Epson Pro Cinema LS9600e
1080p Laser Projector
Reflective LCD. The LS9600e is a three-chip reflective projector. Epson calls their new imaging technology "3LCD Reflective," similar to Sony's "SXRD" and JVC's "D-ILA." They are all essentially LCoS, though Epson describes their chips as using a quartz substrate. Quartz is a silicon oxide crystal, and the silicon found in electronics is crystalline already, so it's not clear if there's a meaningful difference between 3LCD Reflective and other forms of LCoS. In any case, the LS9600e demonstrates all of the familiar strengths of LCoS, such as impressive contrast and a minuscule inter-pixel gap.
Laser light source. Epson's LS series projectors are the first 100% laser projectors for home theater, and their performance is encouraging. The LS projectors use a combination of laser diodes and a phosphor wheel to create red, green, and blue light. Unlike LEDs, lasers can easily match the lumen output of high-pressure lamps. And unlike some LED/laser hybrids, pure laser projectors have accurate, life-like color. Like other solid-state technologies, laser diodes will last much longer than high-pressure lamps. Epson estimates laser life at 10,000 hours in full power mode and 30,000 hours in eco-mode. The laser source will continue to run beyond these limits, but this is the point at which lumen output is anticipated to reach 50% of its initial brightness. By industry convention, this is considered "end of life." High-pressure lamps also tend to lose about 25% of their lumen output in the first 500 hours of use, whereas lasers degrade linearly, so they tend to stay brighter longer.
Customizable brightness. In a properly light-controlled theater, you don't need a super bright projector if you have a smaller screen. To this end, the LS9600e includes a manual lens iris that can cut light output by up to 65% in roughly 5% intervals. There are also three power settings for the laser: High (100%) power, Medium (80%) power, and Low (60%) power. Combining these two options allows you to fine tune the lumen output for a wide variety of screen sizes and types.
Lens Memory. The LS9600e is capable of 2.4:1 constant image height (CIH) projection without the use of an external anamorphic lens. Lens Memory allows you to save up to ten zoom, focus, and lens shift locations and then return to those saved settings with the push of a button. When paired with a 2.4:1 screen, the LS9600e can zoom and shift for perfect placement of super-wide movies, then zoom back down for 16:9 content. The Lens Memory system is quick and quiet, and there are direct-access buttons on the remote for memory locations 1 and 2.
Detail. The LS9600e includes two separate but interrelated systems that enhance fine detail in source material. The first, Super Resolution, helps to better define edges to give the image a sharper appearance without ringing or other ugly artifacts. Super Resolution has been a staple feature of Epson's home theater projectors for years now, and each year's system is better than the last. The second system, Detail Enhancement, claims to refine surface detail. The combined effect is, in a word, stunning. Even reference-quality Blu-ray movies benefit from this processing, giving them a sense of clarity and texture not found in the original source.
The Super Resolution and Detail Clarity systems are adjusted independently, and there are no "correct" settings. Live television benefits from higher settings, while movies look more natural with less enhancement.
Frame Interpolation. Epson was an early adopter of frame interpolation, and they've had a lot of time to get it right. So it's not surprising that the LS9600e has a frame interpolation system that is both effective and subtle, with little digital video effect in the High setting and none at all in Low. We use Low for 24p film and it drastically reduces judder in camera pans and rapid motion. The Medium and High settings are more aggressive, but are well-suited to digital video, television, and live performances.
Excellent noise reduction. Traditionally, noise reduction has involved a trade-off between noise and fine detail. On most projectors, using noise reduction results in a softer picture. But the LS9600e's noise reduction system, even on its lowest settings, removes a surprising amount of digital noise from the picture without softening the image in any perceivable way. Pushing NR to maximum will still soften the image, but we never found it necessary to do so, even on particularly noisy transfers.
Great Placement flexibility. The LS9600e uses a 2.1:1 zoom lens with powered zoom, focus, and lens shift adjustments. The lens shift is especially generous, allowing a total range of 2 2/3 image heights and two image widths. During adjustments, the shift will stop itself upon reaching center position, easily allowing you to find the neutral position again if needed.
Panel Alignment. All three-chip projectors run the risk of convergence issues, which occur when one or more of the imaging chips drifts out of alignment. The Panel Alignment feature of the LS9600e allows you to make small adjustments to the projector's convergence without sending it in for service. This reduces downtime and ensures the best possible picture for years to come, even after your warranty period ends.
Low Audible noise. The LS9600e is among the quietest projectors we've (not) heard recently. The projector's fan rises to a low hum during startup, but after a minute or two, the fan settles down and the projector is whisper quiet. If you are more than a foot or two away from the projector, you won't hear a thing unless you turn off your speakers and listen really hard.
WirelessHD. The LS9600e uses the same WirelessHD transmitter included with other Epson "e" projectors, such as the Home Cinema 6030UBe and the Home Cinema 3600e. The transmitter has five HDMI inputs, one HDMI output (to connect to a TV or other display), one optical audio output, a USB port (for charging 3D glasses), and some buttons up top for changing sources. All of the transmitter's functions can be controlled from the projector's remote control. The integrated controls, internal receiver, and abundance of connections give WirelessHD on the LS9600e a significant advantage over an after-market wireless HDMI product.
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