Much like OLED and LED televisions, 4K projectors exploit different technologies to deliver their UHD images. Epson favours 3LCD, notable for its filmic performance and that is evident in the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB – known as the Epson EH-TW9400 in the UK. But, a few years after it came out, is it still one of the best projectors going?
Design & Features
Unlike rival DLP-based projectors, 2LCD has no requirement for a spinning wheel. As a consequence, 3LCD models tend to sound quieter in operation, and they’re completely free of the rainbow fringing effect associated with DLP. The Home Cinema 5050UB/EH-TW940 is a testament to just how good 3LCD can look.
The model is 3D capable (there are no active 3D glasses supplied in the box, so be prepared to budget for the requisite funny spex if you have a 3D disc collection), supports HDR10 and HLG, and has superb contrast and a solid black level performance. Epson’s Pro UHD projectors use a proprietary pixel-shifting technique that derives a 2160p picture from a trio of 1080p LCD panels. Dynamic contrast on the EH-TW940 is rated at 1,200,000:1.
You’ll need a fair amount of room to accommodate this model though. It’s on the large size – 520 x 170 x 450mm – and would be best served with a ceiling mount and partnering screen. However, that size contains a solid unit that has excellent build quality. The matte black chassis features a centrally-positioned lens, with a grey trim. Connections include two HDMI inputs, USB, a VGA PC port, plus RS-232C and Ethernet LAN for control use. A 12v trigger handles automated screen control. The projector comes with a large backlit remote control.
The 2.1x optical zoom has powered focus and lens shift, which means you can position the picture, and snap it into focus using just the zapper, which is a nice luxury; there’s a built-in test pattern. You’ll need a projection distance of 3m to fill a 100-inch projector screen.
There’s no built-in audio though, indicating that the system is designed to be used with a serious home theatre sound system.
Light output is rated at 2,600 lumens. We found the Home Cinema 5050UB/EH-TW9400 bright enough to be used in rooms with moderate ambient light. The picture really impresses though in full dark conditions.
Image clarity is excellent, and colour fidelity top notch. The projector is able to cover the full DCI-P3 colour spectrum, using its Digital Cinema preset, although this results in a reduction in brightness. Detail enhancement and resolution are all adjustable, tonal gradations are smooth, and colour banding is barely an issue.
When it comes to HDR, the projector supports both HDR10 and HLG. Not that you’ll need to worry, just pop the beamer on autopilot and let it handle the decision-making. The Epson looks superb with regular SDR HD content. The overall picture brightness is a little higher than when in HDR mode, so images have a tad more zing.
Operating noise depends on the chosen lamp setting. In High Power Consumption mode, the picture is at its brightest, although operating noise becomes uncomfortably high. There’s only a slight price to be paid in brightness if you opt for Medium or Eco, so they would be our recommended settings. Typical operational noise is 24sdB.
Overall – should you buy it?
If you take your home cinema seriously, this Epson is still a brilliant buy. You will need to accommodate an external sound system though, and ceiling mounting is a given. This isn’t the type of 4K projector you can pull out of the cupboard for an impromptu game of Cuphead.