March 14, 2013
| by Grant Clauser
All my Blu-ray and DVD evaluation on the Epson was done with Oppo’s amazing BDP-105 player, which has impressive image processing built in. Among the more conventional parameters: color, black level, sharpness… the Epson 5020UBe looked great. The model is THX certified and so includes a THX video mode, which I used (and always recommend as it’s never disappointed in other products). While you shouldn’t look at THX as a set-it-and-forget-it feature, it’s pretty close. Depending on your screen and viewing conditions, you may need some fine tuning. After sending the unit a variety of text patterns I ended up doing only a small amount of additional adjustments before I thought the image was right.
Black level in particular is excellent in this projector. If you get deep blacks, you’ll get a punchier, more vibrant picture. Activating the auto iris will deepen the blacks. The iris has a normal and a high-speed setting. The iris function was most noticeable when viewing the black bars on a 2.35:1 movie (my test screen is 16:9). While switching the iris on and off I could see the black bars get a little blacker—not much, but enough that it was a welcome improvement.
The black level was further evident in movies, such as the most recent Amazing Spiderman. In the scene where Spidey is crawling over a web stretched out across sewer tunnels, the darkness, contrasted with the brighter lines of web and his red costume looked fantastic.
The Life of Pi Blu-ray arrived just in time for me to finish my review, so I popped it in right away. While colors, such as the yellow in the tiger and the green in the mysterious island looked great, the most stunning scenes were the night and underwater moments. The black night sky peppered with stars was mesmerizing, especially in 3D. The underwater 3D was so good I thought I needed a snorkel.
Speaking of 3D, this year the 5020UBe comes with two RF active shutter glasses. These glasses require no external emitter, charge via USB and are a bit less bulky than last year’s glasses. They charged and synced up to the projector easily. Epson says you get 40 hours on a charge. 3D images showed minimal cross talk, and thanks to the high light output of the projector, didn’t suffer much from the darkening effect that 3D glasses produce. The projector offers three 3D modes: Dynamic, Cinema and THX. The latter two were a darker, so I preferred Dynamic, because you need the extra brightness when looking through 3D glasses.
Overall, the Epson 5020UBe is an excellent performer, easily affordable and includes installation-friendly features that won’t leave you standing on a ladder cursing into a cell phone with tech support. At this price, you can’t get a 3-chip DLP or LCoS projector, but the Epson blows away any single-chip DLP in the same range. If you don’t need the wireless HDMI function, and most users won’t, then you can save a couple hundred bucks by getting the model without it (5020UB) For the typical modest basement theater or spare media room, the 5020UB is an easy product to recommend.
1080p 3D LCD projector
• Color Brightness: 2400 lumens
• White Brightness: 2400 lumens
• Wireless HDMI; 5 HDMI inputs, 1 out
• Wireless: 1 optical port
• 2 pairs of rechargeable RF 3D glasses included
• THX display certification
• Widest horizontal lens shift in its
• Contrast ratio of up to 320,000:1
• Fujinon lens with a 2.1x zoom ratio
• 2D-to-3D conversion
• Split Screen (now available in wireless mode
Check out these home theaters featuring Epson projectors: Metropolis Theater, Clovis Theater, LED Theater.
Additional Review: SIM2 Nero DLP projector.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.