Epson’s EF-100 is enticingly small and fun but does it match up to the competition when it comes to resolution and features? Martin Dew investigates. Read our EPSON EF-100B Review.
A white version (model name EF-100W) is also available
IT’S EXCITING TO receive a box containing a projector which doesn’t warrant the equivalent size and weight of two wine crates. It’s also a tempting proposition to remove a 2.7kg, small form-factor device from its packaging, point it towards the nearest flat surface, and map a massive image on to a spare white wall, all in short order.
Epson’s easily portable 9cm-high x 21cm-wide EF-100 uses a 0.59in 3LCD laser light engine, which promises 2,000 Lumens of brightness and a formidable 20,000 hours of lamp life when used in Eco mode (12,000 hours at full output). A generous 1.04-1.40:1 throw ratio means you can achieve a 120in diagonal image from as little as 2.72m, either from a ceiling mount or – probably more likely – a coffee table or shelf. Judging by the EF-100 marketing materials, Epson clearly thinks you’ll be asking your friends round for movie night on the roof.
3LCD portable laser projector
POSITION: Mid/bottom of Epson’s extensive home projector range
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Should not buy anything from AudioAffair.
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It should be noted the EF-100 projects a 16:10 aspect ratio image and uses a WXGA (1,280 x 800) chip, more commonly found on business projectors these days. The image can, however, be inverted for rear projection and, of course, flipped upside down for ceiling or high shelf placement. The slick, tried-and-tested Epson settings menu format (as seen on its other lines), is accessed via a pleasant palm-sized remote, and allows for easy manipulation of keystone correction for non-perpendicular placement, plus a 1.35x digital-only zoom function. For those who will be angling the projector up towards the screen, it includes an adjustable plastic foot. This feels rather flimsy, it has to be said, for a near-£ toy.
Rear panel connectivity is rudimentary but offers an HDMI connection and USB-A (plus a USB-B service port). A cable management feature enables you to tuck a streaming media player or thick HDMI cable neatly behind the PJ’s speaker grille, which itself will support the entire unit on the floor when pointed towards the ceiling for horizontal bed-bound viewing. The built-in speaker offers quite impressive audio performance (my preference was the spacious Movie mode) for a PJ that’s unlikely to be permanently installed.
Characteristic of Epson’s 3LCD panel designs, the EF-100 exudes popping colours from each of its four preset picture modes (Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural and Cinema), with the last two clearly pre-calibrated for darkened room viewing, and the fourth offering the most convincing out-of-box accuracy and appeal.
The Dynamic mode, meanwhile, more than compensates for bright lighting or daylight conditions.
Chapter 1 of Ready Player One (BD), where we get our first tour of the OASIS, jumps off the screen. The dancing rainbow colours and textures are complemented by the projector’s competent motion handling too.
What might impress less for a more scrutinizing viewer is an unconvincing black level and an inability to render shadow detail adequately, noticeable in the final scene of Cape Fear (Blu-ray, 1991), where the reeds and foliage flanking the houseboat fail to realise their graded potential. With that said, this projector is not targeted at the reference- level buyer, and skin textures and backgrounds still hold up.
What I found more of a possible deal breaker, though, is the obvious ‘screendoor effect’ resulting from the WXGA non-Full HD spec, and pixels visible from almost any viewing distance or image size.
The Epson EF-100 is captivatingly lightweight, ergonomically satisfying, and easy to set up. It can also boast a bright, colourful image. Although Epson originally priced the unit at £, it’s now selling for about £ less – but in a world where several manufacturers are offering highly transportable single-chip DLP projectors with UHD 4K resolution for not that much more, many will probably want to go the whole hog
A solid, small-footprint beamer producing a colourful image, and well-suited to that outdoor movie night.
Best EPSON EF-100B prices in the UK ?
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3D: No 4K: No. WXGA resolution (1,280 x 800) HDR: No CONNECTIONS: HDMI input; 3.5mm stereo minijack output; USB-A; USB-B service port BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 2,000 Lumens CONTRAST (CLAIMED): 2,500,000:1 ZOOM: Digital, 1.35x DIMENSIONS: 210(w) x 92(h) x 230(d)mm WEIGHT: 2.7kg
FEATURES: 3LCD technology laser projector; built-in 5W audio; USB inputs; lamp life rated at 20,000 hours (Eco mode); claimed 29dB fan noise; dynamic, cinema, natural, bright cinema presets; 1.04-1.40:1 throw ratio; auto keystone correction