With the advent of Ultra HD Blu-ray and streaming UHD/4K HDR content, 2016 presents an exciting new media landscape for AV enthusiasts. Finally, it is possible to get content in your home that meets or exceeds the quality seen in commercial cinemas. At CE Week 2016, Epson unveiled four new projectors
that can display HDR, DCI/P3 color, and can put 4 million pixels' worth of detail up on the screen.
Last week I saw a demo of Epson's 6040UB ($4000) at CE Week. The company was comparing it to a Sony VPL-VW665ES ($15,000) "true 4K" HDR projector. The idea was to demonstrate that the Epson was able to project a brighter image than the Sony without any noticeable sacrifice in detail rendition.
The projectors were set up side-by-side and calibrated for DCI/P3 color at maximum output. The screen was a Da-Lite Corp HD Progressive with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It measured 138" (diagonal) and featured an off white/light gray surface with 0.9 gain. Switching between the projectors was accomplished by physically blocking and unblocking the lenses with a piece of cardboard. Sources for the demo included a Redray player as well as a Samsung UBD‑K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The sources for the demo included a Redray player and a Samsung Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The Epson 6040UB was notably brighter than the Sony 665ES. As Epson promised, scenes from the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Kingsmen: The Secret Service looked as sharp as they did on the Sony. This is despite the fact that the Epson only puts half as many pixels on screen: 4 million vs. 8 million. Epson's pixel-shift "4K enhancement" may not be "true 4K" but it's enough to render crystal-clear images from a normal viewing distance.
Kingsmen looked excellent on the Epson 6040UB; the image was crisp, punchy, and realistic.
I only saw one notable artifact during the demo. In some scenes, the extreme highlights—clouds seen through a window—exhibited a bit of banding. Aside from that, one distraction, what I saw coming from the Epson was pretty close to picture-perfect. You couldn't quite say the same thing for the Sony, it lacked the pop provided by the Epson's extra lumens. Indeed, it looked downright dull in comparison. Factoring in the cost differential, Epson has a pretty good point about the price-performance ratio its new projection products offer.
While I would have liked to see a resolution test pattern as part of the demo, the subjective experience indicated Epson has created some compelling new projectors, albeit lamp-based. The price of enjoying Ultra HD Blu-ray on a massive screen is now in the same realm as a high-end 65" TV, which is great news for cinephiles.
I spoke to Kevin Miller, who calibrated both projectors, and he indicated the Epson was roughly 40 to 50% brighter than the Sony when displaying DCI/P3 content. That light output turned out to be perfect for illuminating the screen used in the demo. Check out the following video, after Epson America senior product manager Rodrigo Catalan makes his pitch, I ask him about the impact of calibration on spec'd light output. He indicated it met spec (2500 lumens) operating in the BT.709/sRGB color space, but in DCI/P3 it lost a bit of output.
Rodrigo Catalan, Epson America senior product manager talks about the new projectors.
Unfortunately, nobody had hard numbers available regarding any of these projector's peak luminance in HDR DCI/P3 mode. However, Kevin indicated that much more detailed post-calibration information will be available by the time CEDIA rolls around this September 13-17.
The two projectors, side-by-side in an A/B demo.
For more information about the capabilities of Epson's latest home theater projectors, check out Scott Wilkinson's post here
. Also, if you have any experience with the CE week demo, I'd love to read about that in the comments. I'm sure everybody here is anxious to find out more about the performance of these exciting new products, which is why I've requested a review unit of the 6040UB.