It was two years ago when Epson introduced the LS500, its first 4K HDR UST laser projector. On the plus side, it was the rare three-chip UST projector, a technology that (as Epson often reminds us) delivers equal color and white brightness and comes with full immunity to the rainbow artifacts you sometimes get with single-chip DLP projectors. More critically, the LS500 was groundbreaking with its super-bright 4,000 lumens of light output

On the other side of the coin, the LS500 followed suit with Epson's other home theater projectors in delivering only half the pixels of a full Ultra HD signal to the screen. Bolstered by the company's proven 4K PRO-UHD enhancement technology, it worked well enough from viewing distance to provide a decently crisp image with good 4K content, but it was going up against new full-4K DLP models that clearly showed less pixel structure. Furthermore, the LS500 was adapted from a platform used for Epson's commercial USTs and had a large protruding lens hood that called attention to it in a room and required placement much further from the screen than competitors. The LS500 also lacked suitable built-in speakers for a living room, so a separate soundbar or other audio system was mandatory.

Flash forward, and we now have the LS500's successor, officially designated the EpiqVision Ultra LS800, priced at $3,499. Like the LS300, a 1080p UST introduced shortly after the LS500, the new LS800 has been built from the ground up for everyday consumers. Along with Epson's signature three-chip LCD architecture, the design features breakthrough optics with the shortest throw distance of any laser TV on the market, while retaining the same industry-leading 4,000-lumen brightness. There's also a respectable built-in Yamaha sound system. Let's take a closer look.


Like the old LS500, the LS800 is available in either black or white, but it offers a very different cosmetic. The cyclops lens protrusion of the LS500 is gone, replaced by a sleek, low-profile chassis with an unusually wide form factor with measurements of 27.4 x 6.2 x 13.4 inches (WHD). There's a reason for that. To keep the front of the projector closer to the wall, Epson offsets the single-laser+phosphor light source at a right angle from the lens, which helps reduce the overall chassis depth.

Most notably, Epson's new lens system has a remarkable 0.16:1 throw ratio, allowing it to be placed with its back just 3.9 inches from the wall for a 100-inch image. This combines with the projector's narrow depth to make the front of the LS800 sit just 17.3 inches out from the screen. Even with a 120-inch image, it juts out only 20.2 inches. That's skinny enough to fit on most TV credenzas without pulling the furniture from the wall. Epson even boldly specs the projector for a 150-inch image, which would have the front of the projector sitting just 24.6 inches out from the image. To put some perspective on this, the next shortest throw ratio among laser TV USTs is from the 0.19:1 lens found in LG's and Samsung's premium USTs, which need 4.5 inches of clearance from their back side to the screen for a 100-inch image. All other models are typically in the 0.22-0.25:1 throw range, which may require as much as 7 or 8 inches of clearance for a 100-inch image.

Behind the lens, Epson has built in the same 4K PRO-UHD pixel-shifting technology found in the LS500 and its popular Home Cinema 5050UB standard-throw projector. Unfortunately, they didn't include the more advanced 4K imaging system found in their flagship LS12000 laser projector. That projector also uses native 1080p imagers, but puts all the pixels in a UHD signal on the screen with its 4-phase pixel shifting. This is similar to how the most popular 0.47-inch 4K DLP chipset achieves full resolution. By comparison, the LS800 merely doubles the 1080p chip resolution, which is one-half of full 4K pixel count.

Granted, Epson's 4K PRO-UHD tech, which combines the pixel-shifting with detail enhancement processing, has a proven track record of delivering excellent detail from normal viewing distances. But the UST living room projector landscape is now filled with DLP projectors touting full-4K resolution that undoubtedly provide finer pixel structure and sharper images, particularly as you get nearer the screen. As I'll describe below, Epson's 4K PRO-UHD works fine here for this projector's primary target audience of everyday TV viewers, but not quite as well as I've seen on the 5050UB with its large, excellent lens. Furthermore, the LS800 lacks the 4K PRO-UHD "Image Enhancement" menu those projectors have to allow a finer degree of adjustment to the 4K PRO-UHD system's sharpening circuitry. In their defense, Epson says they skipped the full-4K system to keep the cost down, which is a reasonable compromise if you're targeting mass market consumers.

It should go without saying that you'll need an appropriate ALR UST screen for the LS800 to get the most out of its brightness and make it a viable day-to-day television solution. Epson is happy to oblige with its SilverFlex Ultra screens at the 100- and 120-inch sizes. This is Epson's take on our recommended lenticular ALR screen design with a sawtooth surface; you can read about this technology in this article. The SiverFlex versions have a narrow bezel, a 0.8 rated gain, and the same super-wide viewing angle seen on other lenticular UST screens. List prices start at $2,000 for the 100 incher, though Epson says discounts are available for projector-screen bundles. Similar ALR screens are also available from dedicated screen manufacturers at lower prices. For this review, I used two different screens: a 100-inch Elite Aeon CLR that's in my home studio, and a 120-inch Elite ProAV Saker Tab-Tension Dark UST motorized screen in our video/test studio. Both use Elite's highest-grade lenticular ALR material, with a 0.6 gain, rated 95% rejection of overhead light, and a claimed 100x boost in contrast.

Some nice creature comforts built into the LS800 make it easy to live with. One of these is the 2.1-channel Yamaha audio system hidden behind the front grille. It uses a pair of 1.5-inch inverted dome drivers angled out from each front corner, driven by 5 watts each, and a 2.25-inch forward-firing ported bass unit, driven by 10 watts. Yamaha includes their AudioEngine digital signal processing to help provide more balanced sound and deeper bass, and to spread the image out spatially. There are a half dozen sound modes to select from, along with optional bass boost and auto loudness functions. Of course, this can't replace a standalone audio system, and like most laser TVs, there's not enough bass to deliver any real impact on loud special effects. But the system does provide nice full sound with crisp dialogue and respectable fidelity to music scores, and it gets just loud enough without distortion to function in most average rooms.

The LS800 features an Android operating system with Android TV 11 web streaming and Google Assistant voice control. This is an excellent platform found in several other laser TVs, and unlike the old LS500, the streaming platform is integrated in the projector and doesn't need a hidden dongle that chews up an HDMI port. On the downside, the LS800's Android platform lacks certification for their Netflix app, an unfortunately common condition among most Android projectors. The LS800 does have Chromecast built-in for casting compatible apps from a mobile device or a laptop, though as usual the Netflix app on my iPhone wasn't recognized. I was able to wirelessly cast a Netflix episode of Harry & Meghan from my Windows 10 laptop using the Cast function on the Chrome browser, albeit with some modest lip sync issues that weren't correctable with the projector's Audio Output Latency control. Beyond Netflix you'll find that Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube and most other major services are represented with apps in the Google Play store, and most work well with 4K HDR programming. However, I found that Disney+ wasn't sending content in HDR10 (as evidenced by the projector's HDR10 brightness slider having no effect), even though Amazon Prime's HDR10 came in fine. All of this may just prompt your purchase of an inexpensive Roku, Fire Stick, or Apple TV streamer, which we almost always recommend with these projectors anyway.

Epson designed the LS800 with gaming in mind, and one of its HDMI inputs is a designated game port. It sidesteps the Android operating system to bring input lag down below 20 milliseconds. This gets relatively close to the performance of today's best dedicated gaming projectors and should make for a great experience for most competitive gamers. Using a Leo Bodnar 4K lag meter, I measured 22.1 ms with a 1080p/60 Hz signal, 21.0 ms with 4K/60 Hz, and a low of 12.3 ms with 1080p/120 Hz. Unfortunately, there's no support for 4K/120 Hz gaming from the latest gaming consoles as you'll find on Epson's LS12000 and LS11000 laser projectors equipped with more advanced HDMI 2.1 connectors.

Speaking of connection ports, you'll find a nice mix on the projector's jack pack. It's located on the side, behind a snap-off panel that unclips with a spring latch. For video, there are the three HDMI 2.0b inputs; HDMI 3 is the game port and HDMI 2 features Audio Return Channel (ARC) to get uncompressed digital audio from the web-streaming apps to an outboard audio system. But this is not the more advanced eARC port that's required for passing native Dolby Atmos signals in their highest quality bitstream form, which is both a bit surprising as well as disappointing in such a new projector. There's also an optical audio output, and a headphone jack that disables the internal speakers. Or, you can also use Bluetooth out to a wireless speaker or headphones. As mentioned, there's an Audio Latency Control to help sync up the sound with the picture.

Beyond these jacks, there are three USB-A ports, one for powering a device, and a mini-USB service port. I tried plugging a mic-equipped USB camera into one of the USBs and successfully tested the Zoom app, which allowed me to log into a Zoom call without a separate computer and make use of the huge screen. Finally, right next to the connection ports is a manual focus lever, which had a solid feel and was granular enough to fine tune the focus satisfactorily and sticky enough to easily hold its setting.

The LS800 comes with a compact, non-backlit Bluetooth remote that's 6.75-inches tall. Along with a volume control, it offers a convenient and useful Brightness rocker for adjusting the laser output on the fly, which is a nice touch. There's a direct access button to reach your curated selection of downloaded streaming apps, a dedicated button for the YouTube Music app, and another to access Google Assistant from the built-in microphone. There's also a button for selecting the input, and a dedicated button identified by a game controller icon that goes straight to the HDMI 3 gaming input. An interesting option is the Flexible Picture button. You can use it to shrink and move the image, to flip it horizontally or to blur the edges of the image to blend it into a wall you're projecting on, though I'm not exactly sure where else it might be useful.

As with most Android projectors, there are two menu buttons, one to pull up the Android menu and one designed by the manufacturer for the projector settings. This is a little confusing on the best of days but especially so here given that the dedicated game input bypasses the Android operating system. Once you select that HDMI 3 input, neither of the menu buttons will work at all. You'll first have to hit the Android Home button, at which point both menus can be accessed—but you won't be able to see the image from the HDMI 3 source while making adjustments, only the Android Home screen. After, you can go back to the HDMI 3 input and see the effect of your menu changes. Expect some inconvenience in getting the picture or sound optimized for your game console or other HDMI 3 source component while you bounce in and out of menus.

For setup, the LS800 has adjustable feet front and back, making leveling an easy job. Manual positioning is always the best option for preserving brightness and image quality, but Epson also built in geometry correction to help align the image with the screen. Along with manual four-corner correction, they've got a smartphone app that lets you take a couple of photos of your screen with your phone to automatically snap the image into place. We also always recommend using a dedicated screen vs. a wall, but there is an option in the menu to alter the LS800's color balance for painted walls of different colors. The projector further features a fairly sensitive safety motion sensor that will dim the laser if a curious child tries to get near it, something that was a potentially critical missing from the older LS500.

Behind the removable front grille, along with the aforementioned speakers you'll find a pop out tray to access the LS800's approximately 7 x 4-inch air filter. The manual recommends vacuuming the dust from the air-intake on the projector's bottom and the projector's filter about every three months in a normal environment, or more frequently in a dustier environment. It's hard to believe anyone will endure that inconvenience, especially given a UST's sensitivity to placement and the need to physically flip the projector over to reach the underside. The filter is easily accessible though, so some reasonably regular maintenance there might be advisable. In any event, the projector will issue a warning to clean it if the vent or filter get so dusty that the temperature of its internals rise.

I've covered a lot of the LS800 features, but I should talk a little about what it doesn't have, because there are some notable omissions compared to some of the competition and even Epson's earlier projectors. First, while the LS800 is compatible with HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range content, it lacks Dolby Vision compatibility, which is something that's starting to turn up now on some newer USTs. Furthermore, although the projector does boast Epson's 16-step HDR adjustment, that slider is well buried far down in the menu with no button on the remote for easy access that would facilitate on-the-fly adjustments for different HDR titles. There's also no officially pronounced wide color gamut for HDR, as the LS800 is only rated for the Rec.709 color space. That said, it exceeded my expectations by measuring 137.4% BT.709 and 92.6% DCI-P3 on a Calman Color Volume analysis, which isn't bad and about equivalent to the better single-laser USTs we've reviewed. Although reds weren't as richly saturated as we see on the triple-laser models that do greater than 100% P3, I could definitely see some benefit over straight 709.

Potentially critical for serious enthusiasts is the omission of any advanced color point CMS or grayscale calibration controls, which I'll say more about below. This is counter not only to the LS800's better competition but also to most of Epson's own home theater projectors. Finally, I'm sorry to report to 3D fans that unlike the LS500, the LS800 joins some other recent Epson projectors in eliminating support for 1080p 3D playback. The number of new high-quality projectors that handle 3D, UST or otherwise, continues to dwindle.


As noted, I was surprised to find a different and more limited selection of picture adjustments in the LS800's menu than I'm used to seeing in Epson's home theater projectors. It does offer the usual Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Tint, and Sharpness, which are buried in a separate Custom Settings menu. Beyond these, there are a number of dynamic settings for contrast and gamma, and an unusually wide-range (but still rather coarse) 14-position selector for color temperature. Noticeably absent are gain and bias controls for white balance that would allow a calibrator to fine-tune the image accuracy across the brightness range, or a CMS (Color Management System) that calibrators would use to adjust the primary and secondary color points for the most accurate colors. Also missing is a traditional gamma control to alter the picture modes for different light conditions.

On the other hand, there are adjustments for some of those dynamic picture functions that can be used to customize the viewing experience to varying degrees. Among these is an Adaptive Light Output function that picks up the room lighting with a sensor and alters the image brightness accordingly. It works in conjunction with the laser Brightness slider on the remote, which sets the baseline for the automatic adjustment. Then, there's a pretty effective 20-position Auto Contrast Enhancement feature to help punch up the image, and an Adaptive Gamma feature (carried over from some other recent Epson models) that will alter shadow detail in darker material based on what's in the content. The 16-step HDR slider becomes active when there's an HDR signal detected, though it defaults to 2 in all picture modes, the next to brightest setting, and I'd be surprised if anyone moves it much higher than that in day-to-day use because higher numbers quickly start to dramatically dim the image. For improving detail with fast motion and camera pans, you can activate the LS800's three-position Frame Interpolation feature. I usually leave FI off to avoid the "soap opera" video effect, but the Low setting was helpful for putting a little more sheen on 24-frame movies in bright-room viewing while still providing a mostly film-like look.

Epson's design decision to eliminate color calibration controls used by enthusiasts and calibrators drives home that the LS800 is very much targeted at mass market consumers viewing sports, news, TV shows, and games with the lights on or shades open most of the time. Perfect accuracy gives way in that environment to achieving higher brightness and, hopefully, reasonably natural colors. It also means that you're counting on Epson to deliver a reasonably good image for dark-room movie viewing in at least one picture mode right out of the box. So how'd they do?

Well, according to measurements using Portrait Display's Calman calibration software, as well as my eyes, I think you can say they pulled it off—though with some emphasis on the "reasonably." The LS800 has four picture modes including Dynamic, Vivid, Cinema, and Natural. On the smaller 100-inch, 0.6-gain Elite Aeon CLR screen I used at home, they all measured with fairly high Delta E errors for grayscale and color points that typically ranged from 5 to 10. As we often explain in our reviews, anything under 3 deltaE is considered near perfect, and errors from 5 to 10 will be plainly visible to a trained eye, if not unnatural and bothersome to some average viewers depending on where the errors occur. That said, it's admittedly a little unfair to measure a projector in a dark room and hold it to a dark room measurement standard when it was designed for viewing in bright light with all of its auto processing modes turned on. That's even more true given this projector's powerful 4,000-lumen brightness.

Nonetheless, a trained eye will still see what's wrong, even in ambient light. In this case, the Dynamic mode had a very green cast to help the projector make its brightness spec, which is typical with most projectors in their brightest mode. Sometimes these modes are still usable, but I wouldn't watch this one unless I was in a pinch in extremely bright light or some other rare exceptions. One of those was viewing the 4K HDR version of The Wizard of Oz, where the extra brightness and oversaturated greens actually made the Wicked Witch of the West and the Emerald City look stunning, and gave the movie a truly TV-bright image even with the brutal overhead lights in our studio washing it out. On anything else, the excess green was quickly detected and egregious.

Vivid mode was better out of the box but had a blue-leaning white balance and boosted blacks in the darker areas of pictures to help the image cut through light. This was often my preferred viewing mode for bright light conditions. The two best looking and most accurate modes were Cinema and Natural, which were very similar. I ultimately settled on using Cinema mode for dark-room viewing, which had more punch than Natural and a default color temperature that was close to the industry-standard 6500K neutral gray.

With a few tweaks on the auto contrast settings, I have to say that dark room viewing of Cinema mode with 1080p standard dynamic range content looked very good, despite the lack of absolutely perfect color. I could see subtle inaccuracies with content I'm familiar with—a dress worn by Emma Stone in La La Land that I know to be a near-perfect yellow leaned a little orange, for example. But you wouldn't really know it without being familiar with the content, and skin tones, which I'm particularly sensitive to, generally looked right. The white balance was also close enough to neutral that objects like white space suits and rocket ships came across with no obviously unnatural tinge. Green foliage sometimes looked a little oversaturated, even in Cinema, but it wasn't so bad that it couldn't be watched, and the grass of sports playing fields looked fine.

Contrast was also very good, and the measurements showed that the projector tracked a near-perfect 2.2 gamma that's suitable for a dark room. This allowed for decent shadow detail in dark scenes, even though the black on really challenging content came up a bit gray. Black levels on mixed content, such as outer space shots with a white ship or astronaut in the frame, as seen the opening shots of Gravity for example, showed more impressive contrast, and I found the Auto Contrast Enhancement and Adaptive Gamma controls fairly effective in fine-tuning the picture. Ultimately, the Calman Color checker that measures 47 color swatches for accuracy showed an average deltaE of 4.5, which wasn't crazily far off the mark and was reflected in what I saw on screen.

For dark room 4K HDR, the on-screen picture in Cinema mode was even better. As mentioned, turning the 16-step HDR control any higher than 2 or 3 tended to dull the image too much and it was rare that I felt the projector was too aggressively blowing out bright details, but the slider is there if needed to balance things to your liking. Colors shared the same level of accuracy (or lack thereof) as with SDR, but the image took on more immediacy and punch. Nonetheless, the lack of full DCI-P3 coverage definitely left me missing some of the saturation and wow factor that I'm used to seeing in some clips.

Generally speaking, detail on the LS800, even from a 10 foot distance, wasn't quite as sharp as a full 4K projector and the image looked a bit soft with 1080p content in particular. This was true even with good transfers on regular Blu-ray discs, and despite the projector's internal processing doing a decent job with 1080i broadcasts. Tweaking the Sharpness control and the projector's Super Resolution slider, which addresses fine detail in small objects, definitely helped. But the on-screen detail and focus was best with good 4K programs and acceptably sharp. I was especially impressed at how Epson's new lens maintained unusually consistent focus (for a UST) across the entire screen, even with the 120-inch image we use in our studio. It's not perfect, but if you use Epson's focus pattern or a test pattern to fine-tune in the top corners, you still get a pretty sharp image through the center and down to the lower corners. I'd love to see what this lens could do with more pixels on the screen.

As for bright room viewing, this LS800's raison d'être, I often used the Cinema mode in the less harsh lighting of my home studio on the smaller 100-inch screen, or with more moderate floor lighting in the studio. But even in that situation, the extra brightness in the Vivid mode, backed by its more aggressive default auto contrast and gamma settings, gave the image a real shot in the arm. I made an adjustment on the color temp setting to warm up this mode's very blue-leaning white, but still left it a bit cool to help with the light. With the powerful overhead LED light fixtures in our studio and the image blown up to the larger 120-inch screen, the picture lost a bit of punch, but still looked very bright despite the obvious boost in black level. This is the first UST I've encountered that holds up fairly well with movies in that uber-bright setting and retains reasonably good (if elevated) blacks on the ALR screen. In the more typical evening room lighting by which most of us watch TV, black levels were deep enough for a nice punchy picture, particularly with fare like sports and news.