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Topic: 4k Projector advice
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Now that there’s a lot of 4k content via streaming, Im looking to upgrade from my Epson 3500 to a 4k projector. Ive been pleased with the 3500 because of its great color and lack of the ‘rainbow effect’ Ive seen on the few DLP projectors Ive been able to view. Ive narrowed my list to the 11000 and the 5050ub in the Epson lineup. There are no AV dealers within 80 miles, and then there’s only one, who really likes the high end Sony/JVC (Im not a pro ball player with unlimited funds!) After watching several youtube reviews and reading many articles, I still have unanswered questions that I hope the experienced folks here can help with…

1. Does the $1500 premium for the 11000 deliver a visibly superior image over the 5050ub? Or is the difference in the details?
Will either deliver a visibly superior image over the 3500? (asking for my loving spouse).

2. When replacing the bulb in the 3500, the image pops back to ‘like new’. I would expect the same from the 5050ub. Ive read the 11000 dims the laser after 10000 hours (if Im remembering right). How visibly noticeable is this? And you have to live with the dimmed image until the projector croaks. Is there a repair option? Im not a fan of planned obsolescence - even after 4-5 years. That said, if it’s a visibly superior image, I would seriously consider it anyway...

3. Ive had to repair the 3500 during its life. Is the build quality of the 11000/5050ub better? Should I expect a longer lifetime?

4. Should I consider another manufacturer? The color fringing Ive seen were on mid-range Optoma projectors. My budget is sub-$4k, if that helps.

Viewing details:
Media room has moderate to low ambient light during the day, completely dark at night.
Basic white screen, 120”. Projection distance 17’. Projector wall mounted at 8’ (vaulted ceiling).
Watch mostly movies and tv shows, some live sports - mostly via streaming services.
Large collection of blu-ray and 3d dvds. (I plan on keeping the 3500 for 3d if needed)
Primary source is the Nvidia Shield. Its 4k upscaling is impressive on the 4k tv in the bedroom.
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1. IMO, the lack of any lamp and to have the advanced 4x shifting feature of the LS11000 is reason enough to go that route, but overall, the LS11000 just improves upon the 5050UB. It is a generational upgrade overall so yeah, it looks a fair bit better. Is the $$$ worth it? That's all up to the end user. The contrast jump from the 3500 will be pretty darn significant and will easily be the most obvious performance jump you will see.

I went from a BenQ w1070 (DLP) to a JVC DLA-X590 (LCoS) projector and it's not like the colors were night and day different, but the jump in contrast simply wows me. Every time I sit down and my screen has a high contrast scene or fades to black... I grin.

2. The 5050UB's lamp will be like the 3500. It will dim over time and you won't really notice it until you replace it again. The lamps are fairly spendy compared to those of the 3000 series projectors, so look at Epson pricing for replacement lamps. But, yes, it'll be a shock and reminder when you replace it of just how good that projector looks.

Generally speaking, laser lamps gradually diminish their light output and the brightness rating of 20,000 hours is to half brightness. If you start running the projector in a lower/mid brightness mode, you can often raise the brightness over that 20,000 hour period and pretty much maintain the same brightness output over those hours.

I am unaware (and haven't looked) at the specifics of a point where the projector makes a sharp decline. If so, that would be software driven, not by the hardware. But, if it does not actually do it due to software, then lasers dim at a very predictable and very flat rate. So, if half brightness is 20,000 hours, then 75% brightness should be at 10,000 hours. It shouldn't suddently jump to a lower brightness at any point. At least, not that I'm aware of. I could be wrong here with how Epson does things with this model.

3. I would say that build quality is better, but that's never a guarantee. I've seen Sony's fail, I've seen JVCs fail. Projectors have really hot lamps (lasers) in them and cooling fans which spin and power supplies which deliver a ton of current. These things are all common points of failure. Keep it in a well ventilated area, don't power it on/off frequently. Just enjoy it and expect a failure at some point. Such is life.

4. At that price point, not really. The Epson models are just tough to beat for the money. You do get a LOT of quality out of the new lifestyle models. Little (or no) zoom, no lens shift, but very strong image qualtiy from models like the Hisense C1 and simlar. Check out this video...
https://youtu.be/3KmKv-TTIQQ?si=L5p1Xv4szYI2pZC1

I can't say that I've seen these first hand to compare them, but it may be worth some thought. Can't say I'd want to try to make this decision right now. But, with a longer throw distance (17') to your 120" screen, then you really are going to be pushed more towards Epson models.

Be aware, your existing HDMI cable is likely not rated for 4K.
Be aware, your AV receiver may (or may not) be rated for 4K.

A number of years ago, getting 4K/18Gb/s signals to projectors was a major headache, but older cabling is still a problem.

The Shield is considered one of the best sources out there, so good on that and I think you will enjoy using a 4K capable model and after dark, the black levels should blow you away.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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I (finally) got over my indecision and ordered an Epson LS11000 projector, it will arrive next week. (AVIntegrated) Thank you for the description of laser lifetime. It made so much more sense than what Ive been reading about it.
Ive upgraded my AV receiver a few months ago, and still need to route a new 4k hdmi cable, but Im ready!
Thanks again for your help!
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Got the projector mounted and, I have to say, the Epson LS11000 is amazing! The picture is super crisp, incredible contrast and color saturation, and bright! I haven't seen many projectors, but this is, by far, the best image Ive ever seen on a screen. This projector delivers a markedly superior image. And, a high approval from my spouse!
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That's great to hear! Glad you and your spouse are happy with your purchase.

Definitely go on the website and spend a few minutes leaving your own personal thoughts on it. Include all the good, and whatever headaches you may have found with it along the way...

https://www.projectorcentral.com/part_opinions_rank.cfm?part_id=11782

People aren't leaving enough 'consumer' reviews on the website anymore. That used to be one of my favorite things about the site. Reading what others thought.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.