Epson Home Cinema 5050UB / EH-TW9400 4K Projector User Review
The Epson HC 5050UB Projector, Also Known as the TW9400
Hello. This is a review of the best projector that Epson currently offer, the Home Cinema 5050UB, also known across Europe as the TW9400.
I have been a home cinema nerd and projector owner for about 14 years now and have been through quite a few different projectors and lots of other hardware. I thought I'd share my opinions and some settings for this model in case you're thinking of upgrading your existing projector, or have bought this one already and want to get the best out of the picture.
First of all the name. I don't really know why Epson has different names depending on where you are in the world, but they all refer to the same machine. I’ve written this article for users worldwide (hopefully!) which is why I’ve included both names.
There is also a wireless version of the same projector, white in colour, known as the 5050UBe or TW9400W. This is basically the same model, but with a wireless transmitter, so you don’t need to run an HDMI lead to the projector. Pretty good but you have to be aware that it is only a 10.2Gbps connection wirelessly unlike the 18Gbps wired connection so you won’t be able to use it for 4K 60hz connections. Something to bear in mind.
New Model vs the Old
This projector is the successor to the very popular and well-reviewed 5040UB, also known as the TW9300. That projector has been regarded as one of the best projectors under $3k by the majority of home cinema enthusiasts. They're LCD projectors, so those people that suffer from the rainbow effect when watching DLP projectors don't need to worry, and of course, that also means they have good lens shift abilities for flexible room placement.
The new one has a few improvements which make it a good upgrade over its predecessor such as:
- Improved contrast ratio: This is now 12000000:1 instead of the predecessors 1000000:1. This means there is now a bigger difference between the darkest and lightest parts of the image. A higher contrast ratio means better black levels, which is definitely a good thing.
- Improved 4K enhancement: The 4K mechanism works a little faster than the last model to give a more accurate image.
- Increased brightness: A small bump from 2500 to 2600 lumens. This isn't a massive difference but the brighter the image the projector can display, the more the image pops so another improvement which is welcome.
- 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0 compatibility: This is the biggest difference, the HDMI bandwidth has been increased. This means that the Epson 5050UB can now receive a full 4K 60hz signal, which means that you can play console games in 4K HDR at 60hz without needing to reduce the image quality at all.
The colour depth the Epson 5050UB now supports includes 4:4:4 in 8-bit, 4:2:2 in 8/10/12 bit, and 4:2:0 in 8/10/12 bit at 60Hz. In 24Hz it supports both 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 in 8/10/12 bit resolution.
This projector has the ability to receive and display a 4K image, but it isn't a native 4K projector. It has a pixel shifting device which basically displays the image then shifts the image diagonally to double the resolution. It isn't true 4K, but it still gives an extremely sharp and vivid image which is an improvement on 1080p. To be honest, unless you had your nose pressed to the screen I seriously can’t see how you could see any difference between this and a native 4K projector. It throws a very detailed and sharp image. You can see individual hairs and pores in faces. What more could you need?!
At this end of the market, all of the 4K models from the different manufacturers employ a version of 4K enhancement. If you want to get genuine 4K, you have to spend quite a lot more on either a JVC or Sony machine. They're good machines but are thousands more expensive. At this price point, the Epson gives an exceptional image quality.
The Epson 5050UB has a number of features that set it apart from a lot of other projectors at this price range. These include:
- Motorised lens shift, zoom and focus: A great feature as you can go up to the screen to focus it and use the remote control to make small changes rather than having to keep running back and forth across the room. Lens shift allows good flexibility of placement. It is always best to have the projector centred with the screen if possible but if you cant do that you can move the image in all directions with ease.
- High dynamic range (HDR): HDR means there is now a greater range in both colour and brightness when you have the right kind of movie or film over standard. The idea is that it makes for a more dynamic and lifelike image. Projectors generally can’t get as bright as TVs, so HDR is somewhat compromised compared to them, but it still looks really good and can look a lot better than a non-HDR image.
- 5000 hr lamp life: Lamps last a long time on this projector. When you do replace them it is easy, you open a flap and the lamp pretty much just slides out. Piece of cake. The lamp will only get 5000 hrs if ran on eco mode, the higher brightness modes burn through it quicker. Personally I’ve found that eco is more than bright enough at a size of 126 inches, you might not depending on your screen size.
- Rec 2020 colour gamut: This means that UHD movies and games display correctly and they really look superb. The Epson has a filter which moves across the lens when you select cinema or digital cinema mode. All color modes can display rec 2020 and rec 709. When the digital cinema mode is used the filter is then engaged and comes closest to achieving 100% of the DCI P3 color space which is the ideal for rec 2020.
- Motorised lens cover: This is automatic when you turn the projector on or off. This is a great feature which stops the lens from getting covered in dust between viewings. Its a lot better having an auto cover as you don’t defocus the projector by manually taking a cap off. It’s also just pretty cool when it opens up when you power the projector on.
- Adjustable iris: This reduces the amount of light the projector throws. If it is too bright in your room and that is a real possibility as even in eco mode it really throws out some light, you can reduce the light by closing the iris. It has 20 steps. As well as reducing the overall light output by closing it to your preference, the iris also automatically opens and closes to increase black levels on a scene by scene basis. It is fast in operation, and when you have a black screen in a movie, the iris closes right down to really make the image black. It’s another nice feature.
Size and Noise Level
The Epson 5050UB / TW9400 is a large projector. I think the only realistic and practical way to have this projector in your room is to ceiling mount it. I have a flush mount bracket for mine, so it sits nicely on the ceiling. It is pretty heavy at approx 24lbs/11kg so make sure you get a decent mount if you’re going to do this and fasten it into a joist with some decent size screws.
It is pretty quiet at 30db in eco mode. Not as quiet as my last Sony projector but not offensive. I have never needed more than eco as it really throws out some light even in that mode. In fact, I’ve had to reduce light output as it was just too bright out of the box even in eco on my 126-inch screen. If you have a colossal room and screen, then it will be louder in medium or high lamp mode if you do need those, but then you’re going to be further away from it anyway so it shouldn't really matter.
The most important factor is the quality of the image. The good news is that it really does throw a superb image. If you're serious about your home cinema room, you’re going to want to black your room out as much as possible. If you have done that, then you can expect a colourful, bright image, nice and sharp with decent black levels and lots of detail.
I have included some images to demonstrate a little clearer as words only say so much.
The pictures above don't really do the projector justice to be fair as the quality has been downscaled, in the flesh the picture is great and I have found the Epson 5050UB / TW9400 to be a big upgrade on my previous Sony HW40ES projector. Black levels and colour are considerably better on this model as well as the 4K HDR compatibility. The picture really does make me smile every time I turn it on. I demoed the Optoma UHD65 before seeing the Epson which frankly didn’t come close. I then compared it directly to the JVC N5 model which is nearly three times the cost, and the margin was much smaller between them than I was expecting. The Epson really is a bargain for the money, and I can definitely recommend it.
I hope you’ve found this article useful, I have included a link to the projector below in case you want to check the current price on Amazon, direct from the official Epson store.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading!
If you’re interested, here’s a link to the projector direct from Epson
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