Looking back, 45 years have passed since my first recollection experiencing “home theatre” at my parents’ home in Indonesia. It couldn’t be called home theatre, really, as all we had was an Elmo Super8 silent projector. We used to watch Tom & Jerry, Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh amongst many others. Not only we were watching the silent version of the movies, but most of them were also only in black and white as the colour version cost a lot more. We didn’t have a dedicated room and the image was merely projected to a bare wall. Pathetic perhaps, but we had many great times together. Even though we had a colour TV and (Betamax) VCR at the time, I still prefer the fun watching projected video on the wall. Such great times between me and my grandfather.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I always wanted to have projection system at home. Luckily, I achieved that about a dozen years ago when I built my dedicated home theatre. I even bought an extra theatre seat for my grandfather if he ever visits my home theatre in Canada. Alas it wasn’t meant to be. My grandfather passed away just before the construction of my home theatre completed. To this day, his theatre seat is still there and I never allow anybody sit in it.
Because of the great moments I experienced in the past, I want to recreate the fun times I had. This is not to say that my dedicated theatre is not fun, but sometimes I want to relive by watching something in an informal way.
Up to this moment, my choices were limited to DLP projector but their elevated black levels and rainbow effect affect me rather dearly. I get physically sick from the spinning colour wheel. Also they tend to be on the dim side at a measured brightness at 700 ANSI lumens or less.
Literally just for the fun of it, I was offered to play with Epson laser projector for the weekend. Weighing just under 5lbs, and with a footprint smaller than 7” x 7”, the EF12 is a fun-size, fully self-contained unit that requires no additional or external devices to function. It can very easily be moved from room to room, or in my case, to the backyard, or if you are inclined to, packed to take on a trip to anywhere in the world with a power source and a projection surface.
The Epson is a 1080p projector that can also accept 4K HDR signal. It’s a smart device too, meaning I can have my Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, amongst others, within the projector. There is no need for me to have a separate streaming box. And because of that, there is no need for me to deal with HDMI cable too if all I want to do is stream. Best of all, this is a laser projector, that means it can be instantly turned on without warm-up period. Plus it’s very bright (for a palm-sized projector) at 800-900 ANSI lumens (measured in Natural picture mode, which yields the best colour accuracy out of the box). It uses Epson MicroLaser™ Array Technology, which Epson says delivers exceptional brightness while significantly enhancing blacks.
The EF12 features Epson’s Auto Picture Skew & Focus Correction, which takes the guesswork out of setting up a projector by automatically focusing the image and correcting the picture geometry. I still end up manually focusing the projector for the sharpest image but even without doing so, it’s more than acceptable.
The Epson EF12 internal sound system is the Yamaha-designed/tuned sound system utilizes twin drivers and a custom 3D acoustic enclosure claimed to produce room-filling sound from a compact cube. Quite honestly while I don’t find the sound quality to be amazing or anything, I do find it to be very clear and very decent when I was watching Netflix documentary Lost Girl and Warner Bros Kids channel of YouTube. Of course watching Tom & Jerry (original classics animation) you don’t need high-end sound system, but considering I was watching them outdoor in my backyard, the musical soundtrack didn’t jumble into a hot mess unlike a couple other portable projectors I have on hand.
The image is sharp with very nice colour reproduction. And that is something notable. It’s nearly never that I’m not itching to, at least, do a quick colour adjustment when viewing a fun-type projector such as this. Usually these types of projectors tend to be overly blue (in order to give a faulty sense of higher brightness level) or overly saturated colours (mostly magenta). Literally I only took the projector of the box, power on, choose Natural picture mode, and that’s it. The Natural picture mode delivered the most accurate colour reproduction. Dynamic mode produced a cooler (read: bluish) image than the other four picture presets, but it was measured about 25% brighter at nearly 1,200 lumens; much higher than the rated brightness.
If there is anything to complain about, it’s the lack of zoom functionality. Thus, the image size can only be controlled by moving the projector closer or further away from the wall. Outside of that, I don’t have anything to complain about. It is not a videophile projector by any means, but it’s also not targeted towards such audience. But for the targeted audience, this projector is perfect.