posted on Sunday, 17th May 2015 by Steve May
The Epson EH-TW10000 is the first high-end home cinema projector with a solid state laser light engine. Positioned somewhere in between JVC’s e-Shift 3 DLA-X700R and Sony's budget native 4K UHD VPL-VW300ES, it proves to be a veritable cat amongst the pigeons in the UHD display debate. It may utilise HD panels, but projected resolution is 2160p and colours have 10-bit richness. It effectively sidesteps the debate over 4K content availability, and tempts with other benefits new and exciting.
We’ve no doubt that semiconductor laser diode technology is set to revolutionise the home projection market. This has big implementations for installers. The life of this Epson’s laser light source is rated at 30,000 hours in eco mode. Even with 8 hours of use per day, it’ll last over 10 years. With a more typical 2 hours of use per day, that goes up to over 40 years. This means the projector is effectively maintenance free over its lifespan, which means no call-outs or disgruntled customers when the lamp fails. It also delivers new levels of colour vibrancy and dynamics.
Epson EH-LS10000 laser projector: Build quality and features
Make no mistake, this is not a small device. Tipping the scales at 18kg and large enough too barge past both its Sony and JVC rivals in the popcorn queue, it suits custom installation well. This is not a product consumers will pop on a shelf or pose on a coffee table.
Cosmetic design is outstanding. The finish of the EH-LS10000 is matt black and streamlined. There is no pimply button rash on the chassis, and the centrally positioned lens is protected by an automated sliding cover. A pop-out panel offers menu navigation, source selection and lens adjustment, if you need it.
Connectivity is confined to the rear, behind by a screwed on cosmetic grille. Inputs include two HDMIs, component and composite video inputs and a PC D-sub. The HDMI 1 input is HDCP2.2 compliant, ostensibly for use with upcoming 4K content, such as Ultra HD Blu-ray and set top box solutions from the likes of Sky and BT. Epson claims 4K native support up to 40/60fps, even though the HDMI inputs are reportedly v1.4. Additional control connectivity includes two 12v triggers, RS232 and Ethernet LAN. The stock remote control is backlit.
The EH-LS10000 is not a native 4K projector (for the time being that remains the sole province of Sony’s SXRD UHD range). There is, however, a 4K upscaling chip solution beneath the lid, which is used in conjunction with image manipulation to increase pixel density and detail. The projector electronically shifts alternate frames half a pixel across and half a pixel up, effectively doubling the frame rate and the apparent resolution.
One operational benefit of a laser light source is that it really doesn’t require any warm-up. With virtually instant on, it takes less than a minute to beam at full brightness. In use, the EH-LS10000 also proves delightfully quiet. The large chassis obviously accomodates some effective heat management; in Eco mode the projector runs at just 19dB.
Epson EH-LS10000 laser projector: Performance
The EH-LS10000 employs a blue laser light engine with two light paths. One blue laser diode generates blue light routed through an optical diffuser, while the other uses a phosphor wheel to produce yellow, which is then in turn split into red and green via a dichroic mirror. The end result is a three colour light source compatible with Epson 3LCD panel technology.
While the electronics are futuristic, the interface will be familiar to anyone who has installed more conventional Epson projectors. Image adjustment and setup options are varied. To help align the image there’s lens shift and keystone correction (90 degree vertical and 40 degree horizontal), allied to a 2x1 motorised zoom. A ten position lens position memory function is available if you need to change zoom and lens position to suit different content and screen configurations. The projection distance at wide/tele settings, to achieve a 100-inch image, is 2.83m-6m.
An initial reading of the spec may cause some concern for larger theatres, given that white and colour light output is rated at just 1500 lumens. However, in practice we have no qualms about the brightness of this projector. It can even be used in moderate levels of ambient light, opening up media room usage for gaming and sports. However, in a light controlled cinema environment it really comes into its own.
It transpires that the solid state light source is actually only one element of the EH-LS10000’s appeal. The projector also reintroduces 3LCD Reflective technology. First seen at IFA 2010, on the never released EH-R4000, reflective panels allow Epson to deliver a higher aperture ratio compared to transmissive LCD panels, increasing image contrast and detail. The EH-LS10000’s laser-projected images also offer superior colour fidelity to those generated by a standard UHP lamp and regular 3LCD. Reds and blues are deeply saturated, without any hint of noise.
Image presets comprise Cinema, Digital Cinema, Dynamic, Natural, Living Room, Digital Cinema and Adobe RGB. Spec-wise, the EH-LS10000 laughs in the face of Rec 709. The EH-LS10000 claims to achieve the standard sRGB colour space and exceed the DCI P3 colour standard.
So how effective is the projector’s upscaling? The answer is very. Images are extremely sharp, albeit without the patina of Full HD. They’re also astonishingly dynamic. What’s more, there’s no noisy iris adjustment. The solid state light engine adjusts the light output between zero and 100 per cent without need of a mechanical iris. It can also shut the laser off completely to achieve absolute black. This projector not only looks great with Blu-ray, it makes Sky 1080i look bafflingly brilliant.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, on Sky Movies, exhibits a depth and level of detail that looks entirely cinematic. When Krypton explodes in the pitch blackness of space (Man of Steel), the image is so dynamic it seems positively three dimensional. Test footage of a Tokyo night scene in has a naturally inky blackness, with no suggestion of pixel fizz, while CG animation is delivered with the vibrancy of an OLED panel. While the projector may be good at flash and fantasy, it doesn't struggle with skin tones either.
The projector even does a cracking job with 3D content. A 480Hz vertical refresh rate means crosstalk double imaging is largely absent. It should be noted though the resolution in 3D mode is 1080p. 4K pixel enhancement doesn’t work in 3D. Two pairs of active glasses ship in the box.
Epson EH-LS10000 laser projector: Verdict
Overall, this Epson projector is a stunning proposition. While the lack of native 4K support is inconvenient, the solid state light engine, high quality upscaling and reflective LCD panels genuinely usher in a new era of home cinema projection. To see one is to want one. Watch it sell itself.
The Epson EH-LS10000 is available now.
Retail price: £5,999
The Epson EH-LS10000 is distributed by AWE. For more on AWE’s product range and services, visit our partner page here. For more on Epson's projection range, visit our resource here.
Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics
industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.