• The 5020UBe can produce a very clean, attractive picture. It is very bright, yet still produces respectably deep blacks, and the THX mode measures well out of the box.
• The projector supports WirelessHD transmission of HDMI signals; I saw no difference in detail between a wired and wireless connection.
• The 5020UBe has seven HDMI inputs, counting those located on the WirelessHD transmitter.
• Generous zoom and lens shifting make for easy setup.
• There are lots of picture adjustments and memory settings.
• The eco lamp mode is very quiet.
• Two pairs of RF 3D glasses are included, and the 3D transmitter is built into the projector.
• The 5020UBe's WirelessHD system is very, very slow in establishing a connection between the transmitter and receiver when you start up the projector and switch between resolutions. Your best bet is to let your AV receiver or source scale everything to 1080p and then send a single resolution on to the projector. WirelessHD requires line-of-sight, so you can lose the signal if something blocks the path.
• The 5020UBe has some obvious LCD panel-alignment issues out of the box that will require your attention. Epson includes an alignment tool in the setup menu, and you should take the time to dial this in as carefully as possible. I never did get things perfect, but I was largely able to improve it.
• The normal lamp mode is much louder than the eco mode.
Competition and Comparison
The Home Cinema 5020UBe's $2,899 asking price positions it above the very crowded field of budget 1080p projectors from companies like Epson, BenQ, and Optoma, but a hair below newer mid-level offerings from Panasonic, JVC, and Sony. Some competitors to check out include the BenQ W7000, the Panasonic PT-AE8000U, the Sony VPL-HW30ES or VPL-HW50ES, the Optoma HD8300, and the JVC DLA-X35.
The Epson Home Cinema 5020UBe is a very flexible projector, in setup, features, and performance. The combination of great light output and good black levels makes it well suited for dedicated dark-room film viewing and more casual daytime TV watching. The zoom and lens-shift tools make setup a breeze, and the eco lamp mode is very quiet. The WirelessHD feature sounds good on paper and does give you the ability to add a lot of HDMI sources, but I found its implementation to be frustrating. Frankly, I think you're better off saving $300 and getting the basic Home Cinema 5020UB instead. It's the better value of the two. There are a number of external wireless-HDMI systems to choose from, including the DVDO Air and IO Gear GW3DHDKIT, if you need that function. Better yet, take the money you save and invest it in a professional calibration of the 5020UB that includes LCD panel alignment and fine-tuning of the grayscale and color for both dark- and bright-room viewing. Invest a little time or money into getting the absolute best out of the 5020UB, and you won't be disappointed with the results.
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