2017 Best Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – $2000-$3500 Non-Winners

Posted on October 3, 2017 by Art Feierman

Comments on projectors considered in this report, that did not win awards.

Class: $2000 - $3500

Epson PC4040
Epson HC5040UB
BenQ HT6050
Epson 1985W
Vivitek HK2288

Epson Pro Cinema 4040

Epson Pro Cinema 4040UB Front
The Epson Pro Cinema 4040 projector is available from authorized dealers and is not found for sale online.

This will be short. Except for the black case and the included cable cover, spare lamp, and ceiling mount, it is the same as the HC4000, best I can tell. The slight difference in specs, I expect is more marketing than any real difference. That means 4K content capable including HDR and BT.2020 color, as 1080p resolution with pixel shifting.

The PC4040’s twin, the HC4000, won the Best Value award in the lower class, as it just makes the cut, selling for $1999. You can draw conclusions from that.

The price of this projector is $2499 including those goodies, I figure the lamp sells for $199, it’s a good ceiling mount, that’s $100+ and the cable cover – perhaps $100 max.  So that creates a street price that instead puts the PC4040 up against others in this price range. Personally, for the extra money, I would urge the Epson HC5040UB.

BenQ HT6050

The BenQ HT6050 is a DLP projector that features interchangeable lens options.

Another nice DLP projector from BenQ, but it doesn’t work with 4K content, and despite a dynamic iris, black levels are not as good as the Sony HW45, nor even close to the Epson UB. They are probably comparable to the Optoma UHD65. I remember being very disappointed in the BenQ in this area. I think this projector’s predecessors did better!

One feature that’s unique of the projectors in this price range is that the HT6050 offers interchangeable lenses. So, for a few of you, this might be the only projector around its price that will work for you if you have need, say, for a very short throw projector – such as is the case when one has a very deep room and need to rear shelf mount.

But, the color is excellent. When people talk about the look and feel of DLP, this is what they are talking about. Colors are vibrant on medium and bright scenes, but on dark scenes they seem to have particularly rich colors that seem richer than the 3LCD or LCoS competition.

At its best, it looks great, but BenQ needs to do better with the current competition.

Epson Pro Cinema 1985W

Epson Pro Cinema 1985W
The Epson Pro Cinema 1985W is a 1080p projector claiming a whopping 4800 lumens, making it a true bright room projector.

We gave this projector an award last year, in this class, but decided not to this year. This was not because of direct competition – we didn’t have any new “bright room” projectors reviewed this past year. If they replaced it, say, with a new model that did support 4K content, I would have come up with an award, but since they didn’t, you’ll have to just decide if this 4800 lumen projector is right for you.

The under $2500 price also gets you a 1.6:1 zoom, but no lens shift (just keystone correction). It’s a solid bright room projector that’s massively bright, but it probably is an even better business projector. Epson markets this one for both – a Powerlite, and a Pro Cinema version. 3-year warranty, and the usual Pro Cinema bundle: it comes with ceiling mount, spare lamp and cable cover. I would have put this one in my ridiculously bright living room if it had been out 3 years ago when I put in a much more expensive Epson that had similar brightness and a lot of extra features I didn’t need.

A wall melter – for that extra bright room, pair it with the right screen, and it is just about invincible – fearing only direct sunlight on your screen.

Vivitek HK2288/2299

Vivitek HK2288/HK2299
The Vivitek HK2288 / HK2299 is a single chip DLP using the higher res “4K UHD” chip from TI

Sorry, no review, but we did calibrate one and play with it extensively. That one was an engineering sample, though. This sample was still a good bit away from a finished product, or as I like to say, not quite ready for prime time, to steal a phrase. In conversation with Vivitek, we decided to delay the review. They would only tell me that production projectors will be a good deal better (that’s not unusual between samples and production models).

It claims 2200 lumens, but the engineering sample barely hit half of that. Now, before you think ill of Vivitek, it was a year ago I got a pre-production Epson HC6040UB to work with. The twin 5040UB I have here now measured I think about 60% brighter than the pre-production one.

The Vivitek, when it ships, will be another 4K UHD projector, at the $2499 price point, doing battle head to head against the Optoma UHD65, and it will have to take on the Epson HC5040UB as well.

The sample I received was interesting in that it supported HDR, but not BT.2020 color.  Perhaps that’s something that they are going to add in production units. They certainly would be wise to, since the most direct competitor, the Optoma, does both.

Judgment reserved. If they do add the bigger color space, then it’s going to come down primarily to color and general picture quality between this Vivitek and the Optoma UHD65 for low cost bragging rights among 4K UHD projectors.

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