Since last year, there has been some renewal in the projector landscape. And then we are not just talking about Ultra HD and HDR support. Projectors with laser light were until recently only for the business world, but now also find their way to the home cinema. Such as this Epson EH-LS100, which also has a very short projection ratio, which completely changes the installation.
Epson EH-LS100 – specifications
- What: Full HD LCD projector
- Arrangement: 1,920 x 1,200, light output 4,000 / 2,800 ANSI lumens, dynamic contrast 2,500,000: 1, projection ratio 0.27 – 0.37 (100 inch diagonal at 0.61m), noise level 39/30 dB (standard, ecomode)
- Connections: 3x HDMI, 1x VGA, 1x composite video, 2x stereo minijack, 1x stereo minijack out, 1x VGA out, 2x USB (photo), 1x USB (USB display), 1x network, 1x RS-232C
- Lamp life: 30,000 / 20,000 hours
- Extras: network, split screen
- Dimensions: 494 x 188 x 437 mm
- Weight: 11.0 kg
- Consumption: 423/322 / 0.5 watt
- Recommended retail price: 2,999 euros
Epson EH-LS100 – design
Make some extra space for this projector, he needs it. With its 11 kg and a footprint of approximately 50 cm x 44 cm, it is both in terms of size and weight in the same category as the Epson EH-TW9300W . He is clearly meant for a fixed position, not to move occasionally.
He does not look very impressive, except for his dimensions. The entire housing is finished in matte black. As usual on a UST (Ultra Short Throw) projector, the lens is at the top and not at the front. A set of control buttons are on the side, and the projector is equipped with three adjustable legs at the bottom.
The connections are on the left side of the projector. Most of it is covered by a part of the housing that is bolted. The most important connections (HDMI, USB, LAN) can be reached without removing the cover. There are three HDMI connections, one of which can also be used via MHL with your mobile devices. Two USB (type A) jacks are for photo playback only, the third USB (type B) jack is for USB display. You can connect your computer to the projector via that route and with the help of some extra software.
The additional connections betray the projector’s business descent: VGA, composite video, and stereo cinch audio inputs, a VGA output and a stereo cinch sound output. For control there is rs-232c and a LAN connection. The projector can optionally be equipped with a wireless network module.
Epson EH-LS100 – Location and ease of use
An Ultra Short Throw (UST) projector, what exactly does that mean for the placement? The very short projection ratio ensures that even when the projector is close to the wall, you get a very large picture. In this case, you only have to place the projector 61 cm from the wall for a 100 inch image. Since that is measured from the lens to the wall, and the lens is about 35 cm from the back, the back of the projector must be only 26 cm from the wall for that 100 inch image.
The projector is equipped with a zoom, but that is a digital zoom (1.35x). You digitally reduce the image, so you lose resolution and detail in other words. The focus button is hidden behind the ventilation grid. We need to find the best focus and on our test sample we had to take peace with perfect focus at the top of the image. At the bottom you get a slight shift of the red pixel (upwards). At the very bottom the shift is about 1 pixel in size. That is not a problem in practice. There is no setting to align the panel.
The lens offset of about 123% means that the image appears 23% of the image height above the projector. That is a good end, so the projector will have to be quite low. Ceiling installation is possible, but makes connection more complex. Lensshift is not provided unless you use the digital zoom. The reduced image can then shift a little. There is a limited keystone correction, both horizontally and vertically, and a number of extra options to correct the image for small distortions.
Keep in mind that setting up a UST projector is an easy task. The smallest shift already creates a visible trapezium distortion. But the most important factor is your screen. Because the light falls on the screen at a very sharp angle, the smallest unevenness or fold causes slight distortion. A good flat screen is therefore a necessity. Our own screen has a few light waves at the top, but those that were only disturbing on test images, not on real content.
A laser projector with 4,000 lumens of light output clearly requires a strong cooling. The projector makes a lot of noise if you leave the lamp in normal mode. Fortunately, there is also a ‘Quiet’ mode. The lamp dims 30% and immediately brings the sound to an acceptable level. It is not whisper-quiet, but since you are not close to the projector, it will not disturb you. You can also opt for ‘Extended’, the lamp then dims 30%, but the cooling continues to run at full speed, for a prolonged life. With the ‘Custom’ mode you set the brightness between 100 and 70% yourself.
The Epson menus are clear and easy to navigate. Explanation is missing, so the first time the manual is indispensable. Unlike the other home cinema projectors from Epson, you can not adjust the menu position. They appear in the middle of the screen. Here too the business origin is visible. There are only four picture modes available (Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema and Game).
You get a wide selection of settings to adjust the image but slightly less than we Epson’s are (for example, Epson SuperWhite is missing). Some settings, such as color temperature, are available but less clearly labeled (with meaningless numbers, instead of actual color temperatures).
If we have to give Epson an important point of criticism, then it is the remote. This is clearly provided for use in the meeting room, not for the home theater. It is a compact remote, with very small keys, and without lighting. Some functions (such as Pen mode, Auto, Page +/-) are not usable.
Epson EH-LS100 – features
This Epson is equipped with a laser light source. This not only generates considerable light output, but also has an extremely long lifespan: 20,000 hours in normal mode and quiet mode and even 30,000 in extended mode. Despite the laser light source, however, there is no extensive color range, nor HDR support. 3D support is also lacking. The panel uses a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 (16:10 aspect ratio). That means that even for 16: 9 content you get a very small dark band above and below the screen. You can set up the projector so that those bands are masked by the black edge of your projection screen.
You can also have your computer delivered via USB or LAN, and there is a split screen function to view two sources at the same time.
Epson EH-LS100 – Image quality
The image processing on this projector is rather on the poor side. Deinterlacing sometimes leaves behind some fringe edges, and he only recognizes the most current film and video framerates so that sometimes moiré is visible. The noise reduction is very fine (from 0 to 20) and is very efficient for random noise, but less for compression noise. The images are sharp and well detailed, who wants some extra detail, put ‘detail enhancement’ somewhere between 10 and 25. Upscaling of DVD is decent, but certainly not spectacular. The best solution seems to be choosing a recent player, putting the output in 1080p and leaving all upscaling and deinterlacing to the player. We do not say that the Epson is bad, but he certainly does not get the bottom out of the can.
We are slightly disappointed that no motion interpolation is present. We would have liked to have seen that for a projector of this price category. The motion sharpness is therefore rather poor, fast moving images have a slightly blurred edge, so you lose detail.
With a specification of 4,000 lumens of light output, you should be able to enjoy a beautiful image with a fair amount of light. In the Dynamic image mode we also get that 4,000 lumens, but the color reproduction is not very good. In the Cinema Bright and Game modes you get another 3,300 lumens and with lamp in Quiet mode that drops to 2,300 lumens. That is still very impressive. Unfortunately, the projector can not match good results with those results. On the contrary, the contrast can even be called weak with a measured value of 250: 1. By using Dynamic Contrast, with which the projector controls the lamp, you can theoretically draw it to 1.500: 1, although the practice is around 500: 1. The projector also regularly hides a bit of white detail.
Game Mode offers, to our surprise, the best calibration. In the Cinema and Cinema Bright mode, the color temperature is too cool, but Epson also tries to slightly increase the color range. This results in a somewhat pinkish magenta, neon green, and too bright blue. Get the best results in Game mode, with Dynamic Contrast on High Speed.
In that position the calibration was excellent. The gray scale is nicely neutral, and the gamma curve runs neatly as it should. The projector shows nice black detail, but because of its weak black value it looks more gray. The color range is good, even if it is too small. Red in particular performs a bit too weak, but the overall color reproduction is excellent. The projector has an input stroke of 53.7 ms. That is not a top result for gaming, but still workable.
The projector is clearly the most comfortable in a lot of ambient light. Our atmosphere shoots are therefore deliberately taken with the light. For the best result, combine it with a screen that rejects ambient light. Light up well, because a UST projector sends the light at an acute angle to the screen, and that requires a special screen material. That a lot of ambient light is not good for dark images like the generic Black Sails is evident. When you turn off the light, the EH-LS100 performs adequately with dark scenes, but it can not be compared with real home theater projectors.
The image above is taken with ambient light, the image below with darkening.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator, an HDFury Integral for HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.
Epson EH-LS100 – Conclusion
This Epson EH-LS100 offers an interesting combination of features: laser light source, high light output and ultra short projection ratio. Three qualities that can make a difference in a less traditional home theater. With the lamp in the highest position he is unfortunately much too loud, fortunately Quiet mode also provides enough light. But his real weakness is black value and contrast. They significantly limit the results for dark scenes, and actually require a special screen to achieve acceptable results. It contrasts sharply with its performance for clear images. They are intense and colorful, and can withstand a lot of ambient light. The price seems pretty high. Other projectors deliver Ultra HD and HDR for a comparable price. It is at the same price level as, for example, the EH-TW9300, a top home theater projector. You exchange contrast, color performance and HDR for more light and Ultra Short Throw. Are you looking for a real home theater, then that is not a good exchange. But for those who only look for a fantastic big screen, in the living room, without too many installation problems, this Epson is an interesting choice.