I wanted to share my thoughts on the Epson 5030 compared to some other projectors I demoed. Some background info: This is for a bedroom setup projecting onto a drop down 124” Da-Lite High Power 2.8 screen to replace an aging Sharp Z12000 DLP. The projector is mounted on a scissor lift so I can position it wherever I need for the most gain out of the screen. I’m a huge fan of DLP and use a Sim2 C3X1080 in the theatre room. My initial plan was to upgrade to a Super Lumis and use the C3X in the bedroom but I didn’t want to spend that kind of money with the push for 4K - even though there isn’t much content right now – and I’m still very happy with the image produced by the C3X.Mitsubishi HC7900
There wasn’t much left in the DLP camp below <$10K that would give me the improvements I wanted over the Z12000. I considered the DPI Cine 1000 Led after talking with Mike at AVS but eventually decided I wanted a 3D capable projector at home. I tried getting the Sharp Z30000 and didn’t have much luck in finding a new one; based on the reviews on the forum I might have been very happy with it. I’m amazed by the image the Z12000 produces some 10 years later and the optics are stellar. It can’t compete with today’s projectors in terms of black level, brightness, or contrast but the image has this solidness and pop that shows off what good DLP tech can do.
I bought the 7900 in the hopes that it would give me an image similar to the Z12000 but with 3D and 1080P. I ended up returning it as I found all aspects to be well below average. This could have been my unit but the focus uniformity was terrible, the mounting offset negated most of the gain from my screen, and it didn’t have the DLP pop I’m used to. I also saw rainbows even in 6X wheel mode whereas on my sharp I hardly saw them. The contrast looked inferior to what the 12000 was producing in it’s brightest mode. 3D on the unit was good, rock solid image as DLP is known for, but in my setup I found the image a bit too dim. At its current price I think it’s steal of a deal for those on an ultra-tight budget if it can work within their setup or those that just want a to see what DLP 3D can do on a smaller screen.JVC X75 & JVC RS4910
I don’t fully appreciate the image the JVC units are lauded for. The presentation appears flat/dull to me and I’m constantly reminded that I’m watching a projected image. JVC’s optics are great and if I had a chance to adjust the units to my liking I might have enjoyed them a lot more. The RS4910 had more contrast and brightness compared to the X75, the iris was on and not noticeable, but it was on a smaller screen (100” vs 130”) and I imagine it had very few hours on the bulb as it was brand new. I saw these units on 3 separate occasions and demoed Skyfall along with Oblivion. If you like the traditional ‘film’ look then I believe the JVC can’t be beat for 2D. I used to love CRT and it took me some time to get used the DLP look and now I find it very difficult to go back.
The store I saw these at would not let me adjust anything on them and it took some convincing to get the sales guy to turn off motion flow. He kept saying they’re perfectly calibrated from the factory and any adjustments will ruin the look and they’ve never allowed customers to fiddle with any display. He also refused to demo 3D on them saying they don’t open the glasses the units come with. Policies and customer service like this leads me to buying online and just relying on user reviews. Eventually I‘ll cave and get one of these units for the black levels.Sony HW50ES
After watching 3D for about 15 minutes and taking the glasses off my eyes were producing a ‘flickering’ sensation. I know most people see flicker while watching but this was weird, it’s like any light source I would look at would flicker for a while. It took about 20 minutes for this to go away and I’m not sure what caused it but I decided it couldn’t be good for my vision. It might have been this unit. The 2D image had a bit more pop than the JVC’s but still not on par with DLP. Portions of the image seemed out of focus as 2 corners appeared sharp and the other 2 were soft. I didn’t get a chance to demo the HW55ES and don’t know if it offers a massive upgrade over the 50. I was waiting to see one and decide between it and the JVC before I stumbled upon the 5030.Epson 5030
I ended up at a retail chain and noticed they had a Panasonic AE8000 and an Epson 4030 setup. The room wasn’t stellar but I ended up demoing both with the ability to switch between them and playback various movie clips. The AE8000 produced a smoother looking image while the 4030 had a bit more structure to it. I’d have to give the AE8000 a slight edge in performance overall between those 2 units. In the end I was very impressed with LCD and decided to blind buy the 5030, they only had one in stock and none on display. I’m using an Oppo 103D with darbee set to 35% and on the Epson image enhancement is at 3, standard sharpness at 2. I’ve found this to be the best combination for me. I’m sitting 16ft away from a 124” screen so there’s no noticeable screen door effect.
Optics: I’m happy overall for the price paid, I find it to be a bit soft but nothing to complain about. Electronic focus would help in dialing this in further. I haven’t noticed any focus drift so that’s a bonus.
3D: I see minimal ghosting at times and this being my first 3D projector I’m quite thrilled. I’ll gladly live with the odd ghosting issue in exchange for the bright punchy image. The glasses are also very comfortable and the RF along with USB recharging wins big points. I’ve also found that lowering 3D Depth in the advanced setup by a notch, which I think reduces the depth of the 3D effect, appears to lower ghosting.
In comparison the best 3D I’ve seen in a home environment is on a Lumis 3D Solo. The only way I can describe the effect is that the image thrown by Lumis is solid and draws you in whereas on the Epson there are times where you notice an issue of some kind and become aware of the fact that you’re watching a projected image. Is the image on the Lumis 10x better at 10x the price? That’s up to each individual to decide for themselves. I will say the Epson is shockingly good but 3Chip DLP still wins.
Contrast/Iris: The noise from the iris is distracting on quiet passages and I don’t see a marked improvement with it on or off. For now I’ve decided to leave it off. Contrast/Black level appear worse than the C3X but I’m comparing them in vastly different rooms and on different screen materials. It’s a marked improvement over the Z12000, by a large margin and in a different league compared to other DLP's I've seen anywhere close to it's price. On darker films the JVC wins the battle of absolute black level quite easily.
Fan noise: In Eco mode it’s very quiet, certainly not distracting with the projector 4ft above my head. I can clearly hear it in the high lamp 3D modes but while a movie is playing it’s not noticeable so no complaints.
Overall: At the price point this unit goes for I am extremely happy with the image it produces, it’s stellar and the level of brightness attainable is addicting even if it’s at the expense of some color accuracy. I’m amazed to see how far LCD has come and didn’t think I’d end up with an LCD projector. It was pure chance that I even ended up demoing one.
I find the image produced to be a good balance between the JVC for black level and DLP for image pop. It's a significant improvement over what I had and it's a pleasure for casual watching and 3D. The unit itself also feels very sturdy and well built. Power cycling is also very fast, that came as a bit of a surprise to me. I had to adjust alignment by a few notches at various zones, with a bit of work this unit has great convergence now.