What is the Epson EH-LS100?
Epson has form when it comes to laser projectors, they were one of the first to market with the excellent EH-LS10000 back in 2015, and the technology has certain advantages over bulbs such as instant on and off, a longer lifespan, not really dimming and greater consistency. The LS100 does have certain limitations, it's only a 1080p Full HD projector so there's no support for 4K Ultra HD or High Dynamic Range, but if that isn't important then it certainly has potential – so let's plug it in and find out.
Unlike the professional laser projectors used in the cinema, which actually do beam a laser out of the lens, there are clear health and safety issues when it comes to using this technology in the home. That's why the laser is reflected off a phosphor-coated surface, it's not direct laser light so whilst it's certainly bright, it won't blind you. There's also another safety feature designed to protect the eyesight of curious cats and toddlers, if the projector senses something in front of the lens the light source is immediately turned off.
At the rear of the chassis is the forward-facing projection window and a sensor to detect anything blocking it, whilst over on the left hand side are the exhaust vents and and the connections. On the right hand side you'll find some basic controls which you can use if the remote control isn't to hand, along with the replaceable air intake filters and focus control behind a drop down panel. Finally on the underside of the projector there are three adjustable feet to allow you to level the LS100 if necessary.
Connections & Control
There are two screws that need to be unfixed before you can take off the removable cover and behind this you'll find a number of other connections. There are VGA connectors for a monitor and a computer, along with an RS232 connector for serial control. There is also a composite video input, two audio inputs and an audio output, as well as a dedicated slot for installing a wireless LAN module.
Features & Specs
The other big selling point is the LS100's use of an ultra short throw lens, which means it can deliver an image from 70 to 130 inches with the lens between 41 and 78cm from the screen or wall. The LS100 uses three 0.67 inch LCD panels, which isn't unusual, but what is more unusual is that these panels are 16:10 rather than the normal 16:9. As a result the projector supports Full HD 1080p but the actual resolution of the panel itself is 1920 x 1200 pixels. This suggests the LS100's heritage is based more on Epson's data projectors rather than their home cinema models, a fact that is borne out by the inclusion of a built in speaker.
The LS100 can be controlled via a wired or optional wireless LAN connection and it also supports PJLink and Crestron RoomView. The Epson does support 10-bit video but, as already mentioned, it is limited to 1080p Full HD and HDCP 1.4. That means it can't support with 4K Ultra HD or High Dynamic Range (HDR) and it doesn't support 3D either.
Setup & Operation
Epson EH-LS100 Video Review
The brightness of the LS100 means that it is suitable for rooms with light walls and ceilings, which is undoubtedly the kind of environment for which it was designed. The downside of this higher brightness is a raised black floor that means the black levels are more a dark grey and the contrast ratio is poor – basically 1,000:1 which is a far cry from the 2,500,000:1 claimed by Epson. However, whilst this is clearly an issue when using the LS100 in a darkened home cinema, it's less of a problem in a room with ambient and reflected light.
The LS100 includes a dynamic contrast feature intended to use the laser light source to improve the black levels and whilst it does to a small degree, the reality is that blacks are not the strength of this projector. The fact that it uses LCD panels doesn't help much and the shadow detail is also limited. However the Epson can deliver bright and punchy images and when watching TV or sport or gaming and the inherent limitations are less of an issue. The same is true of the colour inaccuracies, which are also less of an issue than you might think.
The LS100 has no frame interpolation feature but for an LCD panel the motion handling was surprisingly good. It certainly handled the constantly moving camera of Gravity without introducing unwanted judder and other artefacts, whilst football and gaming also looked very good. That's just as well because we suspect the Epson will primarily be used for watching movies, sporting events and a spot of gaming. In the case of the latter, the input lag is 48ms which won't bother most people but might be too high for competitive gamers.
One last idiosyncrasy of the LS100 is that it uses a 16:10 chip, rather than the usual 16:9, which means there is a light border around a 16:9 high definition image. You can blow the image up by selecting certain aspect ratios but then you lose part of the picture and, once again, you're using electronic scaling which will rob the image of fine detail. The best solution, if you're using a 16:9 screen, is to adjust the size of the projected image so that the lighter area is masked by the black border of the screen.
Although you don't need to use a screen, for the best results we would certainly recommend that you get one. We used the projector with both, starting in a dedicated home cinema with blacked out walls and a fixed unity gain screen. This delivered the best image, although it also mercilessly revealed the contrast limitations of the LS100. We also used a white wall in our longe which, whilst not ideal, did work to a degree. However you need to make sure the wall or screen (if you're using a pull down model) is perfectly flat because any uneven surfaces or undulations will be very obvious on camera pans in football.
Assuming that you have been careful in your set up of the LS100, then you should have no issues as far as the geometry of the image is concerned and screen uniformity was good with no obvious image issues, aside from those already mentioned. The film Gravity proved a useful test, not just for the constantly moving nature of its images but also for its combination of bright and dark scenes. The LS100 handled the bright white of the space suits extremely well and rendered the detail in the computer animation with precision.
However the darker scenes and the numerous shots of deep space revealed the poor black levels and shadow details. The dynamic contrast feature did improve the perceived blacks slightly but ultimately the LS100 struggled with these scenes in a darkened home theatre. Where it fared better was in our lounge, with white walls and ceiling, where the reflected light washed out the blacks anyway, thus masking the poor performance in this area. Since these are the conditions that the Epson is designed for and given its brightness, it will doubtless prove popular with a mass market audience even if it isn't the best choice for a home cinema enthusiast.
- Uses a laser light source
- Ideal for smaller and brighter rooms
- Easy to set up and use
- Accurate greyscale and gamma
- Attractive price point
- Inaccurate colour gamut
- Poor black levels and contrast ratio
- Limited to Full HD
- No backlight on remote
Epson EH-LS100 Laser LCD Projector Review
Yes the LS100 lacks support for 4K and HDR but if that isn't important, and for many people it isn't, then the Epson starts to make sense. The LS100 is certainly bright enough to operate in rooms with white walls and ceilings, just like a TV, and it has the lifespan of a TV as well. It is fairly noisy in its brightest mode, although the quieter mode can still put out some serious lumens, but it's easy to set up and whilst you can use a simple white wall, to to get the best we'd recommend using a dedicated screen.
The LS100 can deliver a very watchable picture with plenty of detail and surprisingly good motion handling for an LCD projector. The greyscale and gamma are excellent and whilst the colour accuracy could have been better, it's unlikely that most people would be bothered. The black levels, contrast ratio and shadow detail are all poor, which is an unfortunate side effect of the projector's inherent brightness and LCD panels but this is likely to be less of an issue in the average living room.
The Epson EH-LS100 certainly makes for a viable and cheaper alternative to a big screen TV but it is clearly aimed at the mass market rather than the home cinema enthusiast. If you consider yourself the latter and are thinking of buying a projector then you would be better served by Epson's superb EH-TW7300. This more traditional bulb-based projector costs a mere £2,199 but supports 4K and HDR and offers superior accuracy and a host of useful features, making it a real bargain.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
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