Epson today officially released its EpiqVision Ultra LS500 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projection TV. First shown one year ago at CEDIA 2019, the LS500 becomes the first in a new EpiqVision-branded family of offerings intended to expand projection's reach beyond dark-room theater and into brighter spaces and everyday lifestyles.
As originally promised, Epson is bundling the LS500 with an ambient-light rejecting UST screen said to be designed specifically for the projector in a 100-inch or 120-inch size, at $4,999 and $5,999 respectively. At 4,000 ISO lumens (a near-ANSI equivalent), the laser-driven LS500 is by a good margin the brightest UST living room projector to hit the market to date. Most models announced have been in the 2,600 to 3,000 lumen range, and the next brightest model is spec'd at 3,500 lumens.
As with all Epson consumer 4K projectors, the LS500 is a 3LCD projector with native 1080p resolution chips to which Epson applies its 4K PRO-UHD technology, a combination of advanced pixel-shifting and image processing that yields a result that has proven in our tests to be largely indistinguishable from full UHD resolution at normal viewing distances. This 3-chip design insures equal white and color brightness for high overall color saturation and immunity from rainbow artifacts common to single-chip DLP projectors.
The LS500 is compatible with UHD HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range content, and offers the exclusive 16-step HDR contrast adjustment first introduced in Epson's HC5050UB and HC6050UB enthusiast home theater projectors. However, it does so with the limitation of a specified Rec.709 color gamut, the likely sacrifice of achieving the projector's high brightness and a reasonable trade off for an ambient-light projector. Full 10-bit HDR processing is applied, so all available data in the content is used to optimize the tone-map. Realtime 12-bit video processing is also on board to reduce or eliminate banding and digital noise artifacts.
Epson is also touting a high rated dynamic contrast of 2.0 million:1, thanks to "advanced black density control" that is said to pulse the light of the laser diodes in a manner that "suppresses stray light within the signal."
The LS500 features full 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0 ports (one with ARC) that support 4K HDR at 60 Hz for UHD movies and games. Epson didn't cite an input lag figure for the LS500 in its announcement, but early prototypes were said to be under 20 ms, which would qualify the LS500 as a fairly fast projector for gaming if it bears out in final production. Epson's traditional home theater projectors tend to measure in the 20-30 ms range in ProjectorCentral's tests, which makes them faster than all but the dedicated gaming projectors that achieve between 8-16 ms.
Along with the quick-start-up, high brightness, and longevity of a solid-state laser engine, the LS500 defines itself as a lifestyle product with inclusion of the Google-branded Android TV operating system and streaming platform that accepts apps from the Google Play store. This is implemented with a hidden dongle that comes with the projector, along with a dedicated microphone-enabled remote to enable Google Assistant commands for searching content or seeking information. Epson has wisely avoided the Android-based Aptoid platform used by some other competitors, which has proven itself badly limited in our tests.
On the other hand, Epson's projector is not intended to function as an all-in-one entertainment system the way some competitive products are designed, as it lacks a substantive audio system. The pair of small speakers behind the front grille will are not intended to replace a standalone soundbar or other sound system.
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The Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projection TV is now available in either black or white through select retailers, the Epson online store, and Magnolia and CEDIA dealers. It is backed by toll-free access to Epson PrivateLine priority support and a two-year "usually next-business-day" full-unit replacement limited warranty.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500-120 projector page.