The Epson HC5030 UB, aka the Home Cinema 5030, gets some evolutionary improvements. In the US the projector has just started shipping when I received the projector to review. Of course this Epson projector uses 3LCD technology, as do all Epson projectors. Overall it looks the same as the Home Cinema 5020UB and 5010UB projectors that came before it. The Home Cinema 5030UB has a near identical twins: The Pro Cinema 6030UB. We received one of each to play with.
Editor's temp note: Before I continue, those of you reading this review when first published will notice that there are relatively few images. We encountered a bit of a problem relating to calibration of the Home Cinema 5030UB and also the Pro version): Mike started working on calibrating the projector only to notice that the gear he's been using for years was producing bad results on the 5030 UB. He concluded that he needed new gear so immediately ordered some...
As I publish this review, his new gear and software has just arrived, and he just returned the 6030 UB which he tackled first. He's doing the 4030 next and then the HC5030 UB. I took a limited number of photos so far, the rest are scheduled to be taken and added over the next 48 hours using the Pro Cinema 6030 UB, (and the Home Cinema 5030 UB when he brings that one back) They will all be added this week.
Before I forget, there's still one more version, the Home Cinema 5030 UBe. Otherwise identical to the standard 5030UB, the UBe has WirelessHD, a lossless wireless HDMI solution built in. For this year, the transmitter that you put near your gear has been improved from last year's version. More under Special features. It sells for an additional $300.
The Home Cinema 5030 UB is sold through online, and local dealers, while the Pro version is sold only through local dealers, costs a bit more and has more goodies included in the box.
As Epson's newest, the Home Cinema 5030 UB, it replace the projector that was last year's Best In Class winner in the $2000 to $3500 price range. Like last year's the 5030UB officially sells for $2599 with the sales price including two pair of 3D glasses.
For this year, brightness remains the same, with Epson claiming 2400 lumens. On the other hand, Epson has upped the contrast, now claiming 600,000:1 on paper, a significant improvement, up from 320,000:1.
The competition gives Epson a huge break this year. Normally every year there's a new Epson UB projector, and every year, using the same Epson built LCD panels, there's a new, directly competing Panasonic projector. Last year it was the PT-AE8000 vs. the 5020UB. This year, projector fans get nothing new from Panasonic, so last year's projector must do battle with this year's Epson, with it's additional improvements. This Epson has some other serious competition, but the most serious are more expensive. Count those as the JVC DLA-X35 and DLA-RS46U (they are essentially identical projectors sold through different channels). That projector is starting its second year, no refresh. The thing is, those JVC's which have their own strengths, but officially they sell for $3499. By comparison, Sony is launching the VPL-HW55ES at $3999 but it comes with spare lamp and mount so we treat that as $3500, the "55" replaces last year's HW50ES. Like with the Epson's some minor improvments to create a newer slightly better projector.
Those have been Epson's 3 most serious competitors, all costing more, two not refreshed this year! At lower price points the most serious projectors, the Sharp XV-Z30000 and BenQ W7000 are back again, as well, with the W7000 starting the 3rd year of its product cycle.
The HC5030UB Earns Hot Product Award
This is so simple. Last year's 5020 UB won a Hot Product Award. This projector is better. Most of the competition hasn't even updated their projectors this year! So, the award is basically: Obvious. Seriously though, it's the performance first, but really it's the whole package:
The strengths that make this projector an award winner include easily having the best black level performance available under $3000 (rivaling many projectors costing more than double), being exceptionally bright in brightest modes making it suitable for caves/home theaters or family/living rooms. This Home Cinema 5030UB also offers really great placement flexibility and a better warranty than any competitor. Plus, of course, it has a very capable feature set.