Hisense 100L10E 4K Dual Color Laser TV

The Hisense 100L10E 4K ultra-short-throw projector comes with a 100″ ambient-light-rejecting screen to create a huge living-room TV that even works with the lights on.

It’s no secret that TVs are getting bigger. CRT TVs grew to a maximum of 40″, which seemed huge back in the day. Now, 65″ LCD and OLED TVs are the norm, and many consumers want even larger screens. But current OLEDs top out at 77″, while LCDs are available up to 100″, and flat panels that large can get pretty pricey. For example, the 100″ Sony XBR-100Z9D lists for a penny less than $60,000! Plus, such large flat-panel TVs are very heavy, presenting a real challenge if you want to mount them on a wall.

Of course, you could get a projector, which can fill screens well over 100″. But projectors generally require a fully light-controlled room to look their best. What if you want that giant image in your living room with all the lights on rather than a dedicated home theater? Using an ambient-light-rejecting (ALR) screen can help, but the problem of walking through the light beam remains. Plus, who wants a projector hanging from the ceiling or sitting on a shelf across the living room?

Hisense has addressed these concerns with a series of products called Laser TVs. Despite the name, these displays are not flat-panel TVs in the conventional sense. They are ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors that sit very near the wall and shoot up onto a wall-mounted, ambient light-rejecting screen, which is included with the projector. No more need for a darkened room, and no more walking through a projected light beam. Plus, it’s easy to mount a projection screen on a wall.

Even better, the screen sizes start at 88″ with the 88L8E ($3899.99). There are two models with 100″ screens: the 100L8D ($7999.99) and 100L10E ($9999.99). Also available is the 120L10E ($12,999.99), which comes with a 120″ screen, but its variable-zoom function can fill screen sizes from 100″ to 150″. (The 100L8D also has variable zoom to fill screen sizes from 80″ to 120″. Both variable-zoom models are available through CEDIA integrators for less than the complete-package price, though you must then buy a screen separately.) The 88L8E employs an acrylic lens, while the others have all-glass lenses.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with the 100L10E. Does it fulfill Hisense’s intent to serve as a large living-room TV? Let’s find out…


Features

As the name implies, all Hisense Laser TVs use lasers as the illumination source. The 88L8E and 100L8D use a single blue laser with a yellow phosphor wheel, while the 100L10E and 120L10E use two lasers—one blue and the other red—with a green phosphor wheel. As a result, Hisense calls them Dual Color Laser TVs. The expected lifespan of the light engine is up to 25,000 hours.


All Laser TVs utilize a single DLP imaging chip. The red, green, and blue light from the light engine is directed onto the chip sequentially, just like any other single-chip DLP projector. The chip forms the image of the red, green, and blue portions of the image in sync with the changing colors from the light engine, resulting in a full-color image on the screen—as well as the potential for the so-called rainbow effect.


The Hisense Dual Color Laser TVs include a red and blue laser light source. The blue light passes through a wheel with one segment of green phosphor, converting the blue light to green while that segment is in the beam. The rest of the wheel is transparent, allowing the blue light to pass through. Each primary color is sequentially directed onto a single DLP imaging chip, which forms the red, green, and blue portions of the image.

The 0.66″ DLP chip in the Hisense Laser TVs has a native resolution of 2716×1528 (4.15 million) micromirrors. The response time of these micromirrors is so fast that—in addition to forming the red, green, and blue images sequentially—each one can be quickly wiggled back and forth to form two separate pixels on the screen. The result is an effective resolution of 3840×2160, or 8.3 million pixels—aka 4K/UHD.

With the red and blue primaries provided by lasers, the color gamut is said to be more than 95% of DCI/P3. Hisense claims a peak light output of 3200 lumens and a native contrast ratio greater than 1500:1. The Laser TVs offer no dynamic iris to improve the perceived contrast.

The included ambient light-rejecting screen is designed for use with a UST projector. Thanks to a special coating, it reflects light from below toward the viewers, not up toward the ceiling as a conventional screen would. Its specified gain of 0.4 is very low, presumably to improve black levels and increase viewing angle. In fact, Hisense claims the effective viewing angle to be very near 180°, which is great for large-group viewing.

Like most modern flat-panel TVs, the Hisense Laser TVs offer motion estimation/motion compensation (MEMC)—aka frame interpolation, which you can disable. Movies at 24 fps are displayed with 5:5 pulldown, matching the unit’s 120 Hz refresh rate. However, there is no black-frame insertion, which many videophiles prefer over frame interpolation to smooth out fast motion.

To display 4K/UHD content with high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate (HFR), you must use HDMI input 1 or 2, which operate at 18 Gbps. HDMI inputs 3 and 4 operate at 10.2 Gbps. HD and lesser content is upscaled to 4K/UHD. Other connections include VGA, two USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, optical-digital and L/R analog audio outputs, and an RF antenna input for a built-in ATSC 1.0 tuner as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi.


The 100L10E provides a relatively complete complement of connections.

In keeping with their intended use as a TV replacement, the Laser TVs include streaming apps, such as Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and YouTube. Also, a special 4K Now app aggregates 4K content from various streaming providers. Other “smart TV” features include Alexa-enabled voice control with Echo built in.

To complete their TV functionality, the Hisense Laser TVs include onboard audio systems designed by Harman Kardon. The 100L10E has 14 speaker drivers powered by a total of 40 watts in the projector’s cabinet plus a separate wireless subwoofer with 60W. Other models have different driver configurations, but all have a wireless sub.


Ergonomics

The 100L10E’s graphic menu system is very large, filling most of the screen. Once you select a picture control to adjust, it drops to the bottom of the screen while the rest of the menu disappears, but it’s still relatively large. Fortunately, it didn’t interfere with taking measurements in the center of the screen, and the measurements were unaffected by its presence, unlike some displays I’ve reviewed. Also, it stays on the screen until you back out, which I prefer to having it disappear after a period of inactivity.


The remote is very simple and easy to operate by feel. Below the power button are direct-access buttons for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and the Hisense 4K Now app. Below that are several buttons around the cursor-navigation pad, including a microphone button that activates Alexa voice commands. The volume up/down, mute, channel up/down, and MTS buttons complete the remote.


Tests

After calibration—which I discuss in detail at the end of this review—I started my evaluation with a few test patterns, including some from the Samsung UHD Blu-ray Test Disc. The natural-color tests looked beautiful, with rich greens and browns, and skin tones looked entirely natural. Moving on to the motion tests, setting Motion Enhancement to Clear really sharpened 24 fps motion, though it also introduced the dreaded soap-opera effect.

Likewise, the motion tests on the FPD Benchmark Blu-ray test disc were greatly sharpened when Motion Enhancement was set to Clear. As before, this introduced the soap-opera effect, which is unacceptable for most videophiles when watching movies. But it’s an entirely valid approach to watching sports, which are typically shot at 30 or 60 fps. This makes the soap-opera effect less objectionable, and it greatly reduces motion blur in fast-moving objects.

Speaking of picture-enhancement controls, I normally turn all such controls off, as I did in this case. However, I found that setting Active Contrast (dynamic contrast based on the content) to Low gave the picture some needed “pop.” Without it, the picture looked a bit hazy.

Chris Porter from Hisense set up the 100L10E, and he had a USB memory stick with some 4K/UHD content, so we took a look at that. Interestingly, the alternating-pixel pattern (single-pixel checkerboard) exhibited some moire distortion. We discovered that overscan was enabled and grayed out; we couldn’t turn it off.


Real-World Content

I started watching real-world content with the “Jungles” episode of Planet Earth II on UHD Blu-ray. The colors of green foliage, blue water, and brown tree trunks were all excellent. Also, I saw no banding in the fog at the beginning of the episode, something I’ve seen on a few other 4K/UHD displays. However, the image wasn’t quite as bright as I’ve seen on other projectors.


Next, I checked out a bit of Black Panther. The black levels in the night-rescue scene near the beginning were not good, nor was the shadow detail. But brighter scenes looked great, with rich colors and razor-sharp detail, though here again, the overall brightness was a bit disappointing.

Blade Runner 2049 looked much the same—great colors and detail in bright scenes, poor black levels and shadow detail in dark scenes. In both of these movies, engaging frame interpolation sharpened motion blur considerably, but it also caused obvious soap-opera effect, so I left it turned off for movie watching.


Because the 100L10E is intended as a living-room TV rather than a home-theater display, I wanted to look at some sports with the lights on. I found Football 4K on YouTube, which consists of highlights from the 2012 FIFA World Cup shot in 4K by Sony. As with movies, the color and detail were superb, though there isn’t much in the way of dark scenes. Here, enabling frame interpolation greatly sharpened the image of the ball flying through the air, and I wasn’t nearly as distracted by the soap-opera effect.

Another type of programming commonly viewed in a living-room environment is award shows such as the Oscars. I watched Jimmy Kimmel’s Oscars Monologue 2018 on YouTube, which is in 1080p SDR. It looked excellent on the 100L10E, with great colors and sharp detail. Again, there isn’t much dark imagery in this clip.

During these “watching TV” exercises, I moved off axis to see how the image changed. I was amazed to see that it held up remarkably well all the way to nearly 90° off axis! Colors remained consistent, and brightness fell off much less than I expected. A large group of viewers gathered around the screen would all see a good picture. Also, ambient light didn’t wash out the image significantly.

Hisense makes a big deal of the Harman Kardon audio system in the 100L10E, and it is better than most TV sound. It even offers psychoacoustically simulated surround, which works surprisingly well. I heard sounds that appeared to originate well beyond the boundaries of the projector’s cabinet, though not from behind me. Still, it can’t compare with an outboard surround system. For example, when played by the Hisense wireless subwoofer, the deep-bass sounds in Blade Runner 2049 weren’t as deep as I know they are.


Conclusion

The Hisense 100L10E Dual Color 4K Laser TV serves its intended purpose very well. It provides the equivalent of a 100″ flat-panel TV for a living-room environment that can be enjoyed by a large family or group of friends with the lights on. It’s a bit trickier to set up than a conventional flat-panel TV, but the screen is much lighter and easier to mount on the wall. And it’s not nearly as bright as an LCD or OLED TV, but its ambient-light-rejecting, ultra-short-throw screen compensates for that surprisingly well.

While I can recommend the 100L10E for its intended use as a living-room TV—thus earning it an AVS Forum Recommended badge—I cannot recommend it as a dedicated home-theater display. In particular, its blacks and shadow detail are well below par for that application. Also, its colorimetry is not as accurate as a home-theater display should be, though the subjective color of the content I viewed was very good.

A 3D LUT would bring the measurements right into line with their targets. If there’s a 3D LUT within the projector—which I assume there must be—I wish Hisense would make it available to software such as SpectraCal’s CalMan. On the plus side, the Theater picture mode’s SDR grayscale was fairly close to accurate out of the box.

Then there’s the price tag—$10,000 is a lot for a TV, even one as large as this. But it’s far less than any 100″ LCD TV or professional monitor, most of which cost between $20,000 and $60,000. However, there are other 4K, laser-illuminated, DLP-based UST projectors that cost a lot less than the 100L10E, such as the LG HU80KA ($3000) and Dell S718QL ($4800), both of which use a single blue laser with a yellow phosphor wheel. I don’t know how well these models perform compared with the 100L10E.

In those cases, you must buy the screen separately. For example, a 100″ Screen Innovations 5 Series fixed screen with the company’s Short Throw ALR material (0.6 gain) retails for over $4000. For under $1100, you can get the Elite Screens Aeon CLR screen (0.6 gain) on Amazon. Even with that extra cost, the total is way below the price of the 100L10E.


On the other hand, many folks prefer to buy a complete, integrated package with everything they need. If you’re in that camp and looking for a very large living-room TV to enjoy with family and friends during your next Super Bowl party—and you have the budget for it—the Hisense 100L10E Dual Color 4K Laser TV is an excellent choice.

Many thanks to Robert Heron of HeronFidelity.com for measuring and calibrating the 100L10E.


REVIEW SYSTEM

Sources

Microsoft Xbox One X UHD Blu-ray player

SpectraCal VideoForge Pro test-pattern generator

Setup & Test Discs

Samsung UHD Test Disc (UHD Blu-ray)

FPD Benchmark (Blu-ray)

Hisense 4K/UHD test material (USB memory stick)


Setup & Calibration

Chris Porter from Hisense set up the 100L10E in the Northern California studios of TWiT, where I spent some time with it for this review. As you might imagine, setup is a bit more complicated than it is for a flat-panel TV. The screen includes a wall-mount bracket, and it must be perfectly level at a height determined by the placement of the projector. Then, the projector must be oriented to cast an image that precisely matches the boundaries of the screen. In the TWiT studio, the projector was placed on a pair of 20-inch-tall “apple boxes” (which are commonly used in video studios) with about eight inches between the unit and the wall.


Calibrator extraordinaire Robert Heron of HeronFidelity.com measured the 100L10E in its Theater picture mode before and after he performed a full calibration for SDR and HDR10 content. He used SpectraCal’s CalMan software and a X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer to profile a Klein K10A colorimeter. The test-pattern generator was a SpectraCal VideoForge Pro

Here are the pre-calibration measurements:


The pre-cal SDR grayscale wasn’t bad at all, with an average dE of 2.6 and nothing above 5. We used the Gamma 1 setting, which was close to 2.2. The Gamma 2 and 3 settings were almost identical at 2.4. Contrast ratio was almost exactly as expected at 1505:1.


Pre-calibration, the SDR saturation sweeps indicate that all levels of red, yellow, green, and magenta are undersaturated, except 100%, which jumps to where it’s supposed to be. (Red is somewhat oversaturated.) Also, blue and yellow veer off from their targets, except at 100%.


Pre-calibration, the SDR ColorChecker doesn’t look too bad, though many colors are undersaturated from where they should be.


The HDR grayscale looked pretty good before calibration, except around the 45-60% level, right around the knee of the EOTF curve. The EOTF was somewhat off as well.


In HDR10 mode, the pre-cal saturation sweeps are closer to where they should be than the pre-cal SDR sweeps—for the most part. In fact, the different levels of red, blue, and magenta tend to be a bit oversaturated, especially at 100%. Cyan is quite undersaturated.


The pre-cal ColorChecker in HDR10 mode looked pretty good, except that red, blue, and magenta were oversaturated.

In SDR mode, the 2-point grayscale calibration controls got it very close to the target; there was no need to use the 10-point controls. On the other hand, the CMS controls are very coarse, making color calibration very difficult. To get the colorimetry right, you really need a LUT box.

During calibration, we discovered some odd behavior. The 100L10E allowed the pattern generator to send certain types of signals, but not others, even to the HDMI 1 input, which supports 18 Gbps. For example, 2160p/4:2:0/10-bit did not work, but 4:2:2 did work. Even stranger, the pattern generator did not allow us to select 4:2:0, which led us to believe that the EDID was messed up somehow. We used 4:2:2/8-bit for SDR calibration and 10-bit for HDR calibration.

All measurements were taken with the studio as dark as possible. However, it could not be made completely dark. After calibration, the SDR peak luminance was 91.6 nits, and the black level was 0.07 nit. In HDR mode, the peak luminance was 117.6 nits, and the black level was 0.07 nit.

Here are the post-calibration results in SDR mode:


Calibration improved the SDR grayscale, with an average dE of 1, though it also reduced the contrast a bit.


Calibration also improved the saturation sweeps in SDR—except for red at 100%, which was still way oversaturated. Average dE dropped from 5.09 pre-cal to 2.63 post-cal.


After calibration, the ColorChecker shows better results, with the average dE dropping from 4.35 pre-cal to 2.26 post-cal and the maximum dE dropping from 9.17 pre-cal to 6.64 post-cal.

After trying to adjust the CMS for HDR10, Robert and I decided that it was better to adjust it for SDR and let HDR be what it is.

Here are the post-calibration results for HDR10:


Calibration straightened out the grayscale except at the 45% level, and it did nothing for the EOTF.


Calibration reined in the oversaturated red, blue, and magenta in HDR10, but it did nothing for the undersaturated cyan.


The ColorChecker measurements didn’t change much after calibration.

Finally, here is the native color gamut Robert measured:


According to the measurements, the 100L10E’s native color gamut covers over 98% of the P3 gamut, though that includes very oversaturated red, blue, and magenta, undoubtedly due to the red and blue lasers.

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