Epson LS500W-100 3LCD Laser Projector
Projector Central Editor's Choice Award

Editor's Choice Award

Our Editor's Choice award goes to products that dramatically exceed expectations for performance, value, or cutting-edge design.

  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Pros
  • Exceptional image brightness
  • Good out-of-box color for SDR and HDR
  • Outstanding 3D
  • Large, sharp lens with uniform focus
  • Comes with UST ALR screen
Cons
  • Requires outboard audio system
  • Longer throw ratio requires further placement from wall than most 4K USTs
  • Cumbersome access to key image adjustments
  • No eye protection mode for the laser
Our Take

Epson's 4K entry in the living room laser UST category comes with a few caveats, but its exceptional brightness and picture quality more than make up for its missings.

The competition among projector makers pushing 4K UST laser projectors as living-room TV replacements heated up in the tail end of 2020, with new models introduced from Optoma and Hisense along with first-time releases from Samsung and, finally, Epson. Epson's EpiqVision Ultra LS500, first shown at CEDIA in fall 2019, is noteworthy for several reasons. Among these is the potential impact Epson's name and marketing could have on the category as a whole—no other projector brand except perhaps Sony has Epson's broad consumer awareness or can boast a high profile, sports-centric spokesperson like Shaquile O'Neal.

Epson LS500 left angle

But the projector itself is unique to the segment for both its high 4,000-lumen brightness and its unusual industrial design, which features a large, periscope-style lens. Then, there's the fact that Epson has followed Hisense as the only other manufacturer bundling a specialty UST screen with their projector. This lifts the cost of entry but also assures that buyers will have the positive experience that Epson, and I think all promoters of this category, would really like for first-time projector buyers. Let's see how well they succeeded.

Features

Epson rates the LS500's 16:9 image size at 130 inches max, and sells the projector as the LS500-100 with a 100-inch, ambient-light-rejecting screen for $4,999 or as the LS500-120 with a 120-inch screen for $5,999. Both screens use the same material, which features the familiar sawtooth optical construction described in our article "Screen Magic: How UST Screens Let You See the Light." It has the same dark gray surface found in products from dedicated screen makers and the same 0.6 gain commonly found elsewhere (though Epson confirmed that its website specs erroneously list it as 0.8 gain). Gain below 1.0 means a sacrifice in brightness, but the dark surface combined with the superior rejection of overhead ambient light results in a remarkably contrasty and impactful image in bright rooms that seems to defy physics. You might get by with a matte white screen in the dark, but a UST ALR screen is a virtual requirement if you plan to us your projector as a day-to-day bigscreen television.

Even accounting for the screen, Epson's bundle pricing puts their projector squarely in the midrange of the category. The lowest-priced near-equivalent screens will cost around $1,000 for a 100-inch, and perhaps $1,800 for a 120-inch. Backing off that amount would put the price of the LS500 alone at around $4,000. Epson does provide a standalone option for some custom installers who would rather mate the projector with a screen brand they already sell.

Epson Home Cinema 4010
1080P Home Theater Projector

As shown in our Epson LS500 Unboxing video, Epson delivers the unconstructed screen elements and the separately boxed projector in one large cardboard crate; the carton for the LS500-100 we received was 92 inches long, about 22 inches square and had a shipping weight of 86 pounds. Putting the screen together, mounting it on the wall, and installing and aligning the projector is a straightforward project for most competent DIYers. The process can take a few hours but presents no challenges beyond hanging and leveling the screen in the right spot to accommodate the planned projector location. Printed instructions are provided for the screen construction, and you can see what's involved in our Epson LS500 Screen Build and Alignment video. Epson has also produced their own video showing the screen construction and installation. I admittedly came in with experience building screens and installing UST projectors, but enjoyed the methodical process and came away with a sense of satisfaction when I got to see the system in action.

LS500 Lifestyle Football

The LS500 comes in black or white to fit your decor. It comes ready for front projection from a console below the screen or hung upside-down from the ceiling or wall; there is no rear projection option, but that would obviously sacrifice use of the bundled screen. The LS500's cyclops-like periscope lens erupts from a chassis that is a touch deeper than some of the competitive UST projectors but also less wide. The lens housing is approximately 6 x 6 inches and comes up about 4 inches above the chassis.

More critical than differences in form factor is the 0.29:1 throw ratio of the lens. That's a slightly longer throw than most other 4K UST projectors today, and it results in having to place the projector a bit further from the wall for a given screen size. For a 100-inch screen, Epson specifies that the projector's rear panel should sit about 15.5 inches back from the screen surface (which will sit about 1.5 inches off the wall for a total distance of 17 inches from the wall) and 13.5 inches from the projector's top surface to the screen bottom. Accounting for the 14.75-inch depth of the projector and the approximately 5.25 inch height of the chassis, the audience-facing front panel of the projector will sit nearly 32 inches from the wall on a resting surface that's about 19 inches below the bottom of the screen. Given that the typical TV stand or console probably runs no deeper than 24 inches deep, you may be looking at having to situate your furniture noticeably distant from the wall. For the 120-inch version, the projector's audience-facing front panel will sit nearly 37 inches from the wall. Epson's more recently developed consumer UST projector, the 1080p-resolution EpiqVision Ultra LS300, has a slightly more aggressive throw ratio that makes placement a little more friendly.

Epson LS500 Top

The Epson's big lens and periscope design is like those found in the company's top-line classroom UST projector and other commercial models built on a similar chassis, and it does provide a significant benefit. It delivers exceptionally sharp focus across a wider screen area than I've seen to date on competing products. Most living room UST projectors, because of the steep attack angle and relatively small diameter of their recessed lens, endure some loss of focus at the top left and right corners. This isn't usually noticeable—even on 16:9 content with no letter box bars—because the focal point of the image is almost always on the action in the center and content in the corners is blurry anyway. But when there is detailed content in those corners, such as with busy alphanumeric graphics you might see on some newscasts, it becomes more apparent.

By comparison, the Epson delivers sharper top corners and suffers only a very subtle bowing that results in some tiny spillover at the center-top of the image. This either won't be detectable on the screen's narrow black bezel or can be easily removed using the Blanking feature Epson provides in its setup menu. I checked this feature out with test patterns and determined that, unlike standard keystone and four-corner geometric correction, activating the blanking merely masks a bit of the image on any of its four edges without invoking any other potentially damaging processing. As with other USTs, we recommend you avoid using the LS500's keystone, four-corrner correction, and digital zoom functions if possible to retain maximum image quality. But feel free to use the blanking; you'll only sacrifice a few rows of pixels you won't miss.

LS500 Black Right Angle
The LS500 is available in either white or black to best match your decor.

Beyond its unusual form-factor and bright, 4,000-lumen laser engine with 20,000-hour rated life, the LS500 is reminiscent of other Epson home theater projectors. Like Epson's other 4K-compliant models, it relies on a trio of 1080p LCD imagers to which Epson applies its 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting and image processing. This doubles the number of on-screen pixels per frame to about half of what a full-4K projector can do, but as we've reported in many reviews, this difference is virtually impossible to detect with 4K content at normal viewing distances. The 3LCD configuration also means that the Epson stands out in this DLP-dominated product class by providing equal white and color brightness. Furthermore, its lack of a sequential color wheel makes it impervious to rainbow artifacts, though some UST DLP projectors can claim high immunity to rainbows.

The projector is both HDR10 and HLG compatible, and comes with Epson's excellent tone-mapping and 16-step HDR Setting brightness control found in its top-of-the-line Home Cinema 5050UB and HC3800. Full 10-bit HDR processing is on board to minimize banding, but the limitation here is in color gamut, which is only rated for Rec.709 and not the full DCI-P3 wide gamut found in Epson's best projectors. Full DCI-P3 matches the range of colors available in most 4K content today, but the trade-off is understandable considering the engineering conflict between achieving high brightness and wide gamut simultaneously. Contrast ratio is rated at 2,000,000:1 when the Dynamic Contrast feature is engaged, though there's no mechanical iris to further darken the blacks in real-time. The projector does have a manual Light Output control that can be used to tame the laser's considerable firepower for your viewing conditions or tastes.

LS500 Lifestyle Gaming
The LS500's low input lag makes it suitable for serious gaming.

Notably, the LS500 is the first UST projector we've seen that touts itself as a gaming projector right out of the gate, with a very low rated input lag of 16.7 ms and full 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 ports that handle 4K HDR at 60 Hz. Our Bodnar 4K lag meter measured a relatively close 21.1 ms with 4K/60 Hz signals and 27.4 ms with 1080p/60 Hz after optimizing the menu options for low lag (see the review appendix for more detail). The Epson has a Frame Interpolation motion-smoothing feature—which as usual increases input lag if it's applied—but it didn't seem to be available with any signal type besides 1080p/24, so it would not likely come into play for gaming anyway.

If you're selling a living room UST projector these days you've gotta give it some "smarts," and that's handled here with a supplied Android TV HDMI streaming dongle. The stick hides away in a compartment behind the magnetically-attached front grille equipped with its own USB port for power. It uses apps from the Google Play store and is a vast improvement over the Android-based Aptoide streaming platform we've railed against in other projector reviews. I was able to successfully download and use apps for YouTube and my three paid subscription services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney +, and got excellent 4K image quality from each. The projector's microphone-equipped remote allows Google Assistant voice searches or information queries. The dongle also integrates Chromecast built-in, which allows sharing of photos and casting of compatible apps from mobile devices on the same wireless network. Note that like most streaming sticks, this accessory is strictly a WiFi affair, so you'll need a decent wireless signal. Although the projector itself has an RJ45 LAN connection, it's only for network control or sharing content via Epson's iProjection mobile app or PC software—a clear carryover from this chassis's commercial roots.

One oddity is that the Android TV stick outputs all content at 4K with an HDR flag, as verified by the projector's Info screen and that of another 4K display I tried it with. This is true even when the program is clearly labeled on Netflix or Amazon as standard dynamic range 1080p HD, and it remained true even when I attempted to reset the resolution and bit depth settings in the stick's setup menu. This further means that the projector's HDR brightness control is alway active, even with native SDR content. SDR looked great with adjustment of that control, and I never saw the obvious gamma and color distortions typical when HDR tone-mapping is applied to SDR. But it was clear I wasn't getting the same punchy contrast with good HDR programs, such as Amazon's Upload, that I saw when I swapped in my Amazon 4K Firestick or Roku Ultra media player.

The onboard audio in the LS500 amounts to a pair of small utility speakers on the front panel driven by 10 watts each. The thin sound is nothing to write home about and Epson never claimed it would be; you should plan on a soundbar or other outboard system. Given the price of the projector and the fact that competitors at both higher and lower price points have given more thought to sound quality, the lack of a more robust system here counts as a missing. Again, the LS300 model mentioned above does integrate a Yamaha-designed sound system and also has its Android TV platform integrated directly into the projector rather than requiring a separate streaming dongle.

Behind the grille that hides the speakers and streaming dongle there's a menu navigation pad and a mechanical focus lever that operates with a sure feel and enough granularity to easily fine tune the detail. Other connections around back include the other two HDMI ports (one with ARC for connection of an audio system), a 3.5 mm analog stereo audio jack, the LAN port, an RS232C control port and two USB ports—one USB-A for connecting an optional WiFi dongle should you want that for network connection, and a mini-USB for service. There is no media player built into the projector to display video or photos directly off a USB flash drive.

Epson LS500 Remote3b

Epson supplies two compact remotes with the LS500, one for the projector (with an Epson logo on it) and a second remote presumably dedicated to the Android TV dongle should you move the stick to another display. But the dongle is fully navigable from the projector remote. In any event, I could find no instructions with the projector or anywhere online describing how to mate up the alternate remote with the stick.

The projector remote provides access to all features in the menu. There's no backlighting, but it's designed for simplicity and is easy enough to operate once learned. Highlights include a Home button that will automatically select the HDMI 3 input where the Android dongle lives, and a direct access key for YouTube. Another key labeled Apps takes you straight to your downloaded streaming apps or the Play store where you can find others, but only once you've selected the stick as the input. Unfortunately, there's no direct remote access to the HDR Settings brightness control, which is one I think many users would tap frequently once discovered and which requires 8 keystrokes to access via the menu. Assigning that function to the remote button used to access the keystone feature would have been the better choice, since users will only seek that during initial setup if at all.

With a live HDMI source connected, the LS500 took a reasonably speedy 20 seconds to go from power-on to on-screen image. That can be cut to as little as 7 or 8 seconds if the projector is in its Quick Startup standby mode (which can be set to last up to 90 minutes after the last power-down). The screen went from power down to darkness instantly and the fan stopped just a moment later. But the projector was noticeably slow transitioning between HDMI inputs, which blanked out the screen for about 8 or 9 seconds—a length of time that became increasingly tiresome as my evaluation wore on.

It's important to mention that, unlike most of the new laser UST projectors including Epson's own LS300, the LS500 has no proximity safety detector to dim or turn-off the laser should a curious toddler get close to the beam. Just something to think about if you have little ones around.

Performance

Color Modes. Despite being targeted for bright-room TV viewing in service to a less-demanding, non-videophile audience, the LS500 brings enough to the party to satisfy both crowds. There are just four Color modes, fewer than found in Epson's long-throw projectors, but they serve well, and come with a high degree of adjustability for tweakers. None were terribly off from what I'd consider an accurate image or in the category of a total throwaway, though they varied in their subjective brightness and in some cases in their color temperature for white and a few other minor differences.

Epson provides its usual extensive palate of picture adjustments, which are available for all modes. There is a broad 9-position setting for color temp as well as RGB Gain and Bias controls and a separate Grayscale control that allows individual adjustment of brightness for red, green, and blue, or the whole lot together. A full RGBCMY color management system (CMS) is on board for adjusting Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. Epson's Gamma control provides multiple settings plus a graphic Custom mode. There's also the five position (plus Off) Enhancement control found in other Epson 4K projectors that activates the pixel shifting and offers graduated degrees of detail enhancement. Preset 3 is suitable for most 4K content without adding unnatural edge enhancement, though I occasionally goosed it up with 1080p discs or 1080i cable box programs. Other resolution and detail enhancement controls are also available. Beyond this are panel alignment features to eliminate any RGB fringing should you find any (I saw none that required correction). In short, the projector comes out of the box ready to watch, but beneath the surface it's a tweaker's delight.

The LS500 automatically detects either HDR or 3D content and makes the HDR Brightness and 3D settings menu available. These are overlayed on whatever viewing mode you're in; there's no dedicated HDR or 3D mode. Settings are retained for each individual Color Mode mode, however, so you can, if you wish, dedicate and tune any of the four modes for HDR or 3D. As with Epson's better Home Cinema projectors, the LS500 also has a Memory function that allows storage of up to 10 different settings configurations, so these can also be used to tune and save any specific picture mode and settings combination for any scenario. However, as with the HDR brightness control, there's no direct access to this feature on the remote, and the process of navigating to and loading a stored memory via the menu requires a minimum of 12 keystrokes. So it's not a friendly option for day-to-day use. The Color Modes are more easily accessible as an early first stop on the menu, so I just set up different Color Modes for my different viewing conditions and signal types instead of using the memories.

Of the four Color Modes, Dynamic is the brightest but comes with a noticeable green bias that will likely deter its use in all but the most demanding ambient light. However, as noted below, its extra punch was exceptionally helpful for 3D and its faults for that purpose were easily overcome with adjustments.

Bright Cinema, the out-of-box default, is clearly the best choice for most well-lit environments. It provides an extremely bright picture with essentially accurate if slightly oversaturated colors, and a very hot peak white that, with default settings, tends to blow out highlights. Following some minor subjective adjustments—backing down the Light Output control to 80% from its default of 100%, cutting back the Contrast control to 35 from its default 50, and going down a few clicks on the Color Saturation control—it still put up a more-than-bright enough picture with some real punch that stood up well to demanding overhead can lights. Whites were on the cool side without being egregiously blue, which works fine for bright environments, and I was pleased to find that various caucasian flesh tones were very well delineated even at the high brightness. I did most of my casual TV viewing and all of my bright-room viewing with these settings.

I expected the Cinema mode, the least bright by far, to be the most color-accurate out of the box. But that didn't turn out to be the case when I measured all the modes. Still, it was a much less bright version of Bright Cinema and essentially accurate in the same ways. Even in a dark room its default settings failed to provide quite enough punch for my taste on the low-gain ALR screen. Scaling up its Light Output control from the default 50% to around 80% did the trick, allowing its use even in moderate ambient light. If you're not doing an instrument calibration, this configuration should serve well for dark-room movie watching that won't fatigue your eyes over a long session.

Game mode subjectively showed about equal brightness to the Bright Cinema mode, but with a slightly warmer white, and it actually measured the closest to the Rec.709 SDR HDTV standard. It looked much softer out of the box due to its low setting for the Enhancement Preset, which I quickly changed from 1 to 3. I ended up doing my dark-room instrument calibration on this mode, and beside having a warmer white the final results provided subtly better contrast and slightly more saturated colors on most scenes compared to Cinema mode. This calibration worked for dark-room HDR viewing as well with appropriate adjustments for individual movies on the 16-step HDR Settings slider. My calibrated settings are in the appendix at the end of the review. Note that invoking the Game picture mode had no effect on input lag and so should not be a requirement for gaming.

Dark-Room SDR Viewing. Calibration of the Game mode with Calman color calibration software from Portrait Displays, an X-Rite i1Pro2 photospectrometer, and a Murideo Six-G signal generator was fairly straightforward. The grayscale RGB balance was close enough that only minor adjustments were required for the RGB Gain and Bias controls, along with changing the Gamma setting, and the end result was that the full grayscale from 20% to 100% had low DeltaE errors below 3. (DeltaE is an indication of how close the result is to accurate; 3 or under—some say 4 or under—is indistinguishable from a perfect result).

Surprisingly given the projector's relatively wide measured color gamut, adjusting the color points at the precise limits of the Rec.709 color space with an SDR signal was challenging; the CMS color controls were ineffective in pulling them to the 100% saturation points. Fortunately, though, the color saturation for all the primary and secondary colors tracked commendably well up to about 90% of full Rec.709 gamut, and calibrating to the 80% saturation points instead of the 100% points delivered excellent results that were below 2 DeltaE even though the full 100% points were close to 5. Calman's ColorChecker, which checks 30 targets including those representing things like "Light Skin," "Foliage," and "Blue Sky" averaged a low 1.9 DeltaE and a maximum of just 4.9 DeltaE for those 100% color points.

With these settings, the Epson successfully navigated all of my challenging go-to clips from the SDR version of La La Land, a movie filled with bright colors. Lead actress Emma Stone is featured in many close-ups that reveal her fair skin, which on a well-tuned projector should only exhibit a rosy skin tone on specific interior scenes that are intentionally shot with warm lighting; the LS500 tracked the different scenes and made her look wonderful and natural throughout the movie. A shot showing Mia in her apartment sitting between two of her roommates also nicely revealed the subtle differences in their facial complexions. At one point, she's seen in an overhead shot resting her head on several deep red pillows that can lean orange on some projectors—but not here.

LaLaLand dresses
The calibrated Epson beautifully rendered the bright colors and more subtle shades in La La Land. (Photo: Lionsgate)
In another scene where her character Mia and her romantic interest Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, are walking on a movie studio backlot, Mia's white shirt and Seb's pale yellow shirt and white undershirt seen at the open collar were all nicely displayed and delineated, though my tuning left the whites a touch warmer and less neutral than the uncalibrated Cinema or Bright Cinema modes. Seb's barely yellow shirt showed no hint of orange or other tinting as I've seen in some other projectors. A 1970's-era New York City patrol car that sits on the movie lot is a very specific shade of blue I know well as a native New Yorker, and it was convincingly rendered here. Likewise, the movie's opening dance number on a bright, sun-lit LA highway ramp showed a natural pale-blue sky—not oversatured and pungent to a point that's rarely seen in real life (especially in LA), but which many projectors lean toward in an effort to impress. And the dancers' richly colored costumes, ranging from orange to bright blue to pure red to striking yellow, all came through as I've seen them on other well-tuned displays.

I had similar experiences watching Black Panther. In an outdoor scene near the beginning of the movie in which T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is challenged to a fight for his rightful crown, the ritualistic costumes of the gathered tribes at the coronation ceremony provide a striking colorful backdrop, and the different brown skin tones of the all-black cast are well delineated. The sky, water, and gray rock outcropping that serves as a gallery for the attendees all looked natural and inviting. Another earlier scene, in which T-Challa, dressed as Black Panther, attacks a caravan of human traffickers rumbling through the nighttime jungle, proved that the LS500 can handle dark content reasonably well and deliver shadow details with its Dynamic Contrast active. But very dark scenes or movies, such as the start of Chapter 12 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 in which the Death Eaters gather on a moonlit cliff at night, exposed the projector's middling black level. The LS500 was about on par in this regard with other laser USTs I've tested recently, but obviously isn't at the contrast performance of Epson's own UB series or my JVC reference projector. Still, for a 4,000 lumen laser-driven projector, it does a commendable job.

The LS500's Frame Interpolation motion compensation feature was only active in the menu with 1080p/24 signals—I found it grayed out with all other signal types. When available, it has four positions including Off, Low, Normal, and High. Low was only mildly effective with the clips I use to check judder and motion blur, and also introduces only a modest degree of soap opera video effect to 24-frame movies. The Normal and High settings were definitely more effective in smoothing judder and reducing blur, but also introduced more pronounced video effect. I prefer not to use motion interpolation with 24fps movies, and it wasn't available for the 1080i sports coming off my cable box. It came in handy watching 3D movies, however, where setting it to Normal or High gave the picture a touch of extra brightness and realism.

Dark-Room HDR. Using the calibrated Game mode for HDR movies worked out very well, and required only adjustments of the Epson's 16-step HDR Setting control that tunes the tone-map to taste for individual titles. To put it simply, everything I watched in SDR looked obviously better in HDR, and the high granularity of the HDR control provides a degree of accommodation for different content that's equaled in my opinion only by JVC's projectors. The LS500 took my long-running HDR torture test, The Meg, and actually made it look good. This title, with 4,000 nits peak and 1,193 nits average brightness, looks washed out for most of the movie on most HDR projectors—even at their darkest HDR setting—and some specific bright scenes present a real challenge. I was able to adjust the LS500 for an excellent, contrasty image and still had room on the control to spare. Similarly, the Spears & Munsil HDR Benchmark test disc can be configured for different brightness thresholds, so I set it to its 10,000 nit maximum—representing the brightest for any HDR10 content—and fast forwarded to the brightest scene in its montage, a clip of horses standing in a blizzard whiteout. It was beautifully rendered, with visceral punch and nice detail in the bumpy surface of the bright snow on the ground, at only position 12 on the 16-step control.

Apollo13 2 Universal
The LS500's flexible HDR brightness control insured that Apollo 13's punchy whites, including the astronaut's space suits, came through with visceral impact. (Photo: Universal)

For most movies, which are typically around 1,000 nits peak, I found the default HDR setting of 8 too dark and pushed it brighter, settling often around position 3 or even 2. This gave the peak highlights more impact at the expense of some detail in those areas. The HDR version of Apollo 13 looked fabulous, with overall excellent contrast on most scenes but with a visible pop on brief specular highlights, such as the sun bouncing off the long lens of a TV camera spinning on its turret at NASA's launch site, and on the many crisp whites scattered throughout the movie: the Saturn V rocket, the astronaut's space suits, the white dress shirts of the NASA officials, and the textured white dress of an astronaut's wife as it catches the bright sun in the launch gallery.

The opening sequence in Aquaman—another relatively bright HDR disc with 3,241 nits peak and 902 nits average brightness—was also beautifully rendered. Queen Atlanna, played by Nicole Kidman, is found wearing a silver-gold costume whose texture caught convincing highlights off the warm lighting in her new home, and with the HDR Settings control properly tuned, a close-up of her well-lit face revealed an appropriately milky texture to her fair skin and none of the blown-out patches on her forehead that I've seen on some projectors.

Bright Room SDR. The LS500 will arguably be used most frequently as a day-to-day television replacement for viewing in moderate-to-high ambient light. In its out-of-box default Bright Cinema mode—the projector's second brightest mode and the one most suited for this less-critical task—I was struck by its compelling combination of color accuracy, contrast, and spectacular brightness. As noted above, I made some quick subjective adjustments by eye to tone things down: lowering the laser Light Output from 100% to 80%, taking Contrast (peak white level) from 50 to 35 to prevent highlights from being blown out on bright broadcasts, and reducing Color Saturation from 50 to somewhere between 45 and 40 (content and source dependent) to make the fleshtones look more natural and less glowy. I occasionally tweaked the Brightness (black level) down a click or two to add some extra contrast on some programs. Although whites still leaned toward cool blue in this mode, it wasn't excessive and helped the image stand up to the lighting, and the rest of the colors looked so natural that I never bothered with an instrument calibration.

Even after toning down the brightness in my studio, where I have overhead beams that directly wash on the image, the picture remained so satisfyingly bright and emminently watchable on the ALR screen that I turned to unconventional lighting challenges just to see how far I could push things. After turning on all the lights in the room—including those above, to the side, and in front of the screen—I took out a clamp light with an LED flood in it and pointed it at the screen from different angles. The blacks got brighter and took on a tinge of color from the beam's warmth, which robbed the picture of some punch, but most of the colors remained vibrant and the image never really washed out to a point that you couldn't watch it. I feel confident saying this is a projector that, with its companion screen, should deliver a respectable image even in rooms with bright sunlight coming in.

I spent many hours running news, sports, and prime-time shows on the projector with the lights on, often in the background while I worked. NFL and college football looked awesome on the big screen (broadcast quality dependent), and newscasts showed natural skin tones and good delineation of faces among the side-by-side pundits. The sharpness of the image varied based on the broadcast, of course, but the projector generally did a good job scaling the less-than-stellar 1080i signal from my cable box, particularly after I selected the Video option from its Deinterlacing feature in the menu. Even broadcast movies looked good, and only the darkest—think Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix caught on rerun—sent me heading to turn off the overhead lights just to preserve some black level. But I never felt the need to fully extinguish the lights except for when I was intentionally immersing myself in a movie, in which case I preferred my dark-room Game mode.

Full 1080p 3D. The Dynamic mode, which was otherwise noticeably green-biased, actually looked acceptable on 3D through the Xpand Vision Lite RF glasses I used and brought to bear the full brightness of the projector. Using the color temperature settings for this mode to back down the green and punch up the red a bit eliminated any obvious remnants of green in faces and brought back a touch of warmth; playing a bit with the Brightness and Contrast on individual titles then resulted in the brightest and best color-balanced 3D I can recall seeing in my studio. The LS500's 3D menu includes a Brightness setting (which I immediately set to High) and a 3D Depth control that was usually best left on its default but allowed depth to be effectively increased or decreased to accommodate taste and content. As noted above, the Frame Interpolation feature is also active for 3D, and I used it to infuse a touch more brightness and realism to the picture.

Animations such as Minons provided convincing (if not quite accurate) yellows and bluejean overalls on the Minions outfits and satisfying punch throughout. Live action 3D, such as The Walk (about Phillipe Petit's high-wire walk between the Twin Towers) and that old standby Avatar (still among the best application of 3D I've seen), delivered natural fleshtones and foliage, superb detail, and fantastic 3D effects that suffered no detectable crosstalk or motion artifacts. Avatar, in particular, was breathtaking, completely alluring, and never once left me yearning for more brightness or bemoaning distracting false colors or tinting. And that's saying a lot for 3D in a home theater projector.

Avatar 20th Century Fox
The projector's brightness, along with the many picture adjustments, helped deliver a punchy image with good color on 3D titles like Avatar. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Conclusion

Despite its otherwise solid execution, Epson's first 4K laser UST home theater projector comes with a few caveats. The lack of a suitable integrated sound system adds to the cost of an already pricey projector/screen combo. The included streaming stick wasn't as effective for HDR as my third-party streamers, and its outboard nature takes up one of only three available HDMI inputs, another of which you'll need to to connect a sound system via HDMI ARC. That leaves only one for an additional source, though if your audio system is a soundbar or AV receiver with multiple HDMI inputs this won't be an issue. Furthermore, the unusual lack of a multichannel optical digital audio output means that you'll have to use that HDMI-ARC port or get stuck with the less desirable analog stereo output to feed your sound system.

LS500 Head on

Beyond this, the remote could have been a bit better planned to provide access to the frequently used HDR brightness control, and the longer throw ratio of the lens means situating the projector further from the wall than some competitors, which may or may or may not work with your decor. Finally, the lack of a motion detector to dim the laser could be a consideration if you have children of a certain age. It should be noted that Epson addressed most of these issues in the aforementioned LS300 model, which still offers a bright 3,600 lumens but forgoes the 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting; however, it accepts 4K/HDR signals and displays them with HDR in the projector's native 1080p resolution. We hope to review this projector soon.

That said, none of these design quirks or missing features is enough to overwhelm the LS500's substantial strengths. You can start with its class-leading low input lag for gaming—a key feature for some. But more critical is the LS500's leading brightness in a product class whose whole raison d'être is its ability to function in light, and the way it delivers appealing and natural color at that high lumen output with little fuss. Since the vast majority of buyers for these UST projectors won't seek professional calibration, it's meaningful that the LS500 gives you a decent picture no matter which of its modes you choose, and thanks to its combination of high brightness, essentially accurate color, and a large lens that keeps better focus over a wider swath of screen, it gets closer to performing like that panel TV replacement it's meant to be. It also functions well as dark-room theater projector and handles HDR with finess thanks to its effective tone-mapping. And just to put a little more icing on the cake, the LS500 delivers the best and brightest 3D I've seen so far on any home theater projector, short or long throw. Those are some mighty big plusses, and they're more than enough to earn the LS500 our highest Editor's Choice recommendation.

Measurements

Brightness. The LS500 is rated for 4,000 ISO 21118 lumens, which are measured with the same 9-point average technique as ANSI lumens. Brightness measurements using a handheld luminance meter for a UST projector are best taken with salt because of how the steep angle of the lens and small movements of the meter can effect the readings. But my three attempts measuring the Dynamic mode using a jig that holds the meter at a consistent angle to the screen resulted in measurements tha ranged from 4,061 to 4,513 lumens, so the projector never failed to make its spec. The results of the most conservative reading and for the other Color Modes are shown below. The Normal setting of the Light Output control corresponds with its 100% marking and is the default for all modes except Cinema. Cinema mode defaults to the Eco setting that corresponds with the 50% marking. Setting any mode to Eco resulted in a 49.6% reduction compared with full Normal output. Setting Light Output to 75% measured 74.7% of full output.

Epson LS500 ANSI Lumens

Mode Normal Eco
Dynamic 4,061 2,014
Bright Cinema 2,406 1193
Cinema 2,353 1.186
Game 2,223 1,103

Fan Noise. Epson rates the LS500's fan noise on their website as "up to 37 dB." Making casual measurements with an SPL meter in a room with 28 dBA background noise, from a viewing position 11 feet from the screen and 9 feet from the front of the projector, I measured 36.1 dBA with the Light Output setting at the 100% maximum setting (Normal) that all modes except for Cinema default to. The fan noise was a noticeable hush at that distance, but of a low-enough pitch to blend in as random noise and not call undue attention to itself with any soundtrack playing.

Reducing the Light Output setting gradually reduces measured fan noise and lowers the pitch as well, making it considerably less detectable at each 10% step. The noise drops noticeably at 90%, and by 80% was not detectable over any music score, even at low volume, and difficult to hear over any dialogue. At the 50% Eco setting, I measured a low of 31.0 dBA, or about 5 dBA less than full output.

High Altitude Mode is recommended above 4,921 feet (1,500 meters). Engaging it added about 3 dB of noise to the 100% Normal setting and made it considerably more distracting.

Input Lag. Like other projectors, the LS500 registers its lowest input lag with 3840x2160 UHD signals at a 60 Hz frame rate, or 1920x1080 HD signals at 60 Hz. Slower frame rates at either resolution increase the lag. Similarly, engaging Frame Interpolation also usually increases input lag. Although some projectors have a dedicated gaming mode or low-lag feature that reduces processing to further reduce input lag, using the LS500's Game color mode in its default settings or selecting any other color mode had no noticeable effect on lag measurements.

Using a Bodnar lag meter, I measured a lowest-case input lag of 21.1 milliseconds with a 2160p/60 signal—not quite the 16.7 seconds claimed on the spec sheet but close, and the lowest by far we've seen in a laser UST. The reading for 1080p/60 was 27.4 ms. These measurements were taken with the following menu settings, which were previously recommended by Epson as delivering the lowest input lag on its Home Cinema projectors: Image Processing Fast; Super Resolution, Noise Reduction, Frame Interpolation, and Keystone Correction all Off; and Aspect Ratio Normal. I also tried turning off Detail Enhancement and Dynamic Contrast, which had no effect on the readings.

As with all other home theater projectors today, the LS500's lack of a wider-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 input for 4K/120 Hz gaming on the new Sony and Xbox consoles will be an impediment at some point in the future. But we've yet to see any projector that can fully accommodate those devices.

Frame Interpolation. The LS500's Frame Interpolation feature was available for 1080p/24 signals in either 2D or 3D. As noted in the review, its Low setting had only modest effect taming judder and reducing motion blur on some challenging clips, but also introduced only a modest degree of soap opera video effect to 24-fps movies that may be acceptable to some viewers who normally avoid using FI. The Normal and High settings were definitely more effective—High vastly reduced blur on a demanding test clip of a woman swinging on a hammock—but these settings also introduced noticeably more pronounced video effect on 24 frame content. For 1080p 3D movies, I found the video effect less pronounced, and the Normal or High setting often gave the picture extra brightness and realism that was welcome.

Connections

Epson LS500 connections
  • HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 (x3, one with ARC)
  • RJ-45
  • RS-232C
  • USB power (5V, 2A) for HDMI 3/Android Streamer
  • USB -A (for optional WiFi dongle)
  • Mini USB (service)
  • 3.5mm audio out
  • USB power (5V, 1.5A)
  • Micro USB (for firmware updates)

Calibrated Settings

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 of the review for some context for each calibration. As reported subjective tweaks following calibration sometimes resulted in adjustments to Brightness (black level), Contrast (peak white), Color Saturation, and HDR Brightness where applicable to yield the most pleasing results and effect the most natural fleshtones on different content.

The settings below were calibrated on a 0.6 gain, 100-inch diagonal, 16:9 UST ALR screen.

Dark-Room SDR/HDR

IMAGE MENU
Display Mode: Game
Brightness: 50
Contrast: 40
Color Saturation: 47
Tint: 50
Sharpness
- Standard: 5
- Thin Line Enhancement: 5
- Thick Line Enhancement: 5
White Balance
- Color Temp: 7
- G-M Correction 4
Custom
- Offset R: 47
- Offset G: 49
- Offset B: 47
- Gain R: 40
- Gain G: 50
- Gain B: 47
Grayscale
-Adjustment Level: 8
- Red 0
- Green 0
- Blue 0
Image Enhancement
- 4K Enhancment: On
- Image Preset Mode: Preset 3
- Frame Interpolation: Off
- Noise Reduction: 4
- MPEG Noise Reduction: 1
-Super Resoution
-- Fine Line Adjust: 5
-- Soft Focus Detail 5
- Detail Enhancement
-- Strength: 25
-- Range: 25
Advanced
- Gamma: -1
-RGBCMY (Hue, Saturation, Brightness)
-- Red: H49, S55, B50
-- Green: H57, S55, B49
-- Blue: H50, S50, B50
-- Cyan: H50, S50, B50
-- Magenta: H54, S52, B50
-- Yellow: H50, S50, B53

Light Output: 90%
Dynamic Contrast: High Speed

SIGNAL MENU
Aspect: Normal
Overscan: Off
Color Space: Auto
Dynamic Range
- Dynamic Range: Auto
- HDR10 Setting (when applicable): 2-5 for most content or adjust to taste
Advanced
- Video Range: Full (0-255)
- EDID: Expanded
- Image Processing: Fast

Bright-Room SDR

IMAGE MENU
Display Mode: Bright Cinema
Brightness: 50
Contrast: 35
Color Saturation: 40-45
Tint: 50
Sharpness
- Standard: 5
- Thin Line Enhancement: 5
- Thick Line Enhancement: 5
White Balance
- Color Temp: 9
- G-M Correction 2
Custom
- Offset R: 50
- Offset G: 50
- Offset B: 50
- Gain R: 50
- Gain G: 50
- Gain B: 50
Grayscale
-Adjustment Level: 8
- Red 0
- Green 0
- Blue 0

Image Enhancement
- 4K Enhancment: On
- Image Preset Mode: Preset 3
- Frame Interpolation: Grayed out or Off (with 1080p/24 signals)
- Noise Reduction: 4
- MPEG Noise Reduction: 1
-Super Resoution
-- Fine Line Adjust: 5
-- Soft Focus Detail 5
- Detail Enhancement
-- Strength: 25
-- Range: 25

Advanced
- Gamma: 0
-RGBCMY (Hue, Saturation, Brightness)
-- Red: H50, S50, B50
-- Green: H50, S50, B50
-- Blue: H50, S50, B50
-- Cyan: H50, S50, B50
-- Magenta: H50, S50, B50
-- Yellow: H50, S50, B50

Light Output: 80%
Dynamic Contrast: High Speed

SIGNAL MENU
Aspect: Normal
Overscan: Off
Color Space: Auto
Dynamic Range
- Dynamic Range: Auto
- HDR10 Setting (when applicable): 2-5 for most content or adjust to taste
Advanced
- Video Range: Limited (16-235)
- EDID: Expanded
- Image Processing: Fast

Full 1080p 3D

IMAGE MENU
Display Mode: Dynamic
Brightness: 52 (content dependent)
Contrast: 65 (content dependent)
Color Saturation: 55 (content dependent)
Tint: 48
Sharpness
- Standard: 7
- Thin Line Enhancement: 7
- Thick Line Enhancement: 7
White Balance
- Color Temp: 6
- G-M Correction 8
Custom
- Offset R: 49
- Offset G: 47
- Offset B: 52
- Gain R: 50
- Gain G: 50
- Gain B: 50
Grayscale
-Adjustment Level: 8
- Red 0
- Green 0
- Blue 0

Image Enhancement
- 4K Enhancment: On
- Image Preset Mode: Preset 3
- Frame Interpolation: Medium or High (to taste)
- Noise Reduction: 4
- MPEG Noise Reduction: 1
-Super Resoution
-- Fine Line Adjust: 5
-- Soft Focus Detail 5
- Detail Enhancement
-- Strength: 25
-- Range: 25

Advanced
- Gamma: 0
-RGBCMY (Hue, Saturation, Brightness)
-- Red: H50, S50, B50
-- Green: H50, S50, B50
-- Blue: H50, S50, B50
-- Cyan: H50, S50, B50
-- Magenta: H50, S50, B50
-- Yellow: H50, S50, B50

Light Output: 80%
Dynamic Contrast: High Speed

SIGNAL MENU
3D Setup
- 3D Depth: 0
- Diagonal Screen Size: (set as needed)
- 3D Brightness: High
- Inverse 3D Glasses: (as needed)
- 3D Viewing Notice: On or Off to taste

Aspect: Grayed Out
Overscan: Grayed Out
Color Space: Grayed Out
Dynamic Range: Grayed Out

Advanced
- Video Range: Full (0-255)
- EDID: Expanded
- Image Processing: Fast

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500W-100 projector page.

To buy this projector, use Where to Buy online, or get a price quote by email direct from Projector Central authorized dealers using our E-Z Quote tool.

 
Comments (49) Post a Comment
Mark Posted Jan 4, 2021 6:27 AM PST
Thanks for this review, I am curious about this one but more specifically the LS300 (I have young kids). If I can stream 4k content and it can downscale it well (allowing me to get Atmos - don't get me started) that should be fine for me. From what I have read most pixel shifting solutions are still a compromise over true 4k and from the distance I sit it won't make that much of a difference anyway.

I am attracted by the low frame rate but currently have an Optoma GT5500+ and I am a little worried about how 3LCD will compare to DLP. The other one I am considering is the BOMAKER POLARIS and the yet to be released ViewSonic X1000-4k.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 4, 2021 6:45 AM PST
Mark, I'm honestly how sure you can get Atmos directly out of the LS300 if that's the plan, unless it specifically has an eARC port (unlikely). If you're pulling it off the source component that would be a different story.

One of the most impressive aspects of the LS500 is the color quality coming off the 3-chip LCD design. The one thing you might see a difference on vs your GT5500+ is contrast/black level, which may or may not be better on your older lamp-based projector.

Can't comment at all onthe Bomaker product, but the ViewSonic X1000-4K has remained vaporware for what is now a very long time; it was first shown and announced at CES in January 2018. I have no reason to believe it is coming soon, and I have no reason to believe, as an LED projector, that it will really compete effectively with any of the new laser projectors. It's not spec'd for similar brightness. If it does come out, it's claim probably will be having the lowest price of any 4K UST home theater projector.
Victor Posted Jan 4, 2021 8:57 AM PST
Finally I can buy a ust projector without rainbow effects plus can you do a setting for a 120” screen as you did for 100” screen? This will be helpful for me.
Mike Posted Jan 4, 2021 9:24 AM PST
I don't think I saw what the measured contrast ratio (sequential or ANSI) was in the review. Also screen brightness uniformity measurements. Thanks for the review.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 4, 2021 9:30 AM PST
Mike, we measured brightness uniformity at 78%, but I didn't publish it because these numbers tend to run higher generally on these USTs because of the way the lens sprays light, and more critically, the same issues we have taking ANSI brightness measures come into play with BU, which is based on taking the lowest and brightest lux measurement off the screen among the 9 points averaged for the ANSI brightness measurement. So...same problem -- move the meter a little this way or that, and you can't be sure if the lowest and brightest segments were really accurate measurements. What I can say about the Epson, and honesty about all the 4K USTs I've tested, is that I've never seen any with any noticeable hotspotting or dimmed areas on either a white test pattern or on any live content.

It pains me to say this, but we don't do contrast measurements of any kind, because (1) we have no way to repeat them reliably among all our reviewers who look at these projectors in different environments, particularly ANSI which requires a true cave environment, and (2) I cannot resolve how to do these in a way that's really meaningful for the end user: whether an ANSI measurement is really useful (50% average brightness on an ANSI pattern doesn't reflect real content) or whether a sequential on/off measurement is useful considering differences in dynamic vs native. It's a conundrum, but I'm increasingly anxious to provide a number of some kind.

HcD Posted Jan 4, 2021 10:03 AM PST
Now all we need is this laser engine in a long throw projector ! I've settled for a TW9400 (6050UB in the US) for the time being, but I'm so yearning for a real 4K 3LCD laser !
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 4, 2021 10:24 AM PST
HcD, I'd also like to see a late-generation long-throw laser model from Epson. I'm encouraged that we're about to see a new long-throw laser from LG in the HU810A, but that's DLP.
Robert Posted Jan 4, 2021 3:54 PM PST
Will you be reviewing LS-300 and Samsung’s 9T?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 5, 2021 9:26 AM PST
Robert, we hope to review both of these but neither is in house yet.
Mark Posted Jan 5, 2021 10:56 AM PST
Hi Rob thanks for your thorough response. I should have been clearer. Currently I use a dedicated receiver that supports Atmos but my streaming services (specifically I am looking at you Amazon Fire TV) won't give Atmos audio unless I am playing it on a 4k device which obviously rules out my current projector.

My content will come from our XBox, FireTV, Blu Ray player, or cable receiver. I don't really care about any apps on the projector other than those needed to make configuration changes. Thanks again for the thorough review and your suggestions. I don't have access to see a lot of these in person and definitely rely on the guidance and resources you all provide.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 5, 2021 11:05 AM PST
Good to know you're on top of that part of it, Mark. And I understand completely re: the services restricting resolution and audio based on what they "think" they're seeing at the back end. Sigh...
Robert Becker Posted Jan 5, 2021 7:01 PM PST
Thank you for your great review!! Have been waiting for a projector like this in a long throw version but am growing impatient and so am considering this. Your article mentions the projector can be purchased without the screen at a reduced price? How/where can one do that? I don't want to have to have a screen mounted on the wall at all times, was instead thinking of purchasing a VividStorm rise or perhaps a VividStorm drop down to combine with this projector. Thanks again!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 5, 2021 7:10 PM PST
Robert, this actually cannot be purchased without a screen, but some retailers, including possibly Magnolia I and custom install specialists who sell Epson, are allowed to mate it with a different screen from another brand. If you can find one that also sells Elite, for example, you could possibly order it with a retractable UST screen. Elite has these now in both the 100 and 120-inch drop down variety.
Tony Posted Jan 7, 2021 10:49 AM PST
So how close does this get to being a long-throw projection (Epson 5050) killer, or at least competitor. Would love to get rid of the monstrosity hanging from the ceiling. It will happen some day. Are we close?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 7, 2021 12:33 PM PST
Not yet Tony. Frankly, none of these laser USTs I've tested do more than acceptable but middle-of-the-road contrast/black level, but they're just not designed for that. The high brightness is a challenge to begin with, though some of competitive products go as low as 2,500 lumens or so and are therefore in the realm of what the 5050UB does with a lamp. But most laser projectors don't do a great job of getting down to a near-black idle brightness; I'm not sure why. Sony uses a mechanical iris in their better laser projectors along with modulating the laser to extract the dark-content performance they need.

But I think it would be possible and very cool if a manufacturer designed one of these USTs from the ground up for dark-room theater -- leave off the web-streaming bells and whistles and audio stuff to save money, cut light output to maybe 2,500 lumens max so it's no so bright to begin with, build in some kind of dynamic iris to work in conjunction with the dynamic laser as needed, and sell it for maybe $2,500?
Tony Posted Jan 11, 2021 11:15 AM PST
Yes, Rob, that would be perfect! Native 4k, Dolby Vision HDR, and low latency for gaming would be icing on the cake.
Tony Posted Jan 11, 2021 11:21 AM PST
Just curious - does physics get in the way of projector manufacturers using UST technology to design a projector that might sit say 24" from the way in order to product a larger image with lower brightness and better black levels?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 11, 2021 11:25 AM PST
Tony, there are definitely some limitations with lens geometry and the ability to get an undistorted image of 120 inches or more at very close distance to the screen. The other characteristics of brightness and black level are application dependent and processing dependent.
Joseph C Tompkins Posted Jan 17, 2021 8:17 AM PST
Morning and Happy Sunday! Did I understand that you could turn the projector upside down and mount it on the wall like my JVC and still focus properly?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 17, 2021 8:20 AM PST
Joseph, the projector accommodates an invertered mount. The likelihood with a UST is that you would mount it on the wall above the screen on a UST arm mount that holds the projector away from the wall at an appropriate height. Note that it sits relatively close to the wall, so it's actually more visible and obtrusive in an inverted mount than it might be sitting on a console below the screen.
ANTHONY HERNANDEZ Posted Jan 17, 2021 8:28 AM PST
This is the only thing holding me back from purchasing this UST projector. 37 inches away from the wall looks ridiculous when you have an entertainment center 3 feet away from the wall. Most of the competition can achieve this size screen at around 15 inches.

For the 120-inch version, the projector's audience-facing front panel will sit nearly 37 inches from the wall.
lalz Posted Jan 17, 2021 10:03 PM PST
dont bother with this over hyped and over priced projector, does not have dci p3 wide color gamut still stuck with ancient srgb colors. wont be able to see more and richer colors like the director intended us to see.
eric Posted Jan 19, 2021 9:21 AM PST
hi rob, great article. is there a reason that there is no safety sensor on the epson ls500? bizarre it was eliminated as it is industry standard. have a child it would be a deal breaker.

which ust 4k do you like the best? i have the optoma p2 and it is good just very wonky sometimes. fluctating between the samsung premiere vs lg. what are your thoughts? thanks in advance
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 21, 2021 6:38 AM PST
Eric, the LS500 appears to have been built on a platform originally designed for commercial classroom/business projectors and adapted for the emerging living room UST projector market. Epson's LS300 is more akin to what you'll see coming from them in the future.

We've not yet tested the Samsung projectors so I can't comment; if you're talking about the top of the line model it may be a very good projector but I just don't know. I can recommend the LG HU85LA highly, but it lacks a sound system that you have now on your P2.
Alex Posted Jan 21, 2021 8:08 PM PST
Hello Rob, Great review, which I unfortunately found after I bought the LS500.

I watch TV 95% of the time at night, in the dark (but with bright walls), and was looking into jumping back to a cinematic experience from currently watching TV on a 50" 4k VA panel.

I used to own an old PLV-Z5 projector, which at 720p, is obviously not used much these days. Long story short, was waiting for 4k projectors to become affordable before buying one.

Found a good deal for the LS500 at 2000€ (no screen), but I expected more from the color and contrast performance. Then I read about UST screens that could help, which add up to the equation.

Something tells me I should go for a different solution... any recommendations?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 21, 2021 8:10 PM PST
Alex, you'll definitely see improved contrast with a UST ALR screen, even in dark room viewing, thanks to the black/gray surface. My review observations are really based on that combination. I'd recommend looking into a 0.6 gain ALR screen, such as the Elite Aeon CLR, vs the Epson screen that's normally mated with this projector as it has a 0.8 gain. You get a little more brightness vs a 0.6 with the 0.8 but sacrifice a bit of black level, and since this projector is stupendously bright to begin with and you are watching in a dark room mostly you should have plenty of brightness to spare. I'd also encourage you to work aggressively with the adjustments to tune the projector, as it doesn't come out of the box looking quite right in either of its two best modes, Bright Cinema or Cinema. You'll want to play with four key settings: Gamma, Light Output, Brightness (basically the black level which has a lot to do with subjective contrast), and Contrast (which controls peak white, and which was very pushed in the default Bright Cinema mode and make highlights blow out and generally washed out dimensionality). My calibrated settings at the end of the review might be helpful. But there's enough adjustability in this projector that I think you'd really find it more to your liking with some tuning. It's expensive enough that you might even consider bringing in a professional calibrator.
Dom Posted Jan 28, 2021 8:56 PM PST
Any idea when you’ll be reviewing the LS300 and how it compares?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 29, 2021 7:12 AM PST
Dom, we've requested a sample but no word on when we'll get it at this point. So the review is not in progress yet.
Keith Etchison Posted Feb 4, 2021 3:34 PM PST
I notice a lot of eye strain when watching hockey. When the motion picks up the focus goes off or blurs. What would you recommend the settings be for watching sports
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Feb 4, 2021 4:56 PM PST
The eye strain is primarily because you are probably watching a too-bright image of white ice. I'd recommend turning the projector to its darkest Cinema mode and see how that works for you, or to take the Game or Cinema Bright mode and turn down the projectors Light Output menu setting to something that looks comfortable to your eyes.

The image blur can be mitigated somewhat by turning on the Frame Interpolation feature in the menu, though it is not available with every signal type so it may be grayed out with your cable or satellite box.
Patrick Posted Feb 6, 2021 4:02 PM PST
Thanks for the review and the screen mounting video on YouTube -- very helpful! I'd like to try out 3D. You mentioned using Xpand Vision Lite RF 3D glasses but I'm having a tough time finding them. Is there a model # or a retailer you can suggest? Otherwise is there another set of 3D glasses you'd recommend?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Feb 16, 2021 8:14 AM PST
Patrick the full model name of the glasses I use are Xpand X105-RF-X1. You will find them on Amazon for about $50 a pair.

https://www.amazon.com/XPAND-X105-RF-X1-Rechargeable-Bluetooth-Glasses/dp/B00BFO4XSA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=xpand+vision+rf+lite&qid=1613491948&sr=8-1
Mike Posted Mar 9, 2021 7:35 PM PST
Loved the video review!
Jonny Posted Mar 12, 2021 2:08 AM PST
Have you had a chance to compare this to the LS300 yet? Split decision on what to get. Thanks
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 12, 2021 6:31 AM PST
I have not had a chance to see the LS300 in any capacity, Jonny.
John D Posted Mar 16, 2021 8:33 PM PST
Great review! Can the LS500 be mounted upside down on a ceiling with the projection image properly set to display? Thanks.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 17, 2021 6:46 AM PST
No inverted ceiling option with this projector. Epson sells it with a screen that would not work upside down - it would reflect light back from the projector to the viewer but would also collect all the overhead ambient light it’s intended to reject with a tabletop orientation.
Abdul Posted Mar 17, 2021 9:24 PM PST
I wonder if I'm looking for a bigger picture something like 140 -150, is bringing the projector back a little bit from the screen will get me there? but why they keep saying max 130 if this is the case? should I expect bad effects on the picture quality in that case?

also if you are going mostly to watch on a dark room setting will you still go for this projector or buy a 5050ub instead? giving that the distance is a max 15.7 ft from the screen, being afraid not able to get 150 screen size. from that distance on 5050ub
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 20, 2021 5:43 AM PST
Abdul, the maximum image size for these projectors is related to the optics and you will likely not get 140 to 150 inches on this projector without geometric distortion and/or the inability to focus the image uniformly. Furthermore, except to integrator who wish to sell this with their own mated screen, Epson does not sell the projector separately; only bundled with either a 100 or 120 inch ust.

Regarding dark room: The 5050UB has more than enough brightness for that application, much better black level/contrast, a wider color gamut, a better lens. It sacrifices the solid state laser engine the LS500 has that eliminates lamp replacements, but that's pretty much it in terms of real value. If you are doing a dark room theater and can mount a projector at the rear of the room, it's the best choice for image quality. I don't know offhand the maximum image size on the 5050UB for your 15.7 foot throw, but this is easily explored in our throw calculator.
Martin Posted Mar 22, 2021 8:23 AM PST
Hi, thanks for the review. Regarding the throw distance: Epson offers a digital zoom that allows closer placement to the screen. How much does this deteriorate the picture quality?

Also, how does this compare to the Optoma P2?

Thanks.
Gino Posted Mar 25, 2021 8:21 AM PST
Any chance you guys can review the Bomaker Polaris 4K projector and how it compares to the ls500? If not the bomaker, the hisense it is based off of?
Nicholas Posted Apr 2, 2021 11:00 AM PST
What do you think about this projector for indoor/outdoor use. Would it pair reasonably well with an elite screen yard master plus outdoor screen?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Apr 4, 2021 10:27 AM PST
Nicholas, provided you can keep the projector indoors until needed and get it quickly out of inclement whether, the unit is conceptually suitable for patio use, for example. It has very high brightness, which really should help in environments where you have some ambient light, though not direct sunlight. However, I would strongly recommend an ALR screen designed for UST projectors. Last year, Elite Screens introduced a portable tripod screen using one of its UST-compatible materials, the Elite ProAV TTP110UHD5-D Tripod Tab-Tension CLR/ALR Portable Screen. You can see a demo video of it in Elite's virtual booth at the ProjectorCentral Projection Expo 2020. It'll be more expensive than a Yardmaster, but the performance will be greatly enhanced for daytime viewing in a shaded area.

I should point out, though, that this projector does ship with a 100 or 120-inch UST ALR screen and is not readily available to consumers outside of this bundle. Although it's not ideal, you can consider hanging and storing the fixed screen it comes with, or just sell that screen when it arrives unassembled and purchase a portable UST screen as described above.
Name Posted Apr 7, 2021 12:46 PM PST
Does the projector's software support inverting the display to be mounted on the ceiling?

You state in your article that it can be mounted on the ceiling, but then in the comments you state once that it can, and once that it cannot. Which is it? Thanks.
Gino Petitti Posted Apr 14, 2021 9:57 AM PST
So you rate the optoma p2 quite above the ls500, yet, your review reads like the ls500 performs better? If the budget were not a concern, which of the two would you pick for quality picture performance and coloring? I will be projecting this against a vividstorm P S 100". Please advise! Thanks for the great work guys keep it up!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Apr 16, 2021 4:34 AM PST
If you are referring to our Top Ten list this is not a rating; read the info above the listings to see how these are automatically generated based on web traffic.

In this instance, The a requirement for extra brightness would be the primary reason to go with the LS500. The Optoma has the far superior sound system and very good color.
Gino Petitti Posted Apr 17, 2021 7:27 AM PST
Thanks Rob! I ended up getting the P2 and LS500 side by side, WOW - both are amazing machines, and they both have their strengths - the LS500 is a light cannon with amazing specular high-lights, amazing input lag, but I like the color, sharpness and black level on the P2 better (though yes the LS500 handles your Meg gauntlet HDR test better). As I am not a gamer nor do I watch much 3D and I watch it more in a light-controlled environment, I am likely going to keep the P2, and yes - the sound on the P2 is in a different universe compared to the LS500.

I did find one issue on the P2 however, it seems on the same youtube HDR test videos out there, the p2 shows a grid-like pattern on solid black regions, and there is more pixelation in the gradients. Thoughts on that?
Gino Petitti Posted Apr 17, 2021 5:39 PM PST
Also - I forgot to ask - any change you guys are going to review the Samsung The Premiere LSP9T and put it head to head with the Epson LS500?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Apr 17, 2021 7:28 PM PST
Still awaiting a Samsung sample.

Post a comment

 
Enter the numbers as they appear to the left