Posted on March 13, 2015 By Ron Jones
The Epson Pro-Cinema LS9600e has received our Hot Product award for its combination of a state-of-the art laser light engine, really great colors, excellent 2D and 3D performance, and a great package of features, including lens memory.
The review of the pre-production 4K capable LS10000 is HERE. The updated review for a production LS10000 is HERE.
The LS9600e comes in $2000 less than Epson’s LS10000, with an MSRP of $5999. For that you get a lower light output, but an otherwise similar dual blue laser light engine. You also get wireless HDMI capability that the LS10000 lacks. What you don’t get is the “4K Enhancement” feature found on the LS10000 that provides 4K/UHD signal input capability along with 4K upscaling, using pixel shifting, to present a pseudo 4K/UHD image (i.e., higher resolution than 1080p but less that native 4K/UHD). Also the Digital Cinema picture mode, with the expanded DCI (P3) color space, that is supported by the LS1000 is missing on the LS9600. However, since this picture mode is intended to be used for certain 4K/UHD source material, it’s not really a significant omission for the LS9600e since this model lacks any form of 4K/UHD capability.
Lacking the “4K Enhancement” feature found on the more expensive LS10000, the LS9600e competes against mid-range 1080p projectors from other manufacturers. However, the two features that make this a premium model are the use of a laser light engine and inclusion of lens memory. Those technologies/capabilities will be covered in depth on the Special Features pages. There’s other things to mention though.
The LS9600 case design in identical to the LS10000 and both are very cool looking projectors. They are very “euro” with a lot of curved surfaces rather than the box-like look of many other projectors. Physically its a bit taller than the competing JVCs and Sonys, but has a smaller footprint than the JVC and the Sony 4K models.
I should mention now that as a Pro Cinema series, it comes with these extras in the box: Ceiling mount, cable cover, two pairs of lightweight 3D glasses. Gone, of course is the usual spare lamp that Epson has been providing for years with Pro Cinema projectors. The Pro Cinema series are only sold through a somewhat limited network of dealers/custom installers, while Epson’s Home Cinema series have wider distribution including through many on-line dealers. At this point there is no similar model offered in the Home Cinema series.
As for the competition to the LS9600e coming from other projector manufacturers, I would say that Sony and JVC offer the most likely alternatives. Perhaps the less expensive Sony VPL-HW55es is the closest from Sony in that once you move up to their next projector model (VPL-VW350es) you are getting into the native 4K/UHD models that start at $10,000 MSRP, and that l would be more competition for Epson’s LS10000 instead of the LS9600.
While the JVC projectors offer pixel shifting for pseudo 4K/UHD images, their projectors are limited as to capability with future 4K/UHD video sources (e.g., Ultra-HD Blu-ray). So in my mind the JVC projectors could be viewed as competition for either the LS9600e or the LS10000. Perhaps it would all come down to the potential buyer’s budget where the street price of the JVC DLA-RS49, RS4910, X500R are significally lower than that of the LS9600 while the street price of the JVC mid-level models DLA-RS57, X700R are closer to the price of the LS9600e. Finally the street price of JVC’s flagship RS67, RS6710, X900R are more similar to the price of the LS10000.
However, comparison to either the Sony or JVC models mentioned above are somewhat more complex since only the LS9600e has a long life laser light engine and the Sony HW55es also lacks power zoom, focus, lens shift and lens memory. Epson rates the life of their lasers at 30,000 hours when operated in Eco mode and 17,000 when operated in the High (Extra Bright) power mode. I would assume that in the middle power mode the laser’s life would be somewhere in the 23,000 to 25,000 hours range, but this is not specified by Epson.
By comparison Sony rates the life of the lamp used in the VPL-HW55es at up to 5000 in Eco (low lamp) mode, but as short as 2000 hours in high power mode. JVC rates the lamp life in their RS and X series of home theater projectors at up to 4000 hours in Eco (low lamp) mode and 3000 hours in normal mode. Given that replacement lamps cost $300+ and there may be additional expenses in recalibrating the projector after each lamp replacement, the total lifecycle cost of ownership for the LS9600e may actually prove to be less as compared to a lamp-based projector with a lower initial cost, but with higher recurring costs for periodic lamp replacement and re-calibration.
Like the LS10000, the LS9600e uses Epson’s new LCD-Reflective (LCD-R) micro displays. LCD-R is Epson’s variation of LCoS technology. Epson likes to point out that LCD-R uses a Quartz substrate rather than a Silicon substrate used in tradition Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCos) chips (such Sony’s SXRD or JVC’s DiLA display chips). It’s my understanding that Epson’s LCD-R chips employ a silicon layer, where the on-chip switching electronics reside, that is on top of the quartz substrate. So perhaps a generic term for LCD-R chips would be LCoSoQ (Liquid Crystal on Silicon on Quartz).
The bottom line is Epson’s LCD-R technology shares a lot of the performance attributes with LCoS technology, as used by Sony and JVC. That’s a good thing when it comes to providing great on/off contrast ratios and dark blacks. However, each of these 3 above mentioned manufactures have made different technical trade-offs in their display chip designs that as a result, yields different results when it comes to the performance characteristics and the picture quality offered by their projectors.
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