Projector Reviews

EPSON EF12 SMART LASER PROJECTOR REVIEW-PERFORMANCE

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Laser Projector Review – Performance: Color Modes, Brightness, Contrast, Video Quality, Audio Quality, Audible Noise

COLOR MODES

The above screenshots are intended to give only a rough idea of each picture mode’s color accuracy. When viewed in person the color accuracy will generally look somewhat better than shown in these photos, but the images show the difference in color and skin tones for the different preset picture modes.

There are five factory color presets. Epson describes each mode as follows:

  • Dynamic Picture Mode: Best for optimizing brightness
  • Vivid Picture Mode: Best for projecting general content in a bright environment
  • Bright Cinema Picture Mode: For projecting movies in a brighter environment
  • Cinema Picture Mode: For projecting movies in a dark environment
  • Natural Picture Mode: Most accurate colors reproduction (this mode also allows manual color adjustment)

The NATURAL picture mode delivered the most accurate color reproduction. DYNAMIC mode produced a cooler image than the other four picture presets, but it was about 30% brighter.

All five color modes deliver a pleasant viewing experience. The Epson EF12 reproduced more accurate looking colors than most of the portable LED Based DLP projectors I have seen.

BRIGHTNESS

The Epson EF12 has a rated brightness of 1,000 lumens. I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the lens center, which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens. I measured the EF12 in its brightest picture mode: Dynamic.

Brightness: 1161 Lumens

The EF12 measured 1161 lumens, which is slightly above Epson’s brightness claim. This is enough brightness to deliver a pleasing picture on an 80-100” screen in a room with lower ambient light.

Brightness Per Picture Mode

Color Mode Lumens
Dynamic 1161
Vivid 774
Bright Cinema 695
Cinema 716
Natural 704

While there are several brighter home entertainment projectors in the same price range, most still utilize a lamp-based light source. They also do not offer the Smart features and upgraded audio system found in the EF12.

The EF12 still produced about 700 lumens in its most accurate picture mode (Natural), which is far more than most similar-sized portable LED projectors can deliver in their best picture modes.

CONTRAST

The EF12 has a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 200,000:1. The EF12 might not quite produce a true black (I’d call it an extra dark grey), but you can tell what is meant to be black, and there is a pleasing contrast between the highs and lows of the image. The EF12 black levels were better than most DLP based portable LED projectors that I have seen. Most targeted users won’t likely have an issue with the black levels.

VIDEO QUALITY

The EF12 offers a couple of picture modes that have good picture quality. I primarily used “Cinema” and “Bright Cinema”, as they were most appropriate for my content and viewing space. The screenshots above were taken with the EF12 in “Dynamic” mode to achieve the highest brightness. Since the EF12 includes multiple user adjustments, I am sure it could be fine-tuned to produce a more accurate picture.

Above are screenshots of a variety of HD videos and photos. Like all our photos, they remain unadjusted for color, so they do not look quite as good as what the projector produced.

The native Full HD (1,920 x1,080) resolution of the Epson EF12 results in good text clarity. While gaming, I could easily read everything I needed/wanted to and had no issues reading small text while streaming to the projector from my phone or tablet.

While the EF12 is a Full HD unit, it can accept 4K content, and it also supports both HDR10 and HLG. Even though the EF12 can play HDR content, like most lower brightness home entertainment projectors, I prefer watching shows in SDR instead of HDR.

Overall, the video picture quality was good for a home media projector at this price point. While not perfect, the overall color accuracy was very good, with natural-looking skin tones and reasonable image contrast.

AUDIO QUALITY

Part of the appeal of the Epson EF12 is the specially designed Yamaha audio system that includes a custom 3D acoustic enclosure and two high-end 5W stereo drivers powered by an amplifier and tuned using Yamaha’s AudioEngine DSP technology.
This system produces impressive bass levels and pleasing mids and highs. I would consider it to be better audio quality than my TV, and comparable to most soundbars. At mid volume, the sound could easily be heard throughout my entire media room, and I did not struggle to compete with talking or other ambient noise.
For a more immersive experience, I would probably opt for a true multi-speaker surround sound system, but the EF12 easily holds its own against TV sets of comparable price range in the sound department.

AUDIBLE NOISE

After several hours of use, I didn’t once notice any sort of distracting noises from the EF12. The only way I could hear anything not coming from the speakers was to shut them off, and even then, the fan noise was impressively low. The initial start-up of the unit seemed to produce the most noise, but I didn’t notice anything after that.

After several hours of use, I didn’t once notice any sort of distracting noises from the EF12. The only way I could hear anything not coming from the speakers was to shut them off, and even then, the fan noise was impressively low. The initial start-up of the unit seemed to produce the most noise, but I didn’t notice anything after that.

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