Projector Reviews

Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review-Summary

Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review– Summary: Summary, The Competition, The Bottom Line, Pros, Cons

Pro Cinema 6050UB - Summary

The Pro Cinema 6050UB is Epson’s flagship home theater projector.  it is both an excellent projector for the dedicated home theater or man cave, but it is about equally at home as a “bright room” projector for your living room.

The summary of this Pro Cinema 6050UB review, for those of you who haven’t read other pages of this review, is largely based on the Home Cinema 5050UB review.  I have the Pro Cinema 6050UB here, and  am enjoying it thoroughly, but when we’re dealing with two almost identical projectors it makes sense to not duplicate everything.  When we reviewed the Home Cinema version six months ago, it proved a stellar performer. In the past, the Pro and Home versions differed in cosmetic ways, plus the Pro was  more expensive and came with a bundle for the extra price.  None of that has changed with the ’50UB series.

What is different is that Epson tells us they are using quality control to make the Pro Cinema 6050UB superior by saving the best lenses for them while the rest go to the other Epsons that use the same glass: The 4010, 4050 and 5050UB.

I did not have the opportunity to do a side by side, to see if the 6050UB appeared slightly clearer, or seemingly brighter, or sharper.  I certainly would expect a slight difference, but not have expected any great differences, even if I could have viewed them side by side.

The point that needs making, though, is that the Pro should be slightly clearer, sharper, etc. compared to the average lens going to the others.  I witnessed that difference years back when I did have the opportunity to do two JVC’s side by side, when JVC’s top end was the identical projector but with the “hand picked” aka better QC’d glass.  There was a real, yet slight difference.

Professional photographers, I believe will agree, better lenses make better photographs, with more clarity…With, say Canon lenses, you can buy aa standard lens for a few hundred, or a high end lens with the same focal length, for several times more money.  We see similar with Sony’s ARC lenses, which only go on their over $30K projectors, a lens that probably costs as much as their whole entry level 4K projector!

Consider the optics as one more item when considering the different value propositions between the two Epson UB’s.  The Pro Cinema 6050UB lists for $1000 more, at it’s $3999 price.  For that, you get the best of the optics, as well as a ceiling mount, cable cover, spare lamp, AND, a 3rd year of warranty, with a 3rd year of rapid replacement program!  Of course the 6050UB is black, instead of white (with black front vents), so even that can come into your decision.  Finally, this Pro Cinema 6050UB is not available online.  You can choose from big box houses, or local A/V dealers/integrators/specialists.

I’ll leave that buying choice to you.  Below I’ll address the Pro Cinema 6050UB’s position vs. other competition.

Background For years I’ve been using one Epson UB or another as a “reference” projector.  There are better, (we review home theater projectors up to $60K so there are lesser as well, down to $500 or so, but these UB’s have always provided a good value, their performance is a valuable tool for me, to infer how other projectors compare to each other, by how they compare to this one.  Enough said.

The Pro Cinema 6050UB is one of the most versatile and capable projectors around, starting with its 4K capabilities.  It supports 4K with HDR – both HDR10 and HLG.  And unlike any other projector at or below its price, and most above as well, it gets very close to achieving professional P3 color that you get at your quality local movie cineplex.  I know of no other lamp based projectors that get that close, and even many of the laser projectors do a good bit worse.  Epson gets kudos based on Eric, our calibrator finding that the worst of all the primary and secondary colors still achieved over 95% of P3.  OK, that’s techie stuff, but it translates into:

Excellent Color!  We did not calibrate the 6050UB, tried the 5050UB’s settings, but there is always lamp variations. Thus our 6050UB uncalibrated turned out a little warm (very correctable).

If you calibrate your Pro Cinema 6050UB you can expect about as accurate P3 (and REC709 for non-4K content), as any projector on the market.

For most of us, though, the even better news is that the Pro Cinema 6050UB has some great looking modes without any adjustment.  Digital Cinema for one.  Out of the box, it comes in very cool, but that is easy to adjust.  Truth is, most owners of the 6050UB will be perfectly happy with the right out of the box options!

Theater Performance – Black levels are excellent for the price.  Of lower cost projectors, nothing but the 5050UB comes close to the 6050’s black levels.  The great blacks truly enhance those really dark scenes, and separate “serious” projectors from merely “home entertainment.”  If you use yours in more than a living room environment with some ambient lighting the big advantage of great black levels will mostly go away, but even then, there’s some benefit.

The HDR content looks great. It’s taken the industry a couple of years to get a decent handle on HDR.  Epson improved the last series (PC6040UB) with two HDR firmware updates. The Pro Cinema 6050UB’s HDR handling is noticeably better than even the best of the 6040UB’s most recent update.  My complaints in the older review as well as in many other 4K/HDR projector reviews of dimness is missing from the PC6050UB.

Placement flexibility is outstanding, with its 2.1:1 zoom, and massive amounts of lens shift both vertical and horizontal, it can be placed in almost any room.

Lens Memory, thanks to the PC6050UB’s motorized lens features, lets you choose to go wide screen (as I have done for the last 9 years), to get my largest image when watching movies, as most are widescreen (i.e. CinemaScope shaped.)  A touch of a button takes you from HDTV 16:9 shape to your wide screen movie aspect ratio ie. 2.35:1.

The 3D capabilities are very good and there’s tons of brightness available which is great because 3D gobbles up a good bit. The Epson uses now very affordable active 3D glasses, as do virtually all 3D capable projectors.

I also like that it is pretty easily firmware upgradeable if you have your projector on your network. Few projectors have easy firmware updating abilities, so that’s a definite plus.  Another great thing is the warranty.  In this price range, two or three years is typical.  The Pro Cinema 6050UB has three years and has it’s replacement program for all three  years.  That’s essentially hassle-free should you have a warranty issue in the first three years.  Hard to beat that.

I almost forgot to mention it’s an excellent Gaming Projector thanks to 27ms input.  Not the lowest, but at least acceptable to almost all serious gamers.  Gamers, wait until you see your fav 4K 60fps game on a 110″ screen. Almost certainly an OMG moment!

The PC6050UB is at home in home theaters, and family rooms.  It’s great on sports, and on movies, and, pretty much everything inbetween. It does 4K with HDR and P3 color.   And it’s a serious projector for gamers.  Yes, the Pro Cinema 6050UB is impressive.

There are about 2400 really good looking lumens under the hood (3300 lumens when you need every ounce of power), for tackling more ambient light than you should and  still offer decent color). Even calibrated, you are looking at just about 2000 lumens for SDR or HDR content,(4K) with REC709 color, and more than 1100 lumens with P3 Color!  I can’t recall any of the lamp based DLP 4K UHD projectors measuring brighter overall, despite some claiming 3000 or even 3200 lumens.

Projector Reviews Hot Product Award
Our top regular projector award. Our Best of Best Awards are given out only in our reports.

That horsepower allows the PC6050UB to escape the dedicated home theater/cave, and work in multiple rooms in most houses.  Most rooms with some reasonable light control, that is.  A huge skylight in the middle of your living room isn’t going to cut it.

For perspective, in “the good old days” we needed about 450 lumens to fill a typical 100″ diagonal screen.  Now, with HDR, we go, 2000 lumens, great, got more?

On the negative side of things, Epson is really cutting it close in terms of fan noise at full power. Everyone would be thrilled with a nice 3 – 6 dB drop.  It’s not over the top, and you will normally forget about it until a long silence occurs. The other two modes are nicely quiet. The other thing is I see minor de-focusing (common). I recommend you let the projector fully warm up, set the focus then for the future. You are only likely to spot any softness when you first power up when you have menus open.

south pacific
Taken with the HC5050UB, the image appears to have a certain clarity not found on many projectors. Is the PC6050UB even better?

Overall, the Epson puts a really sharp image on your screen. It excels at what I call “perceived sharpness.”  It isn’t truly as sharp as a single chip DLP (4K UHD) or a native 4K projector, but..they all look pretty close, thanks to image processing.

The lamp is rated 3500 hours at full power (5000 in Eco) they don’t publish a number for Medium lamp.  With a $299 list price (before discounts) should last a good number of years.  (20 hours a week for 3.5 years – at full power) Warranty is 2 years P&L with 2 years of rapid replacement!I’ve been touting the virtues of Epson’s UB series since inception. (I owned the first UB – the 1080UB.)  For me, it is the black levels first, but you can’t beat the 5050UB for features, or overall picture for the price.  Plus, it’s a really good gamer, and it’s got 3D which many of us really love on the big screen.

Bridge screen 4K
This image of Bridge software (Adobe Creative Suite), comes across over Apple TV as 4K

The PC5050UB is improved in many areas, most notably, more fast hardware processors for specific tasks like pixel shifting, HDR processing, and a 12-bit digital image processor.  Ultimately though, the biggest visual improvement is the handling of HDR content.

Gamers get the faster HDMI and full capabilities that were missing on all previous Epsons.Bottom Line:  The Home Cinema 5050UB has it all.  It isn’t the best at everything it does – hey, it is only $3999, with lal those extras, not twenty grand.  The value proposition is excellent.

A Hot Product Award, Of course!  This Epson hits the mark in almost every area.

The Pro Cinema 6050UB Competition

The Pro Cinema 6050UB is a reasonably affordable, high-performance home theater projector, which is to say, not unreasonably expensive.  As to the competition, we’ll start with lower Epson models, then consider the 4K UHD DLP projectors, and also JVC and Sony LCoS projectors.

 

Is the Pro Cinema 6050UB worth the price difference – compared to the Pro Cinema 4050?

Let’s start there.  Two outwardly identical projectors, $1500 difference.  If you are going to take your home theater seriously, and look forward to watching movies (and anything else you want) in a really dark room, then please go for the 6050UB if your budget allows. I suggest folks ask themselves this type of question. If I buy the more expensive one, will I be sorry?  And, if I save and buy the less expensive one, will I be sorry I didn’t spend for the better one?  What I can tell you, is that for other than gaming, it’s almost completely about how good they look on really dark scenes. Well, there really is a significant difference.

On the other hand – not a great room, never fully darkened (or close), that’s when you save and go PC4050.

Let’s move past the competing Epson 3LCD projectors and look at the DLP competition. Let’s start by saying they are all 4K UHD.  Most are the same 1920×1080 as the Epson, but use pixel shifting to hit the screen 4 times instead of twice.  More notably, there’s always some slight misalignment of the three color LCD panels, which inherently counts the DLPs as sharper, as long as they have equal quality optics.

The HC5050UB produces very dark blacks and good detail on this bright scene where its iris isn't effective!
The HC5050UB produces very dark blacks and good detail on this bright scene where its iris isn't effective!

So let’s talk about the rest of the competition.  That would be dozen or more 4K UHD DLP projectors from brands including Acer, BenQ, Dell, Optoma, ViewSonic, Vivitek, etc.

First, with the possible exception of BenQ, I can easily say that “right out of the box” these Epsons will provide superior color than most of the DLPs.   Fortunately, we provide improved color settings for most of those that we reviewed.  Still, the Epson produces better overall color, and especially so, compared to most, when calibrated. Some of the DLPs, i.e. Acer, and ViewSonic, do not calibrate near as well as these Epsons, but others, once properly adjusted, get pretty close.  Remember, DLPs usually have to sacrifice more lumens due to their color filter wheels, before coming up with great color, than 3LCD or LCoS projectors have to.

As such, while there are 3000 lumen and 3500 lumen 4K UHD projectors out there, and that these Epsons only claim 2500 lumens, you can expect the Epsons to be basically as bright or brighter – calibrated (in this case our calibrated Natural mode), than those DLPs claiming far more lumens.  Of course if you go to the Epson’s very best mode – Digital Cinema, with its own, (but very different type of) color filter, you are down just about 1200 lumens (full power, wide angle on the lens), where many of these DLPs are once calibrated, produce even lower brightness, despite starting with higher claims.

When it comes to placement flexibility, it’s no contest, not one of those 4K UHD DLPs comes remotely close.  Most lack lens shift (the BenQ HT5550 has a fair amount of shift, though), let alone offer a lot of it.  None so far offer fully motorized zoom lenses with anything near 2:1 zoom ratios, and none offer Lens Memory!

All of those DLPs support HDR (ok, one or two of the originals did not), as does this Epson, and the less expensive models using this chasis, but we are just starting to see a few of the DLPs reach out and do decent near P3 color, still those have been laser projectors.  Mostly, DLPs, so far, have come up very short.

And that while this Epson in Digital Cinema achieves over 95% of P3 color which is to say offer about 40+% wider color range than REC709, or most (non-laser) DLPs.

Some of those laser projectors are able to approach good P3 color, but so far, Eric finds all of them to have at least one primary or secondary color that doesn’t even get to REC709.  (OK, that was too techie):

Short version:  If your budget only gets you to about $1500 look at the BenQ HT3550 or the very smart Optoma UHD51A.Or, you can spend more, consider the lamp based BenQ HT5550.  Check out our comparison review vs the Epson HC5050UB: BenQ HT5550 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5050UB Comparison Review.  There are also some new LED projectors, which we are reviewing.  There’s the Optoma UHL55 that Dave reviewed (4K UHD), not exactly feature laden, and more home entertaiment (nothing to write home about black levels). We also are about to review the Viewsonic X10-4K, a competing LED projector.  Still these come up so short at almost everything, starting with placement flexibility and brightness. Many of these new LEDs though are “smart” projectors.

Now, If you like the smarts, and the unique design of LG’s HU80KA that will cost you more than this Epson, but you are getting both a very smart projector (same menus, features, mostly, as their better LCD TVs and OLED TVs), as well as a long life laser light engine.  On the other hand, the Epson PC6050UB, is overall brighter, and has far more accurate color.  And, when it comes to handling pretty dark scenes –  black level performance, the LG is very entry level, compared to “best in class” for the Epson.  aka:  no contest.  The Epson is serious “home theater” while the LG is fun home entertainment.

One area where some of the competition had an advantage over the older HC5040UB/PC6040UB, but not compared to the 6050UB, is support for HLG a second HDR format (think broadcast, and possibly streaming – Hybrid Log Gamma (discussed elsewhere in this review).  The 5050UB’s HLG has the same type of tone mapping control as HDR10 – that is, a range of 0-15 with default at 8.  BTW, for those that skipped other parts of this review and are new HDR: HLG is a newer (but not a replacement) HDR solution complementing HDR10 (which is the standard for 4K Blu-ray UHD discs, among other things).  HLG is for broadcast, and also streaming.

Most of the new 4K UHD DLPs, as well as that $4K JVC and the $5K Sony also support HLG. You can check out our 2018 Best Home Theater Projectors report for more in most of the DLPs we reviewed, although we’ve reviewed several since the fall, including the BenQ HT3550, my previous review and perhaps the most interesting projector (in terms of picture) at $1500, for those of you who can’t spring for this Epson.

Other DLPs, such as some of more expensive lasers, and the lamp based Optoma UHD65, use a slightly higher resolution chip:  2716x1528x2 (they hit the screen twice, like the Epson’s but with pixel sizes half way between native 4K and 1080p.

When it comes to LCoS JVC’s $4000 RS540U is similar in design – a 2.1:1 zoom lots of lens shift (not as much) and even better black levels.  The Epson definitely is a good bit brighter, however.  Overall I favor Epson’s image processing abilities over JVCs, but that JVC is a top performing projector. The next JVC up in their lineup is $7000 and native 4K, so not really competition.  And if you are a black level fanatic, the JVC will be very tempting for about the same price but without “the Epson bundle.”

Sony, on the other hand has a couple of non 4K capable projectors that straddle the HC5050UB’s price, including their $2000 VPL-HW45ES which we really like – if you can live without 4K.  The real competition though for the Epson is the native 4K VPLVW295ES, at $5000.  A great projector, but, even so, there’s one area where the Epson handily outperforms it – black levels. This Sony does very well considering it has no dynamic iris, but it isn’t close on those dark scenes.  You would have to move up to Sony’s $10,000 least expensive 4K projector to roughly match the black levels of the Pro Cinema 6050UB.

Again, re 4K handling – sharpness and detail:

Truth is, if you are sitting say, 15 feet back from a 100” diagonal screen, you probably can’t tell which of these are sharper, as its more about their image processing than their chip resolution!  Even closer, any differences are more perception, than reality, and they still aren’t dramatic.

So, you really don’t need to worry not about sharpness, (although the PC6050UB could have the advantage).  More important should be overall picture quality, placement, brightness, obsolescence, warranty, etc.

The Bottom Line

There are always trade-offs, of course (unless you have unlimited funds), but in the case of the Pro Cinema 6050UB, they are relatively minor.

The Pro Cinema 6050UB’s impressive feature set is only matched by the HC5050UB and the  less expensive 4010/4050, plus, a bunch of JVC and Sony projectors that vary from more expensive, to massively more expensive by comparison.  OK, also some very, very, high end brands like Wolf (they OEM JVC and further enhance the JVC’s performance.  And there’s also brands like Italy’s SIM2, Digital Projection, and Barco’s high end home projectors.

Without spending $10K+ since that’s not competition, that means there are very few people that won’t be satisfied with the Epson’s placement flexibility and widescreen handling and that the Pro Cinema 6050UB is about as bright or brighter than all of the direct competition except perhaps a couple of laser projectors that are more expensive (like the Acer, or the LG HU85LA, which measured 1750 lumens calibrated in best mode.  Both cost a good bit more, and of courese the LG is an ultra short throw laser projector.

The sharpness, as I have said repeatedly, isn’t inherently sharper than the competition (despite the very good “glass”), yet expect it to seem as sharp as some of the better competition thanks to image processing (and the PC6050UB’s better glass). The reality is on paper those DLPs with 4K UHD and the native 4K projectors are sharper.  It’s just that you probably won’t notice, or could be fooled into thinking this Epson is among the sharpest.  The point, again – sharpness – close enough to just about everything, making other things more important to your decision – such as black level performance,  a critical area for really dark scenes, where the HC5050UB crushes all the competition short of the $4000 JVC.

That makes the very bottom line simple:  Excellent color – best in class (by far) black levels, great placement flexibility (including rear shelf, high up), Very bright – can be paired with the right ALR type screen to handle most rooms with “decent” lighting control (good shades on windows, etc.

But because of the black level performance, the Pro Cinema 6050UB is at its very best in a very dark theater – or other room (typically at night).   But, of course, it is extremely flexible.  And it is, for now, still the best value in a high-performance projector just over  $3000 net (less bundle value).   The Pro Cinema 6050UB, or the less expensive HC5050UB will remain my top recommendations in this price range, although the now 3 year old JVC, as well some up and coming (more expensive) laser projectors could challenge it.  One day another manufacturer may come up with a better value proposition in this price range.  When that happens we’ll let you know.

Pros

  • Plenty Bright enough (measured 3000+ lumens) to work in living rooms, family rooms, etc.
    • When paired with the right types of screens
  • Even more competent in a dedicated home theater
  • 4K Capable
    • HDR with P3 color
    • Both HDR10 (disc) and HLG (broadcast/streaming) standards
  • Very good color and picture right out of the box, in multiple modes
  • Really good gaming projector
    • 27 ms input lag, supports gaming to 4K 60fps with HDR
      • Thanks to 18 GHz HDMI 2.0 with 2.2 HDCP support
  • Very capable 3D
    • Minimal ghosting, nicely bright
  • Excellent placement flexibility
    • 2.1:1 motorized zoom and focus
    • Motorized lens shift
    • Lens memory
    • Fast Dynamic iris
    • “UB” – LCD panels = best black level performance near price
  • Can have two modes optimized for 4K HDR
    • Bright one with REC709 color
    • A less bright one with full P3 color
  • Motorized dust cover for lens, keeps dust out
  • Two HDMIs, networking and a 12 volt screen trigger
  • Well designed remote with good backlight and HDMI-link
  • 3 Year parts and labor warranty -w/replacement program for all three years
    • the Home Cinema version has only 2 years of each
  • Local trained, authorized dealers to work with (no internet sales)
  • Great Value Proposition

Cons

  • Full power mode could be quieter
    • Medium and Eco are nicely quiet
  • Less (almost none) defocusing as projector warms up
    • Compared to the HC5050UB review unit
  • CFI does not work with 4K content
  • 3D shows a slight amount of ghosting
  • No wireless HDMI (but the 5050UBe offers that)
  • Could always be slightly sharper
  • Moderately large projector
  • Not available in white finish for those living rooms