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Epson Home Cinema 4000 review: No 4K, no problem

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The Good The Epson HC4000 has excellent overall image quality, with very good contrast and black levels for the price, as well as accurate color. Its HDR picture and video processing are better than the competition's, and its deep feature set includes a power lens.

The Bad The 4K enhancement feature doesn't do much, and with 4K sources its image is slightly softer than competing 4K projectors -- which cost a bit less. Contrast isn't as strong as the Optoma UHD60.

The Bottom Line Despite lacking 4K resolution the Epson HC4000 delivers a very impressive image for the price.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Performance 8
  • Value 6

Epson is the biggest projector-maker around, and the plus-size Home Cinema 4000 is one of its most impressive home theater projectors for the money. Yes, lacks the 4K resolution of newer competitors in the same price range like the Optoma UHD60 and the BenQ HT2550, but it still outperforms them in many ways, particularly with HDR content.

After comparing the three, however, I like the Optoma a bit better, as long as you don't feed it high dynamic range TV shows, movies and games. It has superior punch and contrast to the Epson with all kinds of content, and some people (with good eyesight who sit close enough and pay attention to certainly highly detailed scenes) will appreciate its slightly sharper image with 4K material. The icing on the cake is that it costs $200 less than the Epson.

The HC4000 is no slouch, however, and if you want a solid performer with HDR, as well as perks like a power lens and superior response time for gaming, it's an excellent choice.

Basic specs

  • Native resolution: 1080p
  • Discrete pixels on chip: 1,920x1,080
  • HDR-compatible: Yes
  • Lumens spec: 2,200
  • Zoom: Power (2.1x)
  • Lens shift: Vertical and horizontal
  • 3D-compatible: Yes
  • Lamp life (Normal mode): 4,000 hours

While the HC4000 can accept 4K and HDR sources, the native resolution -- the highest it can actually display on-screen -- is "2K," aka 1080p. That sets it apart from the similarly-priced 4K projectors from Optoma and Benq. Yes, Epson markets a "4K enhancement" function said to improve image quality of non-4K sources, but it doesn't provide a noticeable boost to my eye. 

One minor strength over the DLP-based BenQ and Optoma is lack of the rainbow effect, an artifact where brief flashes of color can appear. It happens rarely in my experience, unless you induce it by moving your eyes around, but some viewers are more susceptible than others. As a three-chip LCD-based projector the Epson doesn't have rainbows.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Although it has the same lumens specification as the BenQ projectors, the Epson can get brighter. It's not as bright as the 3,000-lumen Optoma UHD60, but in our tests it comes pretty close, especially if you compare accurate picture modes.

My favorite feature on the Epson, and something rare at this price range, is the power lens. The ability to zoom, focus and perform both horizontal and vertical lens shift using keys on the remote, as opposed to manual dials on the projector itself, makes setup a breeze compared to the other projectors. I also appreciated the Epson's long zoom, and the fact that you can save two different lens memories for different positions.

To use the 3D feature on the HC4000 you'll need to buy compatible active 3D glasses, and they're not cheap. Epson's own (model ELPGS03) cost $100 each, and third-party versions on Amazon are about $50 each. Glasses compatible with 3D-capable DLP projectors, on the other hand, cost around $25 each.

Lamp life is decent, and as usual you can adjust the settings to dim the image and extend the number of hours up to 5,000 in Eco mode. That maximum is only about a third of the hours BenQ and Optoma claim in their dimmest modes, however.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity and convenience

  • HDMI inputs: 2
  • PC input: Analog RGB
  • USB port: 1
  • Audio input and output: No
  • Digital audio output: No
  • LAN port: Yes
  • 12v trigger: Yes
  • RS-232 remote port: Yes
  • MHL: No
  • Remote: Backlit

Of the two HDMI jacks only one, HDMI 1, is fully 4K/60Hz compatible, with both HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support. HDMI 2 supports version 1.4 of both specs. I would have liked to see support for MHL but that's not a huge knock.

Yes it's rather large and intimidating, but at least Epson's remote has lots of direct-access keys and full backlighting. I especially like the Blank key, which you can use to black out the image temporarily without turning the projector completely off. The projector's suite of picture adjustments is top-notch too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality comparisons

The Epson Home Cinema 4000 can deliver an excellent big-screen image overall, but not quite as impressive as the Optoma. I preferred it by a nose to the BenQ HT2550, despite that projector's superior native resolution.

The HC4000 can get brighter than the BenQ projectors, making it a better fit for larger screens and/or rooms with some ambient light, but can't quite match the Optoma. In its brightest picture mode, "Dynamic," it measured 251 nits, the equivalent of 2,398 lumens when you remove my screen from the equation (thanks to Chris Heinonen for the lumens calculator). That mode is exceedingly green to the point of being unwatchable, however. The Bright Cinema mode has much more accurate color and still got very bright at 175 nits -- nearly as bright as the Optoma's most accurate bright mode.

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