A performance at once impressive and disappointing: the Epson EF-100 brings a lot of brightness to its small body, but it is an ideal sheath in dark rooms.
- Very bright for its size
- Smart TV friendly design
- Clear lens
- Effect “door mosquito net” significant
- Poor black level
- The speaker distorts with content
- Price of the opinion: £ 849
- 2000 lumen laser light source
- Resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Manual focus
- Digital zoom
- 1.01: 1 native pitch
- Single HDMI input
The company’s first portable laser projector, the Epson EF-100, can project images up to 150 inches in HD. Weighing 2.7 kg and incorporating Bluetooth, HDMI 2.0 and Epson technologies, the EF-100 is a big-screen wonder in a compact format.
The Epson EF-100 is the world’s smallest 3LCD laser projector. Some parts of this claim are more interesting than others.
Epson has been keen on 3LCD projector technology since the late 1980s. The laser part is more important because it allows Epson to tailor a 2,000-lumen light source to a projector small enough to be a portable unit.
It’s certainly one of the brightest projectors of its size that money can buy, making it much better for everyday use than any other model. However, the image quality of the Epson EF-100 has some important flaws.
The brightness is excellent, but the black levels are poor, even after some important changes. The Epson EF-100 also suffers from a much more “screen door” effect than the rival DLP projector, the Asus F1.
The Epson EF-100 is more impressive day and night, which is almost unheard of for a projector of this size. As such, if you are looking for a unit to create a movie theater, we will not think twice about it.
Epson EF-100 design – A portable and intelligent projector that can fit in a backpack
The Epson EF-100 is small and stylish. Epson has sent the black version EF-100B, which has a two-tone finish. Its golden bronze front and leatherette shell are both plastic, but it helps to reduce weight.
Portability is a big part of the appeal here, so a low weight is important. The Epson EF-100 weighs only 2.75 kg and is small enough to fit in a regular backpack. With 10 cm high and 21 cm wide, it is not a dominant monster.
There are also some interesting elements in the design. The back is a removable plastic piece lined with fabric, much like a speaker grille. A “female” mini HDMI cable is located behind a powered micro-USB cable. The idea is that you can store a smart stick plugged in, such as a stick Amazon Fire TV or Now TV, into the niche.
The power cable of the Epson EF-100 will be the only connector you will need when installing the projector between movie nights. And when these TV keys switch to USB-C, you simply need to change the USB cable. The micro-USB port is not merged in place.
The versatility of the current configuration does not compare to that of many conventional projectors to € 1,000. The Epson EF-100 does not have a zoom lens or lens shift lens, which compensates for the fact that you can not get the projector itself at the perfect distance or angle because of the shape or arrangement of the piece.
Its native launch ratio is 1.01: 1. To project a 100-inch image, the Epson EF-100 should be located about 2.35 m from the wall or screen. This is a common projection style for a small projector, but to reduce the size of the image you need to use the digital zoom. All that does is reduce the image and leave the surrounding area “black”. You will want to avoid using this zoom as much as possible.
All angle adjustments must be made with trapezoidal distortion correction. And again, it deteriorates the quality of the image. The alternative Epson EH-TW6700 is larger, heavier and much more traditional, but it features both an optical zoom and a lens shift. These are huge benefits for anyone looking to install a fixed home theater.
I’ve used a cheap Tiger brand laptop / projector mount to install the Epson EF-100 without using digital zoom. You will want to do something similar if possible, especially since there is no pivoting support allowing the projector to move slightly upwards.
The built-in speaker brings some of the convenience I’ve talked about at the beginning of this review. It has a diameter of about 3.5 cm, driver with 5W of amplification. Its volume is correct for a built-in speaker and it can even produce light bass in high frequencies.
However, some middle frequencies cause ugly distortion at higher volumes. You must therefore keep the level reasonable. Otherwise you will find a nice little 3.5mm headphone jack under a flap on the side. You can also use it to connect a better speaker.
Bluetooth is even integrated for you to connect to a wireless speaker. Of course, latency can ruin the experiment, depending on the model used. There is no option to shift video based on wireless latency.
You can also treat the Epson EF-100 as a normal projector and connect it to a receiver to let your surround sound system do the work.
Epson EF-100 Image Quality – Brightness is excellent, but the EF-100 is not as nifty in dark rooms
The image quality of the Epsom EF-100 has significant ups and downs. This projector is perhaps the best semi-portable projector available for some, but it will not compete with other solutions based on the DLP.
The brightness of the image is simply superb for a unit of this size. It is so bright that you can use the Epson EF-100 with 100 W equivalent light in the same room. The clear parts of the image always have striking air, the colors retain their dynamism and the image as a whole is contrasted.
Unless you have a very dark screen, the black level will be poor under such conditions, but I doubt that there is a consumer projector of this size that can handle a lot of ambient light as well as the Epson EF-100 .
Epson evaluates the projector at 2,000 lumens or 1,000 in eco mode. Dig in the menu system and you can actually select 11 different power settings between these two minimum and maximum levels. The EF-100 is a miniature light gun that can reach its full size of 150-inch claimed display while competing with some ambient light.
The energy consumption is also impressive. With maximum power and the power of a SNES Classic (which only adds a few watts), the Epson EF-100 exceeds 132 watts. This drops to about 80 watts with an “eco” light output of 50%.
Even the noise is minimal. At 30 cm, I recorded about 20 dB of fan noise at the maximum brightness, about 16 dB at 50%. This is not a very quiet projector, but discreet given the brightness.
This brightness and this energy consumption prove the interest of using laser technology in a smaller projector.
The lens is good too. The sharpness is impressive and, even if you have to manually focus with a dial – autofocus is common in lifestyle projectors at great prices – the controller is at least smooth and easy to use.
The color also impresses, as long as you use the right mode. Like your average TV, the Epson EF-100 has dynamic style modes that saturate the tones. But the natural mode gives a fairly precise idea of skin tones and nature.
Ready for the bad parts?
As mentioned, the Epson EF-100 suffers from a fairly obvious “screen door” effect. It’s here that you can see the structure of the pixels, the darker areas around each pixel.
While this may underline the sharpness of the optics, this means that the EF-100 has nothing to compare with the smooth quality of a decent DLP projector. The image ends up looking more clinical than cinematic. And the larger the image you project, the more the screen effect becomes apparent.
The remarkable benefits of the Epson EF-100 also begin to appear much less attractive when you install it in a room that approaches a light-controlled room with a standard white projection screen. It just does not have the level of black so that the movies look the best in a traditional projector environment.
Play with brightness, contrast and brightness as you please, blacks always look high, greyish in fact.
This projector is doing much better in what you would normally consider a worse projector environment. In all that is optimal, you will notice too much the bad level of black and the structure of pixels. However, get a dark gray projection screen and you may find that the Epson EF-100 is the best projector.
Should I buy the Epson EF-100?
The Epson EF-100 is extremely impressive or disappointing, depending on the type of room in which you place it. Its image brightness per cubic inch of projector is excellent.
This box can handle harder ambient light levels better than almost any other projector designed for portable or “lifestyle” use, where it will at least be transported between pieces.
Place it in a dark room in which smaller projectors usually develop, and everything will fall. The Epson EF-100 does not have the level of black to work as a home theater projector over £ 800. Under these conditions, the Asus F1 produces a more satisfactory image.
The Epson EF-100 is ideal for bright rooms, but it is less hot in the dark.
Epson EF-100 Review
Verdict A performance at once impressive and disappointing: the Epson EF-100 brings a lot of brightness to its small body, but it is an ideal sheath in dar
The price written on this page is true as the time it is written. It may change at any moment.