Posted on August 30, 2019 By Art Feierman
The Epson Home Cinema 4010 and its almost identical twin, the Pro Cinema 4050, received our Best In Class Performance 4K Capable Home Theater Award in the $1000 – $2000 Class because, well, it just out-performs the competition. Epson combines an excellent picture for the price, with, by far, the most impressive selection of great features found on any projector on the market under $2,000.
Note that the Pro Cinema version is $2,399, but we’re including it in here because the most significant differences are the extra accessories that the black PC4050 comes with: a spare lamp, cable cover, and a very good quality ceiling mount. You also get an extra year of warranty and rapid replacement program. A genuine Epson lamp sells for about $200 by itself. In this case, the Pro Cinema 4050 has to be considered the better value.
The Epson HC4010 and PC4050 are loaded with features, not the least of which being Lens Memory. Many hardcore movie enthusiasts choose to go wide screen – not the traditional 16:9 screens that most pair with their home theater and home entertainment projectors. I’m one of those. I’ve owned both shapes, but switched to widescreen 9 years ago. I’m moving in a few weeks, and am planning on another wide-screen for the new home.
To have that be practical (especially if ceiling mounting), you need Lens Memory (or at least lens controls including zoom and lens shift to be motorized). The HC4010 is the least expensive current model projector with Lens Memory at this time. Now, if you don’t care about going widescreen, you don’t need Lens Memory, but there’s plenty more, including a 2.10:1 zoom lens and tons of lens shift for great placement range, including rear high shelf placement, which almost no projectors at this price can do.
More capabilities include picture-in-picture, a Dynamic Iris for improved dark scene handling (but if you are serious, have some extra dollars, and have a great room – consider their HC5050UB to be a black level champ). CFI – “smooth motion” – for your sports and if you prefer, general viewing, but at least avoid using CFI for movie watching (not just Epsons). And an excellent remote control with HDMI Link, so you can control other devices with it.
Both versions accept 4K content – they are 1080p pixel shifters (1920 x 1080 x2), while the other 4K capable projectors are typically 1920 x 1080 x4 pixel shifters, which are called 4K UHD. When it comes to HDR, the HC4010 only supports HDR10, not the broadcast HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) – Epson’s slightly newer UB projectors support both. Note that HDR10 is by far the most widely used at this time.
Gamers rejoice – If you want to play 4K 60fps games, it can, but only with HDR off. There are some lower cost projectors like the BenQ HT3550 that can do 4K HDR at 60fps for gaming, but I can’t at the moment think of any that are really fast enough for serious gamers in terms of input lag. The Epson’s 27-28ms lag, however, is fast enough for just about all serious high-speed gamers. So, you can have great response time, but your 4K game will only be in Standard Dynamic Range.
Right out of the box, these Epsons look about as good and accurate in terms of color as you can expect. Only the brightest mode has pumped-up greens, and not nearly as bad as most projectors’ pumped-up greens. The rest look, at least, very good. Our calibration settings make small improvements in color accuracy and picture, but here’s a projector that looks great without messing at all. Only Sony does better at out of the box color, but their $1,999 VPL-HW45 doesn’t do 4K content, and their least expensive 4K capable is $4,999. ‘Nough said.
Because with HDR, the more lumens the better, you can use two of its 10 savable picture settings to have both a very bright 4K HDR mode with extremely good color, or a less bright mode (about 60%) with virtually full P3 color, something no competitor comes close too. You around 2,000 lumens in that beautifully tuned brighter 4K mode, and 1200+ in Dark Cinema with HDR. Speaking of Picture quality and HDR, This generation handles HDR far better than the first Epsons, and does a really fine job. Not overly bright (less HDR-ish) not overly dark (tons of pop but uncomfortably dim). The Epsons’ controls give you plenty of latitude, but they’ve got it right – you can just tune your EOTF (gamma) for your taste.
An HDTV football game, projected by The Epson Home Cinema 4010.
A scene from The Hunger Games, projected by The Epson Home Cinema 4010.
A scene from The Fifth Element, projected by The Epson Home Cinema 4010.
A scene from Passengers, projected by The Epson Home Cinema 4010.
Plenty of horsepower to use the HC4010 in any good living room, den, family room, or spare bedroom with halfway decent window coverings and the ability to turn lights down or off. There’s power for handling some real ambient light. Overall, considering Epson lamp costs and other factors, the Home Cinema 4010 and Pro Cinema 4050 should be considered to have low cost of operation, and provide a lower electric bill than most.
Great picture for the bucks (and only one or two projectors at its price or lower can beat its black levels, and not by much). More features than you’ll find anywhere else, a 2-year warranty with replacement (3 years for the PC4050). I see our “Runner-Up,” the BenQ, as the Epson’s only serious challenger, without moving up at least $500 in price. I really liked the BenQ HT3550 as well, but with pretty comparable pictures, the Epson’s feature set, and some other advantages, I think, make the HC4010 the better choice for most in this price range, despite it costing a few hundred dollars more.
Get the Epson HC4010 on Amazon!
Epson HC4010/PC4050 Review
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