The portable Epson Mini EF12 is the optimal streaming projector

Compact enough to be stored away when not in use and light enough to be packed in a bag when you're on the go

Epson’s EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector is an all-in-one entertainment box for the whole household.

You can binge-watch movies and TV shows on it, stream YouTube videos thanks to built-in AndroidTV support, connect your gaming console with an HDMI cable, or just use the projector as a speaker to listen to music.

The EF 12 is compact, making it a perfect fit for those looking for a highly portable projector. However, that comes with drawbacks.

Small size with a modern design

The Epson EF12 is a compact cube with air vents on each side and a wrap-around speaker grille by Yamaha. It features two HDMI slots, one with ARC support, alongside a USB-A port, 3.5mm audio out port and a Mini USB port. Although the projector doesn’t have an ethernet port, it can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

It’s compact enough to be stored on a shelf when not in use and light enough to be packed in a bag when you need to take it to a friend’s house to watch a movie together. The compact projector weighs only 2.1kg.

Underneath the cube is a small grey button that unlocks an extended leg to prop the projector up, something you’ll likely need to use if you don’t keep the projector on an elevated surface.

The projector comes with a compact remote with shortcut buttons for settings, the YouTube app, focus recalibration, and a built-in microphone for Google voice assistant and more. The remote would have been better if it had backlighting. However, it features only a few buttons, and those are decently sized, so they don’t cause a lot of fuss.

Bright enough in a dark room

The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector with a Full HD resolution, max 60Hz refresh rate and 1,000 lumens of brightness. Average classroom projectors have a minimum of 2,500 lumens of brightness, whereas 2,000 lumens are enough for home theatre projectors.

The EF12 falls in the lower end of the spectrum, wherein a large projection can easily lose its vibrance and brightness. However, if you plan to use the projector inside your house, where you can turn off the light and shut the blinds, the brightness wouldn’t necessarily be an issue.

The EF12 accurately reproduces colours and features five different colour modes you can play around with, including ‘Natural,’ ‘Dynamic,’ ‘Vivid,’ ‘Bright Cinema’ and ‘Cinema.’ According to Epson, the EF12’s MicroLaser Light Source is rated at up to 20,000 hours at 100 percent light output.

The projector doesn’t feature optical zoom, a trade-off made to get the convenience of a portable projector. Having no optical zoom means you’ll have to move the projector closer or further away from your screen/wall to make the image smaller or larger, respectively. This, of course, is inconvenient. However, finding a sweet spot that doesn’t compromise on brightness and image size shouldn’t be a hassle. Additionally, the lightweight and compact size of the projector makes it easy to nudge around.

When moving the projector around, or turning it on for the first time, the EF12 utilizes its ‘Auto Picture Skew & Focus Correction’ technology that scans and analyzes the wall/screen you are projecting on to fix any tilt or focus issues. In my experience, the feature can be a little wonky at times. For example, every now and then, one corner of the projection would appear wildly angled, while other corners would appear normally. Running the calibration procedure a second time almost always seems to fix the issue.

The EF12 features Yamaha’s Audiophile Speaker System with two 5W speakers built-in. The speakers are enough to fill up a large room. The speakers have a very balanced and neutral sound, with standard bass and sound that doesn’t distort or ‘tear’ even at max volume.

The built-in speakers are enough for a movie night, but you have the option to connect to a separate sound system via the HDMI ARC port to get the full cinema experience. Don’t forget the popcorn!

PS5 gaming is smooth, PC gaming not so much

Competitive gaming on the big screen with the EF12 is a no-no. When I connected the projector to my PC via HDMI and launched Valorant, the input lag was easily noticeable. While the projector does a good job of downscaling higher resolution images to Full HD, it doesn’t have any technology to eliminate screen tearing, and Valorant running on 240Hz on my PC did not translate well to a 60Hz projection.

On the other hand, casual gaming via a PlayStation 5 seems to work optimally.

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I am not entirely sure why plugging in a PC would cause extreme input delay, while plugging in a PS5 resulted in almost seamless gaming with no noticeable delays. The only likely reason I can think of is that my PC was pushing out games in 2K, along with 240Hz, while the PlayStation was only pushing out 120Hz. Check the smooth PS5 gaming experience on the big screen below:

A solid projector in the end

Overall, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 is a great portable projector that is light and compact. Although it has some drawbacks, like lack of optical zoom, and maximum resolution 1080p, the disadvantages are quickly outweighed by features like built-in speakers tuned by Yamaha, Android TV and autofocus.

Additional ports for connection are a plus, especially ARC-enabled HDMI, and so is Google Assistant support. My experience with the projector has been smooth; however, if you’re looking for a projector with a higher resolution, and lower input lag while gaming, BenQ’s X3000i is a better option.

The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 is available to order off the Epson web store for $1,299.99.