The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is a serious home cinema projector for home cinema enthusiasts. It has a motorized lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift, as well as a wide zoom. The 4K image enhancement technology offers a lot of detail. The biggest advantage over cheaper 4K projectors, however, is an excellent contrast ratio for deep, dark shadows and bright, striking reflections.
- Excellent overall image quality
- Excellent contrast ratio
- Motorized Lens
- Wide lens shift and motorized zoom
- Could be quieter
There are only a few disappointments, and they are minor. It doesn’t have the color or sharp details of its direct competitor, the LG HU810P. That’s not to say the 5050 isn’t sharp and colorful. It is, just slightly less, although I found Epson’s overall picture quality to be much better than LG’s. The 5050UB is also an absolute unit, several times the size of all the projectors I tested last year (including LG).
In short, the Home Cinema 5050UB is an excellent all-round projector that looks fantastic with all content. It offers a significant improvement in image quality over cheaper projectors like the Optoma UHD35, while offering anyone with a dedicated home theater system a projector worthy of the space.
Specs 4(K) days
- Native resolution: 4K enhancement (1920×1080 x2)
- HDR-compatible: Yes
- 4K-compatible: Yes
- 3D-compatible: Yes
- Lumens spec: 2,600
- Zoom: Motorized (2.1x)
- Lens shift: Motorized H/V
- Lamp life (Medium mode): 4,000 hours
The 5050UB is a 4K and HDR compatible projector. As such, it can accept 4K and HDR signals, but keep in mind that no projector can handle HDR very well.
Like all Epson projectors, the 5050UB uses an LCD light engine, not the DLP found in most other projectors. The ones used in the 5050UB don’t technically have native 4K resolution. Instead, they’re a technology called “4K enhancement” that “shifts each pixel diagonally to double the Full HD resolution,” according to Epson. This happens very quickly, so it’s just a higher resolution image to the eye. Here’s a deeper dive into the technology. The short version: I found it to be quite sharp, if not as razor-like as the LG with DLP technology; see below for details.
One of the 5050’s most notable features that sets it apart from cheaper projectors is a motorized lens. This provides ±96.3% vertical movement and ±47.1% horizontal movement, which should be enough for the 5050 to fit in almost any home. There’s also a substantial 2.1x motorized zoom.
Epson claims that the 5050UB can produce 2,600 lumens. In fact, I measured a little more than that… in the least accurate dynamic color mode. In the most accurate Bright Cinema mode, I measured about 192 nits, or about 1,732 lumens. This puts it among the brightest projectors we’ve ever measured.
The lamp life is low. Even in Eco mode, Epson estimates it to be up to 5,000 hours. Some projectors with a similar brightness that we tested over the past year were able to get more than 15,000 hours in their highest lamp-saving modes. That said, 5,000 hours is still more than three years of use at four o’clock in the morning.
- HDMI inputs: two HDMI 2.0
- PC input: Analog RGB
- USB ports: two
- Audio input and output: No
- Digital audio output: No
- Internet: LAN
- 12v trigger: Yes
- RS-232 remote port: Yes
- Remote: Backlit
Both HDMI inputs are HDMI 2.0 and can accept up to 4K60. As you would expect from its intended use as a special theater projector, it lacks audio output. In my opinion, Epson rightly assumes that anyone who gets a 5050 would have a traditional projector setup with a receiver or at least a soundbar for audio.
Along the same lines, there are many control options for home automation systems, including a 12v trigger, RS-232 and a LAN port.
The remote is large (as is the projector it controls) and has a nice amber backlight. If you have a 2.35:1 screen, like me, you can use this remote for more than just turning it on and off, as you can zoom in on the projector and fill the screen with 2.35:1 content without getting up from the Bank. That is always an advantage.
Picture quality comparisons
The LG HU810P is the most notable competition to the 5050. They are the same price, but the HU810P uses newer technology, namely two lasers and a phosphor instead of the more traditional 5050 lamp. I hooked up both using a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and saw them side by side on a 12ft wide 1.0 gain screen.
From the start, both are great projectors, but their strengths and weaknesses are almost polar opposites.
They are very similar in terms of light output. In their respective finer modes, the LG can do 166.3 nits versus Epson’s 192. Objectively that’s a small difference, but subjectively side by side they both look great. So we’ll call it more or less a tie.
However, the color goes for LG. Lasers, with the help of a match, are definitely deeper and richer. Add in some HDR content and the deep crimson and vibrant purples go way beyond what the 5050UB can produce. However, this is the same as saying that a Porsche is slower than a Ferrari, as the 5050UB is no slouch when it comes to colors. In itself it looks fine, the LG looks better in this regard.
It’s a similar story with details. LG uses a 4K DLP chip to create an image, and detail is the main strength of that technology compared to the pixel-shifting LCD, which Epson uses. The image looks a bit sharper, especially with movement. However, if you don’t see them side by side, I’m not sure you’ll notice. The 5050UB certainly doesn’t look smooth, it’s definitely 4K in my eyes.
The next aspect of image quality is where the tide is turning a lot towards Epson. In one word, or technically two: contrast ratio. Even without using the iris, the original contrast of the 5050UB’s three LCD chips is significantly higher than the LG’s, 10 times higher. As a result, the image has much more impact and is less discolored. Even if you roll back LG’s lasers and iris as much as possible, it only matches Epson’s black level while that projector is in its brightest and most accurate color temperature mode.
That is, Epson’s black levels are about the same, while at the same time (in the same mode) it can have reflections or bright areas of the same image that are seven times brighter than LG’s lasers all mark. the way down and the iris closes. If you match the light output, Epson’s black levels are nine times darker in the same mode.
What does this look like? A simple example is watching a movie with letterbox bars. When I set the projectors to have about the same overall brightness, the widescreen bars on the LG are gray. If I match its letterbox bars by reducing the LG’s laser power and closing the iris, it ends up looking dim compared to the Epson.
That’s why the deep blacks of the 5050UB create an extremely pleasing image when viewing content, while retaining bright highlights.
Charge your friends admission
The Home Cinema 5050UB is an excellent projector. It’s certainly not cheap at $3,000, but for those looking to buy a PJ for a dedicated home theater or light-controlled living room that can do their black level justice, the image quality is certainly a step above that of cheaper projectors. Is it, say, more than twice as good as the $1,300 Optoma UHD35? Could be. The Optoma is very good for the price, but that’s definitely the caveat: “for the price.” It has its own thing, but it has a much worse contrast ratio and doesn’t handle HDR as well as the Epson.
I think most people would be perfectly happy with the UHD35. But for aficionados looking for a more “home cinema” experience, the… oh wait, I just said the name of the thing in the thing. Let me try again. For those looking for a more “home cinema” experience, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB makes just about anything look and feel great.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.046||Average|
|Peak white luminance (100%)||192.3||Good|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||7.624||Poor|
|Dark gray error (20%)||6.223||Average|
|Bright gray error (70%)||7.432||Poor|
|Avg. color error||3.636||Average|
|Avg. saturations error||8.34||Poor|
|Avg. color checker error||8.5||Poor|
|Input lag (Game mode)||28.4||Good|
epsonprojectorblackfridaydeals found that the Bright Cinema color mode offers the best combination of light output and accuracy. In six-color temperature mode, the 5050UB fared quite well on the D65 across the entire grayscale range. Also, all primary and secondary colors were spot on on their Rec 709 targets. This is one of the most accurate projectors we’ve reviewed in the past year.
The native contrast ratio was excellent for a projector, averaging 5,203:1 in various modes. In comparison, the second best contrast ratio we measured recently was the BenQ HT2050A with a native contrast ratio of 2,094:1.
With the lamp mode (called Power Consumption) set to High and the iris disabled, the 5050UB delivers an impressive 192.3 nits, or about 1,732 lumens. Eco mode reduces light emission by about 30%. If you turn on the iris, which opens for bright images and closes for dark images, the dynamic contrast ratio shoots above 100,000:1.
While the Bright Cinema mode looked better overall, the Cinema mode offered wider colors for HDR content. However, it was also much weaker. I didn’t think the ~10% wider color gamut for ~60% less light was a worthy tradeoff, but feel free to give it a try. The contrast ratio was also about 40% better in this mode, which was only slightly noticeable.
If you need even more light, the dynamic color mode delivers an impressive 323.6 nits, about 2,914 lumens, although the overall picture isn’t quite as good or accurate.