The (light) wave of the future
What is the Epson LS10000?In essence the EH-LS10000 is a projector that uses a three-chip Liquid Crystal on Quartz (LCoQ) design combined with a laser light source. Although that description doesn't do justice to how revolutionary this new projector actually is in terms of the technology involved. In fact, the LS10000 was something of a surprise when Epson announced it at CEDIA last year, largely catching the rest of the industry off guard. Epson's LCoQ design means that, like JVC's D-ILA which uses a similar Liquid Crystal on Silicon approach, the LS10000 can deliver superior blacks compared to either standard LCD projectors or DLP projectors; even if it's Epson's use of a laser light source that really caught everyone's attention.
Although the use of bulbs still dominates the projector market, they are inherently limited in terms of their long term stability and life span. There have been attempts to try alternative light sources such as using LEDs and even LED/Laser hybrids but these have also had various limitations. The LS10000's use of a full laser light source means that it promises almost instant on and off, a brighter image, better colour accuracy, a more consistent performance, limited dimming and a 30,000 hour life span. Whilst the LS10000 isn't a native 4K projector it can, like the recent JVC projectors, accept a 4K signal and it includes a 4K enhancement feature to produce a higher perceived resolution.
The LS10000 includes plenty of other features such as a motorised lens cover and a lens memory function for those that use a scope ratio screen. It also supports 3D and comes with two pairs of active shutter glasses, as well as a backlit remote control and a simple but effective menu system. There are ISF certified calibration controls and for the custom install market there's support for network control and Control 4. The LS10000 is also keenly priced at the time of writing (May 2015), hitting that important mid-range price target of £5,999 and putting it directly up against Sony's native 4K VPL-VW300. The Epson EH-LS1000 is a glimpse of the future but is it future-proof enough to make it viable during a period when so much is changing? Let's find out...
DesignThe first thing you'll notice about the LS10000 is that it's big, easily one of the biggest projectors we've reviewed recently and similar in size and weight to Sony's VPL-VW1000. However despite measuring 550 x 80 x 550mm (WxHxD) and weighing in at 18kg it doesn't feel bulky - which we can put down to the attractive design. The LS10000 is one of the prettiest projectors we've seen in a while, with it's matte black chassis and sleek curvaceous lines; whilst the build quality is excellent. There is a centrally mounted high quality lens with a motorised cover and on either side are air exhaust vents. The lens controls are also motorised (focus, zoom and shift), making setup easy and there is an effective lens memory feature for those that use a scope ratio screen.
On the left hand side as you face the projector is a pop-out panel that has some basic controls for on/off, source, lens, menu, navigation and escape; although obviously you can do all of this from the remote control. The pop-out panel helps maintain the LS10000's sleek lines but it is in exactly the place where you put your hand when lifting the projector, so expect the panel to pop-out when moving the Epson. Above this pop-out panel there are some indicator lights showing if the projector is on, the status of the laser and the temperature; there's also another on/off button. At the rear of the LS10000 is a removable grille that covers the air intakes, filters and connections; this can be screwed back on once you have attached all the cables and once again keeps things tidy.
The LS10000 is a big projector but thanks to its attractive design and sleek lines it never feels bulky.
Connections & ControlAs mentioned, the connections are at the rear and covered by a removable grille; so once you've made all your connections you can screw the grille back on again. This will no doubt please custom installers as it means that you can keep the cable management tidy and maintain the projector's minimalist design and sleek finish. In terms of connections there are two HDMI inputs and although these aren't fully HDMI 2.0 compliant, one of them does supports HDCP 2.2. There's also component and composite video input, a LAN port for network control, an RS-232 serial connector, two 12V triggers, a VGA connector and a USB port for any service needs.
The LS10000 comes with Epson's standard black plastic remote control which, whilst quite large, is attractively designed and well made. It includes a backlight which is useful in the dark, the large buttons that are well laid out and intuitive to use, whilst the remote control itself is comfortable to hold and simple to operate with one hand. There are buttons for all the usual controls such as on/off, sources, menu and navigation, along with dedicated ones for specific functions such as lens, memory, Sup Res/4K, 2D/3D, colour mode and RGBCMY.
Features & SpecsThe LS10000 is loaded with features although the use of a laser light source is obviously the main selling-point. The projector uses two blue 41.9 mW lasers, one of which creates the blue light, whilst the other is bounced off a yellow phosphor and, since yellow is composed of red and green, that creates those two colours as well. There are warnings on the projector and in the manual, telling you not to look into the lens, which seems very sensible and Epson rate the brightness of the LS10000 at 1,500 lumens.
A laser light source provides a number of key benefits, firstly you can switch the LS10000 on and off very quickly. We timed it at 19 seconds from pressing the on button to the blue screen appearing and 5 seconds from pressing the standby button and the motorised lens cover closing. So there's none of that interminable waiting for the UHP bulb to warm up or cool down. A laser light source also offers both consistency and long life, up to 30,000 hours in ECO mode according to Epson. It's also relatively quiet, with the ECO mode producing a fan noise of 19dB, although this will increase slightly if the 4K Enhancement feature is on.
If that wasn't enough, the LS10000 also uses a reflective version of LCD which Epson are calling Liquid Crystal on Quartz (LCoQ). This is essentially the same as JVC's D-ILA which uses LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicone) and thus promises much better black levels than standard LCD projectors. If the prospect of 'JVC-like' black levels weren't enough to raise your interest, the combination of LCoQ and a laser light source promises an even better contrast performance. In fact Epson say the combination of LCoQ and their laser light source will deliver "unprecedented black levels", with zero lumens output during full-black scenes.The LS10000 comes with two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses that use the RF standard. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear and large enough to fit over regular glasses. There are wide sides which help with blocking out any ambient light and the lenses are suitably neutral in tint. The glasses can be recharged via an included USB adapter and at the top of the frame there is an on/off switch, although the glasses will automatically switch off after a certain period with no 3D signal.
The LS10000 also includes what Epson are referring to as "4K Enhancement Technology", which basically seems to be very similar to JVC's e-Shift technology currently found on their X500, X700 and X900 models. Epson's approach appears to use the same 0.5 pixel diagonal shift to double the horizontal and vertical resolution that JVC do on their e-Shift projectors. This results in a projected resolution of 3840 x 2160 and Epson also apply image processing including edge, texture and detail enhancement. Like the JVC projectors, the 4K Enhancement Technology only applies to 2D images an is not used with 3D, which is still projected at a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
In terms of other features the LS10000 has a wider colour gamut, with DCI and Adobe RGB modes, as well as 10-bit colour processing and ISF certified calibration controls. The LS10000 also includes a 2.1x motorised zoom, a motorised focus and extensive lens shift (90% vertical and 40% horizontal). There are also 10 lens memory settings, including zoom, shift and focus settings for different aspect ratio screens. The LS10000 offers plenty of options in terms of setup and installation and for the custom installers the LS10000 also has support for network control and Control 4.
The main selling point might be the laser light source but the LS10000 comes packed with useful features.
Picture SettingsThe LS10000 comes with a number of picture presets that Epson call Colour Modes although, unlike its US counterpart, there are no THX modes available on the UK model. There is a Cinema mode but we actually found that the Natural mode gave us a more accurate out-of-the-box performance and it allowed access to more features than in the Cinema mode. We found that we didn't need to change the Brightness or Contrast settings for our pitch black testing environment but that might not be the case in your room. We also didn't touch the Colour or Tint controls because we would be using the colour management system (RGBCMY) and we left the Sharpness control at its default of zero.
We chose a Colour Temp of 6500K, left the Skin Tone control at it's default, selected the ECO Power Consumption and turned Dynamic Contrast off. You can open or close the iris aperture manually and , as with the Power Consumption, how much light you'll need will depend on your environment. We left the Gamma control at its default, turned Epson Super White on and selected the HDTV Colour Gamut. We left the Frame Interpolation off and used the 4K-1 setting for the 4K Enhancement feature. Don't forget to make sure that Overscan is turned off and never be tempted to use the Keystone feature, although the Panel Alignment feature can come in handy for fine tuning.
Remember that every projector and environment is different, so just copying detailed settings doesn't guarantee a better picture and might make things worse; instead we would suggest that you also follow our Picture Perfect Guide. You can see our suggested picture settings for the sample of the LS10000 we reviewed in this video:
Pre-CalibrationAlthough the LS10000 uses a laser light source rather than a bulb, we always feel it's a good idea to run a product in for a while before conducting any critical testing. Our review sample only had three hours on its timer and that was despite the same unit having already been reviewed by another publication, so we put another twenty hours on it before taking any measurements.
Overall the out-of-the-box performance of the LS10000 was generally very good, aside from some minor errors in the greyscale. As you can see in the chart below left, there is an excess of red across the scale and a deficit of blue in the brighter parts of the image. This resulted in giving whites a slight yellow push, although this wasn't especially obvious with actual viewing material. This yellow push also affected the colour gamut, as you can see in the CIE chart below right, but overall the colour accuracy was very good.
Post CalibrationThe LS10000 includes a two-point white balance control, which Epson call RGB, and using this we were able to reduce the amount of red in the greyscale and increase the amount of blue energy. The control was rather course in places and obviously we didn't have the level of flexibility that a ten-point control would offer but we were able to get a very accurate greyscale. The errors were now all below three and most below one, aside from 40 and 50 IRE at just below two and 70IRE at just above.
Once we had corrected the greyscale, the already very accurate colour gamut improved further, so it was really just a matter of fine tuning the primary and secondary colours using the colour management system, which Epson call RGBCMY. After calibration we had a reference performance with the colours all hitting their targets and the overall errors well below one.
Of course the CIE chart only shows the colour performance at 100% and since you're rarely just looking at a fully saturated image, the performance of a device at lower saturation points is also important. The graph below show measurements at 25, 50, 75 and 100% saturation and overall the performance is pretty good. Of the primary colours red and green are tracking well but there is an under-saturation in blue. In the secondary colours, cyan and yellow area again tracking very well but there are some minor errors in magenta.
The out-of-the-box performance was good and the calibrated images were excellent with an accurate greyscale and colour gamut.
Epson EH-LS10000 Video Review
Epson LS10000 Picture QualitySo the obvious first question is how does the laser light source actually perform? Well from the moment we first turned the LS10000 on we could see that Epson had delivered a projector that was capable of a superb level of performance. The image immediately had a presence about it that differentiated the LS10000 from many bulb-based projectors and that was before we had even started to calibrate the picture. The laser was certainly bright and there's no doubt that Epson's claims of 1,500 lumens are accurate, although that's with everything maxed out, once you select ECO mode and set the picture up correctly you're getting around 1,000 lumens but that's still very good and perhaps more importantly you should continue to get a similar level of brightness for the life of the projector.
The laser light source coupled with the use of three-chip LCoQ meant that the LS10000 also delivered black levels that were excellent and unsurprisingly reminded us of the JVC projectors that we've previously reviewed. That's praise indeed because JVC have led the way in terms of black levels and contrast performance over the last decade. The LS10000 delivered a contrast ratio of 24,000:1 which whilst not perhaps as good as some of the JVCs we've measured, is still superb. The LS10000 also managed to deliver this kind of contrast performance without crushing the blacks, something which the JVCs could sometimes be accused of doing, and handled shadow detail very well indeed. Epson's claims of a complete lack of light on a black screen only apply if you engage the Dynamic Contrast feature. Since effect this only applies to a black screen and the feature itself introduces other artefacts, we would rather leave it off. However the LS10000 delivered an impressive image that had a solidity and a sense of impact that only comes from deep blacks coupled with a bright image.
The image uniformity was excellent and using test patterns we couldn't see any image aberrations or other artefacts, which suggests the LS10000 uses a good quality lens. There was a very slight misalignment of the blue panel but we were able to correct this using the panel alignment feature. The overall video processing was also very impressive, handling lower resolution content with ease. Although LCoQ may be new, just like LCoS/SXRD/D-ILA it's still a version of LCD technology, so motion handling isn't one of its strong points. As we would expect we got around 300 to 400 lines of motion resolution with the frame interpolation turned off. You can improve this using the frame interpolation feature but it immediately makes film-based content appear too smooth and ruins the lovely film-like images. You could perhaps experiment with frame interpolation for fast paced sports action but we would always recommend leaving it off for watching films and dramas.
One of the other new features on the LS10000 is Epson 4K Enhancement control that, like JVC's e-Shift technology, creates a pseudo 4K effect from a physical device that diagonally shifts the image by half a pixel to double the horizontal and vertical resolution. There are five settings (4K-1 to 4K-5), although you can also adjust the effect using additional controls. We found that 4K-1worked very well, creating a perceived increase in resolution and detail without introducing sharpening artefacts. However all the other settings added far too much sharpening and the image began to look over-processed and artificial. We also noticed that if a film has a lot of film grain then the 4K Enhancement feature can struggle, ultimately highlighting the grain in an unwanted manner. However for most content and especially digitally shot productions the 4K-1 can give the impression that you're almost watching native 4K content. If you do have native 4K content, then the LS10000 can accept the signal and use the 4K Enhancement feature to deliver an image that whilst not completely native 4K, is of a higher resolution than just Full HD.
So how does the LS10000 look with actual material? In a word - stunning. The accurate image, superb black levels and impressive contrast ratio all came into play, resulting in a beautiful projected image. The video processing and especially the 4K Enhancement feature really could add to the experience, resulting in wonderfully detailed images. Whilst motion handling might not be the projector's strong point, it certainly handled our 24p Blu-rays very well. The scene in Gravity where Sandra Bullock's character tumbles off into the depths of space can be a test for any display and the LS10000 handled it superbly, with the deep blacks of space, the bright white of her spacesuit and the details in the stars and of planet Earth. The IMAX footage in Interstellar was equally as impressive and other recent purchases like John Wick, Unbroken and Edge of Tomorrow also looked superb. The raid on Bin Laden's compound at the end of Zero Dark Thirty takes place in almost complete darkness and can be a severe test of a display's ability to deliver blacks and handle shadow detail but the LS10000 passed with flying colours.
Thanks to the inherent brightness and extremely fast response time of the laser light source, this level of performance also applied to 3D content. The LS10000 defaults to its brightest setting when a 3D signal is detected, so the projector was able to deliver bright and accurate 3D images that were almost completely free of any crosstalk or other unwanted artefacts. The glasses synced easily and the sense of depth and contrast within the image was superb. The projector handled the motion with the 3D image extremely well, given its inherent limitations, and there was plenty of detail in the picture. Although it should be pointed out that, just like with the JVCs, there is no 4K enhancement with 3D. However that really doesn't matter as the LS10000 delivered wonderful 3D images that had plenty of dimensionality and pop. Watching Smaug's attack on Lake Town at the beginning of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was superb, as was the Quicksilver scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The LS10000 also proved to be an excellent projector when it came to gaming. The nature of the laser light source helps to keep the input lag low, as long as you select Fast mode, thus making gaming enjoyable on the big screen. The images were bright and colourful and despite not being able to use 4K Enhancement with Fast mode, the 1080p games on our PS4 still looked very impressive. The Epson sometimes struggled with quick movement on the screen but the obvious advantage of the LS10000 is that you can game for hours without worrying about the bulb dimming. There's no doubt that whether you're watching 2D content, 3D movies or gaming, the Epson LS10000 will deliver a superb image and not only that, it will continue to deliver it consistently and for a long time.
The LS10000 delivered a fantastic performance with a natural and detailed image, superb blacks and decent motion handling.
- Excellent black levels
- Effective laser light source
- Accurate calibrated images
- Impressive video processing
- Plenty of features
- Great design and build quality
- Competitive price
- Not native 4K
- HDMI inputs limited
Epson EH-LS10000 Laser Projector Review
Should I buy one?Well if you don't like the idea of bulb-based projectors then the Epson LS10000 is definitely the one for you. There's no doubt that laser projection is the future and the almost instant on/off, improved accuracy, increased brightness, long term stability and 30,000 hour life span are all great reasons to buy one. It can deliver enough brightness to handle less than ideal conditions and you can use the projector for watching TV or gaming without having to worry about the bulb dimming.
Of course all these benefits would be rendered moot if the LS10000 was incapable of delivering a decent image and thankfully Epson have delivered the goods in this department. The out-of-the-box accuracy was very good and the projector capable of a reference level of accuracy after calibration. The use of a three chip LCoQ design also meant that the LS10000 was able to deliver the kind of black levels and contrast performance previously only seen on JVC projectors.
The LS10000 produced some lovely 2D images with plenty of detail, natural-looking colours, great blacks and decent motion handling. The 3D performance was just as good, with bright images that were free of any crosstalk. There are plenty of other great features too, with the 4K Enhancement control working well in its lowest setting and the motorised lens controls and memory function making setup easy, even for those that use a scope ratio screen.
Custom installers will like the projector's flexibility and control support, and despite being quite large the LS10000 sports a sleek design and excellent build quality. The main negatives for the Epson are that it isn't a native 4K projector and the HDMI inputs aren't full 2.0. On the plus side it can accept a native 4K signal, it supports a DCI colour space and has 10-bit video processing, which means you can still take advantage of UHD Blu-ray when it arrives. So if you're currently looking for a projector in the £5,000-7,000 price range, the Epson EH-LS10000 should definitely be on your short list.
What are my alternatives?That's the real question and the answer largely depends on your priorities. If you're convinced of the benefits of laser projection then the LS10000 is currently the only game in town, although that's sure to change going forward. However if you're happy to stick with bulb-based projectors then JVC's DLA-X700 is the obvious alternative and at a current price of £5,899 it's also slightly cheaper. The features and performance are very similar to the Epson and in some respects such as calibration controls and black levels the JVC is still superior; just don't go putting thousands of hours on the bulb.
If you don't mind a projector that uses a bulb but have your heart set on a native 4K model then the Sony VPL-VW300 at a current price of £5,849 should definitely be on your wish list. This projector has dropped some of the features found on the more expensive VPL-VW500 such as a dynamic iris or lens memory but it still delivers a fantastic performance and it uses a native 4K panel. Of course with so much change at the moment in terms of UHD standards for both broadcast and Blu-ray, there is a case to be made for sitting on the fence but if you decide to buy an Epson EH-LS10000 laser projector you definitely won't be disappointed.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels10
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money9
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