Epson Pro Cinema 6040UB 3D LCD Projector Review Page 2

The projector provides two-point custom color temperature settings for adjusting grayscale plus a full suite of Color Management System adjustments with Hue, Saturation, and Brightness sliders. Using the Samsung disc, I was able to tap the CMS to independently set color points for Ultra HD content, which has a wider color gamut than regular HDTV sources. The 6040UB is spec’d for 100 percent coverage of the P3/DCI color space used for Ultra HD Blu-ray releases, and Epson says the projector will support a 10-bit video signal, such as those provided now on UHD Blu-ray, with 4K signals delivered with 24-Hz frame rate and 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. Provided the source can deliver such a signal, this could make for smoother trans- itions and less banding on some scenes than might be seen with traditional 8-bit depth.

2D Performance
To get down to business with my 6040UB evaluation, I first watched The Martian on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Having seen this movie in the theater, I knew visually what to expect: burnished red/orange alien landscapes, the dark chambers of the Ares III shuttle dotted with bright instrument panels and displays, and similarly stark environments on earth in the NASA control rooms and labs. (It’s a Ridley Scott film, after all.)

816epsonpj.rem.jpgThe Epson did a very impressive job reproducing The Martian’s moody, high-contrast scenes. Blacks were deep and uniform, and the highlights in scenes such as in the NASA control room, where engi- neer Mindy Park first detects that astronaut Mark Watney is still alive and moving equipment around, had a punchy, well-defined look that definitely seemed like an upgrade over what I saw in the theater (my recollection was that the movie looked for the most part dim and drab at my local cinema). The same held for many other high-contrast scenes, including one where Watney inspects his ruined potato crop with a flashlight following an explosion in an airlock.

Ultimately, though, when I used both the regular Blu-ray and Ultra HD disc to compare these and other scenes from The Martian, I didn’t note any appreciable gain in color detail or vibrancy with the Ultra HD version. Highlights were initially brighter and had more pop on the UHD disc, but the difference between the two was less obvious after I made adjustments to calibrate grayscale/gamma and reduce fan noise (see Setup section above). But one area where I did notice a difference once my adjustments were locked down was shadow detail. For example, in a scene where Vincent Kapoor sits in the NASA control room trying to figure out the significance of Watney’s movements, there was greater definition in the creases and folds of Kapoor’s dark blue sweater when I viewed the UHD version.

Overall, the crisp colors and textures in the many scenes featuring the Mars landscape gave the image a rich, vibrant look, and the picture was consistently engaging. The only issue I ran into with UHD viewing was some occasional banding arti- facts in a few shots in The Martian where there was a broad expanse of sky, and later while watching the aerial jump scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service. But these proved rare and were likely inherent in the software since the same banding was visible on a UHD flat-panel display that was also in for review. (The Epson’s 10-bit processing would presumably help minimize banding, but there was no way to guarantee my Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-ray Player was delivering the required 10-bit, 4:2:2, 4K/24 signal; the results were the same with the player output set to 4:4:4 or Auto.) I also experienced some motor noise when the Auto Iris was set to High Speed mode—a problem solved by switching to the also-effective Normal Auto Iris mode. Like the fan noise I heard in the higher-output lamp modes, this may be less of an issue with the presence of a soundtrack, or where the projector is mounted in a dedicated compartment or is further away than my 6-foot distance.

Looking to more closely test the projector’s ability to render colors with regular high-def sources (which constitutes the majority of what we’ll be watching for some time to come), I popped in a 1080p Blu-ray of The Tree of Life. Watching the sequence where the mother—played by Jessica Chastain, who also plays the mission commander in The Martian—cavorts outdoors with her young children, Chastain’s porcelain complexion looked completely natural. Other colors such as the greens of the grass and trees and the pale blue of her vintage dress also came across accurately.


Black-and-white movies are a torture test for a projector/screen combo: Any projector or screen uniformity issues are likely to surface when staring at a grayscale image for two hours. Watching Embrace of the Serpent, a drama shot on black-and-white 35mm film about scientists pursuing a special healing plant in the Amazon with the aid of a reluctant shaman, I noticed no uniformity issues at all, just a crisp, clean image with excellent contrast and a wide range of silky gray tones. It might not have been HDR, but the picture still looked plenty dynamic.

3D Performance
While the image quality benefits of HDR will give many people yet another reason to ignore 3D, Epson’s new projector line supports the format—just add the company’s optional $99 RF active shutter glasses. That might seem a steep price for 3D goggles, but Epson’s are more comfortable and substantial than many other 3D glasses I’ve used recently and provide an actual on/off switch and pairing button to take any confusion out of setup. They’re also recharge- able via USB so you don’t have to replace batteries.

When I watched a Blu-ray 3D of The Great Gatsby (2013) on the 6040UB, in a scene where Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker duck into a library at a party in Gatsby’s home, the quick cutting and extreme camera angles helped create a vivid sense of 3D. Objects in the middle ground such as furniture, trays filled with martini glasses, etc., served to divide the space and create a sense of visual layering. I didn’t notice any crosstalk artifacts in this or any of the other reference 3D scenes I watched from Gatsby, and the projector’s bright, sufficiently high-contrast image helped to combat any dim- ness introduced by the glasses. The 6040UB provides special 3D picture presets, along with a complete suite of picture settings for calibrating the projector in that mode should you choose to do so.

Epson’s stated goal for its new 2016 3D LCD projector line is to provide a better package at a better price, and I think they hit the mark with the 6040UB. (DIY-ers will want to also check out the 5040UB. At $2,999, it costs $1,000 less than the 6040UB but provides the same feature set minus ISF calibration modes, and comes without the ceiling mount and spare lamp provided with the 6040UB.) While the projector’s performance with HDR sources doesn’t match the intensity I’ve seen with Ultra HD Premium flat-panel displays, it certainly ratchets up the projection experience a notch, delivering deep and well-defined blacks along with bright, detailed highlights. Add to that the 6040UB’s powerful setup features, excellent uniformity, and crisp 4K Enhanced image, and you’ve got a powerful contender here for mid-priced home theaters.


brenro's picture

Where is the Texas Instruments 4K UHD chip announced last year?