Epson surprised me when I received a call about two weeks ago, to tell me about theHome Cinema 5025UB projector which was announced last week. Of course I couldn't report on it until the official announcement, so here, finally, is the scoop on the Home Cinema 5025UB. After some basic info about the Home Cinema 5025UB time for a short story.
The Home Cinema 5025UB is a 3LCD projector. It claims 2200 lumens, and 600:000:1 contrast. It is 3D capable, with built in RF emitter, so just add
low cost 3D RF glasses and some 3D content and you are ready to go. The projector sports a pair of HDMI inputs, as well as most of the usual analog inputs.
Epson Launches Home Cinema 5025UB Home Theater Projector for under $2000 US.
The HC5025UB has a 2.1:1 manual zoom lens, like all the other UB projectors, and like them, have a tremendous amount of vertical and horizontal lens shift for easy placement. If this projector won't place in your room, you either need a very short throw projector, or you are probably out of luck. That's how exceptional the placement flexibility of this projector is. It is a true "home theater" projector, so there's no built in speaker(s).
Keep in mind that Epson is the most prolific manufacturer of projectors in the world today. True, they don't make pico and small pocket projectors, but they are a top player in every other market segment, and actually claim about 1/3 of the whole projector market, despite there being 50+ manufacturers.
Epson Home Cinema 5025UB - Inputs and Connectors
To sell all those projectors, Epson utilizes multiple distribution channels, and quite often offers very different projectors to each, but other times, the differences are very minor.
Epson's CEDIA channel - that's all those local installing dealers, sell the Pro Cinema series, while often there are near identical Home Cinema series projectors who's main difference is a white case instead of black, and a 2 year warranty instead of three. In addition, Epson throws more stuff in the Pro box, and charges appropriately more.
The reason I'm telling you all of this, is that almost two years ago, Epson introduced the Pro Cinema 4030 projector to be sold through those local dealers. But Epson departed dramatically with a completely different offering for the online channel which gets the Home Cinema series. Instead of a similar "home theater" projector, they came out with a pair of "home entertainment projectors" Brighter, and with speakers, but lacking the black level performance appreciated when you have a really good room or cave.
I really felt at the time that Epson slighted those hard core enthusiasts who preferred to shop online. That Pro Cinema 4030 was really a lower cost UB projector like the 5030UB and 6030UB. Almost as bright, but excellent black levels, and priced close with a street price of $2499, but that included a ceiling mount, spare lamp, and 3D glasses, and $1000 less than the Pro Cinema 6030UB. At the time if you wanted great black level performance (an area of performance where Epson dominates in the under $3500 price class ), and were on a tight budget, your choice was the Home Cinema 5020UB for about $2700 at the time (the replacement HC5030UB just dropped in price to $2299), or the 4030 which because of all the extras sold for $2499. Epson did bring out the Home Cinema 3xxx series - 3010 then 3020, for the Home Cinema series, but those were bright projectors more suitable for home entertainment, and lacking series black level performance. (The new HC3000, HC3500 and 3600e, are the most recent in the 3xxx series.)
Now though, Epson has finally done right for serious home theater projector shoppers, who prefer to buy online, as the Home Cinema 5025UB seems to be extremely similar to the Pro Cinema 4030, but with a $1999 price! No, you don't get the spare lamp, 3D glasses or ceiling mount, but it definitely lowers the entry price for a serious home theater projector with excellent black level performance. Besides, you can buy respectable 3D glasses for less than $20 a pair these days.
No doubt the Home Cinema 5025UB will cannibalize some of the more expensive HC5030UB sales, but it does provide a lower cost of entry, and a lot of folks will see that as an opportunity to get into a UB projector when it was, until now, just out of financial reach. That makes sense since it's officially only 9% less bright.
If you want pretty excellent black level performance under $2000, about the only game in town has been Panasonic's aging PT-AE8000U, now in its 3rd year on the market. That Panny has dropped from $2999, with a current promotion putting it at $1899 as I write this. That panny has a great feature set, but could never rival the older Epson 5020UB, let alone the 5030UB or this 5025UB which should have the same black level performance as the more expensive UB. Another favorite of mine is Sony's HW40ES, a fine projector, that with promotions can get down to the HC5025UB's price point, but it lacks the dynamic iris of the $3500 HW55ES, so it really won't be competitive on dark scenes due to lower performance black levels. At $1999, the Home Cinema 5025UB should prove to be the king of black level performance of all the under $2000 projectors.
Mind you, you aren't saving a whole lot compared to the 5030UB, but if $300 in savings is important, the HC5025UB is probably your best option for serious performance.
At this point, I'm waiting for a 5025UB to arrive for review. The review should be pretty quick to publish First off, after initial viewing I'll check to see if the same calibration settings for a 5030UB work beautifully for the 5025UB. I suspect they will. Since the overall feature set seems to be identical, a lot of the review will be repeating the 5030UB information. Give me one week from the 5025UB projector's arrival, until I should be publishing it. That means it should definitely be live before mid-December.
Bottom line: Looks like Epson has a new projector to lower the cost of entry for serious home theater projector reviewers. We'll review this one, and also the Optoma HD50 which I blogged about earlier today, and tell you how they compare to each other, as positioning the HC5025UB compared to the other competition.
Congrats to Epson for finally delivering a Home Cinema version projector that fits that lineup (for online shoppers) in the same way the Pro Cinema 4030 serves those purchasing from local installing dealers. Epson may make a dozen lower cost home entertainment projectors, including the HC3500/HC3600e.com, but the 5025UB becomes Epson's lowest cost, true high performance Home THEATER projector. Cool!