Epson Home Cinema 5040UB / Pro Cinema 6040UB Review Summary

HOME CINEMA 5040UB / PRO CINEMA 6040UB SUMMARY:  What’s New, Major Competion and Value Proposition, The Bottom Line, Pros and Cons

Summary: What's New and Wonderful

I am having a great time with this projector!  I’ll simplify first by saying it’s definitely one of my two favorite projectors under $6000, and the less expensive of the two!

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What a major step up the Home Cinema 5040UB and Pro Cinema 6040UB are compared to their predecessors!  We’ll start there.  The older projectors offered excellent performance for the price, skipped some features important to a lot of folks.  No more!

Considering the massive overall improvement in capabilities, that Epson only raised the price by $700 (on the 5040UB over the 5030UB), seems to me to be a true bargain.

 

Update – April 2017:  Epson just announced that the price of the Home Cinema 5040UB has been dropped 10% to $2699!  No word yet on whether there will be drops on the HC5040UBe or the Pro Cinema 6040UB.

 

Before we go into  the 4K capabilities and how that relates to picture quality, here are the major physical, and practical changes:

  • A fully motorized lens with Lens Memory – so that all of us who prefer to go “wide screen” for our movie viewing, can now choose this Epson.
  • Superior optics – visibly better than the older projectors, and needed for handling 4K content
  • Improved dynamic iris for slightly improved blacks (nice, since the older ones were the best at their price point and below)
  • Slightly quieter, especially in medium and eco modes
  • One of the HDMIs supports the newest HDMI standard – HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, needed for Blu-ray UHD and most commercial 4K content
  • A modest increase in brightness
  • A significant reduction in input lag, making this a significantly more desirable projector to serious gamers

As with previous Epson Home and Pro Cinema projectors, the Home version comes with 2 years parts and labor warranty, and a rapid replacement program (allow two business days for delivery), for both years.  The Pro Cinema version’s warranty is the same – except 3 years for both warranty and replacement program.  No need to wait weeks for a repair of a warrantied problem.  A real plus!

4K Capable - Blu-ray UHD and More

This is where the real added value of this projector lies.  These Epsons and a single JVC are the only current projectors under $6995, that can receive 4K content including Blu-ray UHD.

And it makes a difference.  I’m a big screen guy (124″ drag.) and like to sit especially close to get some real immersion.  In a perfect world I’d sit about 6-7 feet back from that roughly 10 foot wide screen.  That doesn’t work with 1080p content on a 1080p projector, but with 4k content and a 4K projector that is reasonable!

Epson 5040UB
The Epson Home Cinema 5040UB Projector – now featuring Lens Memory, and the ability to watch 4K content!

 

With this Epson I’m now typically sitting 8 feet back when watching 4K content.  Folks, even that close, with all the impressive Epson image processing, it looks very nice and sharp, and fills most of my vision.  I can certainly live with this until I can afford a true 4K projector.  This seems to get me (on 4K content) at least half way there.

The Competition and Value Proposition of the HC5040UB and PC6040UB

Sorry folks, there just isn’t much serious competition to talk about.  There are a couple of DLP projectors in the general price range, but none that really impress me compared to this.  That’s not to say there won’t be new and serious competition in the future.

The serious competition today consists of the JVC DLA-RS400U (and it’s other “names” such as the X550R).

The other major competitor is Sony’s VPL-HW65ES.  Fortunately I’ve reviewed both models in the past few months.

I truly like the Sony.  It’s $3999, and offers an excellent overall picture, but even at it’s best, it can’t quite match the black levels of the Epson (but very close).  Sony, the past few years, though, I find to do the most natural color, almost perfect “right out of the box”, (the Epson and JVC are very good), but that’s less important than the Sony having a slight edge (in my opinion) in terms of the naturalness of skin tones, even post calibration.

But after that, it’s all Epson.  These Epson’s are brighter, and less expensive, and have the Lens Memory the Sony lacks. And the Epson has more zoom range, but the real magic is the Epson’s pixel shifting and 4K content handling that the Sony doesn’t offer.

Epson Pro Cinema 6040UB
Pro Cinema 6040UB Projector with 4K inputs, DCI, HDR and Lens Memory!

 

The JVC RS400U is a much tougher competition.  Both Epson and JVC handle 4K, have lens memory, and so on – their feature sets are extremely similar.  The Epson should have the advantage in max brightness which comes into play with 4K with HDR (High Dynamic Range). Both have plenty of lumens for standard 1080p, and can handle some ambient light in “media room” type setups. Both do very respectable 3D (so does the Sony).

JVC’s image is a touch softer overall, probably due to the tech differences between their LCoS panels and Epson’s 3LCD panels, and that has me definitely favoring the Epson for t’s perceived sharper image.

But the JVC easily bests the Epson’s otherwise excellent black levels.  The Epson, definitely comes across as being overall less expensive – up front, and also to own.  The 5040UB, of course is $1000 less, (the 6040UB is the same price as the RS400, but comes with a ceiling mount and spare lamp for the price, and an extra year of warranty (3 years vs 2), and a rapid replacement program.

Epson lamps also have traditionally cost a lot less (I believe $559 list for the JVC, and $199 for the Epson.  At the end of, say, 10,000 hours of use, you would have likely bought 2 JVC lamps, vs 1 Epson lamp.  So there’s a potential extra $700+ difference, right there.

Still both are awesome projectors.  I definitely lean toward the Epson as the the better value for serious home theater fans. The JVC’s black levels are unbeatable, but you are paying for it.  The Epson has the advantage in perceived sharpness, with 4K content.

I’m personally torn between the black levels on one hand, and the sharper seeming image on the other.  For many of you it will come down to overall cost, which will favor the Epson, despite both being great projectors.

And that folks, is my two cents, at least as it relates to the competitive standings of these two Epsons.

The Bottom Line

There are a few very nice home theater projectors that cost less than the 5040UB, including a couple of DLPs but none come close in terms of feature set, and general capabilities.  Most of what is below $1000 can best be described home entertainment, not serious home theater – although plenty of those dreaming of an incredible home theater may start with those.

The Epsons are the real thing.  They’ve got the great black levels (though as noted, not the best)  that make all the difference on really dark scenes, that most can’t approach.

And, as noted, only 1 other projector at this time, anywhere remotely near the price, can also accept commercial 4K content.  (As mentioned, true 4K projectors start at $9999.)

The black levels and the 4K abilities makes these projectors more than competitive at their price, but they also have added those other features like lens memory, which makes these Epson’s even more desirable for hard core movie lovers with wide screens.

I’ve invested about 160 hours watching this Epson since it first arrived about a month ago.  Can’t wait for the full production version to see how much better it can get, by in part getting rid of a couple of “rough edges, I’ve mentioned, and getting the color accuracy more perfect, especially with 4K and HDR.

My take is that for most people, if you aren’t buying one of these, it’s probably because you are spending a good bit less, or, you are one of those that favors the more expensive JVC over these Epsons.

We waited 3 years for a 5030UB replacement.  After all that wait, we are definitely getting our money’s worth, in value and performance, and then some.

The PROs and CONs section will be completed and posted after we receive a full production unit so we can cross off some of those issues mentioned, most of which are the kinds of things expected in an early sample.

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