Projectors

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBE 3D LCD Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBE 3D LCD Projector In Use

I decided to continue my journey through the original Star Trek series on Blu-ray since these transfers make such good reference material. The picture was quite excellent with beautifully natural color and great rendering of detail. The high native contrast of the 5020UBE showed up in space scenes with a suitably dark background and a bright starfield. And the re-mastered beauty shots of the Enterprise were so good I found myself running the disc back to watch them again! Epson has provided very good optics for this projector. While a more expensive DLP or LCoS model will be a tick sharper, the 5020UBE is very close to its higher-priced brethren.

I continued with two more vintage titles, Dune and The Matrix. Dune has two great torture tests, the desert scenes and all the dark content that takes place in the caves of Arrakis. The desert material is very warm with lots of swirling dust and plenty of film grain. Preserving detail here is quite difficult for any display but the 5020UBE held its own very well. The mono-tonal color palette did not bury the subtleties of the sand dunes, the texture of the worms' skin, or the more familiar flesh tones of the Fremen people. Dimensionality is tough to maintain in an image like this and Epson delivered nicely.

The Matrix is another great test of a projector's ability to keep the pictures pop alive when there is a color cast over everything. In this case, it's that famous green that we've all come to know and love. I remember watching this movie on my first HDTV and thinking how dull and flat it looked. Today we have great displays like the 5020UBE that can exceed even a commercial cinema projector in depth of contrast and sharpness of detail. This projector reminded me, once again, why I don't go to the theater anymore!

I had to try one CGI flick, so I chose Wall-E. This film is full of bold saturated color and the beautiful textures Pixar is known for. Material like this will really show off a sharp lens and edge-to-edge focus. The 5020UBE had no trouble looking great here. Even in the hazy opening sequences on the trash-covered Earth, you could still pick out all the tiny elements so painstakingly included by the moviemakers. I was drawn in immediately and completely.

For nearly two years, the only way to obtain Avatar on 3D Blu-ray was to buy a Panasonic TV or pay an exorbitant price on Ebay. Thankfully, Panasonic's exclusive has ended and I was able to buy a legit copy for under 20 bucks. I have enjoyed the 2D version several times in my theater so my anticipation, and expectation, was high. Well, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was moved. Once in great while, a movie experience is so immersive, so tactile, so real, that I have a strong emotional response. The last time I reacted this way was when I watched The Ten Commandments on Blu-ray, which is an absolutely fabulous transfer of an epic film. As a movie, Avatar is merely good not great. When you see it in proper 3D, on the right display, it's an unmatched experience. There's 3D and there's Avatar. I've watched a fair number of 3D titles and none of them even comes close. And before this becomes a review of Avatar; the 5020UBE looked stunning. We all know the 3D Blu-ray is reference quality. The 5020UBE in 3D mode is also reference quality. This projector has become my new benchmark for 3D. The science is simple. Take a sharp lens, a bright bulb, an absence of artifacts or crosstalk; add in accurate color, gamma, and grayscale; and you have the best possible 3D experience. Epson has truly achieved something special.

Moving on, I cued up a copy of Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's latest animation offering. The 3D effect in this film is very balanced, never over-the-top. The image looked great thanks to strong light output and a complete lack of crosstalk. And the extremely accurate color, grayscale, and gamma served up another reference-quality picture. I tried out the 3D depth settings, which have to be accessed from the menu. I found that even one click created visible crosstalk. While it did deepen the effect nicely, the artifact was a distraction. I turned it back to zero for the remainder of the review. I also tried the auto iris. While it did improve contrast slightly, it also seemed to darken the picture. The native contrast on the 5020UBE is good enough that the iris is unnecessary. I turned that off as well. Color held up extremely well with rich and saturated hues that never looked overblown. Detail was also top-notch.