- Solid State Laser light source
- HDR10 Support
- Good latency for gaming
- Built-in Android TV
- eARC support
- Small footprint
- No Netflix support
- No advanced calibration controls
- No Dolby Vision support
- No 3D support
- Loud fan noise at full brightness
Its lack of calibration controls, restricted color gamut, and high brightness suggests the LS650 is targeted more at everyday TV watchers than serious enthusiasts, but it ends up serving its core customer well despite being somewhat pricey.
As the UST market continues to grow it is only natural to see more models release year after year from various brands. Epson is no exception, and that's not a surprise when one considers the success they've seen with their flagship LS800 laser TV projector and their strong pedigree in the projection space.
The company's newest UST entry is the LS650, priced at $2,799. It is positioned just below the LS800 at $3,499 and above the 1080p-resolution LS300 at $1,999. It brings with it meaningful features in a small package, including the company's 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting used in the LS800, and targets today's needs for large screens and smart platform streaming in 4K HDR.
But with so many options in the UST space, does the LS650 have what it takes to best the competition and earn a place in your home? Keep reading to find out.
The Epson LS650 is a 3-chip, 3LCD 4K HDR laser ultra short throw projector specified to provide 3,600 lumens, measured in accordance with the ISO 21118 standard that is essentially equivalent to ANSI. The LS650's imaging chips are native 1080p, and the projector utilizes two-phase pixel shifting for what amounts to doubled 1080p resolution, or about 4 million pixels. That's only about one-half the pixels on screen as a full-4K/UHD projector puts up, but as with the LS800, the combination of pixel-shifting and detail processing makes it difficult to tell the difference from normal viewing distances. The upside is that, unlike the single-chip DLP projectors it competes with, the LS650 does not exhibit rainbows thanks to its 3-chip 3LCD design, and it ultimately delivers a sharp and vibrant image with equal white and color brightness. It's laser+phosphor light engine, capable of up to 20,000 hours of life when using normal power consumption, also did not exhibit any obvious laser speckle during my testing.
Epson's rating of 3,600 lumens, just 400 lumens shy of the LS800, makes it considerably bright among its competition. It came in a tad short in our measurements at 3,485 lumens, a slight miss that can likely be attributed to variance in the measurement process given Epson's history of making its numbers. Additionally, the LS650 measured gamut coverage of 90.4% for Rec.709 and 72.4% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. The gamut coverage of the LS650 is honestly its weakest point and is somewhat disappointing considering many projectors in this price range are now capable of full or nearly full coverage of the P3 color space used for most 4K HDR content, and certainly the Rec.709 space used for standard dynamic range HDTV. So, the LS650 coming in short here is disappointing when one considers the MSRP of the unit itself, and it seems clear Epson focused on delivering more brightness in a narrower range of colors.
As with nearly all UST projectors, the LS650 has a fixed focal length lens and is meant to be placed near the wall or screen on which the image will be projected. Without engaging the digital zoom, the lens has a 0.26:1 throw ratio that places the rear of the projector approximately 10.5 inches from the screen or wall for a 100-inch image, with the audience-facing front of the projector at approximately 26-inches out from the wall when accounting for the projector's depth. The projector is rated for images from 60- to 120-inches diagonal, and includes a manual focus lever to help dial in the image sharpness and a 4-point or 8-point keystone adjustment to help align the image to a screen if necessary. The LS650 also provides a panel alignment feature to allow users to get the sharpest picture possible and minimize chromatic banding on the edges of objects, which is very nice to see as it is not available on the many single-chip USTs out there. The LS650 is quite compact, weighing in at 16.3 lbs, with the dimensions of 18.4 x 15.7 x 6.2 inches (WxDxH). It is available in either black or white to fit your decor, and allows for only table top installation and front or rear projection. To plan your installation, you can visit the ProjectorCentral Epson LS650 projection calculator.
The LS650 has a fairly standard set of I/O ports for connectivity, providing two HDMI 2.0 ports with 18 Gbps bandwidth that support HDCP 2.3. Users have the ability to change the HDMI EDID to 10 Gbps if needed, and the port labeled HDMI 2 supports eARC for feeding bitstreams of up to Dolby Atmos quality to a compatible soundbar or AV receiver. The lack of a full eARC connection is noticeably missing from the more expensive LS800. One S/PDIF optical port is also available, but no 3.5mm analog stereo headphone jack. Of the three USB type A ports, two provide support for data and one is marked for power delivery of 5V/2A; a micro-USB is available as a service port. Additionally, the LS650 includes 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi radios, and Bluetooth 5.1. Its Android operating system also provides Chromecast built-in as an additional, wireless input option.
What's most obviously missing are some modern-day gaming features, such as wide-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports that would permit 4K/120 Hz play from the latest game consoles. However, the LS650 does provide relatively low input lag sufficient for casual gaming, coming in at 24ms at 1080p/60 Hz and 4K/60Hz in our measurements when using the Fast image processing mode. This is not as low as what has been seen lately on more gaming-focused DLP USTs, but it works for all but the most demanding game play.
Thankfully, the LS650 has its smart platform Android TV OS 11 onboard the projector and bypasses the use of a supplied outboard dongle, which is a very common trend with many of the smart platform projectors that utilize Android TV or Google TV as its OS. We have found these dongles are hit and miss on how they perform, particularly in their ability to recognize and properly handle both SDR and HDR content. However, it is unfortunate that the LS650 does not have access to a dedicated Netflix app and will require the use of an external media player for that service if users want it. Outside of Netflix missing from the app lineup, users will find favorites such as Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+, and several other popular streaming services, and can download most anything else from the Google Play store.
Another standout feature of the LS650 is its inclusion of a Dynamic Tone Mapping function, which most projectors have nowadays in some form, though not all are effective. Epson's implementation does well in brighter scenes but does tend to struggle a bit on darker scenes. If you choose, it can be disabled and you can utilize the projector's HDR brightness slider to adjust HDR to taste.
Integrated into the LS650 is a 2.1 stereo speaker and subwoofer system utilizing Yamaha DSP along with two full-range 5-watt speakers and a 10-watt subwoofer. Sound was actually quite good from the LS650 and more on the robust end where many on-board sound systems can tend to sound rather thin. The on-board sound is very suitable for daily use though not a replacement for a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AVR-driven system, and thankfully, Epson's inclusion of eARC makes it easy to integrate with an external sound system if one is desired.
Included with the LS650 is a basic remote that has the ability to operate either via IR or Bluetooth, and which is paired during the setup process. The remote was responsive and had almost everything I would want on it with exception of a button tied to picture modes to allow for quick switching between them. Outside of that one button missing, it's your pretty standard remote that serves to control the Android TV platform and the projector as needed.
Color Modes. The LS650 has four picture modes referred to as Color Modes. These picture modes are shared between SDR and HDR. They include Dynamic, Vivid, Cinema, and Natural. Dynamic is the brightest of them, though it injects a green bias to the image which is more heavily seen in darker scenes. Vivid tends to impart more of a blue bias to the image, whereas Cinema and Natural are both warmer.
Similar to the LS800, the LS650 does not provide any advanced color calibration controls such as 2-point Gain and Bias white balance or a CMS (Color Management System) to adjust the color space. You do get the standard controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Tint, and Sharpness. Overall color temperature is adjustable via a wide slider in the main picture menu with a value range from 0 to 13, with 0 being extremely warm (reddish) and 13 extremely cool (blue). I found that 8 was the most accurate when used in conjunction with the Natural Picture mode.
The gamma setting is also controlled via a slider with a scale of 0 to 20. During my testing I found that Scene Adaptive Gamma set to the value of 5 measured roughly at 2.2 gamma. Another setting available to users is Dynamic Contrast, which will adjust the brightness of a scene as soon as it changes if High Speed is used. I found that to be the most ideal setting. In practice, the projector provides just enough control to get a reasonably accurate image on top of its already excellent out-of-box Natural picture mode.
Initial viewing of the out of the box (OOTB) picture modes provided a pleasing image, so long as I was not heavily focused on accuracy and using the Dynamic picture mode while watching darker content. With a few simple tweaks to the color temperature, contrast and brightness, as well as setting Dynamic Contrast to High Speed, the image was good overall.
Since calibration is not really available I just measured the Natural Picture mode reset to its default then remeasured after some of the changes I made and further refined my selection in the LS650 using Calman Ultimate calibration software from Portrait Displays, a Colorimetry Research CR-250 Spectroradiometer, a Colorimetry Research CR-100 Colorimeter, and a Murideo 8K Seven Generator. The LS650 was calibrated to 103-inch diagonal on an Elite Screens Aeon CLR Ambient Light Rejecting screen.
Starting with SDR, pre-calibration measurements depending on picture mode and color temperature had very large dE (DeltaE) errors. (DeltaE is the metric used to determine the visible error. It has been determined that anything over a dE of 3 is visible, anything over 2.3 is a just noticeable difference for trained eyes and anything below 2.3 should ideally not be seen to the eye.) Grayscale pre-calibration measurements of Natural mode had dE errors all over 5 which was easily visible to the eye. Color gamut color points for the Rec. 709 color space exhibited high dE errors upwards to 8 dE which were due to inaccurate hue and saturation.
Utilizing the Color temperature control for adjustments I targeted the production industry standard D65 neutral gray white point, this is in addition to using the Scene Adaptive Gamma control and the standard basic controls for Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Hue.
Post calibration errors were low and much better than expected considering the lack of real calibration controls. Running an extensive color checker of 150+ patterns resulted in an average of 2.2dE, and a max of 4.7dE which was attributed to areas within green and cyan. (The Calman ColorChecker measures accuracy on a wide range of color swatches corresponding to skin tones, blue sky, etc.)
The devices I used for reviewing content post calibration were AppleTV 4K, FireTV 4K, Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray player, and PlayStation 5.
1080p/SDR Viewing. I began my content review by watching Band of Brothers on Netflix via an Apple TV 4K. The image was good overall and skin tones looked natural. The film grain that is inherent in this mini-series was present and none appeared to be removed by the image processing of the LS650. The contrast was decent as well in mixed scenes, though on full fades it was not able to reach full black. But it was definitely sufficient and better than a many UST's I have seen in this price category. The overall APL (average picture level) of the image was very good as well, and it was sufficiently bright in my dark theater room as well as with lights on. The viewing experience was pleasant overall.
UHD/HDR Viewing. I next watched Godzilla vs Kong on 4K UHD via an Oppo 203. The scene that I focused on the most is the one where Kong and Godzilla do battle in Hong Kong, as I've watched this scene many times on multiple displays and I'm very familiar with how it should look. What stood out most was a lack of vibrancy in the neon lights of the city, specifically in the reds, cyan and greens. Additionally, some shadow detail was lost in the image, such as when Godzilla pulls the axe out of his leg; the detail on Godzilla's face was lost due to being too dark. This type of crushing was also noticeable in some of the interior scenes following the fight. But the HDR presentation was good overall and one would likely not be disappointed watching this film on the LS650 if they were not familiar enough with the movie to notice it is off in certain areas.
The next movie I watched was Hacksaw Ridge in 4K HDR via Apple TV 4K. Skin tones were good, that is one of the LS650's strong points. Nothing was immediately noticeable being off in regards to the image that was reproduced. The one thing that stood out was during the rescue section at night when Private Doss was lowering soldiers down, and some posterization could be seen in the smoke that was in the background. It wasn't a massive amount of posterization but it was noticeable, though not enough to take me out of the movie. I mainly saw it because I was specifically looking for posterization, so in most cases I'm sure if a viewer was focusing on the movie itself, they wouldn't notice or be bothered by it.
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The last movie that I watched was Logan on 4K UHD via an Oppo 203. Once again, the skin tones were really good, and the color reproduction was actually good as well, in part because the colors used in this movie don't go really far out into the P3 or wider color space. This allowed everything to look natural without the feeling of missing anything. If I had one criticism, it was during the escape where Laura, Logan and Xavier leave in the limo during the gun fight. During this scene there was some clipping of the clouds seen in the background, but it didn't stand out—again it was something that one would have to look for or know that more detail existed in that scene. There was also some slight crushing of shadow detail on the suits of the armed group that attacked the trio, but again, nothing that took away from the movie itself. Logan was overall presented very well.
In my experience, the Epson LS650 is a unique unit in the UST space, and it's not because it's loaded with tons of features, but rather it's more for its simplicity. It just works, and everything works well. It takes a no fuss, plug-and-play approach. It feels as if it is very much targeted towards your everyday, and perhaps less demanding user, with no real need for calibration (hence no calibration controls), simple menu options, and the standard features.
It ultimately performs well in standard content watching and it's decent at gaming, though not the best. Where it becomes a more difficult conversation is when you examine its price-to-performance compared to the other USTs available that offer the same features and more near the same price or for just a few hundred dollars more, such as wider gamut coverage, Dolby Vision, or lower latency for gaming.
Where the LS650 pulls ahead, though, is in lumen output and ease of use. So, for users who want a no-fuss setup and a good picture out the box with little to no work, with a bright picture, the LS650 is worth a look. Those who want the bleeding edge and newest features my want to look at other offers, but still keeping the LS650 in mind, as it is a good unit—just not a unit for everyone.
Brightness. The Epson LS650 is rated for 3,600 ANSI lumens. The brightest picture mode in SDR and HDR was Dynamic. This picture mode measured 3,485 ANSI lumens, which is 3.2% lower than Epson's 3,600 rated lumen specification and well within the 20% tolerance of the ISO21118 specification.
Epson LS650 ANSI Lumens
Brightness Uniformity. The Epson LS650 projecting a 103-inch diagonal image resulted in measured brightness uniformity of 59%. The brightest portion of the screen was the middle top sector, and the dimmest the bottom left. The difference in brightness on a full white screen wasn't noticeable nor was it noticeable while viewing content.
Fan Noise. Epson rates the fan noise at 36 dB for fan noise using Normal Mode, and 23dB using Eco Mode. Using Room EQ Wizard software and a Umik-1 microphone, my theater room ambient noise floor is 33.3 dBA. The Epson LS650 measured at the following dB for both SDR and HDR, in the following brightness modes, from a distance of approximately 2.5 feet from the exhaust vents located on the left and right sides. Measurements were also taken from the rear and above. Increasing brightness did impact the overall audible noise level of the unit with the right side always being the loudest.
Rear: 34.9 dBA
Left: 36.1 dBA
Right: 44.8 dBA
Input Lag. Input lag measurements while using Enhanced Gaming on HDMI 1 input were recorded as follows;
1080p/60 = 24ms
2160p/60 = 24ms
- HDMI 2.0 (x2; HDMI 2 eARC; HDCP 2.3)
- USB 2.0 type A (x2; 5V/1.5A power delivery/service)
- USB 2.0 type A (2A power delivery)
- Micro USB (service)
- S/PDIF (Optical output)
Calibrated image settings from any third-party do not account for the significant potential for sample-to-sample variation, nor the different screen sizes and materials, lighting, lamp usage, or other environmental factors that can affect image quality. Projectors should always be calibrated in the user's own space and tuned for the expected viewing conditions. However, the settings provided here may be a helpful starting point for some. Always record your current settings before making adjustments so you can return to them as desired. Refer to the Performance section for some context for each calibration.
Color Mode: Natural
Color Temp: 8
Noise Reduction: Weak
Super Resolution: 1
Auto Contrast Enhancement: 0
Dynamic Contrast: High Speed
Scene Adaptive Gamma: 5
Frame Interpolation: Off
Dynamic Tone Mapping: On
Image Processing: Fine
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650-W projector page.
The Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650-W is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Epson EH-LS650. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Epson for complete specifications.