Projector Reviews

Best in Class – $5000-$25,000 Value Home Theater: Epson LS10500

Epson LS10500 Front

Another vintage Epson gets another award. The LS10500 is Epson’s top of the line, laser-powered, pixel shifting, 4K content capable home theater projector! The LS10500 is feature-laden – a 2.1:1 motorized zoom lens with Lens Memory, CFI, 4K image processing, and more.

Epson LS1000 Overview

The LS10500’s 1,500 lumens seem brighter than similarly bright lamp based projectors.  No surprise there, as that seems to be the consensus, that lasers seem a little brighter.  More importantly, while lamps lose brightness over hundreds of hours, it’s thousands of hours for this laser projector. In theory, it will reach 20,000 hours at full power before brightness is halved. That’s a long time – 40 hours a week for a decade! (In 10 years, 8K will be standard, no doubt.)

Although the LS10500 uses three reflective panels (like LCoS, but theirs are quartz based – LcoQ basically), instead of transmissive (standard 3LCD), the feature set is very much like the less expensive Epson UB projectors.

$5000-$25,000 Best in Class Best Value Home Theater Epson LS10500

For your extra thousands of dollars, you do get a projector with very good native resolution. It’s not up there with the better JVCs, but it’s very good, delivering some of the best black levels around, for a projector with no dynamic iris.

The LS10500 does black frames – it shuts off the lasers when there is nothing to project – a black frame. Zero, nada, none – the amount of light coming out of the lens when the whole frame is supposed to be black. That is impressive, but the LS10500 would be even better if it also used the laser engine to emulate a dynamic iris, as the Acer VL7860 does.  Oh well, the blacks are still very good overall. Better than the 5040UB, which is our benchmark for being a projector that can produce very dark blacks – a real “ultra high contrast” projector.

As with virtually every Epson, the out of the box picture quality is extremely good. I only count Sony as being even better at delivering modes that not only look great, but measure very close to a good calibration. The Epsons, and definitely the LS10500, deliver very nice color in every mode but the brightest, and it’s not bad there, better than most projectors brightest modes.

The Epson LS10500 has excellent picture quality and color, right out of the box.
The Epson LS10500 has excellent picture quality and color, right out of the box.

Since I’m talking picture quality, let’s talk HDR. When I reviewed the LS10500 that was before the last two firmware updates. These are the same as the ones all the other Epson 4K capable projectors that support HDR. In the original review, the LS10500 exhibited too much dimness, a problem for many HDR projectors – it’s a trade off between a bit dim and more HDR “pop” or less HDR pop, and brighter middle ranges.

The new firmware markedly improved the picture on the 5040UB, and should have the same result with the LS10500, making the current LS10500 or anyone that’s been upgraded, a projector, producing a picture superior to when I reviewed it (and I liked it back then, too). Of course, the Epson has CFI, and a wide range of other image processing options.

This Epson is a 1920×1080 x2 pixel shifter, which allows it to produce a quite visibly sharper image with 4K content than with normal 1080 content. In theory, it’s a hair less sharp than the 4K UHD models (especially the 1920x1080x4 pixel shifters).

The Bottom Line on the Epson LS10500

The thing is, compared to say the Sony VW385ES, you are only likely to spot any difference in sharpness unless sitting close – say no more than 10 feet back from a 100” screen when watching 4K content. Further back and all these 4K capable projectors will appear similarly sharp. (The Sony will have a slightly softer “more natural” look, just as sharp, but seeming a bit less processed).

I really would like another look at the LS10500. Other than three things: Not being native 4K, not using the laser engine to the black levels, and not being a bit brighter (this projector would be more awesome if it had 2500 lumens), the LS10500 has just about everything you could want in a home theater projector.

And that includes the rather complete feature set, the 3-year warranty with 3 years of replacement program, the excellent color, and very respectable black levels.

Did I mention it also looks very cool when the lights are on? Add nicely sculpted to its list of assets.

Epson LS10500 Review