Projectors

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBE 3D LCD Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBE 3D LCD Projector

Since there is nearly 100 percent vertical lens shift available, I had no trouble installing the 5020UBE on a high-mounted shelf. Aligning the image was quite easy though the manual focus required a few trips between the projector and screen to get a sharp picture. To connect source components, I tested both the wired and wireless methods. The wireless transmitter worked perfectly when perched atop my rack. If your gear is in a closet, you will have to place it so it can see the front of the projector.

Calibration was an absolute pleasure. There are five 2D picture modes and three more for 3D and all are fully adjustable. Given my past experience, I elected to compare Natural, Cinema and THX for the 2D calibration. THX and Natural were virtually identical while Cinema used different presets for gamma and color. The gamut was noticeably oversaturated and the gamma did not track well from dark to light. I decided to go with Natural as my starting point. With the prodigious amount of light available, I never had to set the bulb to its higher brightness level. Eco mode gave me over 26 foot-Lamberts before calibration. I'm still hoping Epson will include a second fixed iris in a future model. The contrast would be even better if there were a way to close down a manual aperture. There is an auto iris available with high speed and normal settings but the 5020UBE's native contrast is so good, I didn't need it.

To adjust the projector, I employed all of the included image controls. The gamma preset was bumped up one click. There is a multi-point adjustment in there but I didn't need it for the Natural or THX modes. Grayscale has a two-point adjustment and is very easy to dial in. You'll see in the benchmark section just how good the 5020UBE's tracking is. The CMS works pretty much like its predecessors. Most of the improvement is to be found in the brightness slider. This adjusts each color's luminance. The hue controls are effective but barely necessary. The saturation controls do very little to move the color points. Fortunately, the gamut is pretty close out of the box.

Now that we're using saturation sweep measurements, it's easier to see the real story of a display's color performance. Looking at an eight-point chart only tells you how it performs at a single saturation level. The sweep covers five levels which is far more real-world. You'll see in the benchmark section how much a few simple adjustments to the CMS can improve the overall color accuracy of the 5020UBE. It's pretty good stock but spectacular when calibrated.

There are a few other features worth mentioning. Staying on after its introduction in the 5010 model is the pixel convergence or LCD alignment system. This is a point by point adjustment that lets you align the red and blue chips to the green one. Most LCD and LCoS projectors have screen uniformity issues in varying degrees. This is a great way to fix areas of the screen that have color tints. It's most easily seen on a full-white field pattern. When I had the 5010 in my theater, it required only a small tweak to achieve perfection. My sample of the 5020UBE was awesome from the beginning and needed no adjustment.

Epson has included several image enhancement tools as well. The sharpness can be adjusted for horizontal and vertical lines, both thick and thin, individually. In practice, it didn't produce any ringing but it also did nothing to improve the already sharp picture. I left it at the default settings. There is also a setting in the Signal menu called Super Resolution. This is a much more aggressive control. Any setting above one caused obvious ringing. I left this slider at its default position too.

The 3D Setup menu has everything you need to tailor your experience. You can change the format, though Auto always worked for me. The Depth control increases the effect but in practice, it introduced crosstalk artifacts. It really isn't necessary. 3D Brightness does just what it says without any penalty in contrast. I turned it up to max and it looked fantastic. Here you can also set your diagonal screen size and invert the glasses' timing if the display doesn't look right. The 5020UBE will convert 2D images to 3D if you wish. It does a fair job but it won't replace native 3D content.