Projectors were once the exclusive choice of home theater enthusiasts happy to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars for a 100-inch screen. But projectors have since dropped in price significantly, thanks in part to companies like Epson whose new 4K laser projector uses cheaper high-def components in a clever way to create images with a true 4K resolution.
The new Epson Pro Cinema 4K PRO-UHD LS12000 projector utilizes three LCDs inside—one for red, green, and blue light—but each one is limited to just HD resolutions, or 1920 x 1080 pixels. To achieve 4K resolutions of 3840 x 2160 pixels on screen, the LS12000 runs at a faster refresh rate and features a redesigned “precision shift glass plate” that subtly shifts the position of projected pixels on screen for every frame, increasing the resolution. Older Epson projectors that used this technology, like the short-throw LS500, couldn’t quite muster full 4K images, but Epson promises the new LS12000 finally can thanks to the new shifting plate mechanism.
Lasers also continue to supplant the use of high-intensity bulbs in projectors for many reasons. Not only do they instantly power up to full brightness (there’s no waiting for the projector to “warm up”) they’re also more energy efficient and last much longer than traditional lamp light sources do. Compared to the 2,000-hour lifespan of a bulb, the 20,000-hour lifespan of a laser could outlast the rest of the electronics in the device, making long-term use even more economical. Furthermore, the focused intensity of a laser light source can dramatically improve a projector’s ability to show deep blacks, and Epson claims the new LS12000 can deliver 2,700 lumens with a contrast ratio of over 2,500,000:1.
The Epson LS12000 is designed for use in a home theater environment where the lighting in the room can be completely controlled and the screen is optimized for reflectivity. Depending on the lighting conditions in the room, the projector can produce an image up to 300 inches in size, but that requires enough room to position the projector more than 60 feet away from the screen.
Other features include two HDMI 2.1 ports with HDCP 2.3 and one supporting eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), full 10-bit HDR color processing, and 120 Hz refresh rates with the option to upscale and frame interpolate content with lower frame rates.
Available starting today, the $5,000 Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector isn’t cheap, but it’s much more affordable than other three-chip laser 4K projectors from companies like Sony. If you want a gigantic screen, it’s also much cheaper than a 100-inch TV. According to The Elec, the new microLED TVs Samsung just announced at CES 2022 will set you back around $80,000 for the 89-inch model, and more than $100,000 for the 114-inch model. A $5,000 projector suddenly seems like a bargain.