Projector Reviews

Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Projector Review: Update

Epson LS10000 home theater projector –  update with full production version – it’s even better!

This update complements the original 9/2014 review based on an early engineering sample of the Pro Cinema LS10000.  The bulk of the info in the original review will not be repeated here.  This update focuses on differences between the two versions, and a few additional things we’ve learned from  almost 400 hours of total viewing between the two projectors.  I will discuss strengths and even a couple of weaknesses.

Below I will also comment in depth about the LS10000 performed head to head against Sony’s flagship 4K projector, on both 1080p and 4K content.  Most of the details though, are in the main review if you are craving more.  Also check out the new LS10000 video.

Before I forget, as an added bonus, when it comes to being  a gaming projector the Epson is definitely acceptable.  It posts lag times right at the 50-51 ms range.  That’s not exceptional for fast gaming, but acceptable to most serious gamers.

The LS10000 Basics - Revisited - and What's New

The LS10000 is a $7999 (official price) home theater projector that offers pixel shifting to enhance perceived sharpness.  Most importantly it supports 4K content, and is the only 1080p projector – pixel shifting or not, that does support 4K content, that has HDMI 2.0 and HDCP (copy protection) 2.2 that will be required for the forthcoming Blu-ray UHD (4K) that should be shipping in less than 6 months from now. (Figure summer 2015!)

It is very bright, the LS10000 after calibration clocks in at about 1200 lumens mid-zoom, and 1300 lumens if using closest placement (wide angle on the zoom).  Color is excellent post calibration and pretty darn good, right out of the box.  Brightest mode measured almost 1750 lumen!  This is a projector comfortable in a dedicated theater, with a typical screens (gain 1.0 to 1.3) of 150 inches diagonal.

I view wide screen movies in my theater on the LS10000 at a 124 inch diagonal size, and there’s still plenty of brightness to spare!

The LS10000 has a solid state light engine rated 17000 hours in extra Bright mode, and 30,000 hours in eco mode.  The normal mode – in between those two, lacks a published “lamp life” but we should be able to assume at least 20,000 based on the other numbers.  (As with conventional lamps, the Epson’s light source – in hours – is based on how long until the system loses 50% of brightness.

Above:  The Spiderman close up (cropped), the gauges, and the Griffith Observatory images are 4K.  The football images are 1080i.

The Pro Cinema LS10000 has some other features not found on any previous Epson projectors.  Those include Lens Memory, allowing support for wide screens (Cinema scope type – such as a 2.35:1 – as compared to the standard HDTV 16:9 (which is 1.78:1).  No anamorphic lens needed.

Also new for Epson are the 3LCD on Quartz reflective panels.  Epson had shown a prototype of this technology a few years back (2011), but are now first bringing it to market.  3LCD on Quartz is similar to the LCoS reflective panels used by JVC, Sony, and Canon, but using quartz.  Think quartz as in quartz watches – Epson’s watch division – Seiko, invented the quartz watch 45 years ago… the rest is history.  Essentially this is Epson’s first projector with reflective, not transmissive panels, first to use quartz, etc.

Super-Resolution – Epson’s name for dynamic sharpness and detail enhancement can now process at 4K.  That is “almost a first.” As simultaneous with the announcement of the LS10000 they also announced an upgrade to their UB series. With that free firmware upgrade, those projectors’ Super-Resolution also can process at 4K.  The difference here, is that you can start with 4K content!  Also, you get a smoother final result by virtue of the pixel shifting skills of the LS10000.

Black levels are really excellent with only a few home theater projectors capable of beating  it.  This Epson supports 3D (1080i, 1080p – there are no 4K standards to support).


Epson LS10000 vs Sony VPL-VW1100ES and VPL-VW350ES

I had the Epson and the Sony VPL-VW1100ES (Sony’s $28K flagship true 4K projector) here at the same time for more than three weeks.  For the last week, I’ve had the Epson here, along with Sony’s “entry level” 4K projector the VPL-VW350ES ($9999).

This has been much fun.   After having taken very close looks in the past, at JVC’s pixel shifting projectors (the only others out there), while they had benefits in perceived sharpness, the last JVC I reviewed, never seemed near as sharp as the Sony VW600ES I had here at the same time.

With the Epson, the shocker is that the Epson on 1080p content, usually seems a touch sharper than the Sonys.  Now, of course, everyone is manipulating the content – the Sony is processing and taking 1080p and mapping to true 4K panels, while the Epson is upscaling and then downscaling the content to a pixel shifting 1080p panel set.

What counts is what things look like.  In the player here are a number of images.

First is a side by side shot of FIFA Football (soccer).  The first close-up under it is the Epson, then the Sony.  When there are consecutive images in the player from the two projectors the Epson is always shown first.

On all side by sides, the Sony is on the left, unless otherwise noted.

Compare them.  All the images in the player above are from 4K content except the last two pairs which are 1080p from The Fifth element, and the partially cropped Bond night train scene from Casino Royal.  There are MIB III images from the 4K version that I downloaded from the 4K download service.  Note that I provide in some cases full frames, and then show a highly cropped close-up so you can compare far better, since we all have “low res” displays (mostly 1080p or less).

In the main review there are images showing the affects of all the different standard and  4K processing settings.

For all the 1080p and 1080i images in this Update, the Epson’s Super-Resolution is set on 4K-2 which I use most of the time (I might drop to 4K-1 if the content is particularly grainy).  Paired with that is the same image on the Sony VW1100ES with Reality Creation on 20 (it’s default) out of 100.  There is one exception:

The next 1080p pair- a cropped closer view of the Bond night train scene, serves up the Epson first with Super-Resolution on 4K-2, while the VPL-VW1100ES image that follows has Reality Creation set to 40, which is about as high as I would normally take the Sony.

Bottom line.  The Epson on 1080p content, often appears sharper, but can appear a touch harder looking.

And on 4K content, the Epson definitely is a bit harder looking, with a slightly grainier look.   Let’s face it, the LS10000 is still a 1080p projector even if it has done an excellent job with it pixel shifting.

To make that point, note the last pair of images – the 4K content provided had the resolution – 3840×2160 in the lower right of the frame.   Those individual numbersare basically 1 pixel wide lines (at 4K).

My point is, that even if, with true 4K content, if the Epson seems every bit as sharp on typical movie content as the 4K Sonys do, when it comes to things like vertical lines, the Epson’s pixels are simply bigger, so it can’t do a 1 pixel wide line that’s based on 4K.  Thus, the Epson’s 3840×2160 looks a lot fatter.  As noted in the video, most of the images (including the resolution close-up, were taken when the production LS10000 first arrived, and before I did a panel alignment.  That still wouldn’t have thinned out those numbers.

The good news, Epson fans, is that you have to look at things like this example to see differences, and it’s not something you will normally notice or see at normal seating distances.   Same thing get close up, and look at credits from 4K content, and you can see jaggies with the Epson that won’t be visible with the Sonys.

At the end of the day, though, for normal viewing Epson’s LS10000 seems more like 4K projectors than any other 1080p projectors out there.  Now that’s something!

The last image is a side by side of “Sony Presents” from one of the pieces of 4K content they provided.  It appears on a black background.  The Sony text is white, the image massively overexposed so you can see what’s happening.  As you can see, there is more blooming around the Epson’s (right side) text than the Sony’s.  Fair enough.  Let’s take that to mean the Sony has a better combination of optics and light tunnel.  Fair enough, especially as the VW1100ES has a superior lens compared to the two less expensive Sony projectors,  both of which are still more money than the Epson.