Epson Pro Cinema LS9600e
1080p Laser Projector
Light output. The LS9600e's brightest mode is Dynamic, at 1,393 lumens on our test unit - slightly above the 1,300 lumens claimed on the spec sheet. Dynamic mode is quite well-balanced compared to the low-contrast greenish bright modes found on some other home theater projectors. If you have cause to raise the lights in your home theater and want to give the image some more punch, Dynamic is a good option.
The next image mode, Living Room, measured 911 lumens at full power. Living Room is bluish, like Dynamic, but only about two-thirds as bright. Living Room has less intense black levels and more openness in mid-tones, making it more appropriate for use in ambient light.
The remaining image modes are: Natural (1,038 lumens), THX (842), Cinema (933), and BW Cinema (918). All of these image modes are intended for home theater use, but they differ in their details. THX is the projector's reference mode, and out-of-the-box performance is close to ideal. Cinema is a slightly "pumped up" version of THX, with more intense (though not inaccurate) color. BW Cinema, as the name implies, is for black and white movies; it has a white balance around 5500K so that films like Casablanca can be displayed with warmer tones that more closely match the viewing experience of theaters back in the day. Natural, with more open mid-tones, is a good choice for television and other video content.
The LS9600e's 2.1:1 lens is more efficient than most. Whereas most 2:1 zoom lenses lose at least 40% of light output at maximum telephoto, the lens on the LS9600e only cuts output by 27%. This gives you a little more freedom to place the projector where you need it.
Contrast. Epson doesn't publish a numerical contrast rating for the LS series projectors, instead opting for the term "absolute black." This isn't an exaggeration. When you feed the LS9600e a pure black test image, the projector emits zero lumens. Since you can't divide by zero, assigning a numerical value to the projector's on/off contrast becomes impossible.
On/off contrast represents an ideal test case that isn't representative of real-world use. But when watching movies on the LS9600e, the projector's black level in dark scenes is noticeably deeper than Epson's Ultra Black projectors, which already do quite a nice job in this regard.
Shadow detail is clear and crisp, though the factory gamma settings are a touch too bright. Moving the Gamma control to -2 is an easy way to bring gamma closer to 2.2, though the projector's Custom Gamma control is still preferable if you have the required tools and time to use it.
Color. Accurate color is critical to good home theater, and the LS9600e delivers. Cinema mode's factory calibration puts the grayscale at roughly 7500K, though it is consistent and smooth despite being too blue.
Cinema mode's Color Temperature control uses arbitrary numbers, and the default setting is 2. Reducing this control to 1 took some of the blue out of the image, but the grayscale was not as smooth. Instead, we left Color Temperature at 2 and made some quick adjustments to bring white balance in line with the desired 6500K.
Using the factory settings, THX mode measures roughly 6300K -- slightly too red. The LS9600e's white balance adjustments carry across image modes, so we saved our Cinema settings and made some slight tweaks to THX mode. The end result gave us a perfectly smooth, even grayscale that is ideal for the cinema purist who wants dead-on color accuracy.
Some solid-state projectors in the past have had issues properly reproducing the Rec. 709 color gamut. The LS9600e is not one of them. Color gamut in both Cinema and THX modes is accurate enough that no adjustments are necessary, strictly speaking - the gamut errors are small enough that they would be hard to detect without a meter. However, the projector does include a full color management system, with three-axis adjustments for all colors, so such adjustments are possible if you want dead-on perfection.
Sharpness and detail. The LS9600e is sharp from edge to edge, with no trace of softness in the corners or edges of the image. In terms of detail, the projector benefits immensely from the Super Resolution and Detail Enhancement systems, giving it a detailed life-like appearance that puts it a cut above the competition.
Input lag. Like other Epson projectors, the LS9600e has an Image Processing control with two settings, "Fast" and "Fine." Setting this control to "Fast" gives the LS9600e a significant speed boost, lowering input lag to 56 milliseconds (just over 3 frames at 60Hz). The "Fine" setting measured almost twice that, at 108 ms (roughly 6 frames).
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