True 4K projectors are coming down in price at a glacial pace, but lower-resolution units that claim to benefit from being fed 4K TV shows and movies are much more affordable.
Epson's Home Cinema 5040UB is the latest example, coming this August for $2,999.
It three LCD chips have a native resolution of 1080p, but it can accept 4K resolution sources via its HDMI and convert them for display. Epson says its 4K Enhancement technology, which shifts each pixel diagonally 0.5 pixels, can "double the resolution to 3,840x2,160 and surpass Full HD image quality." I tested the feature on last year's Epson LS1000 laser projector and the improvement was negligible.
HDR, on the other hand, delivers a much more visible improvement than 4K, and the 5040 can handle it too. Epson claims an impressive 2500 lumens and improved black levels for better contrast compared to previous units like the 5030 we reviewed. The company also says the 5040 can render all of the DCI color gamut used for today's HDR TV shows and movies.
The projector has a pair of HDMI inputs that work with the HDMI 2.0a transmission and HDCP 2.2 copy protection standards, so it work can handle the full capabilities of playback units like the Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Blu-ray player.
Epson is also selling a version of the projector, model 5040UBe ($3,299) that uses an outboard HDMI connection box that communicates with the projector via the WirelessHD standard.
Epson gave me a demo of the new 5040UB projector with the "Kingsman: The Secret Service" 4K Blu-ray, and it compared well to a much more-expensive native 4K projector from Sony. Of course I'll reserve full judgment for a CNET review.
In the meantime, here are some other specs and features for the 5040UB.
- 1080p native resolution with 4K Enhancement Technology
- 2500 lumens brightness
- Full DCI color gamut
- Auto Iris
- Power zoom, focus and lens shift (10 memories)
- ± 96.3 percent vertical axis, ±47.1 percent horizontal axis lens shift
- Supports 3D (active glasses not included)
- Wireless HDMI (5040UBe only)
A pair of related models will also arrive in August as part of Epson's Pro Cinema line for the custom installation market. The 6040UB ($3,999) has basically the same specs as the 5040UB, but with a black instead of white body, and built-in ISF calibration tools as well as SF Day and ISF Night picture memory modes. The company will also release the Pro Cinema 4040 for ($2,699), which is dimmer than the other three at 2,300 lumens, but is otherwise similar to the 5040UB.