Epson Debuts HDR Projectors at CE Week 2016

At CE Week in New York City this week, Epson is unveiling its latest lamp-based projectors for home theaters. The new lineup includes two Home Cinema models (5040UB and 5040UBe) and two Pro Cinema units (4040 and 6040UB, pictured above). All of them share many of the same features with a few differences I’ll point out along the way.

All four models feature the second generation of Epson’s 4K Enhancement technology, which shifts each pixel in the 1920×1080 imagers by half a pixel diagonally to create a 3840×2160 image. This allows them to accept a UHD/4K input signal and display it at close-to-full resolution. Also included in this technology suite are Epson’s Super Resolution and improved Detail Enhancement functions to sharpen the image.

Even better, these are the first Epson projectors that can accept and display high dynamic-range (HDR) signals using the open-standard HDR10 format, which is mandatory on all HDR Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. With a maximum luminance rating of 2500 white and color lumens (2300 white and color lumens for the Pro Cinema 4040), these specs are quite a bit higher than JVC’s HDR-capable projectors, which max out at 1900 lumens. (As some members have pointed out, the actual peak luminance after calibration could be substantially less, but there’s no way to know until someone does a real review.)

Of course, HDR is about more than sheer brightness. Using new auto-iris and lens-iris designs, three of the new projectors are spec’d to deliver a dynamic contrast ratio of up to 1,000,000:1 (160,000:1 for the 4040). As we all know, any manufacturer’s contrast-ratio specs are suspect, but the “UB” (Ultra Black) designation in these model numbers is not without merit. Epson’s UB models have always exhibited excellent black levels, and I’m willing to bet that the new ones are no exception, which yields superb contrast in real-world content.

Another critical aspect of HDR is wide color gamut (WCG), and the new Epson projectors really shine in this regard. Thanks to an improved dichroic mirror and cinema filter, they can display 100% of the DCI/P3 color gamut in their Digital Cinema mode and the entire sRGB gamut (which is very close to BT.709) in any mode. The Pro Cinema 6040UB also includes ISF certification and built-in ISF calibration tools as well as picture memories.

Other features include a new optical engine and all-glass lens system for improved sharpness and color uniformity. Also, a precision-motorized lens assembly provides +/-96% vertical and +/-47% horizontal lens shift as well as powered zoom and focus with 10 lens memories. All four can display 3D and come with active 3D glasses, but the resolution is 1920×1080 per eye. In addition, the Home Cinema 5040UBe offers wireless transmission of UHD/4K content using the WirelessHD system. The transmitter module provides four HDMI inputs (one of which is also MHL-compatible) that support UHD/4K signals and HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

What’s the difference between the Home Cinema and Pro Cinema lines? The Pro Cinema models include a ceiling mount, extra lamp, cable cover, and 3-year warranty (90 days on the lamp), while the Home Cinema models carry a 2-year warranty (90 days on the lamp) and do not come with the extra goodies. Also, the Home Cinema models have white casings, while the Pro Cinema units are black.

Epson-5040UB
The Home Cinema 5040UB and 5040UBe have a white casing, like all Home Cinema models.

What about prices and availability? The Pro Cinema 4040 ($2699) and 6040UB ($3999) will be available through CEDIA and specialty retailers, while the Home Cinema 5040UB ($2999) and 5040UBe ($3299) will be sold by selected retailers, e-tailers, and the Epson online store. All will start shipping in August.

Mark Henninger will be among the first journalists to see any of these projectors in action at CE Week, and he will post his impressions in the first comment of this thread, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, I’m quite excited that there will soon be more projectors in the market with HDR capabilities, and I can’t wait to try one out for myself.