- Dual-laser system for wide gamut and good out of box color
- Comes bundled with ALR screen
- Robust sound system with separate, powered subwoofer
- Well integrated smart TV platform
- Large and heavy chassis
- No EOTF/Brightness control for HDR
- Limited smart TV apps
- No 3D
- Mediocre input lag for gaming
It may look like a behemoth next to newer generation living room USTs, but the L10E series from Hisense is an all-in-one entertainment system with an impressive audio system, an excellent ALR screen, and some advanced display technology.
The last two years have seen an explosion of new product releases among laser-driven ultra short throw living room projectors. The entry of no fewer than a half dozen new players, some now on their second generation product, has helped to both popularize and legitimize the category. But overlooked among new consumers considering a UST purchase is the role that Hisense has played in creating the market that has spawned a slew of competitors. Sony can claim the first laser-driven 4K UST living room projector promoted here in the states—at a then cost of $50,000. But it was Hisense that migrated its more approachable "Laser TV" line to the U.S. shortly after in 2016, and remained essentially alone in attempting to introduce the concept to general consumers. The "laser TV" moniker is now becoming generic to describe the category, and other brands may use variations on the theme, but Hisense is likely the only company that has built legitimate trademark rights to use that name in its products and marketing.
The L10E projector is a beast by today's UST standards, measuring 27.5 x 8.1 x 16.4 (WHD) and weighing in at 50 pounds—a chassis that accommodates a rather hefty sound system I'll say more about later. The current $6,999 list price for the 100L10E package reflects the cost of a bundled 100-inch UST ALR screen; the 120L10E with a 120-inch screen goes for $7,999. But along with the premium audio system the primary draw here is some advanced display technology. This includes the larger 0.66-inch 4K DLP chip and separate blue and red lasers with a phosphor wheel. If the projector's big footprint is a deterrent, Salamander Designs, a well-regarded manufacturer of A/V furniture, sells a credenza for this projector with a recessed cavity that hides the projector out of sight below the top surface and allows sound to emerge from a grille in front.
Hisense is one of just two UST brands that bundles an ALR screen with their projectors, a practice now followed by Epson with its LS500 models but no one else. I endorse the approach wholly. While it drives up the initial cost, having the right screen with these USTs is essential to their living up to their promise as a day-to-day TV replacement. The screen that Hisense ships is equivalent to the Elite Aeon CLR material I have in my home studio (at the 100-inch size) and used for this review. It has a sawtooth optical structure that aggressively rejects overhead light and more modestly rejects light coming in from the sides while directing light from below the screen directly at the user. These screens have a dark gray surface with a 0.6 gain to very effectively boost contrast and black level. They work great with these projectors provided the projector is bright enough to handle the screen's sacrifice in peak brightness in your ambient lighting, which is certainly true here for most setups. You can read more about these and other ALR screen options in our article "Screen Magic: How UST Screens Let You See the Light." You can also learn more about the UST Living Room category in our UST Buyer's Guide.
As noted, the dual-laser engine sets the L10E apart. It's spec'd for 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness and utilizes red and blue lasers plus a phosphor wheel to achieve the three primary colors. This design allows the projector to boast at least 98% of the full DCI-P3 color gamut associated with HDR content (we measured 112% DCI-P3 in the HDR Vivid color mode, also equivalent to 167% Rec.709 and 76% Rec.2020). At this writing, only the LG HU85LA, with its red-blue-blue triple-laser design, and the new Samsung LSP9T, with its discrete red-green-blue laser design, can also be categorized as multi-laser projectors in this product class. Most of the remaining laser USTs out there, including the new Hisense L5 series, save cost by using a single blue laser and a combination of optics and a phosphor wheel to generate the remaining red and green primary colors. The primary practical benefit of having two, or better yet, three lasers is the ability to achieve and maintain high brightness and wide color gamut at the same time. The laser engine in this Hisense is rated for 25,000 hours of use. I should note that while the projector is compatible with HDR10 high dynamic range signals, it lacks HLG compatibility.
The larger 0.66 DLP chip is also a blessing here. If you're not aware, Texas Instruments has two popular versions of its 4K resolution projection scheme, which uses very rapid pixel shifting made possible by the super-fast oscillation of the chip's micromirrors to put the full 3840x2160 pixel count of a UHD video signal on the screen in the time period of a single frame of video. As we and others have reported many times, it is difficult to tell from normal viewing distance the difference between this and a native 4K imager. Differences you do see are likely more due to differences in optics, processing and other factors. The least expensive and most popular 4K DLP solution by far utilizes a 0.47-inch, 1920x1080pixel DMD (digital micromirror device) coupled with four-phase pixel shifting. The higher-end solution uses here involves a 0.66-inch DMD with native 2716x1528 resolution that requires only two-phase pixel shifting to put the full Ultra HD image on screen. Other things (optics, processing, etc.) being equal, the larger chip is generally understood to provide a subtly sharper image quality with perhaps better contrast. One drawback of the 0.66-inch array, however, is that it is not usually compatible with full 1080p 3D signals, which is a missing feature here.
Lens quality on the L10E is very good though there is no mechanical or menu-driven focus control to be found anywhere. With my 100-inch screen I consistently found the center-screen detail sharp and the top corners subtly out of focus. This is common with virtually all USTs we've tested to date, though they exhibit this effect to different degrees. I'd say this one is about average in this regard, though there are times, such as with news programs that have alphanumeric graphics in the top corners of the screen, where it is more noticeable.
Most of today's living room USTs have followed the Hisense example in providing some sort of smart TV platform. The company's newer L5 series integrates the Android-based Google TV platform that some other projector makers are also opting for now, but the L10 series has an older proprietary Hisense-developed platform. It has 4K compliant apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, all of which work well, though I was unable to get the projector to recognize the HDR flag in Amazon-streamed programs that I know to be HDR. In any event, the otherwise sparse app offerings suggest many users will opt to stream from an outboard Roku, Amazon, or Apple TV media player. Hisense also provides a built in digital TV tuner for capturing off-air HDTV signals with an antenna, which is a rarity among the USTs and a nice plus in this age of cord-cutting.
The projector is compliant with Amazon Alexa voice commands, which can be activated by a microphone on the sleek, brushed metal and perfectly-sized (in my view) Bluetooth/IR remote control. For example, you can use Alexa to toggle power on the projector, change volume, or switch inputs, as well as operate your other connected smarthome devices. The projector will also respond to any Alexa-enabled speaker. The remote has no backlight, but its relatively few buttons are easy to learn quickly. Accessing menus for picture adjustments was a bit arduous, however, due the lack of any direct-access buttons.
The sound system is an impressive piece of work for any projector. Engineered and branded by Harmon Kardon, it provides substantial volume and, with its paired wireless subwoofer, delivers solidly balanced sound. The mains speakers are powered by 40 watts. The subwoofer is driven by 60 watts and is housed in a column-like ported cabinet. It got a bit boomy at high volumes in my space but I was able to trim its level in the projector's Audio menu and also apply EQ settings to the sound, as well as any of three dbx-TV sound processing modes. One of these, Total Sonics, adds fullness with a bass/midrange boost. There's also a faux surround mode to widen the soundstage and a volume equalizer function for leveling out the volume spikes from commercials or compressing dynamic peaks for late-night viewing. I generally found the sound quality adequately loud and dynamic for my fairly large open viewing space, and appreciated having the outboard sub to add some required fullness to the sound. It's performance won't come up to the standard of a modest outboard AV receiver and speakers in either spaciousness, dynamics, or deep bass performance, but it ranks with a good 2.1-channel budget soundbar. The vast majority of viewers will find it more than satisfying.
If you do opt for an outboard sound system, you'll find several options in the well-equipped jack-pack on the back panel. Four HDMI inputs include two 18 gigabit-per-second Version 2.0b ports that will handle 4K/60 Hz signals; the other two are 10.2 Gbps and top out at 4K/30. There is also a VGA input with a mated stereo analog audio jack, and two USB ports that can feed an integrated media player from a flash drive. The aforementioned antenna input is on the small connection panel on the right side. Audio outputs include ARC on one of the HDMI ports, optical digtal out, and stereo RCA analog jacks. And there's a Bluetooth out function, with an available audio sync control, to feed an outboard wireless speaker or headphones. An RS232C serial port provides control, and an RJ45 Ethernet jack lets you connect a wired network if the onboard WiFi isn't sufficient.
Setup options on the projector include settings for a tabletop- or inverted-ceiling mount; no rear projection. As with most USTs, there is no zoom or lens shift, but with its unspecified and relatively short-throw lens the L10E fills a 100-inch screen with its screen-facing rear panel approximately 8 inches out from the screen surface. Accounting for the depth of the projector, the audience-facing front grille will sit about 24.5 inches off the wall. Geometric correction is on hand if you need it, but we always recommend leveling the furniture and projector and physically moving it into position to avoid any image degradation that can occur when these digital remedies are engaged.
Color Modes. The L10E offers a wide range of picture modes and some good controls for calibration. For standard dynamic range (SDR) the mode choices include Vivid, Standard, Theater, Game, Sports, and Calibrated. For HDR, you get HDR versions of the same modes.
There's also a 20-position Light Level slider that can be used to adjust the overall laser output for any given mode.
Out of the box, I found the SDR Theater picture mode provided an excellent picture for dark-room viewing with some minor tuning. Its Low color temperature setting was a bit too warm/pink for my taste, and clicking up to Mid-Low provided more neutral flesh tones and whites and brought some extra pop to the image. Also, raising up the brightness (black level) control as well as contrast (peak white) helped a great deal to bring up the punch while keeping essentially accurate color. There's also an HDMI Dynamic Range control that should normally work fine on Auto but, for some reason likely having to do with an HDMI EDID miscommuncation, it needed to be set to Wide to provide the projector's full range of brightness with my cable box. I just set it there and left it.
For HDR, the HDR Theater mode proved equally adept with similar adjustments by eye to provide a punchier and higher contrast image. In both modes, there was a tendency for some very deep reds to leap off the screen a little unnaturally,which proved to be a result of an oversaturated red primary and some modest degree of laser speckle, which can give certain colors (typically reds) a slightly pearly glow.
For SDR bright-room viewing, the Standard mode provided more brightness and a cooler/crisper white right out of the box, and stood up very well to the overhead can lights in my studio that wash down from three feet in front of my screen and represent a true ambient light torture test. It looked a touch oversaturated on some broadcast programs, but nothing that wasn't easily tamed with modest adjustment of the Color setting.
The Theater and Calibrated modes both looked and measured about the same out of the box, and I selected Theater for an SDR dark-room instrument calibration. As noted, the L10E has both 2-point or 10-point RGB white balance adjustments as well as a full color management system for adjusting hue, saturation, and brightness for the RGB primaries and CMY secondary colors. My final calibrated settings are in the Measurements section at the end of the review.
Prior to adjustment, Theater mode showed a grayscale that was noticeably deficient in green, which resulted in an excess of red and a warm (pinkish) color tone. DeltaE measurement errors, which are regarded as undetectable below 3, were between 5 and 10, with the worst offender being the 100% white point. The post-cal result saw Delta3's below 3 for all brightness levels and under 2 for most.
The RGB color primaries and CMY secondaries all initially measured all 5 or less, but both red and blue showed obvious oversaturation. Calibration to the 100% saturation points was a simple matter, but saturation sweeps with those settings proved that the projector didn't track colors well at the 20%, 40%, 60% and 80% saturation points, which resulted in much of the L10E's colors being undersaturated and off-hue. I settled on calibrating to the 60% saturation points, which resulted in an excellent results everywhere but at 100%, where the red and blue oversaturation couldn't be fully tamed. The end result post-calibration was DeltaEs under 3 for all the colors except Blue and Cyan, which measured errors of 7.1 and 4.1 respectively. These are still modest errors that would be nearly impossible to detect in passing.
The Calman software is limited in its ability to provide meaningful measurements for HDR due to projectors' much lower brightness vs. the flatpanels the software is designed for, though it can give a useful snaphot of the color points and the RGB balance of the grayscale. HDR Theater mode looked best to my eye and provided color points relatively close to the 100% DCI-P3 limits, though again with red pushed out a bit beyond the desired point. The grayscale tracked reasonably well except for the region between 50% and 70%—where most projectors show abnormalities when they encounter the knee in the EOTF curve—and then ran a bit red from 70% to 100%. I settled on adjusting the color temperature one notch up from its Low to its Low-Mid position to take out what struck me as excess warmth in the whites and then just made adjustments of the Brightness and Contrast on individual titles to optimize contrast. Note that, unlike most HDR projectors that have a trim control for the HDR EOTF to accommodate the balance of highlight brightness and detail retention on different titles, the Hisense has none. Fortunately, it's resulting HDR image looked great on most movies.
Dark Room SDR. With calibration complete, the Hisense exhibited an essentially neutral grayscale, well delineated fleshtones, and natural-looking "memory" colors on skies and foliage. Particularly deep reds of a particular shade—such as a red toolbox in a scene in Ford vs. Ferrari, still had just a touch of extra glow that made them pop off the screen. But it wasn't egregious to the point that would offend, and some viewers might appreciate the effect as greater realism. Other reds, such as the red jacket worn by aspiring actress Mia in a red-themed audition in La La Land, or her bright red handbag in another scene, still had a natural punch without the extra oomph.
A scene in La La Land of Mia (Emma Stone) and her love interest Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) walking through a movie lot exhibited exceptionally stunning and natural skin tone on the actors. Mia's very fair skin was radiant and well delineated from Sebastian's more ruddy skin, and a light application of rouge to his face that I hadn't seen before in many viewings was easily revealed by the projector. It also did a good job with the subtle difference in tones between Mia's white shirt and Seb's pale yellow shirt and white undershirt visible at the collar. And a 1970's azure-blue New York City police car looked exactly as it should despite the modest unresolved measurement error in the blue primary.
Contrast and shadow details weren't up to the standard of my JVC reference projector but were actually very good for such a bright laser projector. On a scene in a broadcast rerun of Dante's Peak in which characters are rummaging around a dark cabin with a flashlight, all manner of shadow detail was well revealed. Hardcore dark torture scenes like the opening of Chapter 12 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Part 2, in which the Death Eaters assemble on a moonlit cliff at night for their attack on Hogwarts, exhibited letterbox bars that were brighter than I'd like and more overall haze than you get with state-of-the-art blacks, but the L10E still did a very good job of pulling out the detail in the dark area behind the cliff and giving some pop to the moonlit faces.
I'm not particularly sensitive to DLP rainbow artifacts, but I did notice fairly frequent rainbows with this projector so I'd rate it above above average on that count. If you're sensitive to rainbows or don't know if you are, our usual advice is to buy from a retailer who will work with you on a return as needed.
HDR Viewing. Despite the lack of a full calibration on HDR, most of my go-to HDR test scenes looked stunningly and satisfyingly natural and accurate on the L10E. In Oblivion, a shot of Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) at his mountain hideaway revealed beautiful tones of foliage, natural granite rock faces, and convincing facial skin tone as Jack rests in the sun. Scenes in the HDR version of Apollo 13 also looked sensational with rich, saturated colors. A shot of an astronaut's wife wearing a white dress in the sun at the launch gallery popped crisply off the screen, and the red and blue metallic hose fittings and lockrings on the astronauts' space suits also exhibited great dimensionality. Here again skin tones were natural and not oversatured or pushed too red.
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The wide range of HDR movies I watched were rendered with bright, but not blown-out highlights, though there were times I'd have appreciated an HDR brightness setting to goose them up a bit at the expense of some detail in the surrounding areas. On the other hand, the occasional outlier title, like the extremely bright movie The Meg, did reveal that the L10E could be pushed to the point of being slightly washed out on some very challenging bright scenes on the sunny, open seas. But the L10E looked great on most of the more balanced scenes and even with this tough test was never unwatchable by any means.
Gaming. Based on input lag measurements, the L10E's Game mode bypasses some processing to improve input lag, which ran as high as 77 ms in the other modes with 1080/60 Hz signals. But even in Game mode, lag never got below 55.1 ms, which is low enough for casual gaming but would be noticed by competitive gamers on some first-person shooters or RPGs.
The Hisense L10E comes with caveats that may be impactful for some shoppers. Its large footprint compared with more recent USTs may be a hindrance to some, and the lack of 3D and mediocre input lag for gaming could deter others. Its streaming platform is also more limited than found in most modern TVs, but that's true of many streaming projectors today and is easily solved with an inexpensive third-party dongle.
On the other hand, these limitations aside, it's a strong contender in some other key respects. It offers the benefits of a dual-laser architecture for wide color gamut, essentially accurate out-of-box color tuning, and the controls to further improve its picture with calibration if desired. Its bundling with an excellent ALR UST screen simplifies purchase, and its excellent Harman Kardon sound system—with an outboard powered subwoofer to deepen the bass—combines with a built-in streaming platform and integrated digital TV tuner to truly make it an all-in-one solution. These things together should put it on the short list of many folks looking to trade up from their 65-inch TV to a 100-inch plus living room projector.
Brightness. Brightness measurements of any UST projector taken with a handheld meter, as we do at ProjectorCentral, are subject to significant errors due to the sharp attack angle of the light, shadow interference from the meter body, and the large swing in readings that take place with small differences in the positioning of the sensor. Though my use of a custom-designed jig with a sensor separated from the meter body helps reduce the potential for errors, our measurements should still be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, I measured 3,098 ANSI lumens in Vivid, the brightest of any mode either SDR or HDR, on its default settings including the maximum Light Level setting of 20, essentially on spec for the 3,000 lumen rating. The ANSI lumens for each of the other SDR picture modes, also with default settings, are shown below.
Hisense L10E ANSI Lumens
Brightness Uniformity: 76.3%
Lowest Input Lag. Game mode, 1080p/60: 55.1 ms. (We were unable to get a measurement for 4K/60 with our meter.)
- HDMI 2.0b (x2) with HDCP 2.2
- HDMI 1.4a (x2)
- USB Type A (x2)
- VGA In
- 3.5mm Analog Stereo Audio In
- RS232C for control
- RJ45 Ethernet LAN
- Optical Audio Out
- RCA Stereo Audio Out
- RF Antenna In (Coax)
- Mini USB (service only)
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 for some context for each calibration.
Light Level: 20
Picture Mode: Theater
Picture Size: Wide
HDMI 2.0 Format: Enhanced
Advanced Picture Options
Color Temp: Mid-Low
Motion Enhancement: Off
Judder Reduction: 0
Digital Noise Reduction: Medium
Active Contrast: Off (or as needed)
Color Space: Auto
Advanced Picture Options: Calibration
Gamma Adjustment: 2
Auditions were made in the HDR Theater mode with minor adjustments to default settings. See review.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Hisense 100L10E projector page.