Epson EB-U04 – Picture Quality
As I’d suspected, the EB-U04 isn’t quite the home and business all-rounder it claims to be.
Performance definitely skews towards the business presentations side of things. So much so, that while I won’t completely discount its supposed home-entertainment credentials, the EB-U04 is only going to appeal to casual viewers.
The main issue undermining the EB-U04’s home-entertainment pretensions is its lack of contrast. Or to be more precise, its inability to deliver anything approaching a believable black.
Even if you use the Eco lamp setting and the Cinema picture preset, dark scenes still look grey and washed out, making it hard for you to become immersed in movie action. To make matters worse, this greyness is emphasised by a slight blue tinge that has the effect of making the video colour temperature look a little cool.
This is a common issue with projectors that are actually geared up more for presentations than home entertainment. However, it’s exaggerated here by inconsistencies in colour, whereby some areas of the picture look bluer than others – particularly in the brightest parts of the picture.
The appearance over dark scenes of constant blue/grey mist also tends to lead to some shadow detailing becoming lost. Although, thankfully, it doesn’t impact to the extent that it leaves dark areas looking completely hollow.
Not surprisingly, the sort of issues I’ve been covering here not only make it difficult to become immersed in a film, but they also detract a little from the projector’s performance as a data projector. Especially if your presentations include lots of photos or video clips.
The EB-U04’s pictures stand up fine in areas not affected by the black-level shortcomings. Detail levels are high for such an affordable projector, giving a clear HD feel to any HD sources you feed in. The EB-U04 does a pretty good job of presenting even small text during presentations, as well as handling motion with minimal blur or judder.
While the EB-U04’s colours are inevitably affected by the grey/blue wash, they’re at least reasonably flexible beyond that, managing to adapt to the varying demands of video and data colours quite respectably. So at least you see some decent tonal subtlety behind the grey, meaning that over time your brain will almost be able to filter away some of the grey mist.
As stated earlier, the EB-U04 is a very bright projector, so presentations continue to look zingy in all but the brightest of boardrooms. In addition, movies and sporting events are still watchable at home in a certain amount of ambient light. But I’d class the level of home entertainment performance even in ambient light as more functional than truly enjoyable.