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.
Is it possible for you to test input lag please?
Both direct and over the wireless please.
To Evan Adams. I don’t have the wireless version. Epson I believe says the wireless doesn’t add to the input lag. But I can’t confirm. I think we looked into this a couple years back with one of the wireless options on a less expensive Epson, and I think that was confirmed (no additional input lag – or at leat nothing of any significance). If Epson replaces my engineering sample with the 5040UBe version, I’ll definitely measure and report back. -art
Hi Andrew, I already did, and had, in fact answered another commenter elsewhere on the site.
But, as usual, when I first publish my long reviews it’s not all there. There is now a section on Gaming/Input lag on the start of the Special Features 2 page.
Since you asked though – these Epsons are much improved over most previous ones – with a 30.9 ms lag using the Leo Bodnar, test gear. -art
Cheers, yes I have seen it. Great news. I’ve pre-ordered one.
Good for you! Enjoy. -art
If you revisit this projector anytime soon would you be able to confirm input lag with 4K Enhancement enabled while the projector is set to Fast Mode? I’ve been scouring the internet but can’t seem to find that measurement anywhere. Thanks!
I will be happy to. I would not, however, expect the same input lag with pixel shifting engaged. -art
Awesome thanks! Right definitely not, I’m just currently on the fence on replacing my 8345 and the amount of input lag is going to be the deciding factor.
Great review, I love gaming and watching movies. I read the input lag is low, but my question is, does the input lag numbers tested where while 4k up scaling was on , while 4k content was fed thru pc or was all taken on 1080p signal??
Hi Jairo, The input lag was tested with a 1080p signal. I did not try to add pixel shifting, or start with 4K content. First, since pixel shifting fires each pixel on the panel two times, one after the other, the potential for longer input lag is very real. I suspect I can measure it though, with it on. I’ll do that and update, but perhaps not until I get a full production unit in next month. As to testing 4K, the Leo Bodnar device doesn’t have an option to output 4K, so no way to tell with that piece of gear. Nor can my laptop (a 3 year old MacBook Pro), output true 4K. If it did, then I could try measuring the “old school” way – using timing software as I and most other used to measure input lag before the Leo Bodnar test gear hit the market.
I have a PS4 here, but to the best of my knowledge it isn’t supporting 4K yet. When it does, and there are some 4K games… -art
Art, thank you very much for the quick response,I appreciate your honest answer. Looks like the 5040UB might not be a good projector for me, I currently have the Sony VPL-HW45ES and input lag was one of my main factors aside from the picture quality.
Hi again Jairo, Well you are one step ahead of me. Last night I plugged in the HW45ES for the first time since Eric calibrated it, so my first formal viewing was watching Olympic events. I haven’t measured the input lag, but from your comment, I’m assuming its at least as good as 30.9 ms. I don’t think we’re there yet for 4K gaming, and as I mentioned, pixel shifting may well increase input lag. I will revisit the 6040 again, and try input lag with pixel shiting on. -art
Great review! The specs say that the maximum refresh rate at 1080p is 60 Hz. Is that true even using the hdmi 2.0 port?
That would make high frame rate pc gaming (90 fps or 120 fps) impossible right now… Is that right?
Hope I’m wrong…!
Greetings severed, I think that may be wrong. the Epson processes up to 120hz (has to for 3D and CFI, if nothing else). But I’m meeting with them on Thursday at CEDIA, I’ll ask for clarification. -art
Thanks a lot! Well that would be a real game changer in the pc gaming scene! Guess there’s hope for some 1080p/120fps first person fragfests! Hoping for the best!
Still hoping! Any good news for us high frame rate seekers?!?!?!
No word yet on the internet hive mind if 120 fps is attainable with this new projector…
Well…at least the bandwidth is there with hdmi 2.0! thxs!
Thinking about getting this projector, and getting some mix information on the Len memory function….I currently have a 2.35:1 screen, and some dealers around my area are saying that I need a anamorphic lens to us with this projector and other are saying just when projecting 4K content..in your test of this project can I used it without a anamorphic lens and watch 4K and standard content with the lens.
I was wondering the exact same question. I have searched around and get mixed answers as well.
I went ahead and purchased the projector, marking sure Ithey had a return policy in place…you can save the picture in the wide screen format. Still have some minor issues with screen fittment. Still trying to get it exactly to fit perfect.
Great. I read on another website/blog that it does do 2.35 format without an anamorphic lens. Please let us know if you get it to work.
the fact is a lot of dealers don’t know or understand what difference the anamorphic lens makes. those that tell you that you need it can’t explain why. whether you should purchase one or not depends on how picky you are about resolution and convenience.
Hi Shock. OK I’ll take a stab at that. First, in this day and age, I think anamorphic lenses are a poor choice for most people.
The extra cost, especially when you can get lens shift on some projectors starting from just under $2000, makes it so.
Both Anamoprhic lens solutions and Lens Shift solutions have trade-offs. For those not familiar with anamorphic lenses, that was the way to go wide screen in the past. the projectors are all 16:9, so using a lens that stretches one dimension, but not the other, widens the image when viewing a typical wide screen movie.
The advantage of anamorphic is higher resolution. you use every pixel – all 1920×1080… When using lens shift, you are still using the letter box, so are not using the top and bottom (roughly) 10% of the screen). That overshoots your wide screen and is dim so typically invisible. But you have 20% less pixels. One would think that would make anamorphic superior.
But the other half of the equation is that with an anamorphic lens you need to interpolate the data – take the 80% that is the normal wide screen move (no top and bottom), and stretch it to the top and bottom. This is interpolation, so is keystone correction which everyone agrees is more destructive to the picture than using lens shift to maintain a perfectly rectangular, shape. So basically with an anamorphic we’re blurring pixels. With Lens Memory we are not, we are simply enlarging the image.
If people have the really big bucks, then an anamorphic lens can be a viable solution, but for most of us, the extra couple of grand, or more for an anamorphic lens, and accessories (many, many thousands $ on high end projectors), doesn’t make sense. Consider this, my two fav under $5K projectors are the Epson 5040UB and JVC RS400U. There’s a $1000 difference. At th same price I am torn, with each having advantages that are more important to some folks than others. But to buy the lower cost 5040UB and invest an extra $2000 for an anamorphic lens, would make it uncompetitive with the JVC in my book. This would be true in most cases for anyone where budget matters. Again, remember that an anamorphic lens is not all good, it uses more data, but “corrupts” it with the interpolation.
For that reason, I don’t consider anamorphic lenses a good decision for 90%+ percent, maybe 95+% or more. -art
thanks for the reply and i agree. i bought a panny ae8000 and a jvc 700r about a year ago along with a screen innovations 235:1 screen (all of which i have yet to use because i’m still using my 2005 panny ae1000 with a 16:9 screen). i looked into buying the lens years ago for the ae1000 but the cost at that time was $6k (the projector was $3k). i did my research on lenses and decided i could live without it.
Thinking about getting this projector 6040, and getting some mix information on the Len memory function….I currently have a 2.35:1 screen, and some dealers around my area are saying that I need a anamorphic lens to us with this projector and other are saying just when projecting 4K content..in your test of this project can I used it without a anamorphic lens and watch 4K and standard content with the lens.
I have a few questions. My room is 11’5″ X 12’3″ what size would my screen be? If you use the zoom feature will that ruin the image? would I take in consideration the length of the projector in order to determine the screen size? Thank you for your time.
Is this projector stuck at the horrid 24hz while at “4K”?
No, it isn’t. But at this time, I do not believe that it can do 60hz with HDR. I didn’t have any 30fps HDR content to test. My biggest problem is having a good Blu-ray UHD player that supports all the UHD/HDR modes to begin with. The Samsung doesn’t. I’m considering a Philips (if they expand their HDR opens, but probably holding out for the delayed Oppo, but that is now into next year. UHD has a lot of capabilities (such as HDR), and is an evolving standard. The UHD Blu-rays vary too, they need to standardize on 1000 NITS brightness or lower, (some are up to 4000 NITS there are no LCDTVs or projectors even close to that, may not be for years). The point I’m making, is that we’re still all sorting this out. What I can tell you is this: The Epson, like the last gen of Epson “UB” projectors, is user updatable. (If you are curious I did a video of the upgrade process on the 5030UB). What I don’t know is how much processing power is there in reserve, say to do something like 4K 60hz, 4:4:4, 4:2:0, etc. -art
Hi, Art. I posted a message through Discus but don’t know if it went through. I wanted your opinion and advice. I’m considering buying the Epson 6040UB, but am wondering whether it will be a case of me buying it and then Epson or other companies will be releasing a true 4K projector in the next 6 months to a year that’s around the same price range and I will be suffering buyers regret. Do you have any info or opinion on what the 4k landscape will be in the next6 to 12 months?
I also need your opinion regarding screen size. I have a 16:9, no name brand, 1.0 gain, 150 inch diagonal screen (about 10.5 feet wide). I’ve always found the brightness adequate. I would like it brighter, but I think every projector owner wants their picture brighter. I tried moving the projector closer when I first got it and I didn’t really notice any increase in brightness. What I’m wondering is this: when I get the Epson 6040, I am considering upgrading to a 16:9 200 inch diagonal screen. Do you think the Epson 6040 could handle a screen that size? I know there is always the moving closer to the screen option, but the wife tends to nix that, so I think if the seating remained the same but the screen was bigger she could handle that.
Two last questions about lens memory on the Epson. When watching a 2.35:1 ratio movie on a 16:9 screen you have black bars top and bottom. I used to scroll the picture down so that the black bar was only on the top (haven’t bothered doing that in years as the projector is ceiling mounted now). If I scrolled the picture down on the new Epson and clicked lens memory save, would the setting play a 2.35:1 movie with it scrolled down every time without having to re-scroll each time?
Secondly, my current 16:9 screen is about 6.5 feet tall and 10.5 feet wide. As you know, 1:85 movies fill the screen and 4.3 movies show 6.5 feet tall but with black bars on the sides. That screen height seems good to me. What I wonder is this: if I bought a 2.35:1 screen of 200 inch diagonal ( 6.5 feet tall and 15 feet wide image) the screen would be filled on a widescreen movie. Could I then use lens memory to watch a 1:85 movie with the 6.5 feet image, but black bars on the sides and the same with 4:3, thus having a basic CIH setup without losing any of the image in the different formats?
I find most of the explanations of CIH confusing as they always seem to be describing part of the picture being cut off.
If I have a 2:35:1 screen without an anamorphic lens, when I’m watching a widescreen movie, does that mean that the projector is displaying the black bars above and below the screen?
I know you must get tired of all of us mortals asking you to tell us what and when to buy, but you’re our last hope Obi Juan.
Hi Kanerator, I might have missed it. Just got back from a working vacation (show, wedding…) I will say that I thought we’d have sub $5K true 4K projectors by now, as documented in various reviews and reports, so since I’ve been way off the mark, don’t bank on my “best guesses.”
What we will see in the next six months are several new faux-K projectors using TI’s new DLP chip. This chip has resolution half way between 1080p and 4K (which is really for projectors, 3840×2160 – double the pixels in each dimension compared to 1080). The TI chip will have pixel shifting, thus competitive with the Epsons’ and JVCs’, but these will be 4 Megapixel chips, compared with 2 Megapixel for 1080p, and 8 megapixel for true 4K.
Just as Epson and JVC use pixel shifting to put 4 million pixels on the screen, these DLP’s will put up 8 million. That may meet the UHD standard, but it’s still not true 4K, like the Sonys are. Remember, each pixel is still significantly larger.
Back to true 4K… Epson just released their new laser – the LS10500 (another 1080p pixel shifter, and of course the 5040UB/6040UB. JVC is normally on a two year cycle.
So, A true 4K? Not from DLP, anytime soon. For JVC and Epson, I certainly would be shocked if either released an “affordable” true 4K before next CEDIA, if then. JVC did just release their 3500 lumen true 4K. You can pick one up for $35,000, so I wouldn’t expect a 2000 lumen one for $5K anytime soon. -art
Art – in your review of the 5040UB, you mentioned comparing the 5040UB to the Sony 665ES with some photos – 4k pixel shifting versus true 4k images. Any luck with that yet? Thankks when you get a chance to respond.
New to home theater and just bought this projector. Very nice. I have a 2.35/1 screen but I have to zoom in to get it to fit the screen. This effectively puts the black bars normally found on the top and bottom of the letter box outside of my screen and also means that I lose the pixels to the wall. Sorry for being a noob but is there anyway I can get all of the pixels onto my screen in cinemascope with this projector? I called Epson and they said “nope, you need an anamorphic lens”… Epson’s website says it is compatible using the aspect ratio of the projector, but I do not have access to it. Everything is greyed out in my menu accept normal. Do I need to buy a different Blu-ray player that sends the signal in 2.35/1 and then use the aspect ratio? Thanks in advance. I have been visiting the site for over 10 years and finally made the investment in home theater.
Looks like this was answered below (very eloquently I might add).
Hi falconblade, you are doing what all of us wide screen people do with projectors with lens memory. We all zoom in for widescreen movies, and that puts the letterbox above and below the screen. Since the UB has excellent black levels they should be barely noticeable on lighter walls and basically invisible if the wall behind your screen is dark. When you have your widescreen movie fully filling your screen save that in one of the savable lens memory positions.
There is no need to play with aspect ratios.
For your 16:9 content – hdtv, as well as some movies, adjust the zoom and lens shift again (zoom out), so that it fills the height of your screen, and you have your letterbox on the left and right. Save that as your 16:9 lens memory. Bingo. You just have to make sure you have the projector where both sizes are in range of the lens. Fortunately that zoom lens has a lot of range, so few people have an issue. Got it? -art
Hi Art, I just read the review, and based on our discussion from earlier I sold my Epson 5025UB and bought the Epson 5040UB. I had some technical questions maybe you can answer.
1) I am using this with a Home Theater PC via HDMI to the projector. When I watch content on the PC through the projector, does the projector take a 1080p movie file(bluray .mkv file) and when I turn pixel shift on then upscale it to 4k, or do I need a UHD/4k video file to start with? Does that make sense?
2) DO you think pixel shift will work with PC video games, same question would it need to stay a 1080p source in my video settings and then the projector upscales when pixel shift is on? Input lag an issue with pixel shift?
Thanks in advance as always.
Hi Devin! This will be mostly guesswork, since I definitely to not use HTPCs, only satellite boxes, blu-ray and blu-ray UHD players, and an occasional Roku stick.
So for openers I’m not familiar at all with the file structure sent to the the projector from a PC (I think in terms of 1080i, 1080p, etc.). But, if that’s how it works with PCs then I wouldn’t expect any surprises, certainly not with 1080 content.
The pixel shifting and “4K processing” does not need a 4K source, only 1080 (even 1080i).
I need to figure out how to try it, if I can, but as to gaming, I would expect pixel shifting to affect lag, but it’s effect shouldn’t be to large. If for example the Epson is around 35-37ms (about a 2 frame lag with 60pfs games), the additional lag can’t be more than one extra frame, so mid-50ms.
My Leo Bodnar input lag measuring device, plugs directly into the projector, so no way to have it trick the projector to thinking its 4K. -art
Art, one more question. Its of course hard to tell from pictures on the 5040 UB, but is the picture difference from a 1080p bluray pixel shifted vs a UHD 4k disc pixels shifted that great? The reason I ask is right now I would need a UHD player(xbox one S-$300 and of course purchasing new movies vs just watching my current blurays?
Does the 5040 UB output 4k shifting at 60Hz?
Hi Michal, TW9300 in Europe. In the US there are Home Cinema, and Pro Cinema versions, but in the EU, I believe only this one. (The US has two Pro Cinema 6040UB and Home Cinema 5040UB, which are sold through two different distribution channels, with the black “Pro” version coming with a longer warranty and some extras, but otherwise the same projector.) -art
I’m 99% sure I’m going to buy this projector, but how much should I spend on a screen. The projector will be in a dedicated home theater room so there won’t be any windows and little light with the doors closed. Crutchfield is recommending Screen innovations but that can cost $700$ for the 1 series or $1200 for the 3 series. I called another shop and they suggested an Alltec that was in the $400 range. There are some projector screens that are highly rated on Amazon in the $200 range with really good reviews, but when you actually read the reviews people are saying how amazing it is that their $200 screen looks compared to a bare wall, so I’m not so sure I want to take advice from these people.
Hi Kenny! Sadly I end up with little time to pay attention to screens. I’m a screen innovations owner, but even their low end is relatively premium priced.
I don’t know the others you mentioned. If you are getting motorized or pull down, spend to get a tensioned one. If no tensioning, it’s going to develop waves if you open and close it with any frequency. That generally adds a bit on those types of screens. I find Elite to generally offer up respectable screens for a good deal less than SI, but not necessarily as low as some of the Amazon ones. You’ll want to keep to a not to high gain screen – say 1.3 gain maybe even 1.4, down to about .9. On Amazon (and yelp), I like to read the two star reviews, those folks, may identify an issue -art
Would you recommend this projector over a used low hour Sony 600 for a completely dark dedicated home theater room? Thank you.
i have 135″ screen. Projector is 13 ft away from screen. The screen does not fill entirely. when i try to zoom, still it doesn’t filll entire screen. please help.
your projector is too close to the screen – move it back at least 2 feet.
Hi Art, I have a JVC HD350, worth the upgrade to this Epson, Or wait till true 4K becomes affordable
Would this be a good choice for a larger AT screen (either 160″ or 172″)
In brighter modes you have close to 2000 lumens, which is technically plenty for a 160” screen. Since typically you need about 450 lumens to have the same brightness as is spec’d for movie theaters, so about 1200 lumens will do 160” But that’s not near enough brightness to play with 4K HDR or 3D.
The very best mode of the Epson – and definitely the best for 4K HDR, with expanded color space, is Digital Cinema, but it measures barely 1000 lumens which is not quite enough for screens that large, but especially so for 4K HDR! -art
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