Posted on August 11, 2016 By Art Feierman
These all new, pixel shifting, 4K capable “Ultra Black” projectors from Epson; the Home Cinema 5040UB – aka HC5040UB – and Pro Cinema 6040UB – aka PC6040UB, are far more advanced than their predecessors, in almost every way.
The improvements over the past four or five years in the UB line have been modest. Not this time! There are so many new goodies that Epson even substantially raised their price. Despite that, I consider these new models to easily be the greater value compared with last year’s.
The Home Cinema 5040UB – $2999, and Pro Cinema 6040UB – $3999, are virtually identical except for price, the case color, and that the “Pro” version comes with a cable cover, a spare lamp, plus an extra year of warranty and replacement program, for the higher price point. They are sold through different distribution channels with the HC5040UB available online and locally. The PC6040UB will be found at Epson authorized local installing dealers, and installing big box houses. (A Magnolia Home Theater store in Best Buy would count as the later.)
Update April 2017: Epson just lowered the price of the Home Cinema 5040UB to $2699 – a 10% drop, making the most popular projector capable of working with 4K and HDR even more affordable.
Simply stated: The HC5040UB is the more accessible projector of the two, but the PC6040UB is the one you will more often find at a dealer that can install it for you – and a screen, and a sound system, and even motorized shades and home theater furniture if you need them. There is one more model in the series, that’s the HC5040UBe. It is $300 more than the standard 5040UB. For that you get wireless HDMI with 4 wireless inputs and support for MHL.
One more thing – up front – for you gamers. The HC5040UB and PC6040UB are much better at input lag than their predecessors. (You’ll find more about it on our Special features 2 page.)
There is so much new in the latest iteration of the Epson UB series, it’s hard to know where to start. For openers, these Epson’s are slightly brighter – 2500 lumens instead of 2400, but the two most significant changes, and enhancements this year are:
The HC5040UB and PC6040UB have new 2.1:1 zoom lenses and Lens Memory! We’re talking better optics than on the previous versions, more in line with what’s needed for dealing with higher resolution content. Equally noteworthy is that for the first time, the lenses are motorized – focus, zoom, and lens shift, and with those abilities come Lens Memory, which makes it easy for “movie first” people to choose to go with a “Cinemascope type” widescreen instead of a 16:9 screen (HDTV). With the touch of a button on the remote you can toggle back and forth correctly between the different aspect ratio content. With Lens Memory and a widescreen, your largest viewed images would be on widescreen movies. With a standard HDTV screen, TV and typical sports are larger, movies are smaller.
But then Lens Memory is hardly new, in fact Epson’s laser projectors have it, as do a number of other projectors, typically more expensive ones, but it’s still a major enhancement.
But the other major change is the more defining. These Epsons can handle 4K content, and they support it with pixel shifting to produce 4 megapixels on the screen. That’s still half of true 4K, but as images here will show you, 4K content enhanced by these Epsons easily reveals more detail and is perceived sharper than running 2K content, especially with pixel shifting turned off.
And it’s not just accepting 4K content, they work with HDR (High Dynamic Range), P3, REC2020, etc. In other words, the Epson works with the higher performance 4K formats that the movie theaters work with, which is a cut above what we’ve been settling for with 1080p and 1080i content. All this will be discussed in depth in Special Features and in the Picture Quality section.
As a heads up – as of this publication, the list of projectors out there for home theater under $8000 that can handle commercial 4K content, HDR, REC2020, etc., and use pixel shifting to maximize it, is limited to only a handful of home theater projectors. In addition to these these two new Epson UB’s Epson’s, there’s Epson’s $7999 L10000 laser projector, and a pair of JVCs – the RS400U ($3999) and their RS500U ($6999).
Sorry folks, so far (summer 2016) everything else you can choose under $8K is stuck handling only 2K content or lower, without HDR, and other enhanced quality formats.
Call this the “short list” of highlights, there are many subtle improvements and other highlights that will be mentioned throughout this review.
Check out this short highlight reel about these two projectors here. Many companies (including the likes of BenQ, NEC, Epson, Sony) pay us to create videos (using our Permissions program) based on our published online reviews. In this case, Epson wanted videos on the 5040UB and 6040UB, they could distribute online. As part of creating one of each for them – again, always based on the online review, but not as in-depth, we also put together, a highlight reel – about 90 seconds, covering the projector basics, and the most notable aspects of these two projectors. Enjoy, but remember the longer videos, run about 7 and 12 minutes each, with far more detail.
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