes for a very low cost of operation. Compared to projectors with the old 2000/3000 hour lamps, a heavy user can save a couple hundred dollars a year, more if the competition's lamp costs a lot more, considering some sell for up to $500!
Picture In Picture
Once again, Epson offers Picture in Picture, which is always a nice touch for the small percentage who will use it. Keep in mind that you need two sources, but they both can't be HDMI. Epson has 2 HDMI inputs, but, essentially, as with other projectors, there's only one HDMI circuit, with an electronic switch between HDMI 1 and 2.
Other Dynamic Controls
As is the case with most home theater projectors today, there are multiple additional dynamic features, which can come into play for sharpness, gamma, etc. We do most of our testing with these turned off. Every cool dynamic feature takes something else away, when it adds some other performance. There are always trade-offs. That makes most of those dynamic controls personal preference based.
There are almost an infinite number of combinations of dynamic controls when you consider sharpness and detail enhancement, contrast (dynamic iris), gamma, and the others. Adjust one a bit, and something else reacts slightly. Mike found the gamma to be another improvement compared to last year.
Ultimately, the Home Cinema 5020 has a lot of small improvements over last year's, and a couple of bigger ones. Add them up, though, and you end up with a better, more refined projector. Not such a bad thing considering last year's Homc Cinema 5010 was our Best In Class winner - our second highest award, with only our Outstanding Product of the year, being of even greater significance.
There's lots more to discuss, so it's time too take look at the hardware.