Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema LS100 Laser Projector – Summary

Epson LS100 Laser Projector Summary: Overview, Competition, Bottom Line

LS100 Summary - Overview

Look out you tiny LCD TVs – and I mean 76” and smaller, there’s a new big screen sheriff in town, packing a powerful laser engine – Epson’s Home Cinema LS100 projector!

Your $2999 (list price) investment, will let you create a massively immersive viewing experience in your home, in rooms that aren’t caves or dedicated home theaters.

This projector is about the big screen experience, as is about as bright as any projector ever targeting the home market, exceeding 5000 lumens (despite only a 4000 lumen claim).

This is not a projector for the home theater enthusiast with a well laid out dedicated room, who wishes to revel in the best possible picture while watching great movies. We hard core enthusiasts have had an entire industry – home theater projectors, focused on us for almost two decades.Yet:

Excellent Color!

Color is very good right out of the box, well balanced, looking at least as good as most LCD TVs do, in most peoples’ homes. It calibrates beautifully for a very accurate color picture, but it’s close, without going to that effort – try our settings!

I interrupt this page to point out that we awarded the Epson LS100 with one of our Special Interest Awards. Those go out to excellent projectors that aren’t exactly mainstream, and or lack some features.  Bright room projectors are becoming mainstream, but as noted in this review, we would have liked to see a few more home oriented features added. Still, the LS100 is an award worthy choice!

Newer is the push for projectors to stay relevant in a world where every year, larger LCD TVs get more affordable. And that means outside of dedicated theaters.

As a hard core enthusiast, it’s easy for me to find fault with Epson’s LS100 for its lack of deference to those of us demanding great black levels, 4K capability, CFI, and some other finer abilities of great home theater projectors.

But, at the same time, I have to admire the ability of the LS100 to do what few projectors can do, and that’s put a huge image up on a screen, with some impressive color, in rooms that are reasonably bright. This is a projector that can do 100” diagonal, less than perfectly in rooms that are bright enough that much smaller LCD TVs are also washing out, and more importantly do a great job is most rooms!

In other words, the LS100 is a fun projector for families who aren’t audio visual hobbyists. That folks includes the vast majority of the people on this planet.

Missing is CFI – smooth motion. I’ve been harassing Epson for 3 years now ever since they started bringing essentially brighter – business/education/commercial projectors over to the home entertainment side. They need to customize them a bit by adding some features like CFI. So, it’s lack – even if I always refer to CFI as nice to have but not critical, is a minor disappointment.

Epson LS100 – Game Projector

Let’s not forget, this projector has got game! Very respectable input lag make it a great way to play your favorite high speed games, be it COD, Doom, Half-Life 2, sports games, auto racing…

It’s not the fastest projector out there for gaming, but its under 40ms input lag, is fast enough for all but the most hard core team player types. You know who you are. If you don’t have an expensive gaming computer, and a special gaming monitor, this projector’s going to let you enjoy gaming on a 90 inch, 100 inch, or larger diagonal screen. Can you say Wow! Duck! Incoming!

Good Rooms or Bad – in terms of ambient light:

The thing to know, is that if your room has very respectable lighting control, you may well choose to watch the projector projecting on the wall, but I’ll definitely recommend a light rejecting screen designed to work with this and other ultra short throw projectors.

In my nightmare living room (during the “worst minutes of the day”) when:

The sun pours onto the light colored floor and across one light colored wall,
Hits people in the face directly when it’s low enough to be just under our patio cover
Also reflects off the ocean into your eyes
And off the light colored slate patio – into your eyes
And even off the light floor – into your eyes
And some of that sunlight reflects off our waterfall and right back onto the screen, and back…you saw it coming – into your eyes!

Here’s what that basically looks like with the Epson LS100 in action:

Epson LS100 daylight

Most of the daytime, though, in this absurdly bright room, the LS100 looks pretty darn good!

LS100 ambient light
The LS100 tackles a significant amount of ambient light, and look great. This shot taken mid-day before the sun comes in.

The LS100 washes out when all that happens, but you could still enjoy a football game! I

The LCD TV we used to bring into the room for our SuperBowl parties – when that same late afternoon lighting would occur mid-game for about 10 minutes, was also difficult to watch. You need sunglasses on to be in that room facing the screen (or TV) to keep your eyes from tearing. Old school photographers – try standing 15 feet back from the screen in that room – my Canon dslr – set to 200 ASA equivalent, needed 1/2000th exposure at f11!   That’s full outdoor sunny day brightness – in the middle of my living room.

But as you can see from pictures taken at other times of the day, the LS100, paired with the right type of screen, rocks. The image is bright and can handle normal ambient light in that room, that’s still a lot brighter than your living room environment!

In my theater, no problem with shutters half open on a sunny day, and all my rear lights on. You hardly notice the difference between watching the HC-LS100 then and with the shutters closed and the lights off, except that when you do that (close shutters, turn off the lights) the Epson is basically a little  too bright, and that’s even in low power (eco) and the calibrated best mode, Side by side, the LS100 on a proper 100″ screen is brighter than any LCD TV in my home.

LS100 - The Competition

I know I keep repeating myself, but it’s still true: The Epson LS100 is not a purist/enthusiast projector. If you need a projector for a well thought out and fully darken-able room, look elsewhere, if you like Epson, of course their 5040UB is slightly less money, and one of the best values ever. Or, if you must have a long life laser projector, for that same better room, Epson’s LS10500 is pretty awesome but it’s over 2X the price (and only 1/3 as bright).

And, of course, there are great Sonys, Optomas, JVCs etc. to consider for your theater.

But what about for your brighter room? What’s this Epson’s competition look like?

There are a few other UST projectors marketed to home. One we included in our Holiday Guide this year, for example is the Viewsonic LS820. It is direct competition, but is DLP, not 3LCD. Also $2999 list price, it claims 3500 lumens. We haven’t had that one in for review yet, but it is on our list. It is definitely a direct competitor.

If you want to stick to laser projectors there’s also the business oriented Optoma UHZ65 and Dell S718QL, some of which will find their way into homes. Now both of those are not just UST laser projectors, but also will accept 4K content, but look out for the price point – the Dell has a list price double that of Epson’s LS100, while the Optoma lists for “only” $2000 more than this Epson.

Viewsonic – who big on UST projectors offers the PX800HD, another UST projector, but lamp based and not nearly as bright – but under $1500 street price, with 2200 lumens, so it can’t really tackle the brighter rooms that the Epson or Viewsonic’s LS820 can, but if you have a reasonably good room and the right screen, it’s definitely at a lower, more entry level price.

I know my wife, would much prefer I get rid of the larger 5200 lumen ceiling mounted G6550 projector I have in our hellish living room and replace it with this one, which would sit on the credenza right below the screen.

The rest of the competition, folks, are more traditional projectors – more home theater oriented. Again, that brings me back to Epson’s 5040UB, their hottest projector, one at its best in a dedicated theater thanks to best in class black level performance.

But choosing between the two Epsons is a fundamental choice of what type of room and what types of watching, you like to do.

Now if you have that “bright room” but don’t have the cash for the LS100, one solution is to go with a more traditional projector, and lamp based.  So, for example, for about half the price, Epson serves up their HC1440. It’s a traditional projector that sits 10 or more feet from a 100″ screen, but with 4400 lumens, it too is designed for the same bright rooms. Other companies also have their bright room projector options, but no one offers more selection in traditional bright projectors than Epson, including their Powerlite 2265U with 4800 lumens and a few more features.

OK, everyone, that’s a wrap.  All that’s left is our usual list of Pros and Cons found on the 2nd summary page.

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