Epson Highlights LCD vs DLP Issues with Home Cinema 4010

Epson pc4050 hero left 690x460 resizeEpson Pro Cinema 4050 4K PRO-UHD projector (Credit: Epson)

On September 18th, Epson introduced its new Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD Projector. This projector targets the DIY home theater market while the nearly identical Pro Cinema 4050 4K PRO-UHD projector, introduced on September 6th at CEDIA, targets the CEDIA installation market. Both projectors have three 0.74” LCD panels and UHD resolution derived from a FHD (1920 x 1080) panel and advanced pixel shift. Other features they share are

  • 2400 lumen output, both white and CLO;
  • a 1.35 – 2.84:1 throw ratio zoom lens with 15 glass elements;
  • a 250W UHE lamp with 5000 hours life in the Eco mode, 4000 hours in the medium mode and 3500 hours in the high mode; and
  • HDR10 processing and display with a contrast ratio up to 200,000:1 and a 10 bit panel drive.
  • Both projectors use a 3-axis precision motor for powered focus, 2.1x zoom, up to ± 96% horizontal and up to ± 47% vertical lens shift, with 10 preset positions.
  • Picture processing for both projectors is full 10-bit and partial 12 bit.
  • Both projectors are said to have the larger DCI-P3 colorimetry which is 50% larger than the Rec. 709 colorimetry prescribed for HD transmissions.

Epson Color Volume resizeEpson representative explaining the importance of the 50% larger color volume of DCI-P3 (left) compared to Rec. 709 (Right). (Credit: M. Brennesholtz)

I had a chance to see, under NDA, a demonstration of the Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD projector before its official launch at an August 8th Epson event. I was told the optics and picture processing of the Home Cinema 4010 and the Pro Cinema 4050 were identical and the image on the screen from the two projectors will be the same. The difference, I was told, is the Pro Cinema 4050 comes with some additional features desired by projector installers. According to the Epson website, the main difference between the versions is the Pro Cinema 4050 comes with the “Pro Cinema Kit” which features a three-year limited warranty (90 days on lamps), a ceiling mount, cable cover, and extra lamp for added installation flexibility.

Epson Comparison resizeEpson Home Cinema 4010 (top) and the Optoma UHD60 4K Home Theater Projector (bottom) The Blu-Ray disk player is on the center shelf and was showing a HDR version of Wonder Woman. (Credit: M. Brennesholtz)

At the event, Epson was showing its Home Cinema 4010 projector compared to the Optoma UHD60 4K Ultra High Definition Home Theater Projector, a comparably priced (B&H Street price of $1799) DLP-based projector that is also HDR10 enabled. The UHD60 uses a single 0.66″ TRP S610 4K UHD DMD DLP from Texas Instruments. This projector also uses pixel shift to achieve UHD resolution and claims a DCI-P3 wide color gamut. It has 3000 lumens white light output from a 240W lamp but like almost all DLP-based projectors, there is no published CLO specification on the projector. The specified contrast ratio for the UHD60 is 1,000,000:1.

The two projectors, in fact, produced comparable images. I personally prefer 3LCD projectors over single-panel DLP projectors because of their “smoother” images and better color gamut volume. These differences were, in fact, visible in the content shown. In particular, the shape of the color gamut of a single panel DLP projector, including its low but unpublished CLO value, leads to dim saturated colors while a 3LCD projector produces saturated colors at the full brightness intended by content creator and this effect was very visible when comparing the two projectors. On the other hand, in black areas of dark scenes, the higher contrast ratio of the DLP projector was visible compared to the LCD contrast.

The Epson rep at the demo also stopped the player on a specific scene and showed an example of where the Optoma image processing produced visible artifacts in the image but the Epson processing did not. I wonder if an Optoma rep with the same content could have found a different scene where Epson showed artifacts but Optoma did not. For me, these artifacts were not the key problem with the Optoma projector: the low brightness of saturated colors was the main image quality issue.

The Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD projector, with a MSRP of $2000 (B&H price also $2000), is available now through select retailers, e-tailers and the Epson online store. The projector includes a two-year limited warranty, toll-free access to Epson’s priority technical support PrivateLine, and free next-day exchange with Extra Care Home Service.

The Pro Cinema 4050 4K PRO-UHD Projector with HDR is available now for $2,400 MSRP through Cedia dealers and Magnolia. The Pro Cinema 4050 features a three-year limited warranty (90 days on lamps), toll-free access to Epson’s PrivateLine priority technical support, and free two-business-day exchange with Extra Care Home Service. –Matthew Brennesholtz