Epson 4K PRO-UHD Projector hands-on review: Pretty but pricey
Epson's shiny new 4K PRO-UHD Projector can throw up some mighty sharp and fine visuals. But it certainly does come at a price.
I recently had the opportunity for a little hands-on – or really, eyes-on – time with Epson's latest flagship 3LCD projector, the Epson EH-LS12000B 4K PRO-UHD. It's not a name that slips off the tongue easily for sure, but if you're in the market for a high-quality home cinema projector, it's got a lot going for it, at least in theory.
There are some caveats here. This was essentially a demo controlled by Epson representatives, so I couldn't hook up my own equipment in my own testing area to get a more complete picture of what the Epson 4K PRO-UHD is capable of. That would require a more in-depth review. Still, what I saw was mostly very impressive.
Epson 4K PRO-UHD Projector hands-on review: Early upsides
- There's still something to the cinema experience: The past couple of years have, let's be honest here, not been great for cinema goers. Not only in terms of some mediocre movies – Hollywood's been pumping those out for over a century now – but more in terms of folks being happy and safe within a cinema environment. Your own tolerances there may vary, but I realised walking into Epson's cinema projection test environment that I technically haven't been inside a cinema this decade. Placing yourself in a properly set up environment with a truly big screen is still something precious.
- Incredibly well-defined video: Epson's showreel of choice was from Godzilla vs Kong – it's like they know I'm something of a Kaiju fanatic – showing off colour and detail across the opening jungle scenes and (slight spoiler alert) the night-time battle in a neon-drenched Hong Kong. That's a scene with a lot of artificial effects and the Epson 4K PRO-UHD handled them with superb fidelity. They're scenes I'm very familiar with – which is always the best way to assess any video product – and the comparison between watching them blown up on a projector screen in 4K HDR versus watching them on a 65-inch 4K TV can't be understated.
- Handles light well: Light is what drives any projector, but it's also the enemy because ambient light can quickly wash out the colour and detail from any projected image. Epson rates the Epson 4K PRO-UHD as capable of up to 2,700 lumens of both white and colour light reproduction. That's not the brightest you can get from a projector, but it's certainly well enough equipped for smaller light instances. In this case, it was side lights being switched on, or a door being opened letting outside light in. The effect was noticeable, same as it would be in a real cinema, but it never left me squinting at the screen.
- Installable nearly anywhere: Let's be realistic here. If you're in the market for the Epson 4K PRO-UHD, the odds are pretty good that you'll be getting it installed into a dedicated home theatre space. One challenge here can be placement, because even if you do opt for a ceiling mount, other light or air conditioning fixtures can get in the way. The model as shown was actually desk-mounted, but it didn't need to be, with a claimed ability for up to 96% vertical and 47% horizontal shift without distortion. You should be able to throw it just about anywhere and still project onto your chosen screen without issue.
- It costs how much? Look, there's no getting around the fact that pro-grade 4K projectors sell for serious money. In the case of the Epson EH-LS12000B 4K PRO-UHD, if you want one in your home theatre space, it's going to set you back $8,999 in Australia. That might exclude it from your shopping list right away.
- It really needs its own room: Again, this shouldn't come as a shock to the home theatre crowd, but this isn't really the model you want as an everyday driver kind of projector. Epson does rate it as good for up to 20,000 hours of usage, so you could. However, it's fundamentally more built towards folks who will also invest in a proper pro-grade screen and space for it to live in. Again, you probably already know if you're in that tax bracket.
- Don't sit too close: Somewhat randomly, I ended up being just to the side of the Epson 4K PRO-UHD during my demonstration session. That matters, because it is built around front-facing exhaust vents. I've tested more than my fair share of noisy projectors over the years, and while the Epson 4K PRO-UHD wasn't hugely loud, it was still just audible if you're going to place it very close to where you'll be sitting. Again, roof mounting would skip over this issue entirely.
- It's game suitable – but not pro-gamer suitable: One of Epson's pitches for the Epson 4K PRO-UHD is that it could be used by serious gamers. Epson did show off some gaming content, and it is (as always) super impressive to see modern video games blown up to cinema size, but there are still some catches. The Epson PRO-UHD can manage 4K 120fps, which is great, but with response time at around 20ms. Technically that's a fine achievement, but the true pro-grade gamers would be looking more for single-digit response rates. There's no specific dedicated "game" mode onboard, although you could tweak individual settings to get the picture style you want. Realistically, it'd be great for having friends around for an evening of big-screen gaming, but I'm not sure the next esports world champions will be training on one of these.
- How well does it upscale, really? Epson showed off some of the 4K PRO-UHD's impressive interpolation technology with a scene from 1917, with interpolation on and off to show how well it builds out a 4K picture from less-than-complete information. That can be a great way to make scenes smoother, though it can be overdone leading to artificial-looking movement. That wasn't the case for the chosen to be fair, but again these were Epson's chosen scenes. It's not likely to choose anything that makes its new baby look less than gorgeous. It is a garbage-in, garbage-out type equation, but I'd be keen to see how the Epson EH-LS12000B 4K PRO-UHD handled content, especially fast-moving content such as live sport from our less-than-stellar free-to-air broadcasters. Then again, I'm also sometimes brutal, so I'd also probably try to hook up an Atari 2600 to it, just to see what might happen.
Like any other pro-grade 4K projector, the Epson 4K PRO-UHD isn't inexpensive, and it isn't for everyone as a simple result there. It absolutely needs its own space, and plenty of it, alongside its asking price. It is very nicely equipped in a technical sense. Its output based on a limited and controlled sample is certainly impressive and worth considering if you are looking at decking out a home theatre space.
If you are, I'm quite jealous, by the way.
Epson 4K PRO-UHD Projector hands-on review: Australian pricing and availability
The Epson EH-LS12000B 4K PRO-UHD is available now in Australia with an RRP of $8,999.