HP's ep9012 home cinema projector looks like something you would find on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, rather than in a home theatre. It's an all-in-one home theatre solution that includes an on-board DVD player and internal speakers and subwoofer. The speakers provide a crisp and clear soundtrack to your DVDs.
- Built-in DVD player, impressive built-in speakers and subwoofer
- Low brightness lamp, large enclosure, low native resolution
The ep9012 sports some handy features, such as the built-in DVD player and speakers, but is let down by its low brightness and high price.
Price$ 4,999.00 (AUD)
The ep9012's unconventional design resembles a futuristic robot head. The enclosure has a white gloss finish on top, with two internal speakers located on the sides of the machine as well as an internal DVD player. It weighs a hefty 10kg, and even though a handle is built into the enclosure, this is not a projector that is intended to be moved around.
A variety of video and audio input sources are available, including composite video, S-Video, component video, DVI, RCA audio in, digital audio out, stereo audio out and a stereo headphone jack.
Setting up the projector is a breeze. After plugging in the projector and inserting a DVD, the ep9012 automatically adjusts the image for the best configuration, and displays the image on screen.
Sources can be selected by toggling through the Source button on the remote control or the onboard controls. When playing back a DVD, users may notice the video being 'letterboxed', meaning that the widescreen video does not fill the 4:3 display completely. This is because the native resolution of the projector is 800 x 600 pixels, which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. This is an odd choice by HP, as the projector is targeted at the DVD and HDTV audience, for which the content aspect ratio is usually 16:9.
When playing back video, the ep9012 is capable of producing clear and vibrant images. The projected image does not suffer from any ghosting effects or a poor contrast ratio.
The brightness of the HP is limited, however. The lamp is only 850 ANSI lumens, which results in poor performance in situations with bright ambient light sources. When there was a source of ambient light during our testing, such as a lamp or a bit of sunshine, the range of colours on the HP seemed lacking, and the projected image was hardly viewable.
Sound quality during our testing was exceptional. The mid to high frequencies were well represented, and voice was always clear and audible. The internal subwoofer provided adequate low frequencies. The internal speaker system has only 2.1 channels, so for full surround sound, an external system would be required.
The HP ep9012 is not a bargain, especially when you consider the low brightness (suitable only for darkened home theatres) and low native resolution of the projector. The internal sound system is impressive, and would make the ep9012 appealing if you wanted an all-in-one solution, but at this price, you may find products like the Optoma MovieTime DV-10 a better option.
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