If you want to upgrade your home theater with a brand new 4K laser projector, don’t do what I did and forget to read its specs first or you might be in for a nasty surprise.
I love projectors and I think people should at least consider ditching the TV for one. Sure, the best 4K projectors tend to be more expensive than the best 4K TVs, and you’ll need to make sure your home theater is built in the right room – somewhere with a large white surface and no windows (or blackout curtains installed) – for the best visuals. But the atmosphere created by the projector-driven setup and the view-filling images it can create is well worth the effort in my opinion.
So, in my crusade to convince others that projectors are the way forward, I took the Epson EH-LS11000W I was testing for TechRadar to my parents’ house to show them what it’s capable of. In my review, I was really impressed with the laser projector’s crisp 4K image (which can be scaled up to 300 inches) and the brilliant colors of the image – though the contrast in dark scenes isn’t as good as I’d like (especially for its price) and the limited ports and no TV OS is a bad combination because you have to waste a port on a stick for streaming.
Also, as I found out at my parents’ house after spending several hours tweaking and setting it up, it doesn’t have any built-in speakers. This realization immediately put an end to movie night as my family didn’t want to let me borrow a soundbar and ruin my existing TV setup. Dejectedly, I put the EH-LS11000W back in the box. One TV, zero projector.
Right projector, wrong home theater
In fact, it’s not that uncommon for projectors; even fairly expensive options like the Epson EH-LS11000W (which will set you back $3,999 / £4,199 / around AU$5,750) focus their efforts on creating great visuals and leave the sound to the best soundbars and best speakers.
But in my pride I forgot it. Instead, I assumed the vents on the side of the machine were so its speakers could emit clear sound, neglecting the thought that they might actually be vents for its 2,500 lumen laser setup to dissipate heat.
Luckily, I didn’t spend any money on this projector as Epson lent it to me for review, so the mistake cost me nothing. If I had just dropped $3,999 / £4,199, it would have been my entire home theater budget down the drain on an incomplete setup.
But this moment is a good reminder that even us technicians can make mistakes and assume things about a cool-looking product that aren’t accurate. That’s why we always recommend that you read the gadget’s capabilities and reviews before buying it (and not just look at the score and move on).
Speakerless projectors such as the Epson EH-LS11000W are not terrible, but they are not suitable for every home theater setup. This is the case with many technologies; it’s not about how awesome the device is, it’s about whether it’s great for you and your needs.