Epson LS10000 Projector Review

The Epson LS10000 brings laser projection to the mainstream. At $8,000 it isn’t cheap but it offers great performance. The contrast ratios are better than all non-JVC projectors I’ve used while offering more lumens than the JVC models. Colors are accurate and it offers almost the entire DCI/P3 color gamut for UltraHD Blu-ray. It runs dead quiet while producing more than enough light for almost any home theater screen and has lens memory for a Cinemascope setup. It won’t noticeably dim for over 20,000 hours and should not need a recalibration while you own it. It lacks native 4K resolution, and is expensive, but is a great projector for daily use.

Why Lasers Rule

Watching a movie on a 100”+ is awesome. It replicates the movie theater experience at home without the annoyances of going out. But projectors aren’t always the most convenient things. They take a minute or two to warm up, bulbs can quickly age over the first 100-200 hours, and the gamma and calibration can change over time. People sometimes try to avoid using them to avoid having to buy a $300 bulb because they have put too many hours on it.

Specs
Manufacturer: Epson
Model: LS10000
Lumens: 1500
Display Type: LCOS
Resolution: 1920x1080
Inputs: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x Composite, 1x Component, 1x DSub, 1x Ethernet, 1x RS232
3D Support: Yes
Projector Size: 21.65" x 21.77" x 8.85"
Projector Weight: 40 lbs.
Review Date: August 28, 2015
Price: Check on Amazon
Company Website
A laser fixes these problems. The Epson LS10000 turns on and reaches full power in close to 20 seconds. That is close to how long it takes a SmartTV. Lasers only lose perhaps 10% of their light output over their entire lifespan. If it is bright enough to drive your screen when you take it out of the box, it will still be years later without having to make adjustments. This also lets you calibrate the Epson to your screen without worry that the calibration will drift as your bulb ages. It works more like a TV than like a standard projector.

When it comes to the image on-screen, lasers offer larger color gamuts and improved contrast ratios. Using a blue laser with a yellow phosphor (to create red and green) you get a wider color gamut than most projectors. No material uses this wide gamut yet, but this content is going to start to appear on UltraHD Blu-ray this winter. Movie theaters already use this larger color gamut so the home movie experience will be identical to the theatrical one. The LS10000 will support the DCI/P3 gamut when it is available on UltraHD Blu-ray later this year.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 13.58.57

A laser can power on and off almost instantly, letting the Epson LS10000 increase larger contrast ratios. A bulb cannot power off and contrast ratios are limited by the technology. Bulb projectors try to prevent light from reaching the screen, while a laser can turn off. The LS10000 combines lasers with their own Liquid Crystal on Quartz technology, which is like LCOS. LCOS/LCOQ already offer the best black levels, and combining it with lasers improves that.

I watched the Epson LS10000 projector on a Silver Ticket 100” white screen. This is a very neural, even gain screen and full details on that are available at my Wirecutter piece on it. Video signals are from an Oppo BDP-105, TivoHD, Roku 3, and Nvidia Shield TV. I calibrate using CalMAN software from SpectraCal with X-Rite i1Pro2 and Klein K-10A meters. I should note that the Epson LS10000 is a very large projector. Too large for the mount I typically use from my ceiling so I had to build a shelf to hold it. If you are going to install it on a ceiling I advise making sure the mount you are going to use can handle it.

Image Quality

Watching movies the Epson LS10000 leaves little to be desired. The contrast ratios are great, falling behind only the JVC projectors that still outclass everything. Watching Gravity, with a dark starfield the Epson does a great job with the black levels. The letterbox bars blend in well against the black border of my screen. The only thing that distracted me is that the walls in my theater room are not a pitch black which the Epson cannot fix.

Turning to the old reliable final Harry Potter film, Voldermort and his minions gathering on top of the hill looks superb on the Epson. All the details are visible, with a deep black floor that stands out. There is no murkiness or haziness to the image, but instead all the shadow details are visible. As Voldemort attacks Hogwarts, the contrast between the explosions and the night sky is class-leading, with those inky blacks well maintained. The fire of the burning Quidditch stadium is a rich orange without being overly red. No film presents a better test of dark shadows than this scene and it excels.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a much better film than I expected, but also looks fantastic on the Epson LS10000. Fine details on the CGI Apes are clear to see and the close-ups of the Apes faces are scarily realistic. The forest is filled with rich, green hues that contrast against the otherwise drab color palette.

The Avengers offers up rich, vibrant colors when Loki attacks the museum party in Germany. Skin tones are accurate without showing any red push while the stained glass window is flat out gorgeous looking. Captain America’s shield has a metallic sheen to it that is natural as does Iron Man’s suit. The motion handling of the Epson LS10000 during the attack sequence is clean and free of most blurring.

For animated fare like Despicable Me looks bold and brilliant on the LS10000. Setting the lamp to extra bright lets it look brilliant even with lights on in my theater room. For kids that don’t like to watch films in the pure darkness this makes the LS10000 a more flexible choice than other theater projectors. It also works well for sports, where you don’t want to watch them in a darkened cave as you would a movie. Extra bright is overkill for my screen, with over 30 foot Lamberts of brightness, but is powerful enough to overcome ambient light.

The recent Netflix series Narcos looks splendid on the Epson LS10000. Shot on location in Colombia the series is full of spectacular images that the Epson LS10000 makes look fantastic. Green jungles are rich while the red banners from a campaign event look brilliant. The series captures the full spectrum of the HDTV color gamut and it looks incredibly vivid on the Epson.

The Epson offers a variety of “4K” modes that use pixel shifting to try to enhance the resolution of content. In my use I found that these add excess noise to the image and didn’t enhance it. Some edge enhancement is noticeable, and it makes it look like a fine film grain has been placed over everything in many cases. Since the 1080p image without this looks fantastic, I found no reason to leave these enabled. I didn’t test this with true UltraHD content so this might change when UltraHD Blu-ray is released.

More detailed bench test results are on Page 2, with both pre-calibration and post-calibration measurements for the Epson LS10000.

Conclusions

The Epson LS10000 is a flexible and powerful performer. It offers some big advantages over other projectors on the market with a light engine that lasts for 20,000+ hours and no need to recalibrate it as often as a regular projector. The image on-screen is excellent with great shadow detail, rich colors, and accurate skin tones. When UltraHD Blu-ray is released later this year, the Epson will be able to display the wider color gamut available which most other projectors cannot.

The downsides to the Epson is that it is only 1080p and not 4K, and that it costs $8,000. While the JVC DILA models offer better contrast ratios, they are harder to keep calibrated and have lower levels of light output. They are excellent with movies but worse for sports and really don’t work with the lights on. The Sony HW40ES and HW55ES are more similar in performance to the Epson LS10000, but have worse contrast ratios and cannot do the wider color gamut.

If you plan to upgrade your projector every few years as new technologies and features come out, then the Epson LS10000 isn’t the pick for you. If you want a projector that you can install and forget about for years you should look into it. Not having to deal with bulbs and recalibration for a decade make it a projector you can not worry about for a long, long time.

Review Summary
Product: Epson LS10000
Reviewer:
Pros: Impressive color and shadow detail, fast to power up, virtually silent, over 20,000 hour lifespan, excellent DCI/P3 gamut coverage, sharp lens
Cons: Expensive, not 4K
Summary: The Epson LS10000 uses lasers to produce a sharp, beautiful image that will last you for a decade or more. It works great for movies, TV, and everything else while producing contrast ratios that fall short of only the JVC DILA models. If you want a projector that will last for a decade without any effort after you install it, the Epson is where you should look.
Value: 3/5
Performance: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

 

  • Roger Brooks

    We currently have an Epson 5010 and are considering upgrading to the LS10000. However, we have a 135″ screen and the 5010 is fine in 2D but we wish it were brighter when watching 3D movies. (We’ve never had the bulb replaced after nine years, but only viewing one movie a week on it). My concern is that the LS10000 is only 1500 lumens. Are we going to be disappointed with the lack of brightness compared to the 5010 which is just adequate? Really appreciate your time!

    • The big difference is that the LS10000 isn’t going to drop off nearly as much. In the extra bright mode it did 970 lumens calibrated, with a 135″ screen with a 1.0 gain, you can expect to see 18 foot lamberts of light. The SMPTE rec is 14-16 so that’s a little extra brightness. It’ll drop off some in 3D, but the 3D mode will be a little brighter at the expense of accuracy. So the LS10000 won’t be dead silent in this mode, but likely similar to the 5010, and it will stay brighter for longer.

      • Roger Brooks

        So, even though the LS10000 is considerably lower rated in terms of lumens (5010 at 2400 vs. LS10000 at 1500) we won’t be disappointed with the brightness given the use of a 135: screen? We think the 5010 is “adequate” but wish it were brighter.