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Projectors

Epson adds HDR to laser projector, debuts brighter budget models

Epson's latest LCD projectors include an $8,000 laser-powered high dynamic range home theater powerhouse, and a trio of high-brightness units starting at $1,200.

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Epson LS10500

When I reviewed Epson's original laser projector I called it a technological tour de force with a fabulous image, albeit one that didn't quite beat the best from Sony and JVC. Its replacement is very similar on paper, with one big difference: compatibility with HDR (high dynamic range) sources.

The LS10500 costs the same ($8,000, available this fall) and has basically the same specifications, including the main benefits of a laser light engine: instant on/off, no need for replacement bulbs thanks to a 30,000 hour lifespan, and a wide color gamut. Epson claims the LS10500 covers "the entire DCI color space," and subsequently clarified that does indeed mean 100% coverage--a higher percentage than any display we've tested.

HDR capability means the projector is equipped to accept HDR10 (not Dolby Vision) video from 4K Blu-ray players and streaming devices. Since the LS10500 can't do local dimming like an HDR TV, it relies on global "HDR levels" determined by the metadata contained in the HDR signal. A big constraint would also seem to be the unit's limited light output (1500 lumens).

Competing projectors from Sony offer true 4K capability, and JVC and DLP makers Optoma and BenQ might introduce 4K projectors soon as well, but the LS10500 continues to employ native 1080p chips shifted slightly to approximate 4K. I wasn't a huge fan of the effect, which Epson calls "4K Enhancement," on the LS10000.

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Epson Home Cinema 3100

Epson also announced a trio of much more-affordable 1080p home theater projectors. The Home Cinema 3100 ($1,300), 3700 ($1,500) and 3900 ($2,000) all offer relatively high brightness (2600 to 3000 lumens, depending on the model) and both horizontal and vertical lens shift. The 3100 in particular seems well-equipped for the price, and we're looking forward to testing it.

This article has been updated to reflect Epson's claim of 100% DCI color space coverage.