By Jennifer Mash
Epson is expanding its laser projector lineup by launching one new ultra-short-throw projector and two new portable projectors to help families embrace at-home entertainment needs like streaming and gaming.
"Entertainment at home has never been more important, and streaming movies, TV, gaming, and sports keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Rodrigo Catalan, Epson America Inc.'s senior product manager. “With Epson EpiqVision, we are bringing streaming directly to our projectors.”
The new 1080p LS300 is a little brother version of the 4K EpiqVision Ultra LS500 – it’s also an ultra-short throw projector that can work as an excellent flat screen TV replacement. The LS300 can accept content up to 4K and produce a Full HD HDR picture. Epson claims the unit was designed with simplicity in mind, and the clean and modern aesthetic should fit beautifully into almost any décor.
A 3-chip LCD design combined with the laser light source displays up to 3,600 lumens of equal white and color brightness with a life of 20,000 hours in normal operation mode. Place the projector inches from a wall and enjoy up to a 120-inch image with a full Rec.709 color gamut coverage. It’s a great option for sporting events and movies, and it’s bright enough to use during the day.
Although the projector can project directly to the wall, you will likely want to improve the viewing experience with a screen. A standalone version of the LS300 retails for $2,000, and Epson offers bundled 100-inch ($3,000) or 120-inch ($4,000) ambient light reducing screens.
If you’re used to a smart TV's convenience, the LS300 includes the familiar Android TV interface and a simple remote with easy access to streaming apps like Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+. You can also use Chromecast to share content on your tablet, phone, or computer on the screen. If you have a Google Home ecosystem, you can connect the projector and use Google Assistant voice control to control it via the remote or any compatible Google Home device.
For affordable, big screen entertainment in the home or outside, Epson is also launching two new portable projectors – the EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector ($1,000) and the EpiqVision Mini EF11 Laser Projector ($800).
These two models are Epson’s smallest ever 3LCD laser projectors; the EF12 weighs 4.7 lbs, and the EF11 is a featherweight 2.7 lbs. These compact units use Epson MicroLaser™ Array Technology, which Epson says produces exceptional brightness while significantly enhancing black levels. Light output is measured at 1,000 lumens, and Epson claims the laser light sources can last up to 10 years in Eco mode.
Like the LS500 and LS300, these tiny portable laser projectors use 3LCD technology to display 100% of the RGB color signal for every frame. The 3LCD technology also reduces the “rainbow” effect found in some other projection technologies. All three models also offer Advanced Scene Adaptive Color Correction, an automatic scene-based color correction that Epson says produces a clearer and more natural picture for any type of content.
The EF11 and EF12 are designed for flexible use cases, offering a 360-degree projection angle so you can place them almost anywhere. These mini projectors can beam images from 30-inches up to an eye-popping 150 inches, and like the LS300, they are 1080p and can accept content up to 4K. The EF12 adds additional support for HDR10/HLG.
The EpiqVision Mini EF12 shares high-end features with the LS300. Both models include a Yamaha-designed 2.1 speaker system that delivers exceptional performance. The custom-designed system includes premium Yamaha drivers and/or a dedicated woofer powered by a discrete amplifier and tuned using Yamaha’s latest AudioEngine™ DSP and Dolby Digital technologies.
Epson claims this audio system offers a deep and wide sound stage for a powerful and emotional experience that even rivals the performance of a soundbar. Six sound modes are available: Theater, TV, Studio, Stadium, Concert, and Karaoke. You can also connect both the LS300 and EF12 via Bluetooth to use as a standalone speaker.
The Mini EF12 also has the familiar and convenient Android TV interface to stream directly from apps and Chromecast built-in. The Mini EF11 is the most budget-friendly option, lacking both the upgraded Yamaha speaker system, HDR, and any streaming capabilities. The EF11 has an HDMI 1.4 port to connect a streaming device and a USB port to easily plug in a Roku or other streaming stick.
While some customers still think projectors are reserved only for darkened theater rooms, these new laser projectors are bright enough to use in everyday spaces. In addition to enhanced brightness, the new LS300 ultra-short throw projector and Mini EF12 and Mini EF11 portable projectors have other advantages over traditional lamp-based projectors. They are real alternatives for customers who miss going out to the movies and want a big screen experience at home.
An ultra-short throw projector like the Epson LS500 Laser Projection TV makes it easy for the average consumer to own a projector. It comes with the Smart TV functionality of Android, it is easy to install, the laser is rated for whopping 20,000 hours (eco mode), and it includes a 5-year warranty. Why settle for a measly 75 or 85-inch flat panel when you can get a much bigger image from a compact unit half the size for about the same price?
These compact units can be placed in nearly any living room, don’t require professional installation, and the lasers are virtually maintenance-free. The LS300 and the Mini EF12 add HDR support, a great-sounding audio system, and the Smart TV functionality of Android.
The Mini EF12 (MSRP $999), Mini EF11 (MSRP $799), and LS300 will be at select retailers starting in November 2020. The LS300 will be available in white or black as a standalone ultra-short-throw projector (MSRP $1,999) and will also be available as a bundled package with either a 100-inch screen (MSRP $2,999) or a 120-inch screen (MSRP $3,999). All three new EpiqVision models are backed by a 2-year warranty.