Greetings. Seems the word is out about Epson's new higher end home theater projectors thanks to the IFA show in Europe. There are two, but I want to share information primarily on the new Pro Cinema LS10000. This projector has a lot of new firsts for Epson. And I should mention, it's pretty good looking, very "Euro", reminding me of SIM2 projectors. Note, you can click on any of these images for a larger version.
First, let me say, I received an engineering sample, and am reviewing it. I am hoping to have the review ready for the first day of CEDIA next week, when Epson formally announces the LS10000 in the US.
Epson provided image showing the light path
What's so special? Let's start with the light engine. The LS10000 and the less expensive LS9600e
(price also to be determined) sport a dual laser based light engine.
OK, so that means long life, but what else? The color gamut - the range of colors its capable of is massively large - it supports the DCI (that's Digital Cinema) color system,
which has more range than REC709, etc. that we're used to. Of course, we'll need Hollywood to start offering DCI content to us poor home theater folks, to fully appreciate. On regular content the LS10000's performance seems as natural as any lamp based projector, and that's impressive since generally previous attempts at lasers and LED hybrids in home theater projectors have not reviewed that well, due to a large part with getting the color right. BTW, this laser engine based projector is pretty bright - after we calibrated it, it still managed almost 1300 lumens!
According to Epson, this is a 1500 lumen projector, and per our measurements, it beat that claim in brightest mode.
No lamps to buy, and even better perhaps, the Laser engine should
hold it's color calibration, unlike lamp projectors where there's enough color shift that ideally one would recalibrate every 500 hours or so to keep the picture color accurate. Oh, and yes, the projector is 3D ready.
Then there's these new reflective panels.
LS10000 is looking pretty sharp, yet this image is only 1080i from the Victoria Secret fashion show
Epson about 3 years ago showed reflective panels, and a projector built around them but never brought it to market. So, I figure they've have had 3 more years to refine these reflective Quartz panels (Liquid Crystal on Quartz, that's right, Epson's using quartz, not silicon. There's a sense of karma, or symmetry there, after all, Epson is also Seiko watches, and Seiko really established quartz movements in precision watches.
No time to get into the details of the light path, or the panel technologies, rather let me concentrate on the projector's performance so far.
But first, there's a 3rd major step for Epson - the LS10000 (but not the LS9600e) does 4K processing. Best way to describe what they are up to, would be to say the LS10000 is in this sense a direct competitor to the JVCs $7999 and $11,999 projectors.
LS10000 showing Jennifer Lawrence in Catching Fire (1080p) . Epson's Super Resolution 4K is set at it's medium position 4K - 3.
Epson is apparently doing something similar to JVC, let's call it pixel shifting, but Epson says they have a somewhat different approach. I don't have details yet. We'll quibble about that in the full review perhaps, but the point here is that it takes 1080p signals, upscales, processes at 4K and then makes use of the shifting to produce a much sharper seeming image than standard 1080p. Epson offers 5 levels of this processing in their Super-Resolution system, from 4K - 1 to 4K - 5.
Now this is some serious detail enhancement but it's still working with 1080p content, and they are still 1080p panels.
As you have seen in the images so far, excellent perceived sharpness, despite the fact that you are looking at images only 1000 pixels wide when enlarged, so only 1/4 the resolution roughly of 1080p. As the projector I have here is an early engineering sample, it's not surprising that the panels were not well aligned (which should almost be expected). Fortunately the panel alignment feature really helped, but I'd be shocked if full production LS10000s don't have significantly more closely aligned panels. Black level performance, I must say, is noticeably better than the Epson 5030UB can produce.
4K content projected by the Epson LS10000
The real fun begins when you feed the LS10000 true 4K content. I've been watching true 4K content on the LS10K, with my source being a RedRay player. So far I have no popular movies, but the clarity with true 4K content is almost breathtaking. (I'll reserve breathtaking for true 4K projectors like the Sony VPL-VW1100ES which prices out at $27K, which will be here in a couple of weeks. I plan a shoot out between the two.
Owl - 4K, full frame
Owl - optically zoomed in on area around left eye
So, here's a pair of images. The first one - is the full frame, but for the second one, I zoomed in so you can get a real idea of the sharpness.
Wait - there's a 4th new capability in this Epson - Lens Memory - these are Epson's first two projectors with motorized zoom, focus and lens shift, so with the touch of a button on the remote, you can resize for 2.35 or 2.40 to standard 16:9. Finally, says the guy with a 2.35:1 screen.
But what about the price? Epson tells me its not set yet, but they are promising "under $8000" here in the US.
Snap on, and other emblems 4K source material
Because it is in the Pro Cinema line, which means sold only through Epson's authorized dealers (sorry - no online), you get extra goodies in the box - they will include a ceiling mount, a cable cover, and I assume, the usual two pair of lightweight 3D active glasses. The projectors will come with a three year warranty and include their 3 year rapid replacement program.
Close up (highly cropped look at one emblem
But, for all of that, it's the picture that counts. Certainly this Epson looks ready to challenge JVC in terms of 4K processing of 1080p material, but I suspect the Epson really will prove to be exceptional when there's lots of true 4K content to feed it. Blu-ray 4K (UHD) isn't that far off, so neither will be 4K content. I can't wait.
One last image pair for your consideration (1080i with Super-Resolution 4K-3):
Game Mix on DirecTV, 1080i source material, projected using LS10000
Closeup of the image above, to provide a close look at Super-Resolution 4K in operation. Nicely sharp!
Don't forget to check out our full review of the Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 projector, which should publish 09/10.
I'm having fun with this projector, can barely wait until late October when production units start shipping, so I can bring one of those in and see what improvements will be there, above and beyond better aligned panels. And even better, about three weeks after this post, I should be doing direct comparisons between the Pro Cinema LS10000 and Sony's $27K VPL-VW1100. And I'll have lots of 4K movies for my comparisons. Until now, JVC and Sony were the serious players in the $3500 to $15K range. Looks like there's one more now! -art