Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 projector assessment: Laser-powered image dice


The Epson EF12 is a tiny projector with built-in streaming and surprisingly loud audio system, all packed right into a slick-looking dice. It is a one-stop store for film nights anyplace you may run an extension wire. The draw back? For $1,000, its image high quality isn’t any nice shakes, with below-average distinction ratio and a quite dim picture in comparison with different projectors on this worth vary.

LikeGreat designSounds massive for its sizeAndroid TV streaming buit-in

Do not LikeNot very brightMediocre distinction ratioExpensive

As you may guess from its design, nevertheless, the EF12 would not intend to compete with conventional house theater projectors. For one factor, it is tiny: method lower than a foot cubed. So it might match nearly anyplace. There are a number of HDMI inputs, Wi-Fi and Android TV. It may possibly even double as a Bluetooth speaker. And it additionally makes use of a laser mild supply, so that you by no means want to switch a projector bulb.

The EF12 is just like the Epson EF-100 we favored, however with higher sound, sharper decision and fewer brightness. It prices greater than our Editors’ Alternative BenQ HT2050A, however that projector is far bigger and lacks built-in streaming and good audio system. In order for you one thing simply transportable with all the things you want for a film night time, the EF12 can match that invoice. However if you happen to can match one thing bigger or do not prioritize built-in sound high quality, the identical cash or much less will get you a much better image with one other projector.

Cute dice: Up shut with the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

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Fundamental specsNative decision: 1,920×1,080 pixels HDR-compatible: Yes4K-compatible: Yes3D-compatible: NoLumens spec: 1,000Zoom: NoLens shift: NoLamp life (Regular mode): 20,000 hours

The EF12 can deal with 4K decision and HDR video sources, however do not anticipate a lot of a lift in image high quality from them. It is a 1080p decision projector and no projector can actually do HDR. 

The lumens spec, which determines brightness, is essentially the most disappointing side of the EF12. The EF-100, which has similarities in design and function, is rated for twice that. A thousand lumens is not dim, however it’s not loads in an period of projectors with three,000 and better lumens scores, particularly for the worth.

There is no lens shift, which isn’t surprising on this worth vary, however the lack of a zoom is disappointing. The concept is if you’d like a bigger or smaller picture, you simply transfer the EF12 farther or nearer to the display screen, or extra doubtless, no matter wall you are utilizing as a display screen. There’s automated autofocus.

The laser mild supply is rated for 20,000 hours.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Connectivity and convenienceHDMI inputs: 2PC enter: NoUSB port: 1Audio enter and output: three.5mm stereo outputDigital audio output: NoWi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac12-volt set off: NoRS-232 distant port: NoMHL: NoRemote: Not backlit

The EF12 has two HDMI inputs, and one even has Audio Return Channel to get audio from its inside apps again to a soundbar or receiver. There’s additionally a three.5mm analog audio output. 

You won’t want both, nevertheless. The 5-watt built-in stereo audio system, co-designed with Yamaha, sound surprisingly good. They’ll fill a room and have respectable bass for such a small cupboard. They seem to be a bit boomy, however for the scale and comfort, they’re positively one of many EF12’s greatest attributes.

There is not a lot profit to built-in streaming with conventional house theater projectors, however it’s good to see in a small, probably transportable PJ just like the EF12. It is even higher to see actual Android TV and never the Aptoide retailer discovered in lots of small projectors, which is at all times a legal responsibility.

The distant is not backlit, however does include a devoted button to regulate the settings, in order that’s good. It additionally permits you to speak to Google Assistant, if you happen to’re so inclined.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Image high quality comparisons

I selected these two projectors for my EF12 comparability as a result of the Epsons are comparable in worth, measurement and supposed use. The BenQ HT2050A represents a extra conventional house theater projector for across the identical worth. 

I related the BenQ and EF12 through a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier. The EF-100, being decrease 1,280×800 decision, ran off its personal streaming stick. I manually synced up the identical content material on each sources. I seen all of them on a 102-inch 1.Zero-gain display screen. 

The EF-100’s decrease decision is apparent proper off the bat. Whereas 1,280×800 is okay by itself, it is not shocking that your eye is drawn to the projectors with double the pixels and the larger element that gives. Not simply element both. The picture is smoother and fewer synthetic as properly, because the pixels are smaller and nearer collectively. With a 100-inch display screen it is not arduous to see particular person pixels from the EF-100 if you happen to’re seated in any respect near the display screen.

The EF-100 is noticeably brighter than the EF12, nevertheless, roughly on par with the HT2050A. The EF12 would not look dim, however is certainly dimmer than the opposite two. I measured roughly 650 lumens, which is watchable on a 100-inch display screen however would look higher and brighter on one thing smaller. 

The tradeoffs between the 2 Epsons largely cancel out. On bigger screens, the additional brightness of the EF-100 could be welcome, however its decrease decision is way more seen. The additional decision of the EF12 appears nice on a bigger display screen, however its decrease brightness robs the picture of impression. Between the 2, as a result of I believe the decrease decision could be one thing extra individuals would discover by itself (with out different projectors to match side-by-side), I might lean in the direction of the EF12 for most individuals. 

Distinction ratio can also be fairly poor on each the Epsons. The EF12 improves upon the EF-100 somewhat, however the distinction between 315:1 and 394:1 is just like the distinction between one automobile that will get 12 mpg and one other that will get 13. It is also barely exterior the vary of measurement error. In follow all the things appears pretty washed out on each. The decrease brightness on the EF12 does nothing to make the picture pop both.

As you might need guessed, the BenQ HT2050A simply appears higher than each. The distinction ratio is considerably greater, practically 2,100:1 in comparison with about 400:1. It is simply as shiny because the EF-100, however with a far smoother picture due to its larger pixel rely. So the picture simply appears extra pure and has extra punch due to its a lot greater distinction ratio. 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Conclusion

It is a robust one. The EF12 suits a particular area of interest: Somebody who would not need, or thinks they do not need, a “actual” projector. One thing small to tug off a shelf for an occasional film night time. In that, it really works nice, and the interior audio system are much better than what you’d get in a conventional projector. The image in comparison with the EF-100 is… as an example in another way meh, however the higher measurement and sound makes me lean in the direction of the EF12 for this particular use. 

One thing just like the BenQ HT2050A prices much less and affords a fair higher image, so if excessive portability is not an absolute necessity, it is a greater worth. The EF12 suits in a backpack and the HT2050A is the scale of a backpack — however it’s not heavy and if you happen to’re not transferring it typically, who cares in regards to the measurement? 

When it comes right down to it, if the EF12 was twice as shiny, and somewhat cheaper, it might be an absolute winner. 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Measurement notes

For essentially the most correct colours use the Pure shade mode. The Cinema and Shiny Cinema mode oversaturates inexperienced, amongst different extra gentle shade inaccuracies. A shade temperature of seven was pretty correct throughout the brightness vary, although tended to float inexperienced with mid- and shiny photographs. 

Colour on the whole was pretty correct. Inexperienced and blue have been just about spot on their Rec. 709 targets. Purple was somewhat orange, yellow somewhat inexperienced, cyan somewhat blue and magenta somewhat purple. It was as if these colours have been all shifted clockwise on the colour chart just a bit bit.

Brightness, as claimed and as measured, was decrease than you’d hope for a $1,000 projector. I measured 650 lumens within the Shiny Cinema mode, lower than half the EF-100’s roughly 1,500.

Distinction ratio was additionally low, at a median of 394:1. This was barely higher than the EF-100’s 315:1, however nonetheless roughly half what the common projector can do on this worth vary in 2020.

Geek Field

Check

End result

Rating

Black luminance (Zero%)

Zero.18

Poor

Peak white luminance (100%)

72.23

Poor

Derived lumens

650

Poor

Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)

6,457

Poor

Darkish grey error (20%)

6,299

Poor

Shiny grey error (70%)

6,509

Poor

Avg. shade error

three.93

Common

Purple error

5.222

Common

Inexperienced error

1.049

Good

Blue error

1.483

Good

Cyan error

6.575

Common

Magenta error

three.849

Common

Yellow error

5.394

Common

Avg. saturations error

three.55

Common

Avg. shade checker error

5.four

Poor

Enter lag (Sport mode)

120

Common



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