Question Epson Home Cinema 2040 vs Optoma HD141x

thirdwave

Novice Member
Hi

Having never owned a projector before, I recently purchased an Epson Home Cinema 2040 (which goes by the name of EH TW5120 in the UK) whilst it was on offer through Amazon. I had the choice between the Epson 2040 and the Optoma HD141x (both in the region of £400) and initially found that both had fairly decent reviews as far as cheapy projectors go. Several reviews of the Epson comment on its poor blacks and contrast although users do not always cite this as an issue- worth noting that the review by projectorreviewcenter.com was more forgiving in this respect and describes the 2040's contrast/black levels as marginally inferior to DLPs in this price range, and that too only in dedicated home cinema set ups with no ambient light (the chap from PR did subsequently disclose in the video review that he had been paid by Epson to produce it so potential COI?). There are relatively few formal reviews of the Optoma HD141x although user reviews on Amazon rate it quite highly-however many are from people who have never owned a projector before (understandable since it is an entry level projector) and there are several from disgruntled customers with faulty units, which suggested to me that the build quality on the Optoma may not be great either.

My understanding of the pros and cons of both projectors based on extensive googling is as follows

Epson HC 2040

Pros

Great image quality, both 2D and 3D
Bright-2200 lumens, both colour and white
LCD so no RBE
Picture enhancement+frame interpolation that are usually found in more expensive models
Long lamp life and cheap to replace
Reasonably quiet in ECO mode compared to Optoma
Low input lag
Great build quality and 2 year replacement warranty

Cons
Poor blacks and contrast despite 35000:1 dynamic range claimed by Epson
Noisy Iris
Some issues with ceiling mounting (I`m running it off a laptop stand so don`t bother me)

Optoma HD141x

Pros

Excellent image quality, both 2D and 3D
Bright-3000 lumens-very usable in ambient light
? Decent blacks and contrast due to DLP based on user reviews (although others describe contrast capabilities as 'entry level')
Low input lag

Cons

2X colour wheel so potential RBE
Colour lumens only 1/3 of white, around 300 in cinema mode
Noisy fan according to some even in ECO mode
Runs hot, light bleed (seen videos that confirm this)
Several reports of faulty color wheel, bulb failure after 1000 hours etc (but excellent CS and cheap to replace bulb)

Based on the above the Epson would appear to be the better projector on paper BUT

I've had it for few days now and have been projecting on to a cheapy 120 inch screen that I picked up on Ebay, in one of my living rooms roughly 16X16 in size. The room has a bay window at the front with roman blinds and a glass partition from the adjacent hallway so it is not pitch dark until quite late at night. Besides, the room has a white ceiling, cream carpets and walls so there is some scope for light to be reflected back on to the screen from nearby surfaces.

Despite the decent picture quality and brightness, I have found that the Epson often delivers below average blacks and contrast levels even in reasonably dark conditions with Iris running on full clip. Although dark scenes can appear acceptable at times,brightly lit scenes appear washed out, pillar boxes and anything else black appear a darker shade of grey etc- its almost looks like a grey mist is hanging over the screen at all times. I have tinkered around with the settings but this has only resulted in some marginal improvement. Perhaps I am comparing the results to the those of my Panny LED TV or reading all the negative reviews about poor blacks/contrast have conditioned me to constantly look for the problem but I am wondering whether this could just be an issue with the projector or, more specifically, LCD technology and, if so, would Optoma HD141x (still available for £ 389) being a DLP deliver markedly better results? I have never used a projector for entertainment purposes before so I am uncertain whether all cheapy projectors regardless of the technology deliver washed out, greyish images in similar conditions?

Would calibrating using a CD improve Epson's black level or anything else I could do to improve contrast, such as painting the screen a different colour or using a light filter etc?

In an ideal world, I would have demoed the Optoma prior to considering a swap but none of the stores close to me stock it so I am very keen to hear from those on here who may have owned/used both models.

Thanks in advance
 

mikemag

Distinguished Member
Poor blacks are unfortunately a problem with most LCD projectors, my own included. I have an ND 2 filter over the lens, but even then, plain black backgrounds like when the Apple TV boots up only show a dark grey image.

However, it might be worth having a look an example of the rainbow effect on the likes of YouTube before you think about DLP.

I had the option of buying an Optoma HD 50 at a decent price recently and watched a sequence from The Bourne Legacy, but was put off by an occasional RBE flicker. My wife however, couldn't watch any of it without seeing RBE and now I'm back to waiting for a deal on another LCD.

I suppose my point is that maybe the less than inky blacks might be the lesser of two evils.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
Thank you for the response Mike-whilst comparing the two, it was the prospect of RBE with the HD141x that partly swayed me in Epson's favour. Although many expert reviews of the HD141x refer to it due to the slow colour wheel, the majority of owners on Amazon do not report experiencing RBE- I suppose to see it in action would be the only way to find out if it'd be the case with me-is it also true that those using glasses are more susceptible to RBE since my wife does and she'll be quick to complain if she spots any rainbows(she's pretty miffed about the living room being 'ruined' by the projector as it is lol).

Ultimately, am I making an error by comparing the blacks and contrast on my Panny plasma and LED to a projector displaying images on a passive screen? I am asking this because I have zero experience with projectors and images on many online reviews, including that of the 2040 appear much 'blacker' than the results I am getting? I do like the big image but cannot imagine the projector replacing my TV for everyday viewing as the blacks and contrast are not up to scratch-however, many of the Optoma reviews describe it as replacing their TV which makes me wonder whether it represents a significant improvement in the viewing experience as far as blacks and contrast are concerned? If you didn't see rainbows, would you choose the HD141x over the Epson for picture quality?

I have a couple of weeks before my return window with Amazon closes and I'm certainly not chucking away the box just yet. However, the last thing I want to do is to exchange it for the Optoma only to find that the picture quality was not worth the hassle!
 

bobbyduke

Banned
I had the HD141x and got shot after a month, skin tone was the worse thing that bugged me with it weird coloured foreheads, spent a few more quid on a Epson tw6600 and instantly saw the difference. So no I would not suggest a HD141x ignore the review must be few backhanders given out for them. Google round it always seems to be the projector with most problems tells you all you need to know.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
I had the HD141x and got shot after a month, skin tone was the worse thing that bugged me with it weird coloured foreheads, spent a few more quid on a Epson tw6600 and instantly saw the difference. So no I would not suggest a HD141x ignore the review must be few backhanders given out for them. Google round it always seems to be the projector with most problems tells you all you need to know.

Thanks Bobby-I looked up the TW6600 but it's way over what I'm prepared to spend on a projector at the moment, well at least until one of my tellies gives up the ghost. I did notice on Amazon reviews that the HD141 has more than its fair share of dud units so you definitely have a point about poor quality. My main gripe with the Epson is that poor blacks and contrast degrades SD content to the extent where anything under 720p starts looking like a bootleg DVD and I wonder if a similarly priced DLP would offer significantly better solution in this respect?

The only other projector with decent reviews within my budget is the Benq W1070+ ( around £ 590) but as with the HD141X it seems to have its fan club as well as detractors online.The main appeal for me would be the faster colour wheel so less potential for RBE plus better blacks/contrast (allegedly).

Do you know of any other projectors, both LCD or DLP, within the £500-600 range that offer the above? In any case, would the improvement in black performance enough to justify the additional £150 over my current Epson?
 
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bobbyduke

Banned
I think it is a case of seeing is believing to what suits you best. As for black levels it is a case of paying more to get better and that is grand upwards in my opinion, soon as I put the tw6600 it was same quality as tv where the HD141X I was constantly fiddling with settings for each show I watched, worse one was watching strictly come dancing due to all the lighting and colours used on that gold would wash out the scene make it all look odd. You can buy online and have right to return within 14 days so that is an option to try one out in your home. Specs are bullsh*t so it sells more so don't always be fooled by that and reviews are often fixed to sell, the Epson are known for being brighter than other projectors and can vouch for that, so if its a bright crisp picture you prefer maybe Epson is way to go.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
I think it is a case of seeing is believing to what suits you best. As for black levels it is a case of paying more to get better and that is grand upwards in my opinion, soon as I put the tw6600 it was same quality as tv where the HD141X I was constantly fiddling with settings for each show I watched, worse one was watching strictly come dancing due to all the lighting and colours used on that gold would wash out the scene make it all look odd. You can buy online and have right to return within 14 days so that is an option to try one out in your home. Specs are bullsh*t so it sells more so don't always be fooled by that and reviews are often fixed to sell, the Epson are known for being brighter than other projectors and can vouch for that, so if its a bright crisp picture you prefer maybe Epson is way to go.
Thanks Bob. I realise I'd have to spend a lot more to achieve better black levels and to be fair, I think the room set up/light walls,ceilings etc don't help either. I do like the image that the projector puts out and feel it's a reasonable trade off for the poor blacks/contrast. I have heard good things about the ND2 filter so have ordered a cheapy one to check whether it makes a difference as I find the image too bright even on Eco settings. Will let you know how I get on!
 

bobbyduke

Banned
If it is to bright for you have you not thought about a matt grey screen it will give deeper blacks and take away the brightness?
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
If it is to bright for you have you not thought about a matt grey screen it will give deeper blacks and take away the brightness?
I could try it but it'll probably end in a divorce[emoji2] The missus is quite cross with the 120" screen as it is. Besides, the walls are a very light cream colour and I recently repainted the ceiling bright white, both of which probably don't help matters either. I don't think I'll be able to persuade my wife to repaint these in a darker colour as the room sees frequent use. I have ordered a cheapy ND2 filter from fleabay-might get a more expensive one if it's any good. I read somewhere that sticking a filter in front of the lens can trap heat and damage the projector? Is this true?
 

mikemag

Distinguished Member
I think there's a difference if you use a cheap plastic or the proper glass filter. Try the Fleabay one first to see if there's any difference and then if you like the effect maybe go for a more expensive Hoya one.

I started off with a cheap one, fastened with blu tack over the lens for a couple of hundred hours and didn't notice any adverse effects on the unit.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
I think there's a difference if you use a cheap plastic or the proper glass filter. Try the Fleabay one first to see if there's any difference and then if you like the effect maybe go for a more expensive Hoya one.

I started off with a cheap one, fastened with blu tack over the lens for a couple of hundred hours and didn't notice any adverse effects on the unit.
Thanks Mike..did you find that the filter helped? I have ordered a Hoya (allegedly but for 8.99 suspect it might be a fake) and will try the Blutac method you suggested.
 

mikemag

Distinguished Member
You're gonna have to forgive my terrible iPad photography but here's a shot from GoT that might give you a bit of an idea.

No filter

image.jpeg


With the filter

image.jpeg
 

mikemag

Distinguished Member
A drawing using a decent set of crayons would be better than my photographic skills :blush:

It isn't a night and day difference, but considering that it's not costing you a fortune to try something different, nor does it mean painting a large portion of the wall battleship grey, it's well worth a punt.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
A drawing using a decent set of crayons would be better than my photographic skills :blush:

It isn't a night and day difference, but considering that it's not costing you a fortune to try something different, nor does it mean painting a large portion of the wall battleship grey, it's well worth a punt.
What bothers me most with the Epson is that poor blacks and contrast degrade image quality of anything under 720p to such an extent that it becomes unwatchable on the big screen. Any solution, however imperfect, that restores a more 'cinematic' look even at the expense of some brightness/contrast without having to paint the screen in some disgusting hue of grey would therefore be hugely welcome. I am tempted by the HD141X but suspect the black response may not be significantly better with my current setup-not better than what could be achieved with an ND filter on the Epson in any case
 

bobbyduke

Banned
Snap shot of Roku stick playing Netflix(reign) so not even full 1080p, One oneplus phone used to take it also room light is on with white walls, ceiling and curtains. Epson tw6600 out the box settings on cinema mode.
 

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bobbyduke

Banned
Some old shoots I took when I had the Optoma HD141x via satellite box 1080i room light off.
 

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thirdwave

Novice Member
Some old shoots I took when I had the Optoma HD141x via satellite box 1080i room light off.
Hmm..the images from the Optoma appear to possess more contrast than my Epson but then it may look very different in real life. I will reserve judgement until I try the ND2 filter out (should have it on Friday so will post some screen grabs)
 

bobbyduke

Banned
I use a glass bead screen gets more bite in the picture, I also dead centred the projector to the screen get the full benefit of light back at the projector otherwise it is a duller picture, used some keystone on the hd141x as it should be top or bottom of screen in centre.

Try putting the projector closer to your screen see if its better maybe 120 inches is pushing it a bit.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
You're gonna have to forgive my terrible iPad photography but here's a shot from GoT that might give you a bit of an idea.

No filter

View attachment 692430

With the filter

View attachment 692431
Received the filter and attached it to the aperture using Blutac.Here are a few samples images with and without the filter in a fairly dark room (some ambient light from the hallway)

29776f30bfec08382f64d5b96c894ead.jpg


With filter-note the slightly darker tone of the chap's shirt compared to the image without the filter (below)

d302edd4fd282a2366a95ce1a0ca176f.jpg


Screengrab from BBC News

5007eee0f88b2ae5844468e2b6d12502.jpg


With filter

2eae590ebe11a3908495bbce7261613f.jpg


Without filter

There is definitely an improvement in darker tones and black levels although it's largely achieved through reduction in brightness-although the ND2 filter is supposed to reduce brightness by 50%, it doesn't feel so in real life and the image remains visible even with some ambient light. It does not, however, improve the poor contrast of the projector or issues due to light being reflected back to the screen.

Overall, I'm pleased with the result as addition of the filter has definitely made watching darker content a more pleasant experience.
 

mikemag

Distinguished Member
Cool, now I bet you're gonna start looking up the prices of the proper Hoya glass ones :)
 

bobbyduke

Banned
I think you have to face facts with what you have, which is a budget end projector same as buying a Tesco tv and then trying to get the same quality as say a Samsung etc. The more you spend the better you will see.
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
Cool, now I bet you're gonna start looking up the prices of the proper Hoya glass ones :)
Despite my scepticism,the one I've got looks the real deal-came in a really decent box and no visible flaws/artefacts that I could spot. If it's a fake,it's a really good one-think I'll stick with it for a while before I consider 'upgrading'
 

thirdwave

Novice Member
I think you have to face facts with what you have, which is a budget end projector same as buying a Tesco tv and then trying to get the same quality as say a Samsung etc. The more you spend the better you will see.
True that-I can see you point but I've got three tellies already (including one sat right next to the projector) and only expect the projector to see very occasional use, for instance to watch the odd movie every few weeks. The main purpose is to suss out whether it's the sort of thing for me so I can buy a decent one to replace one of the TVs at some point.

Having considered the opinions given on this thread, I think I'll stick with the Epson for now (due to poor colour reproduction and risk of RBE with the Optoma) and adding the filter has definitely made it a slightly easier choice

Thanks guys[emoji2]
 

bobbyduke

Banned
Your pictures look decent good enough to watch, I am hanging on for my next upgrade I notice huge tvs are tumbling down in price 85inch ones less that 3k just be matter of time before they are even cheaper and bigger then you will get the deep blacks etc without hassle of playing with light and screens.
 

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