Buying Projectors on Amazon: Buyer Beware of Top 10 Chinese Fakes
- 25 Nov, 2020
Many of our customers have been asking us how is it possible that projectors listed on Amazon's Prime Deals or on Amazons Top 15 portable projectors are 1000 lumens yet only cost £50.
We decided to investigate and have been monitoring this since September 2016. We purchased one of the Top 15 projectors on Amazon to see what was going on. We discovered a large amount of false trades descriptions which we have reported to Amazon. The list of these companies has since proliferated as Amazon allows fake reviews and people just look at the star ratings rather than the details so it always shows 4 stars or higher in the review despite alluring to the odd minor negative point in the reviews.
UPDATE:25th Nov 2020
Epson Is Sueing Four Amazon Projector Sellers Over Misleading Specs
Vankyo, WiMiUS, GooDee, and Bomaker are being sued for their failure to use industry-standard brightness specifications (ansi lumens) in promoting their products.
Vankyo's V630 model, for example, is an LED projector promoted on Amazon as having 6800 LUX high brightness, while ANSI brightness measurements conducted by a third-party reviewer has shown it to produce only about 420 lumens.
Consumers, not used to the minefield of projector specs and with no reference for comparison to other projectors, might reasonably think it was a very bright projector based on the lux number alone.
"We are seeing more connected households embrace big-screen viewing solutions than ever before. As we enter the busy holiday season, we want to ensure that consumers are receiving the vital information needed to make informed purchasing decisions," said Mike Isgrig, vice president, consumer sales and marketing, Epson America, Inc., in a company statement. "Epson invests considerable time and money to ensure performance claims are based on industry standards, and we take it seriously when companies blatantly mislead consumers with non-standard specifications. This lawsuit underscores Epson's commitment to support a fair marketplace and deter sellers and manufacturers who by misleading projector consumers, damage the credibility of the entire industry."
According to Projector Central, a resource for projectors, this is not the first time this has happened. In 2018, Epson was granted a permanent injunction and a $5 million damage award after suing iRulu for advertising false lumen ratings.
In 2019, RCA projectors / Technicolor SA were also sued by Epson after claiming their projectors were 2000 lumens yet were only delivering 40 ansi lumens.
Always watch out for the ansi lumen figure when comparing any projectors and if it looks too good to be true it probably is so make sure you speak with a professional before you buy or stick to the top brands listed below.
Unfortunately its not in Amazons interests to do anything about these fake reviews or fake products with fake lumens as they get paid for every sale whether you return it or not. Even when you return it they still take a 7% to 15% commission - so its a Win Win for Amazon and a pain for you as the customer to be duped by false trades descriptions! We reported the issue at the beginning of the year and years later later the problem still exists despite numerous complaints to Amazon.
We reviewed one of the best selling Amazon projector: Elephas Full Color 130" Portable LED "Pico" Projector. This review highlights the major flaws in all Amazon's best selling projectors and shows how many manufacturers are massively exaggerating features and specifications of these projectors. This review/guide will help you to avoid buying fake products and to understand how these companies selling on Amazon's marketplace (and even via Amazon Prime FBA) are breaching trading standards and are blatantly lying to customers.
Please scroll further down to see the full list of projector brands that DO and DO NOT offer false specifications in terms of lumens and other features.
Lumens Test: The biggest false description on Amazon
The most important test is brightness so we compared the popular Pico Genie P55 (Update 2019: P55 Replaced by Pico Genie Periscope) which is a genuine 50 lumens to the Elephas Full Colour 130" which is stated as "1000 lumens". The Elephas is well priced at £54 on Amazon which is impossibly cheap for a projector of "1000" lumens.
Below the image shows the brightness difference between the Pico Genie P55 (bottom image) and the Elephas (top image). If anything, the Pico Genie P55 is brighter and also has a better resolution. This is fairly shocking when you consider the Elphas is being listed as 20x brighter than the Pico Genie? Yes, 20 TIMES! Amazon’s top 15 projectors state they have 800-1500 lumens which is simply false.
The alarm bells should initially start ringing when you see a headline figure of 1000 lumens and a price of anything less than £400.
To see what a real 1000 lumen projector looks like take a look at the Vivitek Qumi Q8 - its a world apart, its like watching a home cinema and the brightness looks like a printed graphic showing perfectly and clearly in normally lit conditions. Then take a look at a projector that does a real 500 or 650 lumens in this video and you will see instantly the difference.
Video Showing a Genuine 500 - 650 Ansi Lumen Projectors
- The M550 has now been replaced by the M550 PLUS 2.0 short throw projector.
Unfortunately there is no limit to how much the lumens can be overstated by. This is shown clearly by the Anker Nebula Projector.
Regularly quoted at a massive 3000 lumens online the Anker nebula actually has only 500 ansi lumens, putting it on par with the Qumi Q3. At it's rather large size not only is far from being a truly ultra portable projector, as both alternatives offer the same power from much smaller handheld devices.
Ultra Short Throw (UST) Update (September 2018). There has been a growth in the ultra short throw market with many customers trying to find a home cinema product with very high lumens that can be put 6 inches away from the wall to provide a 100" screen. This has meant a surge in resellers and chinese suppliers claiming their products are ultra short throw and high brightness when often they are not even short throw nevermind ultra short throw and the brightness claims are ludicrous.
Examples of fake ultra short throw projector descriptions include Wemax one by Xiaomi claiming a whopping lie of 7000 ansi lumens for only £1500. The give away that Wemax One by Xiaomi is a FAKE product is firstly the price point is way too low, especially for a laser projector. For example by comparison a 5000 lumen projector by Casio is almost £6000 so a genuine 7000 ansi lumen model would be a significantly higher price if it were genuine. The actual brightness of the Wemax One by Xiaomi projector could be as low as 1000 to 1500 ansi lumens but is expensive for its brightness levels simply because laser components are much more expensive than their LED counterparts
Secondly, the giveaway that Wemax One is a fake description is when you see actual video footage of it at 7000 lumens the Wemax should be jumping off the walls in broad daylight with brightness when in ultra short throw but its a dull image as can be seen below. The (fake) brighter images displayed are always stills that are photoshopped so always try and look for a video of the product (often on the product pages themselves under the still images).
However not all Chinese manufacturers overstate their lumens for example there are some such as Changhong's CHiQ Brand which massively understate their lumens. See the video below to see how the CHiQ compares next to the Viewsonic X10-4K. It’s clear that the CHiQ Brand understates all specifications from lumens all the way to contrast ratio and offer very high quality products.
Wemax One Claiming 7000 Ansi Lumens Laser VERSUS a Vivitek DW763Z Laser 4000 lumen UST
On paper, the Vivitek (2nd image) is stated at almost half the brightness at 4000 lumens of the Wemax One (7000 lumens) yet these images below showing both projectors in action (not photoshopped) show the Wemax is a fraction of the actual brightness of the Vivitek DW763Z-ust yet Wemax claims to be almost twice the brightness of the Vivitek projector. The Benq W1600UST is also worth looking at for a genuine low cost high brightness (3,300 ansi lumen) UST projector. A genuine 7000 ansi lumen projector would cost several thousand USD, Euros or pounds.
Focus: Dont be limited to a fixed focus and fixed size image
The Elephas and Amazon’s top 15 projectors often will have a fixed focus meaning it has to be an EXACT distance from the wall to be able to view it otherwise its out of focus. Thus it has to be exactly 1.5m away to create an image of 50-60”. If the Elephas is moved any closer to the projection surface, it is instantly out of focus so you just cant see it.
In other words its useless if you want to put the projector anywhere other than EXACTLY 1.5m away from the wall as it will be out of focus.
On some of the other top 15 Amazon projectors, if you have a small projection area you could end up with a screen size that is far too big for your projection space as well as it being out of focus.
Pico Genie and other premium brand projectors can be focused as small as 15cm from the projection surface to create a tiny image or over >100" simply by moving them closer/further from the projected area.
Check its got real DLP
DLP is a premium image chip from Texas Instruments meaning your image quality will be viewable and far superior to the chinese versions listed on Amazon. It usually also means the projector itself is much smaller as can be seen with the Elephas versus the Pico Genie above.
The costs of these DLP chips are high so as a rough guide anything advertised under £140 on Amazon is more than likely not going to have a real DLP chip inside. Its also likely to be a much larger size projector in terms of its dimensions (as can be seen in the photos above the Pico Genie is tiny in comparison to the Elephas).
Size / Portability
The genuine Pico Genie P55 (Update 2019: P55 Replaced by Pico Genie Periscope) is a fraction of the size of most of the top 15 projectors listed on Amazon and is more pocketable. Also the quality is not compromised because of its size as Pico Genie projectors use DLP rather than poor quality LCOS.
As can be seen below the Elephas is almost 4x bigger than the Pico Genie.
Weight – even with a battery this product is lighter and smaller than the majority of the top 15 projectors, it’s therefore ideal for quickly moving or taking away on your travels. Unlike the Elephas that would need a larger back to be transported.
All Pico Genie products include a battery as standard. The Pico Genie P55’s inbuilt battery will last for up to 2.5 hours. In comparison to Amazon’s top 15 which are 4x the size and do not have any battery at all. Pico Genie projectors are ultra portable and can be used anywhere.
Fan Noise/usage & burning smells
The Pico Genie P55 (Update 2019: P55 Replaced by Pico Genie Periscope) makes very little fan noise when in use and can be used for as long as required on mains power. Amazon’s top 15 projectors such as Elephas are incredibly noisy and kick out a lot of heat. They also state they should not be used for more than 3-4 hours at any one time. This also highlights a major safety concern. We used the Elephas for around 1-2 hours and it became very hot and produced some unusual burning smells.
The Pico Genie P55 (Update 2019: P55 Replaced by Pico Genie Periscope) is built to a high quality and is highly robust. Aesthetically the P55 design is far superior to Amazon’s top 15.
Trusted Portable Projector Brands Online:
Below we have listed out a number of brands that have an excellent reputation across the projection market. Click here for our full range of trusted ultra portable projectors. The list below also includes some home cinema products.
Beware Of Projector Brands Overstating their Specifications:
Updated 25th November 2020
Below is a list of brands overstating their trade descriptions, often quoting lumens at over 10 times higher or suggesting its Full HD or even 4k when its a much lower resolution, amongst others.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of dodgy projector brands. The same companies are using different brand names which get changed regularly to avoid detection. There are many more out there but if the number of lumens appears too high for the price then, unless its a used item, then you have to question whether it is a genuine or a fake description.
|Abis||Caiwei||Eug||Gp100 Video Projector||Mtfy Gp90||Techstick||Vankyo||Xuanpad|
|Beamer King||Crosstour||Faersi||Icoco||Outad||Thzy||Vital Projector||Yokkao|
|Benewy||Deeplee||Flylinktech||Jimtab||Powerlead||Topvision||Wemax One By Xiaomi||Yontex|
|Blusmart||Dr Q / Dr K||Fujsu||Joyhero||Pravette||Toumei||Wimius||Zcgiobn|
|Build Excellent||Eg Beaver||Goobang||Leshp||Sinosal||Unho||Wonnie|
|Caiwai||Elephas||Goodee||Milaga||Soggiv||Uvistar||Xiaomi (Wemax 1)|
Overstated lumens at the Higher-end
The Anker Nebula is quoted in most online specifications at a massive 3000 lumens
• but only offers 500 ansi lumens
SUMMARY: Tips to Avoid Buying Fake Projectors from Amazon & Online
- Claims its New < £80: If it's brand new and less than £80, don't bother. The projector is more than likely being way over sold by a Chinese company. LED projectors of any decent quality that are new with DLP and a minimum genuine lumens of 50 lumens start at £150 / €180 / $195
- DLP? - Ensure the projector has Texas Instruments DLP, this provides superior image quality and is the industry standard.
- States "use in a dark room" - If the projector has over 200 lumens and states "Use in a dark room", usually means its less than 50 lumens so avoid
- 1080p - this is one of the biggest lies - there are very few 1080p models out there and certainly none by any lesser known brands not listed above. The likelihood is that if you've not heard of the brand and its stating 1080p then its not 1080p. It should say "supports" 1080p ie supports Full HD but instead they just claim its Full HD when in fact its probably 2 or 3 grades down from that at VGA resolution - whats in a word eh !
- Catches Fire - If it says "it needs to be turned off after 2-4 hours", give it a miss. It is more than likely dangerous and prone to catching fire. It has been made very cheaply and so key safety processes can easily be missed.
- Common Sense - If it sounds too good to be true, it is!! Remember if you buy cheap you usually end up buying twice so just buy the product that's right for you first time around.
The old saying, BUY CHEAP BUY TWICE is true but if you need a quality brand at an affordable price then its worth checking out projector special offers or sales here for those genuine brands.
If all of this talk of Ansi and marketing lumens have you stumped then we have got you covered, we have written a handy guide which will explain everything that you need to know here.
Now that you know what not to look for in a projector it might be handy to find out what you should be looking for, we have a great guide available for you here.
How to get results with a complaint on Amazon in the UK
We spent 14 months writing to Amazon to complain about fraudulent trades descriptions on Amazon as they continue to allow resellers, predominantly Chinese, to describe goods however they like without any resemblance to the truth. Amazon fail to do anything about it whatsoever so here are some steps you can take if you have similar problems.
- Try raising a case through seller central if you are a reseller or via Contact Us on Amazon as a consumer. If you get standard responses like we did for 14 months whereby its clear they are just not reading or listening to the complaint then go to step 2
- Report it to Trading Standards which has to be done via the Citizens Advice Bureau either by phone 03454 04 05 06 or Id recommend going to this online form at the bottom of their website. Get a case number
- Call the European Consumer Credit Center on 01268 886690 - Get a case number
- Write a letter to Amazon UK’s offices. This address is quite well hidden and hard to find so we’ve listed it below. Make sure you send it recorded delivery and inform them of the case numbers and the issues
- The main issue is Amazon’s HQ is outside the UK so they often like to pass the buck so the next step is to also report it to CMA - Competition & Markets Authority and this can be passed onto the equivalent trading standards bodies in the relevant countries – email for CMA firstname.lastname@example.org and again get a case number to pass onto Amazon
Amazon UK Office Address
Amazon EU SARL, UK Branch, 60 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2FD, United Kingdom
Registered in England & Wales
Company No. FC032354
UK Establishment No. BR017427
UK VAT Number: GB 727255821
Amazon EU HQ
Amazon EU SARL, Société à responsabilité limitée, 5 Rue Plaetis, L2338 Luxembourg
Share Capital: EUR 37,500
Registered in Luxembourg
RCS Luxembourg No: B-101818
Business Licence Number: 134248
Luxembourg VAT Registration Number: LU 20260743
We are here to advise customers on their needs and requirements and are familiar with all the projector products on the marketplace so please dont hesitate to contact us for more advice via email, Tel 0845 1218800 or our live chat at www.personalprojector.co.uk