In an announcement timed to coincide with the start of the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Epson unveiled today the EF-100 Smart Streaming Laser Projector, the company's first entry into the growing lifestyle projector market.
Priced at $999 MSRP, the EF-100 is a compact projector that measures just 8.3 x 9.1 x 3.6 inches and weighs only 6 pounds. It combines a high-brightness light engine using Epson's newly developed MicroLaser Array Technology to produce 2,000 ANSI lumens from a trio of 1280 x 800 high definition LCD imaging chips. Its proprietary 9-element lens (with seven glass spherical elements) is said to support images up to 150-inches diagonal. WiFi wireless streaming is supported with a supplied Android TV dongle.
The EF-100 is meant to be an easily stored, portable projector solution. It can be placed horizontally to project on a wall, or vertically to project on the ceiling if you want to lie in bed. As with some other lifestyle projectors released recently, the EF-100 will make any necessary keystone adjustments automatically.
For content streaming, the Epson EF-100's supplied Android TV dongle plugs into the projector's HDMI port and uses an onboard USB connection for power. This is all hidden behind the projector's rear grille, which also conceals a small 5W on-board speaker with an enclosure that enhances the bass response. There are four preset EQ settings to customize the sound to your liking. A 3.5 mm analog stereo audio output is provided to feed an external sound system, and the projector is also equipped with Bluetooth aptX support for connecting headphones or a Bluetooth speaker (though with the usual caveats about the potential for lip sync issues when using Bluetooth for video sound).
The Android dongle is said to support popular steaming services including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, and others among the 5,000 apps available. The dongle supports 4K and can be used with any display that has a compatible HDMI connection, so you can also potentially use it with another other projector or TV you have at home.
Included with the projector are two remotes, a dedicated Bluetooth-only remote that controls the Android TV and one that controls the projector and Android TV jointly. This latter remote is both Bluetooth and IR, and has a combination of buttons that control either the projector, the Android TV, or both depending on what is displayed on screen. If you want to use a Bluetooth keyboard for easier typing, it can be connected through the Android TV Bluetooth. The remotes are also equipped with a microphone for issuing Google Assistant voice commands.
Epson's design assumes you'll be moving the projector around rather than permanently connecting it to multiple sources, and so provides only a single HDMI input. Viewing any source other than the streaming dongle requires removing it temporarily to free-up the port. Two USB ports provide power for the dongle and access for service or firmware updates, but no built-in media player for displaying or listening to files from a USB stick.
The EF-100 joins similar portable lifestyle projectors that have become popular in recent years, but differs from the competition in that it's a 3LCD projector with a laser light source that is rated at 2,000 white and color ANSI lumens. That's a respectable—even remarkable—amount of light output for a projector of its size and weight. Most similar products to date are LED-driven DLP projectors that don't match the EF-100's brightness, which Epson says sets a new standard in this class of projection and allows an exceptional viewing experience even in high ambient light. On the other hand, several recent entries in this category provide full 4K UHD resolution, while the EF-100's native resolution comes in a touch over 720p HD—a factor that may come into play if the projector is pushed to its specified 150-inch image size limit.
Key features include:
- 1280 x 800 native resolution, accepts signals up to 1080p (1920 x 1080)
- 2,000 lumens of white and color brightness
- 3-chip 3LCD design means no rainbows
- 9-element lens with seven glass elements
- Laser light source with an extended mode life of 20,000 hours
- Android TV wireless dongle included
- Internal speaker and 3.5mm stereo output
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson EF-100W projector page.