Gaining popularity faster than an 8-second viral video clip on social media, ultra-short-throw projectors are here and stomping the very ground ruled by big-screen TVs for decades. Having reviewed a few through the year, the Epson LS800B stood out by being a 3-LCD design instead of the more common DLP variants. But that wasn’t the only thing that got me interested in the LS800. More importantly, it boasts the highest brightness rating in its category at 4000 lumens, even higher than our award-winning UST projector this year, the Benq V5000i.
Epson LS800 projector review
It may look the same, but it “looks” different. Thanks to a star-melting 4000 lumens!
Its large dimensions are slightly offset by the curved edges and a fabric grille that wraps around the edges to conceal a Yamaha-tuned speaker system. It’s a modest 2.1 set-up, with a 1.5in full-range driver on each corner and a front-facing 2.25 bass driver. However, the differentiator is the AudioEngine DSP used by Yamaha to create a more spatial sound or focus, depending on user preference. There are multiple modes to choose from and each other alters the processing for a different flavour, best matching the content material.
On the video side, it’s the 3LCD light engine and the extremely short 0.16:1 throw ratio that set apart the Epson LS800B from the others we have reviewed recently. It’s a 1080p resolution native projector, but using 4-phase pixel shifting manages to display all the pixels from a 4K signal onto the screen. Epson’s 4K Pro-UHD video processing suite involves HDR control, image enhancement and sharpening, though it’s limited to HDR10 and HLG support.
The 3LCD system has some inherent advantages over DLP, like the lack of a rainbow effect that the DLP colour wheel is so susceptible to. It also offers a high level of contrast and when partnered with the mighty 4000 lumens colour brightness rating of the LS800B, can paint wonders. The built-in Android TV 11 forfeits Netflix support like a lot of its peers, but you do get support for Prime Video, YouTube, Sony LIV, Apple TV+, Zee5, Altt and the like. HDR compatibility is still patchy from app to app and it’s still advised to use a specialist, external streaming stick (or box) to make the most of the picture quality potential.
3 HDMI ports are included, one dedicated to gaming consoles that reduce input lag. But not a single eARC-capable HDMI input is a miss. A trio of USB ports allow you to power an external streaming stick directly from the projector, which is convenient though. The other two are used for service and storage drives. The remote is pretty standard fare with no backlighting and that just makes it a bit of a chore to change settings in a dark room. But it does have hotkeys for brightness setting and game mode if that helps.
With an ALR screen, there is no doubt that the LS800B can light up a room! Spider-Man Far From Home is depicted with a vividness that is TV like. The image size though was much bigger than our in-house 77in Sony OLED. From a distance of a mere 10 inches, we managed to get a 100in image and that says something about its versatility on any credenza. Of course, like all UST projectors, its optimum performance can only be achieved with an ALR screen and with perfect geometry. This can be achieved pretty easily via an app that lets you connect to the projector wirelessly and corrects the alignment after prompting you to take just two photographs of the screen. It’s really a brilliant system, especially for projector noobs.
Keeping frame interpolation off is the best look for the LS800B and it has controls for Scene Adaptive Gamma and HDR, but colour management is non-existent. You’re best off just leaving it in Cinema mode preset and enjoying the natural skin tones and enhanced contrast. The colour temperature is a chink in its armour though, leaning more towards the greenish or the blueish tinge and quite tricky to get it to behave neutrally. In terms of focus, the Epson made a valiant effort to stay accurate all the up to the corners of our 100in picture and if you ignore some minor keystone-related discrepancies, it does manage to do a good job of it. In a well-lit room, substituting for a TV is where the LS800B shines its brightest though, pun intended. Switch to Vivid mode and it does a stellar job of entertaining with sports, daily soaps and news. The built-in apps do act differently to HDR and support for Dolby Vision lacking, it is a bit inconsistent but stick to 4K content in general and the video processing gets to work and delivers a detailed, punchy picture. The soundbar has a rich and warm tonality to it that really belies its tiny drivers and is testament to Yamaha’s supremacy when it comes to beam steering and DSP.
Not without its compromises, the Epson LS800B has a lot going for it as a family entertainer. Yes, it does require some careful tuning to get the picture looking its best and even then, it’s not for the videophile, but if you have a well-lit room and want maximum bang for your buck, it serves the purpose with minimal fuss.
Easy to set-up and aimed at the typical TV-audience, the Epson LS800B is bright, colourful and cheerful!
|0.16 - 0.40
|HDMI x 3, USB x 3, optical, 3.5mm
|145 x 695 x 341 mm