Epson Pro Cinema LS9600e
1080p Laser Projector
At an MSRP of $5,999, the Epson LS9600e fits nicely between Epson's LS10000 at $7,999 and Sony's highly popular VPL-HW55ES at $3,999. All three are serious home theater projectors featuring LCoS-type reflective technology. All three have popular features like detail enhancement, frame interpolation, and panel alignment/convergence adjustment. All three come with a three-year warranty. So what are the differences?
Though it might be surprising, the big difference between the LS9600e and the HW55ES isn't picture quality. The LS9600e has a deeper black level in very dark scenes, slightly smoother frame interpolation, and detail enhancement that looks incrementally more natural. The HW55ES has higher contrast in all but the darkest scenes and higher overall light output. After spending hours and hours evaluating the two projectors in a side-by-side test, there's no clear victor. In other words, which projector looks "better" depends entirely on the content being viewed. The exception to this is in gaming, where the HW55ES's 24 millisecond input lag in Game mode makes it the clear choice for those into fast-action gaming.
The big advantages the LS9600e has over the HW55ES are the laser light source, powered lens adjustments, greater zoom and lens shift range, and full-featured lens memory system. But with a roughly $2,000 difference in price, it's surprising how similar the two projectors are.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Epson LS10000. Again, both it and the LS9600e are 1080p three-chip reflective projectors. Both use the same laser engine, though the LS10000 has a brightness advantage. The LS10000 costs $2,000 more than the LS9600e, creating a pleasantly symmetrical book-end with the HW55ES.
The big difference between the LS9600e and the flagship LS10000 is the latter's 4K Enhancement, which gives it a huge advantage in detail and a film-like, natural quality. If you haven't seen it, you may be skeptical. Some readers remain unconvinced that a native 1080p projector with 4K enhancement can even approach the performance of a native 4K machine. We say, don't judge until you've seen it. There is indeed a picture quality difference between the LS10000 and a native 4K projector like the Sony VW600ES. However for most typical HD and Blu-ray source material the difference in picture quality is much more subtle than you'd imagine. The LS10000 delivers a picture that more closely imitates the Sony VW600ES than it does any 1080p model on the market.
In other words, the LS9600e is a superb 1080p projector - one of the best we've seen. But it cannot match the sheer level of fine detail and pure, film-like quality of the LS10000. The 4K Enhancement of Epson's flagship model produces a picture that is dramatically different from even the best 1080p projectors we've seen, including the LS9600e. So while the LS9600e produces an outstanding image for a 1080p projector, those who can afford the additional outlay would be better off going for the LS10000 instead.
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