First Look At Epson's 2014/15 Video Projector Line

Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema LS10000 (top) and Home Cinema 3500 (bottom) Video Projectors. Image Provided by Epson

Dateline: 09/10/2014
The annual CEDIA EXPO provides a showcase for many home theater products, and one important product category is video projectors.

At this year's EXPO for 2014 (being held from Sept 11th through Sept 13th in Denver, Colorado), Epson has announced its newest home theater video projector line-up that includes new entries in their PowerLite Home and Pro Cinema lines. The following is a brief overview.

All the projectors utilize 3LCD technology, with the Home Cinema Series employing traditional LCD chips, and the Pro-Cinema Series employing Reflective LCOQ (Liquid Crystal on Quartz) chips.

Home Cinema Series

Starting with the mainstream Home Cinema entries, there are three new projectors (Home Cinema 3000, 3500, and 3600e). All three provide a native 1080p display resolution (in either 3D or 3D), from 50 to 300 inches in size. Light output is supported by a 250-watt lamp with a rated life of 3,500 hours (High Consumption Mode), 4,000 hours (Medium Power Consumption Mode), or 5,000 hours (ECO Power Consumption Mode).

For connectivity, all three projectors in the Home Cinema line provide 2 HDMI inputs, 1 component video input, 1 composite video input, and PC monitor input. A USB connection is also provided for display of still image files stored on flash drives, as well installation of any needed firmware updates.

The Home Cinema 3000 can output up to 2,300 lumens of white and color brightness, at up to a stated 60,000:1 contrast ratio. Also, both vertical and horizontal lens shift for easier projector-to-screen positioning and seven preset color modes (in addition to manual setting options) are provided for optimizing image quality from different sources.

The Home Cinema 3500 ups the ante with the ability to push out up to 2,500 lumens of white and brightness, as well as providing deeper black levels via its 70:000:1 contrast ratio. Also, the 3500 also features HDMI-PIP capability, which allows users to display images from different HDMI sources on screen at the same time. In addition, one of the HDMI inputs is MHL-compatible, which allows direct connection of MHL-compatible smartphones, tablets, and the MHL version of the Roku Streaming Stick.

Another bonus is that for 3D viewing, the 3500 comes with two pairs of the rechargeable RF glasses (glasses are optional on the 3000).

One more added convenience provided on the Epson Home Cinema 3500 is the inclusion of a built-in 10 watt (5 watts x 2) speaker system. Although I never recommend that a built-in speaker system provided on some video projectors should be used as your primary audio system, if you are using the projector in a situation where no external audio system is available, or you are viewing late at night and don't want to disturb others, such a built-in speaker system can come in handy.

Moving up to the Home Cinema 3600e, this projector has the same core specifications as the 3500, but adds built-in WirelessHD (WiHD) connectivity, with source switching for up to 5 HDMI sources (including one MHL-enabled source). A wireless transmitter is provided.

The Home Cinema 3000 carries a suggested price of $1,299 - Official Product Page.

The Home Cinema 3500 carries a suggested price of $1,699 - Official Product Page.

The Home Cinema 3600e carries a suggested price of $1,999 - Official Product Page.

Pro Cinema Series

Next are the two new entries in Epson's Pro Cinema line, the LS9600e and LS10000. The main thing that makes these projectors different is that they combine reflective chip technology (Liquid Crystal on Quartz - LCOQ) with lampless Laser light source technology. This not only supports more precise color reproduction, but also makes these projectors quieter, more energy efficient, provides instant on/off capability and eliminates the need for periodic lamp replacement (the laser light source is expected to last about 30,000 hours in ECO mode). However, they are not as bright as projectors using standard lamps (such as Epson's Home Cinema line), so they are more suited to a dedicated darker room home theater environment.

The first entry is the Pro Cinema LS9600e. This projector features 1080p display resolution in 2D or 3D, 1,300 lumens of white and color light output capability, and wide high brightness and "absolute black" contrast capability.

The LS9600e is also THX 2D and 3D Certified, and incorporates ISF calibration options.

Also, for added connection convenience, the LS9600e includes the same HDMI wireless system as the Home Cinema 3600e.

Moving up to the final projector included in Epson's CEDIA 2014 announcement is the Pro Cinema LS10000.

What makes the LS10000 different from the LS9600e is that although it doesn't provide wireless HD connectivity, it provides a very interesting bonus: 4K enhancement. Now, here is how it gets interesting.

Just like the LS9600e, the LS10000 utilizes three 1080p LCOQ chips as the foundation for its image display capability, but Epson has added some tricks to squeeze out a displayed image that approximates 4K image quality.

To accomplish this, Epson employs a pixel-shifting technology similar to that used by JVC on its 4K e-Shift projectors - read two explanations on how e-Shift works (1, 2). The JVC articles linked are for general reference only - Although both systems use diagonal pixel shifting techniques, there may some additional subtle differences between the JVC and Epson systems that contribute to the final display result.

Also, in addition to providing 4K enhancement for 1080p and lower resolution sources, you can also connect a native 4K source via HDMI, but since the LS10000 is not a true 4K projector, the projected image will be not displayed in native 4K - it will be processed and displayed via the 4K enhancement technology.

It must also be pointed out that due to technology limitations, the 3D viewing and Motion Interpolation features of the LS10000 are both disabled when 4K enhancement is enabled.

The Epson Pro Cinema LS Series projectors will be available via authorized custom install dealers. Final prices have not been provided, but are expected to be in the $8,000 range. For more details, refer to the Official Product Pages for the Pro Cinema LS9600e and Pro Cinema LS10000