Projector Review: PowerLite Home Cinema 1440 1080p 3LCD Projector

Written by Evan Powell, January 19, 2016 | ProjectorCentral.com

Angled Product ImageThe Epson Home Cinema 1440 is one of the new cinema projectors released by Epson that targets ambient light situations from Super Bowl parties to sports bars. If you want big screen display of live music concerts to liven up your cocktail parties, the HC1440 is a natural. This new model pumps out 4400 lumens of HD 1080p video, enough to light up 150″ to 200″ screens without having to turn the lights off. And it is a compact, 10 lb model that you can install yourself with no muss no fuss. Best yet, all of this lumen power will only set you back $1,699.

Picture Quality

The whole point of the HC1440 is getting the brightest HD picture possible for the money. The projector is rated at a maximum of 4400 lumens, and on our test sample the brightest preset, Dynamic, measures 4350 lumens, essentially on target. Meanwhile, the two Cinema modes which have a more neutral color balance measure about 2800 lumens. The Dynamic mode has a somewhat greenish bias, although not severe or objectionable. The big question is whether you’d want to give up 1/3 of your total light potential to get more accurate color?

The answer for most users will be “no way.” This is a Super Bowl party projector, intended for big screen use in ambient light. You are buying it because you want 4000+ lumens. Even at its default settings, the HC1440’s Dynamic mode delivers an engaging and exciting picture. Despite what a professional would describe as a greenish bias, nobody at a party would think the picture looks green, or notice any color biases in the image at all–for the most part colors look perfectly natural. A low-saturation light blue sky may appear bluish-green, but saturated colors all look solid and accurate.

However, there is an easy way to improve the picture quality without bothering with a professional calibration. In the onscreen menu, go to Image/Advanced/RGB and drop Offset G from 0 to -1. Believe it or not, this tiny adjustment takes out a noticeable amount of the green, improves color saturation and contrast, and renders better flesh tones. Meanwhile it reduces lumen output by only 3%, so you still end up netting out 4200+ lumens. This is the way I would run this projector at my own Super Bowl party.

As far as sharpness is concerned, the HC1440 has a Sharpness control that ranges from -5 to +5, and it is set to default to 0 in all color modes. This produces a picture that, to my taste, is not quite sharp enough. The interesting thing about the HC1440 is that the sharpening algorithms do not produce gross edge enhancements like they do on many other video displays. Instead it gives you an artful refinement of the image. You can boost sharpness to +2 or +3 to produce a noticeably sharper picture without imparting any sense of artificial processing that makes it look harsh or digital. You can experiment with it yourself to find your own preferred setting, but the traditional mantra of us videophiles who insist that Sharpness controls be turned off does not apply to this projector.

The same is true of the noise reduction filters. The projector’s color modes default to a setting of NR1 out of the three options Off, NR1 and NR2. Noise reduction filters reduce digital noise at the expense of some image detail, but in this case the trade-off is worth it. To my taste the NR1 is the overall optimized solution, as there is a bit too much noise in many sources with noise reduction set to Off.

The HD1440 has three color presets other than Dynamic. They are Bright Cinema, Cinema, and Game. Oddly enough, they all measure about the same 2800 lumens. The two Cinema modes have more accurate color than Dynamic as well as a slightly smoother, more refined image quality. But the difference is quite subtle. The primary difference between Bright Cinema and Cinema is the default gamma settings rather than total lumen output. These operating modes would be more appropriate for use in lower ambient light, and if I did not need Dynamic’s lumen power I would opt for the Cinema modes.

As far as Game mode is concerned, the fastest input lag we could measure on this projector is 56 ms. So it is not going to be the ideal choice for gaming enthusiasts who want the fastest response times possible (Epson’s HC 2040 measures 24 ms, so if your interests are primarily gaming you’d probably want to look at something like that.)

Overall, the HC 1440 is a party projector, ideal for big screen HD video and sports presentations in ambient light, whether in the home or a sports bar. And for this purpose it is outstanding.

Key Features

Excellent value. Superb combination of high resolution, high lumens and color brightness, for a great price.

Epson 1440 connection panel

Mobile/portable. At only 10 lbs, the 1440 is easily transportable. An onboard 16-watt speaker gives you some room-filling audio if you need it in portable applications.

Long zoom range. A 1.65 zoom ranges lets you fill a 120″ diagonal screen anywhere from 12 to 19 foot throw distance.

Stream HD shows. Supports MHL-enabled devices, Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Split Screen Viewing. Watch two shows at once. Pictures are displayed either side by side in equal sizes, or one large and one small. A full image of both signals is always 100% visible (no picture in picture where one is overlaid on the other).

Low fan noise in eco-mode. Fan noise is surprisingly low in eco mode for a projector of this size and brightness.

Inexpensive replacement lamp. At just $149, new lamps are noticeably cheaper than competing lamps that often run $250 or more.

H+V keystone. +/- 30 degrees Vertical keystone, +/- 20 degrees horizontal

Security. Password protection is an option if you want to use it, and the projector comes with a Kensington lock.

Performance

Brightness. The Epson Home Cinema 1440 is rated at 4400 lumens of white light and 4400 lumens of color brightness. It has four factory preset operating modes and no separate user programmable modes, although all four factory presets can be modified by the user. With the lamp on full power and the zoom lens set to its widest angle position, our test unit produced ANSI lumens readings as follows:

Epson Home Cinema 1440 ANSI Lumens

MODE Normal Lamp Eco mode
Dynamic 4350 3175
Bright Cinema 2810 2051
Cinema 2800 2044
Game 2790 2037

Zoom lens effect.The HC 1440 has a 1.65x zoom lens that will curtail light output by up to 36% as you move from its brightest, most wide angle position, to its most telephoto (longest throw for a given image size). This light loss is not particularly unusual for a 1.6x zoom lens, but it means that if you need the full lumen power of the projector, you should plan to install it as close to the screen as you can in order to use the wide angle end of the lens.

Eco mode. The 1440’s eco mode reduces light output in all modes by 27%. It also curtails fan noise considerably and increases anticipated lamp life from 3000 to 4000 hours.

Brightness Uniformity. Uniformity measures a very good 84%, with light fading off just slightly to the upper right and left corners. But uniformity throughout the rest of the image is excellent.

Epson 1440 remote

Input lag. The Bodnar meter measures 73 ms input lag in Fine mode and 56 ms in Fast mode.

Fan noise. If you are in a quiet room, fan noise on the 1440 Audible noise is moderate and quite noticeable in full lamp mode — normal for a data projector that produces this amount of light, and certainly louder than a typical home theater projector. If you are using it for party entertainment to show music concert videos, or football parties, the fan noise will never be heard. If you are watching Bubba Watson about to tee off and the Quiet signs are up, you will become aware of the fan if the projector is anywhere near you. This is not surprising since the unit is rather small for the amount of light it produces so there is little opportunity to baffle fan noise internally.

In eco-mode, it’s a different ball game. Fan noise drops substantially to where it becomes remarkably quiet and perfectly acceptable for even a relatively small home theater room. On the other hand,High Altitude Mode is required at elevations above 1500 m, or about 5000 feet. In this mode the fan noise is increased loud enough that you’d want to take steps to baffle it behind a wall if it is used in a home theater room. But for party environments (the most likely usage) it is still not a problem.

Lamp life and price. Epson estimates lamp life at full power to be 3000 hours in Normal lamp mode and 4000 in eco-mode. Replacement lamps cost $149, which is noticeably less than most of the competition.

Set Up

The Epson Home Cinema 1440 will thrown a 120″ diagonal 16:9 image from a distance of between 11.7 and 19.3 feet, give or take a couple inches. It is easily bright enough to fill a much larger screen. At 180″ diagonal, you’ll need to set it back between 17.5 and 29 feet. Use the Projection Calculator to determine your actual throw distance options based your desired screen size.

Since the zoom lens curtails light output at the telephoto end by 36%, if you need the full lumen power of the projector you will want to place it relatively close to the screen in order to use the wide angle end of the zoom.

There is no lens shift. The HC1440 throws the image so that its ideal placement is on a shelf or stand behind and just above the heads of the audience. About 88% of the projected image is above the centerline of the lens and 12% is below the centerline. So it can be positioned on a shelf or stand without requiring much if any tilt.

If you wish to ceiling mount it, that’s no problem, but the projector will likely require an extension drop tube so that it is placed at a height that will accommodate its throw angle without a tilt. The manual does not stipulate any maximum tilt, but 15 degrees is about the maximum recommended for most projectors due to the fact that tilting the unit will interfere with its cooling system. A few projectors are built to withstand non-horizontal installations, but the 1440 is not one of them.

As you can see below, the 1440 has a form factor with relatively shallow depth, about 11.5 inches. So it can be placed on a bookshelf as long as there is sufficient clearance to the sides and above it for heat dissipation.

Important warning. Due to the unique throw angle of this projector, you might be tempted to invert it and set it on a high shelf. Never invert a projector and set it on its top in direct contact with a shelf — it is pretty much guaranteed to overheat in that situation.

Epson 1440 top view

Installation Trade-offs

Ideal throw distance. The big question is this — where is the ideal placement when you’ve got a 1.6x zoom and you can choose to ceiling mount it anywhere between 12 and 19 feet to hit a 120″ screen? The trade-offs are these:

1. If you place it at 12 feet, you get the maximum light output from the projector which is good if you need it. The downside is that in this position it throws the widest angle cone of projected light, and light striking the screen toward the sides of the image will tend to bounce off away from the center viewing position. So it is a bit less than ideal for even screen illumination.

2. If you place it at 19 feet, you get the minimum light from the projector, but if that is already enough it doesn’t matter. The advantage is that you narrow the cone of projected light, providing a more even illumination of the screen since light hitting the sides of the screen does not bounce off at as much of an oblique angle.

3. If you place it at 15-16 feet, you get equal trade-offs of the above. Also, in theory the midpoint of the zoom lens is its optical sweet spot, but a 1080p resolution image is not going to tax the optical resolution of the lens enough for you to notice.

Plan for lamp degradation. In planning your installation, keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is to anticipate that high pressure lamps will lose 25% of their brightness in the first 500 hours of operation, then degrade more slowly after that. With this in mind, many people choose their screen size and screen gain assuming they will use the projector’s eco-mode for the first 500-750 hours, then switch to full lamp mode for the remainder of the lamp’s life. By following this strategy you can even out the average light levels on the screen over the lamp’s entire life.

On the other hand, if you need the full 4000+ lumens, you can keep it up at that level by replacing the lamp more frequently than the estimated lamp life. This is particularly easy to do with the HC 1440 since replacement lamps are only $149.

Limitations

No 3D capability. If 3D is your thing, look elsewhere as the 1440 does not do it.

No lens shift. A bit of lens shift would have been helpful for easier installation. Since there is none, make sure to take extra care while planning the set up.

No frame interpolation or detail enhancement. These features are present on many Epson home cinema projectors, but they are not on the 1440.

Fan noise. In normal (full lamp) mode the fan noise is higher than desirable for home theater applications, although it is remarkably quiet in eco-mode. On the other hand, it is no issue if you are using it for Super Bowl parties, live concert videos, or in general for any sports event viewing.

16:10 Aspect Ratio. For cinema use you will probably be using a 16:9 screen. You can set up the 1440 to fill the screen with a 16:9 image, and the small black bars top and bottom will project onto the black frame and become invisible. If you have a need or desire to use a 16:10 format screen, a 16:9 image will be displayed with small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen image.

Air filter. The air filter needs periodic cleaning which is easy to do with a small computer keyboard vacuum cleaner swiped over the intake vent. How often you need to do this depends on how much dust there is in the room. If you forget to do it at all, the filter will eventually clog and the unit will overheat and automatically shut down.

Competition

We’ve given the Epson HC 1440 five stars for value. You may wonder at this given that there are a number of HD 1080p DLP projectors rated at 4000 or more lumens that sell for prices much lower than $1700.

The issue is that in this brightness range, most DLP projectors continue to rely on a large white segment in the color wheel to boost the ANSI lumen rating. This does indeed boost white light output, but it leaves colors relatively flat. As an example, we are currently reviewing the new Dell 4350, a 1080p DLP projector rated at 4000 lumens and selling for several hundred dollars less. And indeed, when we do the standard ANSI lumen test our sample measures 3907 lumens, or very close to its rating. However, when we measure the red, green, and blue components individually, they add up to 694 lumens. By comparison, the Epson 1440 still measures 4200+ lumens when the color components are measured individually. The result is that when you put these two units side by side, the color on the Epson 1440 is much more vibrant and saturated than it is on the Dell 4350.

This is not to say that all DLP projectors behave this way. DLP projectors built for home theater quite often have RGBRGB color wheels that deliver as much color light as they do white light. And in a number of recent DLP projectors that do have white segments in the wheel, we’ve seen a trend toward a reduction of the size of the white segment. This leads to much higher color brightness measurements than we’ve seen on DLP projectors in the past. On models with a reduce white segment there can be excellent color saturation and a very well balanced video image despite the presence of the white segment in the color wheel.

Nevertheless, when we look at inexpensive DLP projectors that are rated at 4000 lumens and above, it is still generally true that most of that lumen power is coming from a white segment, and that color brightness falls far short of the white potential. So if you are in the market for a bright video projector and are looking for 4000+ lumen models, keep these performance differences in mind. The lumen ratings can be quite misleading.

Conclusion

For what it is, the Epson HC 1440 is an outstanding projector at a superb value. It gives you full HD resolution and 4000+ lumens of reasonably well balanced color brightness for a relatively moderate price — perfect for home entertainment with some ambient light in the room, or any venue where you need bright video in some level of ambient light. The HC 1440 does not have the extra processing and performance features found on other Epson cinema projectors like frame interpolation, detail enhancement, and 3D capability. But for straightforward, bright, HD video in ambient light situations, the 1440 is tough to beat.


Ready to purchase? Click here to see the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1440 1080p 3LCD Projector on Projector SuperStore!


Written by Evan Powell, January 19, 2016 | Originally seen on ProjectorCentral.com. View original posting here.

ViewSonic Launches Latest 1080p Entertainment Projectors at #CES2016

ViewSonic Launches Latest 1080p Entertainment
Projectors at #CES2016

By Jasmine Geider | January 5, 2016

LAS VEGAS (Jan. 5, 2016) – ViewSonic Corp., a leading global provider of visual solution products, introduces the newest members of its LightStream™ family with the Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL entertainment projectors at #CES2016. The Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL projectors offer incredible color accuracy for stunning image quality, and enhanced sound technology for an immersive multimedia experience.

The ViewSonic® Pro7827HD is the first in the LightStream line to feature a RGBRGB 6-segment color wheel, powered by ViewSonic’s SuperColor™ technology providing detailed pictures and brilliant color gradient coverage. Along with ISF™ certification for color optimization and five viewing modes, 2200 lumens, and vertical lens shift, the Pro7827HD can create a cinematic experience in any home.

“The Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL deliver the perfect big picture for home entertainment,” said Aaron Campbell, product marketing manager at ViewSonic Americas. “With advanced color and audio technologies and PortAll™ to wirelessly stream content or play games on a giant projected screen, these two projectors ensure an immersive visual experience.”

With Full HD 1080p resolution, both the Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL projectors deliver a wider color range for true-to-life picture quality. Combined with a built-in 10W speaker that incorporates ViewSonic’s proprietary SonicExpert™ sound enhancement technology, the Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL are high-performance projectors ideal for big screen home entertainment. Both projectors come with PortAll™, a uniquely designed enclosure that houses an HDMI/MHL connection and supports wireless HDMI media streaming devices. The PortAll feature on these projectors also includes an integrated micro USB cable that allows users to quickly and easily power micro USB-enabled devices. The smart design of the Pro7827HD and PJD7828HDL includes a cable management hood that eliminates cable clutter.

Pro7827HD

The ViewSonic Pro7827HD is a 1080p native projector with 2200 lumens of brightness and a 22,000:1 contrast ratio. It comes with one standard HDMI and two HDMI/MHL inputs, along with RGB, Composite, Component, Audio, micro USB, RS232 and RJ45 connectors. With a 1.1-1.5 throw ratio, vertical lens shift and 1.3x optical zoom, the Pro7827HD provides extreme flexibility for easy set-up and installation.

PJD7828HDL

With 1080p native resolution, SuperColor technology and 3200 lumens of brightness which ensure bold and vivid colors for any projected image, the PJD7828HDL delivers the perfect balance of color quality and brightness. The projector features multiple connectivity options, including HDMI, HDMI/MHL. Its sleek design includes PortAll and a cable management hood that allows users to wireless stream via HDMI/ MHL connectors. Ideal for entry-level home entertainment enthusiasts, the PJD7828HDL features a smooth white finish that can blend into any home.

Pricing and Availability:

  • The Pro7827HD will be available for an MSRP of $1,299.00 (USD) and starts shipping in February
  • The PJD7828HDL will be available at a MAP price of $599.00 (USD) and starts shipping in January

For more information about ViewSonic’s LightStream series of projectors, visithttp://www.viewsonic.com/us/projectors/lightstream.html.

For further news and information about ViewSonic, visit ViewSonic.com and follow on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

About ViewSonic

Founded in California in 1987, ViewSonic is a world leading visual solutions provider. As an innovator and visionary, ViewSonic keeps the world connected with a portfolio of professional level visual solutions that enhance the way we compute, collaborate, communicate and connect. Our products include LED monitors, interactive commercial displays, touch displays, projectors, thin client, zero client and smart displays. To find out more about ViewSonic, visit viewsonic.com.

Ready to buy? See the PJD7828HDL at Projector SuperStore by clicking here!

BenQ HT3050 and HT2050 Projector Review

Written by Evan Powell, October 30, 2015 

The BenQ HT3050 is one of three new full HD 1080p resolution home theater projectors being released by BenQ this fall. Priced at $999, it is the middle option, being a step up from the HT2050 at $799, and flanked on the high side by the HT4050 at $1,399. Since the HT3050 and HT2050 are the same basic projector with some noteworthy variances, this review will focus on the HT3050 and note where the HT2050 diverges. We will address the HT4050, which is a different projector altogether, in a different review.

BenQ HT3050HT3050 vs. HT2050: The Differences

The HT3050 is the same basic projector as the HT2050 with the following differences:

1. The HT3050 Cinema mode is more carefully calibrated to target Rec 709 standards while the HT2050’s Cinema mode is not.

2. On the HT3050, one of the HDMI ports is MHL enabled. This does not exist on the HT2050.

3. The 3050 has dual 10W speakers for much more robust onboard stereo audio; the 2050 has only one mono 10W speaker.

4. The 3050 has horizontal and vertical digital keystone adjustments, the 2050 has vertical keystone only.

5. The 3050 is a bit heavier at 8.1 lbs vs. 7.3 lbs for the 2050.

6. The 3050 has a brushed gold front bezel, and the 2050 is brushed silver.

7. The HT2050 is rated at 2200 lumens vs. the HT3050’s 2000 lumens, a difference of no practical consequence.

8. We measure 50 ms input lag on the HT3050 and 33 ms on the HT2050.

As you consider this list of differences, you may see reasons to spend the extra $200, or you may not. These are both solid and attractive projectors for the money.

Picture Quality

The big question of course is what differences there may be in image quality? When both projectors are put into the factory default settings in Cinema mode, theHT3050 produces a more refined picture with much closer to accurate color tones, simply because it has been more carefully calibrated at the factory. The differences are not huge, and the HT2050 puts out a very attractive image on its own if you had nothing to compare it to. But if prospective buyers were shown these two units side by side (in their factory default calibrations) without being told anything about them, they would invariably choose the HT3050 as having the preferred image. We suspect most viewers would say that the incremental image quality is worth the additional $200.

Having said that, it should be noted that once the HT2050 is professionally calibrated it is capable of producing a picture that exceeds that of the HT3050’s factory Rec 709 calibration. That is because there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” factory calibration that perfectly optimizes every unit coming off the production line. So if you have the ability to calibrate a projector or you plan to hire a technician, you might want to go with the HT2050 instead.

Since the HT3050 is the more substantial of the two models, we’ll focus on the 3050 in the following comments. You can assume they apply also to the HT2050 except where noted.

When you light up the HT3050 and open the menu, you will find four preset operating modes — Bright, Vivid, Cinema, and Game. A few words on each of these…

Many who buy this projector will be opting for Cinema mode. Though it is the least bright of the four, it puts out 1160 lumens in its brightest configuration which is more than ample for most dark room home theater needs. The factory programmed color balance is reasonably close to accurate Rec 709. It is certainly watchable out of the box without any need for calibration. However, after some viewing we became a bit frustrated with closed-off mid-tones, so several minor adjustments helped solve the problem: Brightness was increased from 50 to 51, Contrast was boosted from 50 to 53, and the default gamma setting of 2.2 was reduced to 2.1. On our test sample this produce a more open and satisfying gray scale.

We also made some minor adjustments to color. However, a professional calibration of the HT3050’s Cinema mode is not going to yield significant improvements in image quality (on the HT2050 a pro calibration would yield more noticeable improvements). Results will vary from unit to unit, but in general the adjustments needed to dial in a balanced and satisfying picture were minor. For all but the most fastidious of videophiles, the HT3050’s Cinema mode is quite satisfactory out of the box with little or no tweaking.

BenQ HT3050 Front Bezel

Game mode is a bit brighter and slightly cooler in temperature than Cinema mode, but it is also perfectly serviceable for video/film. It activates the “Brilliant Color” feature, whereas the Cinema mode does not. Adding Brilliant Color to the image boosts brightness, and shifts color temperature toward a slightly cooler bias. White objects appear brighter than they should, but the effect is not nearly as heavy-handed as we’ve seen on other Brilliant Color implementations. The picture is overall quite pleasant. Some users will prefer Game mode over Cinema for most of their movie viewing, not just gaming. It isn’t precisely accurate, but it is attractive.

Vivid mode is incrementally brighter than Game mode. It exaggerates color saturation and contrast somewhat. Color balance is still within the general ballpark of reasonable, but saturation and contrast are boosted to the point where it looks, well, artificially Vivid. However, this can be a good thing. If you are one of those that likes to boost color saturation of your pictures in photo editing to make them look extra rich, you may enjoy the Vivid mode of the HT3050. At the recent CEDIA trade show, LG was demonstrating OLED TVs that pushed contrast and saturation to outrageous extremes, so that the picture is dazzling, eye-catching, mesmerizing, and utterly fake. Many folks like this effect. The Vivid mode on the BenQ projectors tends in this same direction but it is nowhere near as extreme. As far as Vivid calibrations go, this one is nicely done.

Bright mode is the only one of the four that is radically off in color temperature, producing a picture that is tinted an obvious green. This makes grass look brilliantly green, blue skies look cyan, while anything red or magenta becomes dull and brownish. We cannot think of a good use for Bright mode. But it follows the long-established industry tradition of including a bright green operating mode to show that the projector is capable of getting within shouting distance of its lumen spec.

In general, the HT3050 delivers solid black levels and high dynamic range, consistent with what we’ve come to expect from DLP. The picture is reasonably sharp with no excessive noise. Colors are (or can be) naturally saturated and well balanced due to high color brightness (see Performance section for details).

The only flaw we continued to notice on both of our test units was related to brightness uniformity. The image on the HT3050 fades noticeably to the right side, where brightness falls off as much as 30% from its levels in the rest of the picture. Essentially this produces a subtle vignetting effect on the right edge of the picture. This becomes noticeable in scenes that contain continuous tones that should be even across the screen (like skies and seascapes). On our HT2050, brightness uniformity is also mediocre, but in a different way. The picture is brightest in the lower center and it fades most to the upper left instead of the right. On this unit the fading is incrementally progressive across the image, so it does not produce a vignetting effect, but the upper left corner is 40% less bright than the lower center. The substantial difference in uniformity patterns between our two samples suggests manufacturing variances in the alignment of the light engines, so what we see on these units many not coincide with what users may see on theirs.

Brightness uniformity is not something most users would notice while viewing video. It is most obvious when viewing a solid white test pattern. Flaws in uniformity usually get lost in the complexity of a video/film image. Unlike excessive digital noise, rainbow artifacts, or dull black levels, you can watch a whole movie without being distracted by this particular flaw. So as flaws go, it is easier to live with than most.

Key Features

Ideal brightness for home theater. Rated at 2000 lumens, our test sample comes in around 1160 lumens in Cinema (Rec 709) mode. This is good for rooms that are not entirely blacked out, or for a very large screen installation. If you want to cut lumens, you can do that either by using the zoom lens or putting it into Eco mode. This flexibility lets you hit the sweetspot of brightness for most dark room home theater needs.

6x, RGBRGB color wheel. This color wheel configuration maximizes DLP performance potential for video by optimizing color brightness and virtually eliminating rainbow artifacts.

Zoom lens and lens shift. Traditionally inexpensive DLP projectors have minimal zoom range and no lens shift. The HT3050 has a 1.3x manual zoom and some limited vertical lens shift as opposed to none.

Terrific sound. The HT3050 has great audio. The dual 10W speakers produce the loudest and clearest we’ve ever heard on a projector of this size. Of course it still lacks the bass, dynamic range, and spatial surround features you’d like to have for movies, but this is the best on-board substitute for a surround sound system we’ve ever encountered on an inexpensive portable projector.

The HT2050 eliminates one of the two 10 W speakers, so it does not have nearly the audio performance of the HT3050. However, if you have an external surround system, you won’t want to use the audio on either of these models.

Color Temp and Color Management. Both models provide the ability to fine tune color temperature with Red, Green, and Blue gain and offset controls. Both have the ability to adjust Hue, Saturation and Gain on RGBCMY.

BenQ HT3050 Rear Panel and Speakers

Connections. You get two standard HDMI ports, (one of which is MHL enabled on the 3050, but not on the 2050). You also get one VGA port, one 3-RCA component, one composite, one USB, one mini-USB, one RS-232, one audio in, and one audio out. The connection panel is on the rear of the unit, set between the speakers which are on the rear corners.

You also get a 12-volt trigger, which is a feature beginning to show up on more sub-$1000 home theater models these days.

Projection options. For those new to projectors, virtually all projectors are made with the ability to project upright from a coffee table, inverted in a ceiling mount, or placed behind a screen for either table/shelf mounted or ceiling mounted rear projection. All BenQ projectors have these options as standard features.

Full HD 3D. Both projectors are full HD 3D compatible, and automatically recognize a 3D source. The DLP-link glasses synch instantly.

White casework and white remote. Many with white ceilings prefer a white projector because it does not stand out as obviously in the room. White remotes are easier to find in the dark. The remote is nicely backlit, tactile response is excellent, and the common sense layout makes it easy to use once you are familiar with it.

H+V keystone. If you need to use keystone adjustments, you’ve got both horizontal and vertical on the HT3050 (vertical only on the 2050). This function is accessible only via a function button on the remote; it is not available in the on-screen menu. As always, on all native 1080p projectors we recommend avoiding the use of this feature if you can, simply because it adds scaling to the 1080p image, and it will reduce image brightness by turning off a portion of the chip.

Anamorphic lens compatibility. If you have an A-lens and want to use it with this projector, the vertical stretch required to accommodate it is an option in the aspect ratio selections.

Security. Password protection is an option if you want to use it, and the projector comes with a Kensington lock.

Performance

Brightness. The HT3050 is rated at 2000 lumens. It has four factory preset operating modes. With the lamp on full power and the zoom lens set to its widest angle position, our test unit measured as follows:

Bright — 1760
Vivid — 1550
Game — 1420
Cinema – 1160

The HT3050 has a 1.3x zoom lens that will curtail light output by up to 27% as you move from its brightest, most wide angle position, to its most telephoto (longest throw for a given image size). You can also reduce the projector’s brightness 32% by putting it into Eco mode.

Therefore, if the Cinema mode’s 1160 lumens is too bright for your dark room set up, you can cut it to about 800 lumens by switching to Eco mode, or you can reduce light output anywhere from 1% to 27% by moving the projector back and using a longer throw portion the zoom lens.

BenQ HT3050 Remote

Brightness Uniformity. Based on the nine quadrant ANSI lumen meter readings, our HT3050 measures 73% uniformity and theHT2050 measures 67%. (See comments regarding uniformity in the Picture Quality section of this review.)

Sharpness. The HT3050 is what we’d call reasonably sharp and competitive in its price class. It is never noticeably soft and, standing alone, it looks perfectly well defined. We have seen marginally sharper projectors, but the difference would be visible only if they are displayed side by side. The Sharpness control has a rather subtle effect on image sharpness. We found the optimal setting to be 9 on a scale of 1 to 15. This is the point at which the image appears it sharpest without introducing unwanted artifacts.

Color brightness is outstanding compared to many DLP projectors. In Bright and Vivid modes it measures 77% of white, in Game mode it measures 85% of white, and in Cinema it is the full 100% of white.

Input lag. We get difference readings on the two models. On the HT3050 the Bodnar meter registers 50 ms lag in all operating modes, including Game mode. On the HT2050 it reads 33 ms.

Fan noise Audible noise in full power mode is relatively low in both pitch and sound pressure. This is one of the quieter HT projectors under $1000, but it is not as stone quiet as more expensive models can be. The vast majority of users will have no problem with it, but those who want a close to silent projector may want to opt for a more expensive unit.

High Altitude Mode is required at elevations above 1500 m, or about 5000 feet. In this mode the fan noise is increased, but it is still quite livable and relatively unobtrusive compared to most units in this price class. This is a good option if you live in Denver, you don’t want to spend more than $1000, and you want to keep fan noise to a minimum.

Lamp life. BenQ estimates lamp life at full power to be 3500 hours. There are two eco modes — Eco and Smart Eco — that boost lamp life up to an estimated 5000 hours and 6000 hours respectively. Replacement lamps cost $249.

Set Up

The HT3050 will thrown a 120″ diagonal 16:9 image from a distance of between 10 and 13 feet. With this size screen, if you choose to place it at 10 feet, image brightness is maximized, if you put it at 11.5 feet, brightness is reduced by 14%, and if you set it back to 13 feet, image brightness is reduced by 27%. So choose your throw distance carefully while keeping your desired image brightness in mind. Use the Projection Calculator to determine your actual throw distance options based your desired screen size.

The projector is designed to be used most efficiently either table mounted or inverted and ceiling mounted. As is typical with this design, placing the projector on a rear shelf and projecting over the heads of the audience will be problematic. You would probably need to tilt the projector downward to position the image properly. This will require keystone adjustment, and it may require more than the maximum allowable tilt, which is 15 degrees. Also keep in mind that the manual stipulates a clearance of 20 inches between the rear of the projector and the wall.

Furthermore, if the projector is very much behind you, it is likely that the screen size at that throw distance will be too large for your viewing distance (unless you are among those who prefer front rows in a movie theater).

If you prefer to sit at a distance of about 1.3x the screen width, which is a common preference, the ceiling mounted projector will be pretty much directly over your head. This is the best way to install the unit for optimal screen illumination, as it will project slightly downward to the screen, and the screen will reflect back downward again to the position of the viewers (angle of incidence = angle of reflection).

The projector has a built in upward throw angle that puts the bottom edge of the image slightly higher than the centerline of the lens (or lower than the centerline of the lens if inverted and ceiling mounted). The offset is approximately 10% of the image height. From that point you can elevate the image up to another 10% of the image height using the Lens Shift control.

Limitations

Input lag. The 50 ms input lag on the HT3050 may be enough to make serious gamers think twice since many DLP projectors (including the HT2050) have a lag of 33 ms, and occasionally we find one that is faster. 50 ms is also enough of a delay that it will create minor lip synch issues, so an audio delay would be nice.

A little bit o’ lens shift. This is both an advantage and a limitation. It is an advantage because most projectors in this price category don’t offer lens shift at all. So to that extent it is a genuine benefit. The only reason it is a limitation is because higher priced models offer much more extensive lens shift range than just 10% of the picture height. But the fact that the HT3050 has it at all is progress, so we must keep that in perspective.

Brightness uniformity. As noted in the Picture Quality section, the 3050 and 2050 test units we have are both below average on this metric but in different ways. If you must settle for at least one flaw in a projector, this is probably the one you’d want, but many competitors are doing better than this these days.

Slow synch on new signals. These projectors take their own sweet time figuring out new signals. Once they lock onto a steady signal they are fine, but when you fire up a Blu-ray disc, they are initially confused by the changing formats in the start up sequences. You may or may not see the FBI alert screen, as during the time the player is outputting that image the projector is fumbling around trying to determine what the signal format is. When the Blu-ray player starts outputting, say, the Universal Studios logo splash screen, you might see only the last few seconds of it on the HT3050, as it can take that long for it to identify and lock onto the new video signal–you hear the audio long before you see the picture. In general, you see a lot of “searching for signal” messages and intermittent snow screens during the start up phase for any new source or when switching movie discs. This is more pronounced on the HT3050 than on the HT2050, which is a bit faster in figuring it out. Once they lock onto the movie signal it is fine, but this is a messy way to start a film presentation.

One-year warranty. Several vendors in this market niche offer two or three year warranties, but some offer just the conventional minimum one-year. BenQ is one of them.

Conclusion

BenQ has developed a solid reputation for producing inexpensive home theater projectors that deliver impressive quality for the money. The HT3050 and HT2050 will enhance that reputation even further. The BenQ HT3050 is ready to go, out of the box, with a reasonably well calibrated Cinema mode that approximates Rec 709 standards. It has an attractive trio of usable preset color modes and a 1.3x zoom with a touch of lens shift that provides a little extra installation latitude. The HT3050’s most apparent flaws (brightness uniformity and ability to quickly synch on new signals) are unfortunate but for the most part easy to live with compared to weaknesses in other projectors. The HT3050 also has outstanding onboard stereo sound for those who need it in portable applications or occasional use in a backyard theater. So it will be an easy decision for many buyers.

The BenQ HT2050 will be a better choice than the HT3050 in a couple of situations. Gamers for whom the reduced input lag is meaningful may find it more attractive. And for those who can tune up their own projectors, or for anyone planning to retain a technician for a pro calibration, the HT2050 is the better bet, since you save $200 and it is highly likely that a professional calibration of the HT2050 will yield a picture that exceeds the precision of the HT3050’s factory programmed Cinema Rec 709 calibration.


 

Ready to buy? Click here to see the BenQ HT2050 and HT3050 at Projector SuperStore.

 


This review was written by Evan Powell on October 30, 2015. It was originally seen on ProjectorCentral.com. View the original post here.

 

Optoma’s Latest 1080p Home Projector Range

Movie fans, TV buffs and keen gamers can now enjoy a super-size cinema quality picture in any room in their home. Packed with features, Optoma’s range of 1080p home projectors deliver vivid clarity with pure, deep colors and high contrast thanks to deeper blacks and crisp whites. This means live sport, action-packed games, TV and movies can be enjoyed in stunning Full HD resolution any time of day.

See Optoma’s full line of projectors on the Projector SuperStore website here.

About Projector SuperStore – For over 20 years, Projector SuperStore has been the premier source for affordable Audio and Visual equipment online. We have worked with hundreds of businesses across the nation and have the expertise to help you integrate the right technology for your specific needs and bring your message to the masses. Whether you’re looking for a projector for a meeting room, a portable system for use in multi-purpose rooms, a state-of-the-art projection system for your main auditorium, the latest home theater technology or anything in between, we can help you create a system that is right for your needs and fits within your budget. View more information on our website here.

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB Home Theater Projector Review

This review was written by Bill Livolsi and originally appeared on Projector Central. View original post here.

This year’s CEDIA trade show in Denver saw Epson refresh its entire home theater projector line. The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB is this year’s upgrade to the Home Cinema 5020UB, one of last year’s hottest projectors. While the 5030UB is in many ways an incremental improvement over its predecessor, it is an impressive machine in its own right. Currently priced at $2,599 from authorized sellers, the Home Cinema 5030UB is an excellent value in today’s market.

While the projector is laden with features that make it easy to install and use, the primary draw of the Home Cinema 5030UB is image quality. The 5030UB’s image in both 2D and 3D is the best we’ve ever seen from Epson, and the picture on screen makes it clear where every single dollar of the projector’s purchase price went. In other words, it looks more expensive than it actually is.

The Home Cinema 5030UB is built primarily for use in a light-controlled home theater environment, and it is tailored to deliver maximum impact in such a situation. The “UB” in the projector’s name stands for Ultra Black, a designation that does not disappoint once you have the projector properly configured. For part of this review we set up the 5030UB on one of Stewart’s new screens, the Cima by Stewart Filmscreen using the 1.1-gain Neve white fabric. This screen is a superb complement to the 5030B for dedicated home theater, and it costs less than the Studiotek 130. The 5030UB already has very deep black levels and light output is highly adjustable, so this neutral white screen with low gain and a very wide 80-degree half-gain angle is ideal for dark theater installations.

In 2D, the 5030UB’s image is smooth and life-like. Highlights are bright, but not blown out, while shadow detail is excellent and overall dynamic range makes the image appear three-dimensional. Black level, which has long been the strong point of Epson’s home theater projectors, is as deep as it has ever been once the projector’s automatic iris is turned on. The Home Cinema 5030UB shares the color performance of its predecessors, with good color saturation and comprehensive color adjustment controls. The projector’s factory configurations need a little bit of fine-tuning, but this isn’t unusual in home theater projectors. The 5030UB produces a bright, engaging 3D image that makes large-screen 3D display attainable. The projector has three dedicated 3D color modes that can be fine-tuned independently of their 2D counterparts. Bright, well-saturated colors and good shadow detail make 3D viewing a pleasant experience, even for this jaded reviewer.

If you still watch a lot of standard-definition content, technologies like Frame Interpolation and Super Resolution improve image quality and give new life to your DVD collection. And while no amount of image processing can turn SD into HD, the Home Cinema 5030UB can clean up standard-definition material enough to make it easier on your eyes, now that you’re used to high definition.

SET-UP AND CONFIGURATION

The Home Cinema 5030UB is one of the most flexible projectors on the market when it comes to installation and placement, featuring a 2.1:1 manual zoom lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift, both of which have extensive range. This opens up a variety of placement options. For the do-it-yourselfer, the 5030UB’s lens configuration screams “rear shelf mount.” Rear shelf mounting is popular because it requires no special equipment or mounting hardware, except for a shelf. You can place the projector in an optimum location to minimize lens shift and achieve the best possible brightness uniformity. The projector can be placed near the rest of your equipment, so you won’t need long-run HDMI cables. It is a simple, effective way to position your projector that requires minimal cash outlay and zero time spent on a ladder, though it often requires using the telephoto end of the zoom lens, which can reduce light output by up to 44%.

On the other hand, a ceiling mount can look more professional. In a white-ceilinged room, the 5030UB’s white case blends in quite well. The projector’s extensive zoom and lens shift range makes it easy to target a pre-existing screen. And if you’ve already had a projector ceiling mounted, the concerns about the cost of cabling and ceiling mounts are reduced or eliminated. Combined with a retractable screen, a ceiling mount can create a “disappearing theater” which may be an advantage if you are installing in a multi-purpose room.

Table placement is an option as well. The 5030UB can display a 100″ diagonal 16:9 image from 9′ 9″, so even mid-sized rooms can accommodate large screen sizes. Placement on or below a table keeps the projector out of the way but accessible, while providing the same cable length benefits as a rear shelf mount.

The Home Cinema 5030UB’s ideal operation mode for home theater is called THX. After calibration, with the lens at its widest angle setting, our test unit produced 645 lumens with the lamp set to full power and 479 lumens at low power. In a darkened theater room, this is enough light for a 120″ diagonal 1.3-gain 16:9 screen at full power, or more than enough for a 100″ diagonal screen at low power. Larger screen sizes are easily attainable using the 5030UB’s Cinema, Natural, or Living Room image modes, or a color-adjusted Dynamic mode.

While the 5030UB is great for home theater on screens of 120″ diagonal and above, there is a case to be made for a 100″ diagonal screen of about 1.1 gain. In THX mode, even accounting for 20-30% light loss from using the center of the projector’s zoom range, the picture is bright and enticing at 100 inches. Then, when switching to 3D, the 5030UB’s 3D Dynamic mode is bright enough to give you a 3D picture that actually gets 16 foot-Lamberts to your eyes. This is something that few other home theater projectors can accomplish, and it means you get 2D and 3D pictures of almost equivalent brightness.

KEY FEATURES

Placement flexibility. Epson’s projectors feature a 2.1:1 manual zoom/focus lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift, which is also manually controlled. The zoom lens can create a 120″ diagonal 16:9 image from throw distances between 11’9″ to 25′ 1″. The lens shift has a total range of 3 image heights and 2 image widths, with the middle position putting the center of the lens at the center of the screen. The range of the lens shift is roughly oval-shaped, so you cannot reach maximum horizontal and maximum vertical shift simultaneously.

Super Resolution. Epson’s smart sharpening system, called Super Resolution, can increase the appearance of fine detail. The system identifies blurred portions of the source image and selectively applies sharpening to these areas, then compares the sharpened image to the original and attempts to minimize the differences in order to reduce artifacts. Super Resolution shows improvement compared to last year’s implementation, leading to an increased perception of detail with fewer artifacts overall. When taken too far, it can still cause mild ringing or artificiality, but a setting of 2 or 3 (out of 5) is effective while still being subtle.

Full HD 3D. Epson’s 3D system is as hassle-free as it gets. The system uses radio-frequency glasses synchronization to eliminate interference with remote control signals. The projectors have multiple dedicated 3D viewing presets which can be calibrated independently, allowing you to save more than one calibration for 3D viewing. This makes it easy to have a bright setting for television and animation and a more subtle, reserved setting for film. The 3D Glasses (model ELP-GS03) are lightweight and comfortable, and their batteries are rechargeable over USB (a cable is included with each pair). Each projector comes with two pairs of 3D glasses, and additional eyewear costs $99 from Epson. 3D brightness can be adjusted to one of three levels, which allows the user to trade between image brightness and crosstalk elimination based on the content being viewed. The default setting is Medium, which allows 25% total light transmission. Medium brightness effectively eliminates crosstalk in all but the most difficult content, and was our preferred setting throughout testing. Low brightness, at 18.5% light transmission, removes any trace of crosstalk whatsoever, but also restricts screen size due to less light making it to your eyes. High brightness, at 29.5% transmission, is great for 3D content where crosstalk is less of a concern. While we did not switch away from Medium very often, we appreciated having the option available for those times when the content demanded a different approach.

B&W Cinema. Black and white movies look their best at around 5500K color temperature, which is close to the color temperature of the commercial projection systems in use back in the 1940’s and 50’s. When you try to watch them in a mode that has been optimized for color films, they end up looking cold and uninteresting. The Epson 4030, 5030UB, and 6030UB all include the “B&W Cinema” image preset which is intended to display classic black and white films as they were originally seen in theaters. It’s a big help when you’re a fan of the classics but don’t want to adjust your Cinema calibration every time you watch a black and white film.

Picture in Picture. As the name implies, Picture in Picture (PIP) displays a small secondary image from a separate source in a corner of the larger main image. Epson’s home theater projectors have had PIP capability for years, but this year the system is able to use HDMI inputs for both images. This is a big deal — in the past, projectors typically had one set of HDMI circuitry, and could not use digital sources for both inputs. The use of two digital sources for PIP is a first for Epson home theater projectors and may in fact be unique in the market today.

Lamp. The 5030UB uses the same 230-watt E-TORL lamp, which is rated for 4,000 hours of use at full power and 5,000 hours in Eco-mode.

Low to moderate fan noise. Perhaps due to the use of a relatively low-wattage lamp in a large chassis, none of Epson’s new home theater models creates much audible noise in eco-mode. Eco-mode is nearly silent, and sitting any farther than a foot away from the projector means you won’t hear it running. In full lamp power mode the fan noise can be noticeable during quiet interludes in a film, but it is low in pitch and not overly distracting.

Warranty. Each projector has, at minimum, a two-year warranty which includes 90 days of lamp coverage.  Up to two years of additional warranty coverage is available for purchase on the 5030, if desired.

Automatic iris. Epson has perfected the automatic iris by creating a system that is both effective and unobtrusive. The iris deepens black levels in scenes with low illumination. It has two settings, Normal and High Speed, with High Speed being the more aggressive of the two — the iris in High Speed appears to react more quickly than in Normal mode.

Connectivity. Dual HDMI ports, 3-RCA component input, a 12V trigger, and an RS-232C port for external command and control. The Home Cinema 5030 has a wireless model, the 5030UBe, which also include a WirelessHD transmitter with 5 additional HDMI inputs and MHL compatibility.

Calibration and customization. The menu system gives the user total control over color, contrast, and gamma. Each projector features full RGB Gain/Bias controls for grayscale adjustment as well as a full color management system for fine-tuning gamut. Each projector also has at least some amount of control over gamma. Ten user memory locations allow you to save different calibrations for the same image mode without overwriting your previous settings.

Panel alignment. The panel alignment system can correct for convergence errors, which are almost an inevitability in a three-chip light engine. As the projector is used and components age, there may be some tiny shifts in the positioning of the LCD panels used to create the image. Using the panel alignment system, you can correct for these shifts without sending the projector out for service, thereby reducing downtime and expense.

2D picture quality. The best reason to purchase the 5030UB, hands down, is image quality. The 2D picture from the 5030UB is high in contrast, impressively three-dimensional, and after calibration has spot-on accurate color. Thanks to an aggressive and effective automatic iris, the 5030UB offers the best black level performance found in any projector in its price range, period. Detail is sharp and clear even without the use of Super Resolution, though that technology can make detail pop even more than it already does. Frame interpolation is very effective at reducing judder in 24p material, and shows few artifacts.

3D picture quality. If you care about 3D theater, the 5030UB delivers a compelling experience. The 3D image from the 5030UB has no noticeable flicker, almost zero crosstalk, and is bright enough to display on large screens. That last point is crucial; insufficient brightness is a major cause of headaches and eye strain when watching 3D movies and video. The 5030UB’s 3D Dynamic mode is bright enough to power a 100″ diagonal 1.3 gain screen at 16 fL. That measurement was obtained using the Low 3D brightness setting and already accounts for light loss from the 3D glasses. Using those same settings, the Medium brightness setting is just about bright enough for a 120″ diagonal screen. To top things off, Frame Interpolation is available in all 3D image modes.

Frame interpolation. Frame Interpolation is a technology that reduces the appearance of judder and motion blur by adding interstitial frames to a source video signal. Frame Interpolation has three settings as well as an Off switch (it starts out disabled). Low, the most conservative setting, does not eliminate judder but also has the least noticeable digital video effect. Normal, the next setting, drastically reduces judder but can increase the appearance of DVE in some content. We found the appearance of digital video effect to be highly content-specific. Some films show DVE on Low, while others do not show much DVE even with Frame Interpolation set to High. Low is a safe all-purpose setting for reducing judder in most film and video, though, so we left FI set to Low for the majority of our testing.

PERFORMANCE

Light output. When it comes to light output, the Home Cinema 5030UB is exceptionally flexible. On the high end of the scale is Dynamic, which on our projector measured 2230 lumens with the lens at its widest angle setting. Before adjustments, Dynamic has a greenish cast, but is useful whenever maximum light output is needed. On our projector, we were able to reduce the green tint to a tolerable level using the RGB Gain/Bias controls for the cost of about 200 lumens, but the end result is a much more balanced picture that is useful in a greater number of situations. Living Room mode, measuring 1735 lumens on our projector, has a bluish tint that pushes color temperature up to around 8000K. This cooler tone actually helps to fight ambient light, which is predominantly yellow, when the projector is used in a living room or other non-theater environment. However, Living Room is also a great mode to use if you want a bright, engaging picture that does not require a lot of fiddling with the controls. By taking the Color Temperature slider from +3 to +1, you’ll end up with a picture that measures 6300K to 6500K across the grayscale with no effort on your part. Making this color temperature adjustment lowers light output slightly to 1550 lumens, an 11% decrease. Natural and Cinema mode, at 871 and 805 lumens, are quite similar, with only some differences in gamma and color gamut separating them from each other. Both Natural and Cinema default to low power lamp mode, though the measurements above were taken with the lamp at full power.

The 5030UB includes a preset called B&W Cinema that is tailored for the display of black and white movies. Coming in at 740 lumens with the lamp at full power, B&W Cinema has a color temperature around 5500K, which is ideal for old black and white films.

When it comes to pure home theater image quality, THX mode is hard to beat. It has more accurate color than the 5030UB’s other image modes, which calibration improves even further, and the best contrast performance as well. THX mode at its factory settings measures 690 lumens with the lamp at full power and 512 lumens at low power. Our calibration, which improved both white balance and color gamut, resulted in a final light output of 479 lumens.

Most projectors’ low lamp modes reduce light output by a consistent percentage in all image modes, but this is not the case on the 5030UB. Switching from “Normal” to “ECO” lamp in Dynamic mode reduces output by 21%, but making the same adjustment in Living Room mode results in a 28.5% reduction. Cinema, Natural, and THX modes all lose 26% when dropping to low power lamp mode. Please note that in THX mode, the low power lamp setting is called “Normal” while full power is called “Extra Bright.” In all other image modes, low power is “ECO” and full power is “Normal.” That can get a touch confusing, and is why we’ve opted to use the terms “full power” and “low power” in this section.

The 5030UB’s 2.1:1 zoom lens allows different amounts of light to pass depending on zoom position. The lens’s wide angle position passes the maximum amount of light, which is reflected in our lumen readings above. But the maximum telephoto setting, which produces the smallest image size at a given throw distance, restricts light output by 44%. As an example, THX mode drops from 512 lumens to 287 lumens with the lamp at low power — a significant reduction that could affect your choice of screen size. This is important to keep in mind when mounting your projector.

Contrast. The UB on the end of the 5030UB’s name stands for Ultra Black, and if anything that’s a modest assessment. The 5030UB has an automatic iris that effectively combines aggressive performance with unnoticeable operation, leading to the best black levels available in a home theater projector in this price range. When combined with the projector’s sparkling highlights and well-defined shadow detail, the end result is a projector that can handle the most difficult Blu-ray content without breaking a sweat. The dynamic range of the 5030UB’s image gives it a three-dimensional quality that makes it a real pleasure to watch.

If you want to fine-tune the 5030UB’s handling of shadow detail, the projector has very good controls for gamma adjustment, allowing you to individually adjust ten points along the gamma curve. If you are more visually-minded or lack the required hardware to do a full calibration, the system will also allow you to pick a point in the image and then make adjustments from there. That can be especially helpful when you can see what’s wrong in the image and want to fix it right away.

Color. When evaluating color on a home theater projector, we are looking for two things. The first is good, if not great, color performance straight out of the box. The second is the ability to fine-tune the projector until it looks even better. The Home Cinema 5030UB delivers both. Straight out of the box, the 5030UB defaults to THX mode. On our test unit, factory-preset THX mode has a consistent grayscale that measures around 6000K. If you don’t own the equipment needed to calibrate your projector and don’t want to pay someone else to take a crack at it, you can adjust the color temperature slider upwards by a point or two and call it a day. The only problem with this quick calibration is that it lacks green, so while the red/blue balance is almost right where it should be, the picture still looks wrong. On our projector, we corrected for this by adding green and then decreasing red by a few points. The result is a smooth, consistent grayscale that’s right around 6500K across the board, aside from a tiny spike at 100% illumination. The 5030UB has a full color management system, and while the gamut in THX mode wasn’t far from the Rec. 709 color space to begin with, we found the system exceptionally easy to use. We ended up making a significant improvement to the 5030UB’s color gamut with just a few minutes’ work using our color meter. Living Room, at its default settings, measures right around 8000K, but as stated earlier it can be corrected with a quick nudge to the Color Temperature slider. The end result isn’t nearly as precise as the THX calibration above, but it is definitely serviceable. Cinema mode can be every bit as accurate as THX mode, given a little bit of work. The factory settings of our projector give Cinema too much green and a color temperature that ranges between 5900K on the low end and 6400K on the high end. After reducing red and increasing green a bit, our final Cinema calibration actually measured brighter than the factory setting thanks to the extra green, and grayscale tracking was much improved as well. What’s impressive about the 5030UB isn’t that it can be calibrated, because all modern home theater projectors can be calibrated if you have enough time and patience. What is impressive is how easy it is to calibrate the projector, given a color meter and an hour’s time. By the end of our adjustments, we were left with three accurately-calibrated image presets that wrung out every drop of the 5030UB’s potential.

Input lag. If you’re into gaming, you’ll want the least input lag possible. That is achieved by switching from “Fine” Image Processing to “Fast.” This setting is designed specifically to reduce input lag, and resulted in only 37 milliseconds of lag, a touch over two frames. While this isn’t the fastest home theater projector on the market, it is certainly a marked improvement over last year’s 5020UB at 50 milliseconds. Note that “Fast” processing has a softening effect on the picture that reduces the appearance of fine detail, and this reduction in apparent resolution is most visible when there is a lot of small text or other detail on the screen. Depending on what kind of game you’re playing, that softness could be invisible, obvious, or anywhere in between. If you use the standard default settings, which include “Fine” Image Processing, the 5030UB measures 91 milliseconds of input lag, equivalent to five and a half frames of a 60fps signal. That’s slower than last year’s Home Cinema 5020UB (67 ms) and equal to the Home Cinema 5010 (92ms). Several features increase input lag even more when activated. Frame Interpolation is the worst offender at 183 milliseconds, or about 11 frames. It did not matter which level of Frame Interpolation was applied; all three settings result in the same increase. Super Resolution, on the other hand, only increases input lag to 102 milliseconds or six frames, a half-frame increase over the baseline. The end result is that the 5030UB is faster in “Fine” mode but slower in other modes than the 5020UB was last year. Since gamers who care about input lag are unlikely to use anything but the fastest setting available, this comes out as a win for the new model.

LIMITATIONS

No anamorphic stretch. An anamorphic stretch mode enables the projector to vertically scale a 2.4:1 movie to fill the projector’s 16:9 pixel matrix, This signal can then be horizontally stretched using an anamorphic lens to create a 2.4:1 Cinemascope format picture. With this type of set up, all 2:4 movies as well as all16:9 and 4:3 content are displayed at the same picture height, so the rig is commonly referred to as Constant Image Height (CIH). Since the 5030UB lacks an anamorphic stretch mode, you cannot use it with an anamorphic lens without adding an external video processor.

Manual lens controls. The 5030UB has some of the best placement flexibility of any projector thanks to its 2.1:1 zoom lens and H/V lens shift. However, all of the projector’s lens adjustments are manually operated rather than powered. This can make it more difficult to initially adjust the projector’s focus, since adjustments must be made from the projector itself. When a projector has powered focus, you can make your adjustments while standing near the screen, making it easier to see what you’re doing. Manual adjustments also make it more difficult to use the projector’s zoom to simulate an anamorphic lens and CIH setup. You can do it if the unit is shelf or table mounted, and you want to reset the zoom position when you change the aspect ratio of your subject matter. But some projectors with powered zoom lenses incorporate a feature that automatically zooms the image to a number of pre-set positions, allowing you to use the projector on a 2.4:1 screen without the cost or bother of an anamorphic lens, and without the need to manually reset the zoom when switching from 2.4 to 16:9.

No ISF certification. Epson’s new Pro Cinema projectors include ISF certification, but the Home Cinema 5030UB does not. Note that the ISF-certified models do not include any additional calibration controls, as is the case on some other manufacturers’ home theater projectors.

Grayscale adjustments shared. The 5030UB has excellent color controls, but there is one limitation: the projector’s RGB Gain/Bias adjustments are shared between image modes. In other words, if you adjust grayscale tracking in Cinema mode and then switch to Living Room mode, the RGB Gain/Bias controls will still be set to the values you added in Cinema. If you want to save independent calibrations for each mode, you’ll have to use the projector’s Memory settings. Luckily, there are ten of them.

CONCLUSION

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB is, on its face, an incremental improvement to last year’s 5020UB. The specifications are similar enough, despite a significant increase in contrast, and there are no groundbreaking new features to differentiate this model from last year’s version. However, the small, incremental changes made to the 5030UB come together to create an image that is smoother, more film-like, more three-dimensional, and overall more polished than the image created by last year’s projector. And that is saying quite a bit, especially since last year’s model was already a compelling, polished home theater projector.

The bottom line is this: the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB’s strengths are its stellar picture quality and abundance of features that make the projector a pleasure to use. While it has some weaknesses, they tend to be related to anamorphic video or the finer points of calibration. If you’re looking for a powerful home theater projector that is great for both 2D and 3D video, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.

Projector SuperStore is an authorized Epson dealer and service center. You can view the 5030UB, the 5030UBe, and the rest of the Epson product line on our site here.

_______________________________________________

About Epson – Epson America, Inc. is the U.S. affiliate of Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, a global technology company at the forefront of technological revolutions in imaging, robotics, precision machinery and electronics. Epson offers an extensive array of award-winning image capture and image output products for the consumer, photographic, business and graphic arts markets. The company is also a leading supplier of value-added point-of-sale (POS) printers and transaction terminals for the retail market. Founded in 1975, Epson America Inc. is headquartered in Long Beach, California.
About Projector SuperStore – For over 20 years, Projector SuperStore has been the premier source for affordable Audio and Visual equipment online. We have worked with hundreds of churches across the nation and have the expertise to help you integrate the right technology for your specific needs and bring your message to your congregation without complicating it. Whether you’re looking for a projector for a meeting room, a portable system for use in multi-purpose rooms, a state-of-the-art projection system for your main auditorium, or anything in between, we can help you create a system that is right for your needs and fits within your budget.
_______________________________________________

This review was written by Bill Livolsi and originally appeared on Projector Central. View original post here.

What Makes DNP Screens Different?

When it comes to selecting the screen for your audio/visual installation, choosing the right one is essential. A bad screen can ruin the visual experience; a good one can dramatically improve it. DNP is the world’s leading supplier of optical projection screens for high quality display solutions. The DNP optical screen portfolio includes an extensive range of optical projection screens for both front and rear projection screen applications for all environments including home cinema / home theater, meeting rooms / conference rooms, control rooms, signage & advertising and more.

In the video above, you can see how significantly DNP’s technology increases the visibility of the image without having to turn off the lights or move to a brighter projector. You can read more about the design and technology on DNP’s site here.

Projector SuperStore is an authorized dealer for DNP screens. You can view their products on the PSS site here. For more information on how to increase the effectiveness of your presentations with a DNP screen, contact one of our sales team members today!

What Does “3D Ready” Mean? Dispelling the Myths about 3D Projection

What Does “3D Ready” Mean?
Dispelling the Myths about 3D Projection
Updated 2/17/12

Bill Livolsi, August 19, 2010

If you are like most consumers, you think “3D Ready” means a projector is ready to display 3D in all its various forms. Well, that’s not quite true. Many 3D Ready projectors are available right now, as you read this article, but 3D is still a confusing subject. What 3D signal sources will work with your 3D projector? What do you need to know to make sense of all of this stuff? After finishing this article, you will know exactly what 3D is and how it works.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the current state of 3D projection as of February 2012. -bl

What is “3D Ready?”

To differentiate 3D projectors from their 2D brethren, there is usually a logo on the case declaring their 3D capability. But what does this logo actually mean? In short:a 3D Ready projector will accept and display at least one stereoscopic 3D transmission format. By transmission format, we mean the 3D signal format used to transmit from your source–a computer, set-top box, game console, or Blu-ray player–to your projector. We are not talking about the difference between passive polarized 3D glasses and active shutter 3D glasses (if you need more information about these display technologies, see our article “The 3D Renaissance“).

3D Transmission Formats

At last count, there are at least four stereoscopic 3D transmission formats currently in wide use, called frame sequential, frame packing, side-by-side, and checkerboard. There are other transmission formats as well, but we will focus on the four main formats for now.

Frame sequential. Frame sequential, also occasionally called page-flip, is in some ways the simplest of the 3D formats. A frame sequential signal is a full resolution picture sent at 120 frames per second to the display. The frames alternate in sequence, so the display receives a left eye frame, then a right eye frame, then a left eye frame, and so on. This is simple because the projector itself does not need to do any decoding of the source; it just needs to be capable of accepting a 120Hz signal. Correspondingly, this format requires a lot of bandwidth, since it is essentially sending a full resolution signal at 60 frames per second for each eye. This is double the bandwidth of a comparable 2D signal.

In the world of projectors, frame sequential is an important format. Today’s inexpensive DLP projectors that are touted as “3D Ready” accept only frame sequential 3D. And at this writing, their 3D capability is limited to a maximum of 1280×720 resolution. Currently, the only way to send them such a signal is to use a computer, such as one equipped with NVIDIA’s 3D Vision system. Consumer electronics like Blu-ray 3D players and set-top boxes do not output frame sequential 3D. In short, all those inexpensive DLP 3D Ready projectors you’ve been seeing do not work with Blu-ray 3D or broadcast 3D content–it’s PC or bust.

Frame packing. Frame packing is closely related to frame sequential, but they are not the same thing. Frame packing sends the left and right eye images to the projector simultaneously, stacked on top of one another with a small space between them. Essentially, the source sends one giant double-height frame instead of two smaller frames. The signal is transmitted at either 24Hz or 60Hz. The projector must then separate the two images and display them sequentially.

Frame packing is the default format used in the HDMI 1.4 specification, and any product labeled as HDMI 1.4 compatible must support this format. It is the standard output format of Blu-ray 3D players, though some have additional options. Frame packing requires more processing power on the part of the projector, since it must separate the two frames and then display them in sequence.

Side-by-side. In the side-by-side transmission format popularized by DirecTV, two frames are compressed to half of their original horizontal resolution and sent simultaneously. For a 1080p signal, which is 1920×1080 pixels per frame, this would be two 960×1080 frames side by side. The projector then separates these compressed frames, expands them back to their original 1920×1080 format, and displays them sequentially. Side-by-side comes in both interlaced and progressive variants, with interlaced taking up less bandwidth and progressive being higher in image quality.

As you might imagine, this format loses some resolution in the process of compression and subsequent expansion. Essentially, it leaves you with half resolution to each eye. At this writing, DirecTV is the only game in town using the side-by-side format, but it should be compatible with newer (2010 model) 3D televisions and current DirecTV HD boxes. Older 3D televisions probably will not be able to display this format, and the inexpensive DLP “3D Ready” projectors that have been brought to market thus far cannot display it either.

Checkerboard. Many DLP 3D Ready televisions (not projectors) accept what is called the checkerboard format. In this format, the two images for left and right eye are interleaved, with every other pixel going to the opposite eye. Look at an actual checkerboard and pretend the squares are pixels. The black squares would go to the left eye, while the red squares would go to the right eye. The television separates the two interleaved images and displays them sequentially. The resulting images are half-resolution.

Why do you need to know this, since projectors do not support this format? Well, checkerboard is important for its legacy status. Older DLP 3D Ready televisions would accept checkerboard and nothing else, and many of these televisions were sold in the past few years. When consumers discovered that their televisions were not compatible with broadcast and Blu-ray 3D formats, they were understandably incensed. The solution came in the form of converter boxes that are able to convert frame-packed or side-by-side 3D to checkerboard TV for display on DLP televisions. This is important because DLP 3D Ready projectors cannot display checkerboard 3D. If they could, it would be a simple matter to buy a conversion box and live happily ever after. However, converter boxes that change frame-packed or side-by-side 3D into frame-sequential 3D are not available, and the converter boxes for televisions output checkerboard 3D and nothing else.

A note about HDMI 1.4 One of the important things included in the HDMI 1.4 standard is a list of 3D transmission formats that must be supported by any device claiming 1.4 compliance. The catch is that a non-HDMI 1.4 device can still support these transmission formats. An excellent example is Sony’s Playstation 3 game console, which can play 3D games and Blu-ray 3D movies even though it is an HDMI 1.3 device. Some projectors may have HDMI 1.3 yet be able to decode frame-packed 1080p 3D. To determine a projector’s compatibility with modern 3D transmission formats, you need to look beyond the bullet points on the spec sheet and find out what transmission formats it is actually compatible with.

The Takeaway

The currently available, inexpensive DLP “3D Ready” projectors are good for a lot of applications. For gaming, nothing beats the big-screen experience of 3D through a projector. In education, they can be used to display diagrams of three-dimensional shapes and objects, from electronic dissections to statues in Art History courses. But as far as home video is concerned, they have some serious limitations. They are incapable of displaying frame-packing and side-by-side, the two most popular and important 3D transmission formats for video. While most of these products are designed as data presentation projectors, people have been buying them in the hopes of using them for home theater anyway. Without support for the right formats, you will find yourself purchasing another 3D projector in the future once support for these formats is incorporated. As in all things, caveat emptor–let the buyer beware.

If you want full 1080p 3D projection, look for one of the many HDMI 1.4 compatiblefull HD 3D projectors available. Prices start at $1499, with a notable cluster around the $2500-$3500 mark. These projectors will indicate somewhere in their specifications that they are HDMI 1.4 or Blu-ray 3D compatible, and that’s your cue that they are safe to purchase.

Looking forward: the future of 3D projection

3D has changed a lot since 2010 when we first published this article. These days, it is more common to find a projector that is full HD 3D compatible than it is to find one that is only 3D Ready. Blu-ray 3D is already well established, and a wide selection of movies is making its way to market slowly but surely. Several satellite and cable providers will occasionally show 3D programming, as enough of their subscribers own 3D displays that it is worth their time to do so. As long as you keep your head about you and make sure you know exactly what you’re buying, in-home 3D can be a rewarding experience.

Home Theater Dos and Don’ts for Your Super Bowl Party

by Grant Clauser – Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House

It’s football party time, and we know a lot of you are planning to invite the neighborhood over for wings and other finger food so you can show off, I mean, share, your home theater system. If this is your first big-screen party, here are a few tips to make sure your system is working at its peak so your guests come away suitably impressed (and hoping for more invites when March Madness rolls around).

1. Do get a big TV. I’ve almost never heard someone complain that their TV is too big, but I’ve frequently heard people complain that they should have splurged for a bigger one. There are several ways to calculate the proper size of a TV, but my favorite is the THX calculation. I like this one because it’s based on the ideal field of view rather than an abstract notion of the eyes’ ability to perceive resolution. Here are two good reasons you want a big TV for your game day party: 1) a big screen will mean your guests won’t have to crowd around close to the TV to see what’s going on, so there will be room for you to walk by with the guacamole bowl; 2) great deals on TVs are happening now. Outside of the November/December holiday season, this is the best time to buy because manufactures are preparing to release their new lines in a month or two and want to get rid of existing inventory.

2. Don’t put your TV into Sports Mode. Just because it’s called Sports mode doesn’t mean it’s the best setting for watching football, or anything really. Sports mode does different things in different TVs, such as engage motion interpolation (AKA 120Hz, 240Hz etc. processing), boost image brightness and other things that may do more harm than good to your TV’s picture. The picture specifications from the broadcaster don’t change from movie to sitcom to sports depending on the content, so neither should your TV’s settings. Sports mode does different things in different TVs, but the main reason it exists at all is so the manufacturer can claim to have 18 million picture settings (and 99 percent of them useless). With most TVs, the movie or cinema (it’s called something different by every manufacturer) will be produce the best picture, but a full professional calibration is the only insurance that your display is set to show its full potential. If that’s more than you want to put into your TV, then use one of several available TV setup discs that include basic video test patterns.

Check out this football fan’s awesome home theater.

3. Do know your room’s limits. I’m not talking about that fire code maximum occupancy thing (though that’s important). What I mean is you need to know how many people can comfortably and adequately enjoy the view of your display. Some TVs, notably LCD flat panel TVs and rear projection DLP TVs, have limited viewing angles. That means that people who sit too far off center will get a reduced picture experience than those sitting closer to the sweet spot. If you have a plasma TV, this isn’t really a problem, but many LCD TVs, especially if it’s more than two years old and not from a manufacturer’s top line, will have this problem. You don’t have to know the TV’s specified viewing angle. You can simply test it out yourself by moving to the left or right and noting the point where the picture drops off. That’s the widest part you should place any extra seats for guests.

4. Do pay attention to your audio system. Just because it’s football, doesn’t mean you don’t need to hear it on a good sound system. All that important commentary will be coming from your center channel, so you want to make sure it’s working properly. The half-time show will feature mostly music, which will sound a lot better on your properly balanced and tuned surround sound system than from your TVs tiny speakers.

5. Do adjust for lighting. Because you’ll likely have your room lights higher than if you were watching a movie with the family, a slightly brighter picture setting can be helpful. Many TVs have day and night modes sub for this purpose.

6. Do have your tablet or smart phone handy for checking scores, stats and chatting with others (over Twitter, Facebook or whatever) to make the game more communal. There are tons of sports apps, including the official NFL app, that will give you more info than what’s on the TV screen alone.

7. Do cheat a little on your surround-sound system and give the side and rear surrounds a boost. CBS does an above-average job mixing their live sports broadcasts for surround, but you can give your party even more of a “there” feel by piping up the crowd noise that comes in through the surround channels (just not so loud that your guests can’t hear the main action).

Can you guess what football hero owns this home theater?

8. Do create a music playlist to have playing over your whole-house music system during the seemingly endless pre-game coverage. Have fun with it, maybe throw on some artists and bands from the San Francisco and Baltimore areas. That will give you a good excuse to transition from the Grateful Dead to Huey Lewis and the News on the same track list.

9. Do have more than one controller/remote in the room. If something significant happens, you want a remote handy so you can quickly pause and replay. If you have your cable box/DVR app (and know how to use it) that works as a second remote.

10. Do use a lighting control system with a dimmer. If your room lights can be dimmed, then you can adjust them to the perfect illumination level for both TV viewing and socializing. A plain on/off switch will force you to have the room lights on at full blast which will degrade the TV’s picture and probably annoy anyone forced to sit near the lamps. Of course, you don’t want the room in total darkness, because then someone’s bound to knock over a drink.

What former NFL player calls this his man cave?

11. Do not convert it to 3D. I know, your new TV has a 2D-to-3D conversion feature, and you really want to show it off, but please, the Super Bowl isn’t being broadcast in 3D, so post production conversion in your TV can do nothing good. Plus, you probably don’t have enough 3D glasses to go around anyway. If you want to play with 3D then have a movie party the next weekend, and show your friends The Amazing Spiderman or something like that.

12. Do check everything out the day (or a couple of days) before. If you have a complex, professionally-installed system, the time to make sure it’s all working properly is not 4PM Sunday afternoon. Your A/V installer probably wants to stay home and watch the game too, not come over to your house to reboot your cable box.

Ultra Wide Home Entertainment is Here!

Ultra Wide Home Entertainment is Here!

What is Ultra Wide Home Entertainment? 33% wider than a standard 16:9 flat panel TV, Ultra Wide entertainment systems are the most immersive systems available for movies and PC gaming. Projector Superstore is now selling the CineVista Lens System by Panamorph to give you the ability to create your own ultra wide system!

Why settle for a standard projection system or flat panel TV (below left) when you can have the most immersive entertainment experience possible for only a little more? (below right)

Ultra wide systems are the only systems that can fully recreate the immersive experience of block-buster, ultra wide 2.35:1 movies and PC games. Over 75% of top-grossing movies are made in ultra wide aspects. The only difference between a standard projection system and an ultra wide projection system is that you will need a wider 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 screen and a CineVista lens.

With those two changes you can:

– Eliminate the annoying black letterbox bars

– Use the full resolution of your projector rather than losing 25% of it to the black bars

– Watch an image that is 80% larger and 30% brighter than a standard 16:9 projector on the same height screen

– Works with 3D and 4K*

Electronic House did a great news feature on the new CineVista lens system. Click here to see it.

The CineVista fits a large number of entry level and mid-level projectors. To see a list of compatible projectors and learn more about ultra wide home entertainment, go to the CineVista website What’s Needed Page.

Click here to buy the CineVista lens.

*to be compatible, necessary projector aspect modes must work when playing 3D and 4K formats

Epson 5020U vs Panasonic AE8000U…ProjectorCentral Helps You Decide

Home Theater Shootout:
Epson 5020UB vs Panasonic AE8000

Bill Livolsi, November 7, 2012

ProjectorCentral.com

The most obvious competition in home theater this year is between the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UB / 5020UBe and the Panasonic PT-AE8000, another sub-$3000 1080p 3D LCD projector released this year. With similar specifications and features at a similar price point, the two are going to go head-to-head for the attention and dollars of many home theater consumers this year. Below are the salient differences between the two.

Shootout

2D Image quality. Our comparison uses the AE8000’s Cinema 2 mode and the 5020UBe’s Cinema mode, which are (a) very similar and (b) the best images that the projectors can produce for home theater use. The 5020UBe has a slight black level advantage over the AE8000. Both projectors have sufficient brightness, excellent color, and razor-sharp pictures. It is becoming more and more difficult to make a distinction between two projectors, especially two projectors exhibiting this high level of polish. We’re ready to call this a draw.

3D Image quality. As 3D is newer and less established than 2D, there are still some important differences in these two projectors’ 3D images. The AE8000 has a number of interesting features such as 3D Depth Control and 3D Motion Remaster that make it easier to watch 3D comfortably, and Frame Creation is available in 3D on the AE8000. The 5020UBe does not have thesse features and 3D Frame Interpolation is not available. On the other hand, the 5020UBe has radio-frequency synchronized glasses, while the AE8000 uses infrared. RF glasses are less prone to interference and losing synchronization than their IR counterparts. The AE8000’s glasses have a 3D-to-2D function, which is a nice touch if you want to watch in 3D but someone else in your household prefers 2D. Neither projector needs an outboard signal emitter. Both projectors do an outstanding job of controlling crosstalk, but we were more likely to see slight crosstalk on the 5020UBe than on the AE8000.

Light output. While there was a light output difference between the AE7000 and 5010, that difference has been eliminated in these new models. In Dynamic mode, the AE8000 measures 2471 lumens; the 5020UBe measures 2432 lumens. Living Room mode on the 5020UBe measures 1725 lumens after calibration while Cinema 2 mode on the AE8000 measures 1612 lumens. Cinema 1 mode on the AE8000 measures 822 lumens to the 5020UBe’s 914 lumens in Cinema mode. These differences — all under 150 lumens — are near invisible to the human eye. They are functionally irrelevant.

Contrast. We’ve come to the point where you can safely ignore contrast differences on spec sheets. The 5020UBe is rated at 320,000:1 on/off contrast, while the AE8000 is rated at 500,000:1. However, the 5020UBe has a more aggressive auto iris. The difference boils down to a small black level advantage for the 5020UBe in most scenes. Both projectors maintain shadow detail exceptionally well.

Color. Neither projector is perfect out of the box, but both of them calibrate very well. This is a tie.

Sharpness and clarity. The AE8000 and 5020UBe both have smart sharpening systems (the AE8000’s is called Detail Clarity instead of Super Resolution) but Super Resolution on the 5020UBe seems more aggressive than Detail Clarity on the AE8000. That could be good or bad, depending on how much you enjoy the effect.

Frame Interpolation. Both FI systems have three settings, but the AE8000 has an edge in maintaining the film-like character of the picture on its lowest setting. Even on the 5020UBe’s Low setting, there is still a touch of the digital video effect that one can see. The AE8000’s FI system is also available in 3D.

Placement Flexibility. Both projectors feature extensive zoom range and lens shift. The 5020UBe has an incrementally larger shift range while the AE8000 has powered zoom and focus. While both projectors can be focused to razor-sharp clarity, the powered focus helps to get your focus adjustments done quickly. On the other hand, the larger shift range of the 5020UBe makes it easier to mount.

2.4x Cinemascope compatibility. The AE8000 has an anamorphic stretch mode for compatibility with anamorphic lenses. It also has automated Lens Memory, which can zoom the picture from 16:9 to 2.4 widescreen based on the aspect ratio of the content. This gives you the option of a constant image height (CIH) setup without using a costly anamorphic lens. The 5020UBe lacks both of these options. Anamorphic stretch mode is available on the Epson 6020UB and 6020UBe, but those models cost significantly more.

Connectivity. The AE8000 has three HDMI inputs while the 5020UBe has two. The AE8000 has two 12V triggers while the 5020UBe has one. The 5020UBe has a wireless transmission option, but you pay more to get it; the UBe model sells for $2900 versus $2500 for the AE8000. Comparing apples to apples (5020UB versus AE8000), you get more ports for less money with the AE8000.

Input Lag. We saw noticeably more lag on the 5020UBe in Cinema mode — 84 milliseconds (5 frames) — than we did on the AE8000. Considering that the AE8000 itself measures a pokey 67ms of delay (4 frames) in Cinema, this isn’t much of a victory for the AE8000, either. On the other hand, the AE8000 has a game mode which measured 34ms (2 frames) while the 5020UBe’s Fast processing is one full frame slower at 50ms.

Fan noise. Both projectors are dead silent in Eco mode, but the AE8000 is quieter than the 5020UBe in its full power mode. If you plan on running the projector that way and positioning it near the audience, it is something worth thinking about.

Lamp. Both projectors have lamp lives of 4,000 hours in full power and 5,000 hours in Eco mode. However, replacement lamps for the 5020UBe cost $299 while replacements for the AE8000 cost $379. Over the life of a projector, that may be a minor cost factor to consider.

Warranty. Both projectors come with a 2-year warranty.

Menus. The 5020UBe’s menus, including single-line pop-out items, will stay on screen until you cancel them with the Esc button. This is infinitely more helpful than the AE8000’s menus, which cancels pop-out items after a few seconds with no way to change the timing. When you are making fine adjustments, sometimes it is helpful to watch the picture for a few seconds before deciding what to do, and the 5020UBe’s menus make that task easier.

Conclusion

The Panasonic AE8000 has a number of features and picture enhancements that the 5020UBe lacks. However, the 5020UBe has a few unique features of its own, such as a wider lens shift range and RF glasses. In terms of picture quality, the two projectors are evenly matched, and this becomes a very difficult shootout to call one way or the other. It ultimately comes down to which projector’s features have more appeal to you, as the picture you get from either one will be stellar.