Test Report: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5010 3D Projector

This is my second time writing this review. I don’t mean that I tweaked and changed it a lot and that this is a second draft. I mean I had to completely rewrite it. No computer error: I simply found something so bizarre, so transformative about Epson’s Home Cinema 5010 projector that it radically changed my opinion of it. So much so that I had to start over completely.

And I almost missed it.

But first, a bit of the basics. The PowerLite Home Cinema 5010 is a 3-chip 3D LCD projector, with 2D-to- 3D conversion, a Fujinon lens, and motorized pixel alignment (though my sample didn’t need it).

Setup

First, the obvious. Thanks to manual lens controls and horizontal and vertical lens shift, setup is a breeze. It’s ironic that the cheaper the projector, it seems, the easier it is to install. The onscreen menus offer reasonably extensive calibration options.

The remote is an old-school big-block affair. What it lacks in demure stature, it makes up for in usefulness: direct input access, aspect, and other frequently used buttons, even backlighting with a glow-in-the-dark button to activate it. Don’t change a thing, you husky charmer.

What was I talking about? Right, for something that’s likely to hang over your head for a few years, the 5010 is one of the more attractive projectors to pass through my lab. Its white-and black cabinet has an Apple-like aesthetic. Build quality seems decent, with the exception of a cheap plastic motorized lens cover that lumberingly scrapes open and closed like a week-old zombie in a sandpaper factory.

Performance

Standard review procedure here at the Geoff Morrison High-Tech Display Testing Lab/Theater/Dilapidated Bungalow (GMHTDTLTDB for short) is to immediately put a TV or projector into the Cinema or Theater picture mode. This is the very first setting adjusted, as it gets all the other picture settings close to where they should be to create a decent-looking image.

This done, I proceeded to go through the rest of the setup, calibration, review, and full measurements for the Test Bench. I was about to call it a night. Then, just to be thorough, I figured I’d check the Dynamic picture mode. Sometimes, you see, a display is a little brighter in Dynamic mode, but this is always, always, always accompanied by inaccurate color points and a jacked-blue color temperature. Click.

What. The. Frak.

The light output doubled. The color points improved. It went from a decent projector to a fantastic projector. It shouldn’t have done this. I’ve never seen this before. It was so confounding, I went through every step again. Surely, Epson couldn’t be so crazy as to so drastically limit the projector’s light output in Cinema mode. Not with all the iris and lamp options. Nope, it is that crazy. To put this in perspective, it’s like buying a Camry and finding out that if you leave the glove compartment open it goes 500 miles per hour.

To put this perspective in perspective, the Runco LS-10i projector, a 3-chip DLP model that I reviewed last year, maxed out at 42.05 footlamberts (ftL) on my 102-inch screen. It costs $21,995. The Epson produces 48 ftL for $18,996 less. Such prodigious light output at such a low cost is truly amazing. This projector is brighter than many plasma TVs.

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