Posted on January 21, 2020 By Scott Wilkinson
Laser-illuminated projectors are becoming increasingly common in the consumer and commercial markets, and with good reason. Laser-based light engines can be very bright and last tens of thousands of hours, greatly reducing maintenance costs.
Epson offers many models of laser-based commercial projectors, including the Pro L1070U. This super-bright model is designed for large venues, yet it’s relatively compact, and it offers a plethora of inputs and control options.
The Epson Pro L1070U measures 21.5″ x 7.4″ x 19.1″ (WxHxD) and tips the scales at 34.4 pounds without a lens. That’s pretty hefty, so take care when mounting it on the ceiling. Depending on the Lamp Mode setting, the projector is specified to generate fan noise from 30 to 36 dB, which is not super quiet, but not bad. The case’s simple, clean design should blend into just about any environment.
This is a 3LCD-based projector—that is, it utilizes three LCD panels, one each for the red, green, and blue portions of the image. The light source is a set of blue-laser diodes, some of which excite a yellow phosphor wheel whose light is then filtered into its red and green components. The blue light from the lasers and red and green light from the phosphor wheel are each directed to pass through the corresponding LCD panel, after which the three colors are combined and directed through the main lens.
Each LCD panel has a native resolution of 1920×1200—aka WUXGA. In addition, Epson’s 4K Enhancement technology quickly shifts each pixel diagonally between two positions, and each of those “virtual pixels” can have independent color and brightness. This doubles the effective number of pixels on the screen, because the shifting occurs too fast for the eye to see. It’s not true 4K/UHD resolution, but it is twice the resolution of WUXGA, and it allows the Pro L1070U to accept and display 4K/UHD signals. However, the projector does not support high dynamic range (HDR).
Lasers have exceptionally long operational lifespans; those in the Pro L1070U are specified to last 20,000 hours in Normal Lamp mode, which greatly reduces maintenance needs. According to Epson, that 20,000-hour figure is the time it takes the maximum brightness to drop by half of its initial value.
Speaking of brightness, the Pro L1070U claims a peak light output of 7000 lumens, which is more than enough for well-lit commercial venues. Of course, the peak light output will undoubtedly be less if you have it calibrated, but I bet it will still be quite high compared to home-theater projectors, which are designed for dark rooms. I always take brightness specs with a grain of salt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the measured value is still impressive.
Likewise, I view manufacturer contrast specs with a skeptical eye. Epson claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 2,500,000:1 using a dynamic iris, which will probably be less in a real-world measurement, especially after calibration. Still, I’d wager that the effective dynamic range is probably quite good.
The Pro L1070U can accommodate 11 different available lenses, all of which provide powered focus, zoom, and lens shift with multiple lens memories to store different settings. The supplied ELPLM08 lens has a zoom ratio of 1.6x and a throw ratio from 1.44:1 to 2.33:1. It also offers a wide lens-shift range (±67% vertical, ±30% horizontal), which provides great flexibility in placement. In addition, the projector provides horizontal and vertical keystone correction, but I strongly recommend against using them if possible, since they reduce visible detail in the image.
One of the available lenses is the ELPLX01 ($8249), which enables the projector to be used in an ultra-short-throw (UST) application. This lens features a 0.35 throw ratio and zero offsets, making it ideal for narrow spaces and rear-projection setups.
In some applications, multiple projectors are used to create a truly giant image. The Pro L1070U offers advanced edge blending, which joins color-matched images from several projectors into one super-sized display. In addition, one or more projectors can be conveniently controlled remotely over the Web or the venue’s local network.
One very cool feature is the ability to play content directly from a USB storage device plugged into the projector’s USB port. Alternatively, you can stream content from a Mac or Windows PC via Wi-Fi to the projector by plugging an optional wireless dongle (ELPAP10, $99) into the same USB port. This also requires Epson’s iProjection software running on the computer.
The Pro L1070U is fully compatible with Crestron, Extron, and AMX control systems. This allows users to easily integrate the projector into their existing system, which is especially important if it’s placed in a relatively inaccessible location, such as a high ceiling.
On its back panel, the Pro L1070U provides a plethora of connectors, including one DVI-D, one HDMI 2.0 (18 Gbps) with HDCP 2.2, and one HDBaseT input. In addition, five BNC connectors and a D-Sub15 VGA connector offer analog-video inputs. The VGA, BNC, and DVI-D/HDMI inputs have dedicated 3.5mm stereo-audio inputs, and a VGA monitor output has its own 3.5mm audio output.
Rounding out the connections are an Ethernet port, a USB Type B port for service, an RS-232C port for connecting to a control system, and a 3.5mm remote jack. Finally, a USB Type-A port on the side of the projector lets you connect a USB storage device or the Wi-Fi dongle.
Unlike most projectors, the onboard controls are found on the back panel. In most other cases, these controls are found on the top of the projector casing. Either way, if the projector is mounted somewhere relatively inaccessible, such as a high ceiling, those controls won’t do you much good. Instead, you’ll want to use the included remote or control the projector with something like a Crestron, Extron, or AMX system.
In addition, Epson provides projector-management software for Windows PCs, and users can point a browser to the projector’s IP address to access a graphic user interface that replicates the functions of the unit’s on-screen display. Of course, this requires the Wi-Fi dongle to be plugged into the USB port on the side of the projector.
The Epson Pro L1070U appears to be a fine choice for commercial applications in large venues. It’s very bright, and the laser light engine will last up to 20,000 hours without having to change a lamp. With 4K Enhancement, it effectively doubles the spatial resolution of its WUXGA imaging panels, allowing it to accept and render 4K/UHD video signals. And unlike many such projectors, it can play content directly from a USB storage device or a computer on the local network.
With 11 different powered-lens options—including a UST lens—the Pro L1070U can be deployed in many different situations. Also, it provides a wide assortment of inputs as well as a variety of control options.
At $8462 with the standard lens ($8148 with no lens), the Pro L1070U ain’t cheap, but it’s less than similar products from companies such as Christie, Barco, and Digital Projection. However, the Epson does have some competition in its price range.
For example, the Sony FHZ75, which I wrote about here, is a laser-illuminated 3LCD model with 6500 lumens of peak light output and roughly the same size and weight. It does not pixel-shift its WUXGA panels, but it claims to maintain a constant brightness throughout the laser’s lifespan, and it automatically recalibrates itself after every 500 hours of use. On the other hand, it doesn’t have quite as many inputs, nor does it offer lens memories or content playback from a USB device. Perhaps most important, it cannot accept and display 4K video signals.
The Sony’s list price is $11,000, though its street price is closer to the $6000 range with the standard lens. Which one is better for you? That depends on which features are more important for your needs. In any event, the Epson Pro L1070U is well worth serious consideration for large venues.
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