Has Epson Cracked the 4K Projector Code? Two New Projectors Announced!

Has Epson Cracked the 4K Projector Code? Two New Projectors Announced!

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(April 9, 2019) Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it’s time to give Epson a solid round of applause. No other projector manufacturer in the 4K era has stood firm on keeping price points within reach, while forging products that challenge gear costing twice as much.

Yesterday, Epson officially unveiled a brand new 4K projector model: the 5050UB. Two versions of the 5050UB are available, with the 5050UBe (emphasis on the “e”) being a mirror image of the 5050UB with the addition of wireless 4K/30 fps transmitter functionality. Priced at $2,999 and $3,299 respectively, this new projector duo maintains Epson’s wallet friendly approach, while delivering new onboard tech that should make for a radically improved 4K projector experience.

One of the 5050UB’s more interesting new features addresses a major weakness for many 4K projectors: High Dynamic Range performance. It’s no secret that most modestly priced projectors struggle in the HDR department, hamstrung by brightness and processing capabilities. And while workarounds do exist, those workarounds can be difficult for average users to implement. The 5050UB addresses this weakness by providing owners with a real-time 16-step HDR curve adjuster for more accurate HDR performance on the fly.

And the best news?

Owners won’t have to fumble through a maze of menu options to find the adjuster, because the 5050UB’s remote features a direct-access HDR menu button. Huge kudos to Epson for taking steps to make HDR tweakable. This feature, if it truly allows the 5050UB to make effective output adjustments, could have a significant impact on 4K viewing satisfaction.

Additionally, Epson’s new 4K Pro-UHD Technology is designed to deliver higher levels of brightness (boosting the HDR experience), while also offering highly accurate 10-Bit wide color performance that completely covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

The 5050UB is also equipped with a 15-element Aspheric Glass Structure lens that’s paired with a new three-axis motor. This system provides owners with 10 different programmable positions for use with various aspect ratios, while also maintaining the ability to shift an image (96% on the vertical access and 47% on the horizontal axis) with extreme precision. So precise, in fact, that the 5050UB can be paired with Zero Edge movie screens.

Unlike most current JVC and Sony 4K offerings, both 5050UB models rely on modernized pixel-shifting to deliver 4K performance. That means 4K is achieved by an ultra-rapid shifting of pixels produced by three HD LCD imagers. This process benefits owners in two ways. First, it helps keep overall costs low while offering playback that’s practically indistinguishable from true 4K imagers. Secondly, it allows Epson to avoid reaching for less expensive DLP-based technologies, thus shielding buyer’s eyes from any “rainbow effect” artifacts that plague DLP projectors.

As for the 5050UB’s black level capabilities, Epson says its new UltraBlack Technology is driven by a proprietary compensation filter that controls the polarization of light for suppressed light leakage. The result is a manufacturer specified dynamic contrast ration of 1,000,000:1.

The 5050UB and 5050UBe are on sale now and shipping. While AV NIRVANA doesn’t typically review projectors, we do hope to have a full report on the 5050UB’s performance at CEDIA 2019.


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tripplej

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Very nice. Thanks for the details. Hopefully a review will be done. :)
 

Matthew J Poes

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Todd am I right that this still uses the same approach they had been using that, unlike DLP, doesn’t actually put 4K worth of pixels on the screen.
 

bkeeler10

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Matt I believe this is a native 1080p "pixel shifter" like the past few generations of JVC that use e-shift but do accept a 4k signal. Between the native and shifted pixels, you get twice the number of pixels on-screen, instead of 4 times. AIUI.
 

Matthew J Poes

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Matt I believe this is a native 1080p "pixel shifter" like the past few generations of JVC that use e-shift but do accept a 4k signal. Between the native and shifted pixels, you get twice the number of pixels on-screen, instead of 4 times. AIUI.
That is what I thought too. I wasn’t sure if Epson decided to change it up and go to a quad flash or something.

While I’m curious about these things, it’s the color gamut and HDR improvements that would interest me most. I’ve been looking at the JVC 4K projectors but it’s big money. I was waiting for this to come out as the 4050 seemed so nice, a 5050 seemed inevitable.
 

bkeeler10

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Yeah, if this had been out when I bought my JVC (RS440) I would have had to take a serious look at it. Pretty happy with the JVC though.
 

Todd Anderson

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Yes this uses pixel shifting and native HD imagers. About a month ago, I had call with Epson and they ran me through a deck detailing the new technologies in this PJ. They've sped up the pixel shifting process... it was already fast... now its even faster. Your eye can't tell the difference in detail.

Ultimately, for my money, it comes down to black levels and onboard tone mapping for HDR. I've seen previous iterations of Epson's at shows. Black level performance isn't quite as good as JVC, but it's very - very - good. Thus, my focus instantly shifts to the new HDR adjuster. The great failing of older generations of projectors is complexities involved with accommodating discs authored to different nits. You might dial your PJ in for one 4K disc, only to have another look overly dark. And the process of making adjustments haven't been consumer friendly. This adjuster system should give instant abilities to make fairly incremental adjustments to make a picture bright and colorful without losing depth and blacks.

And at $2999 MSRP, it's a price that's hard to beat. Can't wait to see it in action
 

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Only 100 more lumens and the same contrast ratio as the 5040 - at least it gets a HDMI 2.0 port capable of 18Gbps! :rolleyes: While the addition of gamma curve adjustments in HDR is encouraging, the rest is not. It will be interesting to see how (and if) it functions and how long until there is a firmware update. HDR is such a crap shoot still.
 

Todd Anderson

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You'll need to bump to laser if you're looking for a radical increase in lumens :spend::spend::spend:

Don't forget... new lens... super fine lens shift adjustments... faster pixel shifting. There's lots to be really excited about here.
 

mechman

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Yep there's no place that you can get the lumens that you need in a pj for HDR. And I don't think it will ever come with large screen LED/LCDs dropping fast in price - you can get an 82" Samsung for less than $2K.

I swear I read that the lens is the same as the 5040 and 4010?
 

Todd Anderson

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I need to go back and look through the PR deck... they are billing it as new. Definitely, the fine-shifting mech is new. And, as you point out, HDMI 2.0 with 18gbps support (gamers will be all over this).
 

Todd Anderson

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Art Feirerman over at Projector Reviews has been putting the 5050 through the paces over the last month (under NDA). This is take home at the moment:

First, here’s my take, if you have been waiting a few years to move to a 4K capable projector – and your budget doesn’t allow for native 4K: This is probably your ticket! I do believe your time has come to make the upgrade! While the Home Cinema 5050UB, despite excellent image detail processing, will not match the sharpness/detail of a very good 4K UHD DLP, or a native 4K LCoS projector, it looks far sharper, with definitely more detail than say older Epson’s like the non-4K capable 5030UB. What I’m saying is that a pixel shifting 1080p projector like this Epson, or, for that matter, most of the “4K UHD” DLP projectors, produce 4K content that looks dramatically sharper than watching 1080p content as you would on older Epsons or even this Epson.

So, you folks with plain old 1080p, this is probably the projector you have been waiting 3-5 years for. By comparison, the older 5040UB, as similar and feature laden as it is, seems very “rough around the edges” compared to the 5050UB!

(Note: native 4K projectors start at $5K for a Sony which can’t match this Epson’s black level performance. Then the next least expensive native 4K projector is a jump to $7K for the least expensive native model with better blacks than this Epson!

The final word: Epson has nailed the HDR! The picture quality overall is excellent, especially for the price point. Black levels are still a key strength, but now so is 4K with HDR, especially as many (make that most) 4K UHD DLPs laser are struggling attempting P3 color, while most of the lamp based 4K UHD DLPs still can’t quite accomplish the much lower REC709 standard. P3, btw has 50% more color space than REC709.


This is a projector that is easily at its best, doing 4K HDR content.

This HC5050UB is a projector that is also at its very best in a dedicated, really dark theater, but it also has the muscle to play well
in most rooms with decent lighting control, when paired with a proper type of screen for the room.

For example, I can definitely see pairing the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB with a “Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) screen like my Screen Innovations Slate that I had mounted in my very bright, sun drenched living room until recently. Just don’t expect this Epson, even with the right screen, to perform great in an environment that tough (I used a 15,000 lumen projector for my 2019 Superbowl party in that room.
 

Todd Anderson

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Ok. You're right Steve, that lens was on the 4050. Made an edit! :T
 

mechman

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It's good to hear that Art likes the HDR... it has me intrigued. :ponder:
 

mechman

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Todd - what does it say about the wireless model - the UBe? Will it be able to do 4:4:4? The 5040 could only do 4:2:0 or maybe 4:2:2 IIRC?
 

Todd Anderson

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Sorry @mechman didn't see your question.

It looks like the UB and Use both have 4:4:4 for 4K 60Hz at 8 Bits (not 10 or 12 bits)... but does have 4:4:4 4K 24Hz for 8, 10 , and 12 Bits. Of course, that kind of coverage includes 4:2:2 for 4K 24Hz (which is what's on 4K Blu-rays)
 

welldun

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I wonder if there is anything that Epson can and will do (firmware wise) that would bring my current 5040UB closer to this new 5050UB? My last projector before my 5040UB was another Epson, the EMP-TW700 which was the European version of the Pro Cinema 810 that was sold in the USA. That EMP-TW700 was excellent, hence the reason why the upgrade for me was the 5040UB. I love the 5040UB so I hope some of the firmware related tricks that the new 5050UB has could be ported to the 5040UB.
 

Todd Anderson

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Interesting thought. Simple firmware update... although, the internal processors might be different. That plus the need to differentiate to drive sales.

Did you calibrate the 5040?
 
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