Overall, the Epson LS57P2 performed surprisingly well, especially in terms of picture accuracy out of the box. For example, its grayscale came fairly close to the standard 6,500K in the Warm color temperature setting (see geek box for more). After calibration, we achieved a near-perfect grayscale with 480p DVD run into one of the component-video inputs. However, 1080i HD signals on the other component-video input were significantly bluer in color temperature, a problem that could not be fixed by calibration.
We also found the video processing to be quite good, with solid 2:3 pull-down for the elimination of motion artifacts in film-based material. Color decoding was quite accurate, which is something most manufacturers still don't get right.
While the set exhibits severe edge enhancement at the factory sharpness setting of 0, by turning it all the way down to -4 we were able to eliminate most of the related artifacts. One issue we coldn't adjust, and an uncommon one among microdisplays, was significant vertical pincushion errors on our review sample, which caused vertical lines (such as 4:3 bars) to bow and make the picture appear wider on the top and bottom of the screen and narrower in the middle.
White-field uniformity, or the evenness of color across the screen, was not very good, but that's normal for an LCD-based microdisplay. And as with all LCD-based displays, black-level performance, or the set's ability to reproduce a true black with fine detail near black, also left us unsatisfied. That said, the LS57P2 reproduced dark scenes better than many transmissive LCD-based and all LCOS-based HDTVs we've evaluated but still not as well as a DLP-based set. There is something about LCDs, perhaps related to this black-level deficiency, that makes the image appear more two-dimensional and pasty when compared to that of DLP and especially CRT displays.
Chapter 12 of the Seabiscuit DVD looked pretty good after a thorough calibration. As a result of the set's poor black-level performance, color saturation appeared a bit washed out. For our black-level torture test, we popped in the opening sequence of Alien. Deep space, while not a true black, was rendered cleanly with little or no low-level noise--a common problem among LCDs and DLPs.
HDTV signals from our DirecTV HD satellite feed looked good as well. The HDNET and Discovery channels revealed decent color saturation and good detail but were a bit underwhelming in terms of "pop." We ran our Accupel HDTV signal generator through the set's component-video and DVI inputs and found that while the set couldn't resolve every line of a 720p signal, the DVI sources looked a bit sharper.
We tested memory cards from a few digital cameras, and the photos displayed and printed well. The main exception was a Sony digicam that used Memory Stick Pro; as the manual indicates, the Epson won't read that type of media. Some of the funkier-named files copied from our computer onto cards didn't get recognized, which we expected since the manual outlines strict naming requirements. These requirements follow the official DCF standard: files must be named with four letters, then four numbers (for example, abcd1234.jpg), and be placed in a folder labeled DCIM. Subdirectories are also restricted to an eight-character maximum filename.
CDs of digital photos also needed to be formatted in this same manner, which meant, for example, that we couldn't just burn a disc of the My Pictures folder on a PC and display it on the TV. The drive also failed to eject CDs on many occasions; we had to cycle its power to remove the disc. After creating a custom disc that conformed to the conventions, the Epson recognized all of the images.
Update: The first review sample we received, equipped with a Plextor Premium-U drive, was unable to burn discs at all. Epson has since sent a second sample with another external drive, and that one performed smoothly, writing to both CD-R and CD-RW discs without a hitch.
|Before color temp (20/80)||7,400/6,600K||Good|
|After color temp (20/80)||6,500/6,375K||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 250K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 31K||Good|
|Color decoder error: red||+5%||Good|
|Color decoder error: green||+5%||Good|
|DC restoration||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|