When you’re looking to upgrade your home theatre setup with a brand new 4K laser projector, don’t do what I did and forget to read its spec sheet first, or you might be in for a nasty surprise.
I adore projectors and think that people should at least consider ditching their TV for one. Sure, the best 4K projectors are typically pricier than the best 4K TVs, and you have to ensure your home theater is constructed in the right room – somewhere with a big white surface and no windows (or black-out curtains installed) – for the best visuals. But the atmosphere produced by a projector-fuelled setup and the view-filling images it can create is well worth the effort, in my eyes.
So, in my crusade to convince others that projectors are the way forward, I took the Epson EH-LS11000W that I’ve been testing for TechRadar to my parents’ place to show them what it was capable of. In my review, I was really impressed by the laser projector’s crisp 4K image (which can be blown up to a size of 300 inches) and its picture’s splendid colors – though the contrast in dark scenes isn’t as good as I’d have liked (especially for its price), plus its limited ports and lack of TV OS is a bad combination as you have to waste a port on a streaming stick.
In addition, as I learned at my parents’ house after spending a few hours hyping it up and getting it set up, it lacks any in-built speakers. This realization brought movie night to an instant halt, as my family was not keen to let me borrow their soundbar and ruin their existing TV setup. So I dejectedly returned the EH-LS11000W to its box. TV one, projector zero.
Right projector, wrong home theatre
This isn’t actually that uncommon for projectors; even fairly high-cost options like the Epson EH-LS11000W (which will set you back $3,999 / £4,199 / around AU$5,750) focus their efforts on producing stellar visuals and leave audio to the best soundbars and best speakers.
But in my hubris, I forgot this. Instead, I assumed the vents on the side of the machine were so its speakers could emit clear audio, neglecting to think that they could in fact be vents for its 2,500 lumens laser setup to dissipate heat.
Thankfully, I hadn’t spent any money on this projector as Epson is loaning it to me for the review so the mistake didn’t cost me. If I had just dropped $3,999 / £4,199, then that would've been my entire home theater budget down the drain on an incomplete setup.
But this moment is a good reminder that even we techies can make mistakes and assume things about a cool-looking product that aren’t accurate. That’s why we always recommend reading through a gadget’s capabilities and reviews before buying it (and don’t just look at the score and move on).
Speakerless projectors like the Epson EH-LS11000W aren’t terrible, but they’re not suited to every home theater setup. That’s the case for a lot of tech; it’s not about how amazing the appliance is, it's about whether it's great for you and your needs.