You’d need a salary larger than a premiership footballer to afford a TV big enough to cover an entire wall - but a projector can do the same job for significantly less cash.
Epson’s EH-LS100 does exactly that, but without all the faff of mounting to your ceiling. It’s an ultra-short throw system, y’see, lobbing a massive image onto your wall from just a few centimetres away.
It’s also one of the first to combine ultra-short throw with a laser light source, ditching old-school bulbs for diodes that last for tens of thousands of hours. Plus it should be brighter, more colourful, and with better contrast to boot.
Or at least, that’s the idea. Does it work in practice? We’ve been glued to Netflix for the past few weeks to find out...
DESIGN & BUILD
Epson makes some properly great-looking projectors - but the LS100 isn’t one of ‘em.
It shares a chassis with models aimed more at the boardroom than the home cinema, and it shows. There are no eye-catching colours, contrasting vents or sculpted sides here, just a big black box. The remote control is as basic as they come and wouldn’t look out of place in a classroom. The onscreen menus are purely functional, too, with no icons or animations to jazz things up.
At 11kg, it’s not exactly a featherweight, and will take up a fair amount of space on your AV cabinet too.
On the plus side, that sturdy build means you’re unlikely to turn the image to jelly whenever you get up from the sofa for a new bag of popcorn.
There are a few buttons on the side panel, but just about everything is controlled by the remote. It might not be pretty, but it gets the job done - or there’s Epson’s smartphone app, which is a bit more glam. But only if you add the optional Wi-Fi module.
Ultra-short throw projectors should be simple to set up, and the LS100 is no different: just place it square to your wall (or projector screen if you have one), sharpen the picture using the focus lever, and you’re good to go.
The laser starts up almost straight away, with none of the warm-up times you’d get from a bulb-based projector, so it really feels like turning a TV on and off.
Picture size depends on how far the projector sits from your wall. At the minimum 6cm, you’ll get a 70in image, but go back 50cm and you’ll get a massive 130in.
Keystone is on hand to correct for any angle issues, but if you’re projecting straight onto a wall you shouldn’t need to mess about with it.
INPUTS, FEATURES & SOUND
The LS100 isn’t left wanting for connections. You get three HDMI inputs (with one supporting MHL), VGA for hooking up a PC, USB for multimedia playback straight from a flash drive, and composite video.
They’re all well hidden underneath the projector, though, making it tricky to plug things in without lifting the whole unit up.
It does have a set of on-board speakers, which can get loud enough to fill a medium-sized living room, but sound quality really isn’t up to snuff. There’s no real bass, and everything just sounds a bit hollow as a result.
You’re much better off connecting this to a dedicated home theatre if you want to do justice to your films, games and TV shows.
Diving into the menus doesn’t reveal much in the way of hidden features - just the usual contrast, brightness, sharpness and saturation sliders. There’s also Dynamic Contrast, which is best set to High Speed and then forgotten about.
The one setting worth hunting down is picture mode. In Dynamic, Bright Cinema and Game, the EH-LS100 gets particularly noisy. Even with the built-in speakers at full whack, the drone of the cooling fans are difficult to ignore.
If you don’t mind the brightness hit, it’s worth dropping down to Cinema mode. Things are much quieter here, making it ideal for watching regular TV.
The 0.67in, 3LCD projection pumps out a 16:10, 1920x1200 resolution image - which means you get tiny grey borders above and below whatever’s being played. They’re not distracting once your film or game starts playing, though.
It’s not going to challenge even a budget 4K TV for pixel count, and it doesn’t support HDR video. (There’s no 3D support either, but when was the last time that bothered anyone?) However, detail and definition are hardly lacking once you feed it a high quality source.
Plug in a Blu-ray player and everything looks precise and defined, with none of the softness you’d expect from a lesser projector. Streaming video doesn’t hold up quite so well, particularly in fast-moving scenes, with some blurring and loss of clarity, but for the most part it copes very well.
Colours are incredibly vivid and contrast is very good, even before you draw the curtains and turn off all the lights. Laser projection also means you don’t have to worry about any DLP-style rainbow effects, either. Are images as clear and vibrant as a top-end TV? No, not quite - but that's the trade-off for such a colossal screen size.
With a quoted 4000 ANSI lumens maximum brightness, the EH-LS100 absolutely pumps out light. Bright scenes are where this projector performs best, with vibrant colours and real depth to the image. Want to watch the weekend footie without sitting in the dark? This has got you covered.
Black levels could always be deeper, though, so darker scenes don’t have quite as much punch. For a properly cinematic feel, you’ll want to draw the curtains.
Epson EH-LS100 verdict
Not every house has the space for a traditional projector, but the LS100 will sit almost anywhere you could fit a TV. It’s bright enough to watch during the day, without having to draw the curtains first, and the laser light source won’t need replacing like old-school bulbs do.
On paper, the lack of 4K resolution and HDR should be major negatives - but the bright picture and sheer size of the image it can chuck up make up for it. If you want whiz-bang features like 4K, either be prepared to spend a whole lot more cash, or accept that you're probably better off with a TV rather than a projector.
It’s not quiet - but if you’ve got a decent home cinema system to plug it into, it shouldn’t be all that hard to drown out the fan noise.
For a big-screen experience that doesn’t need mounting to a ceiling, though, the EH-LS100 absolutely gets the job done.