Pros: AP12000HS has HVAC (AP12000S doesn't heat); powerful, reasonably efficient
Cons: noisy, bulky
Edgestar offers three portable 12,000 BTU air conditioners: AP12000S, AP12000HS, and AP12005ECO. The S and HS are the same except the HS includes a heat function, i.e. the compressor can run in reverse to act as a heater. The AP12000HS is my third portable air conditioner, and my second from Edgestar, so I hope to share the benefit of my experience.
The size and weight of this "portable" HVAC unit are typical, which is to say 60% bulkier and 30% heavier than my Edgestar AP10000HW (http://www.epinions.com/content_449732447876). According to the BTU ratings and measured electricity usage, the AP12000HS is 20% more powerful and 5% more efficient than the smaller one. The AP12000HS is somewhat less noisy, but still in the 60-80dB range depending on settings; that puts it in the same range as my Lasko filter fan.
Compared to a Sharp portable that I had briefly, this Edgestar is similar in size and weight, and somewhat louder. The noise from these machines comes mainly from the fan, not the compressor. Interestingly, the Sharp seemed to have been tuned better, to a lower frequency that was less conspicuous.
The backs of the Edgestar 12,000 BTU models are contoured, which is somewhat awkward for me. I like to set HVAC units on a window sill, flush against washable filters, so the flat back of the AP10000HW is better for me. However, the Edgestar intakes are all better for me than the Sharp, which had intakes on the front and sides.
As with any air conditioner, it needs to vent outside somehow. The manufacturer's instructions say to set the machine on the floor near a window, with the hose going out. However, that is inefficient because it creates negative pressure: some of the cooled air gets pumped out and warm air gets drawn in from somewhere else. The most efficient placement is somewhere the machine can draw air in from outside. Dual-hose portables do that by using two hoses. For single-hose portables, one solution is to anchor the machine on a windowsill, with the vent hose extended away from the intake (over the window for example). It takes more work, but it brings fresh air in around 15-25 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the outside temperature.
The maximum operating temperature for the compressor is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that, the fan will continue running, but it will not cool the air. The instructions do not specify the minimum temperature for heating, so if you plan to heat an area that gets very cold, it would be worth checking with Edgestar.
The control panel is mostly intuitive but not entirely. The Mode button scrolls through three LEDs: "Cool" (AC), "Dehumindify," and "Fan Only." On the AP12000HS, below "Fan Only," it also says Heat; the LED turns yellow for Fan Only, and red for Heat.
Edgestar's newest 12,000 BTU model is the AP12005ECO, which has a higher EER and a remote control with LCD. (However, the temperature sensor is inside the machine, so the remote LCD is merely informational. A remote thermostat would be better.) However, the AP12005ECO does not have a heating function.
Of Edgestar's three 12,000 BTU models, the AP12000HS is the only one with a heating function. If you only need AC, then the AP12005ECO is probably the best; it costs a bit more, but should more than pay back the difference in reduced electricity usage. If you want HVAC, AP12000HS works well enough.
An improvement would be a remote control with the thermostat in the remote, instead of in the machine. (The AP12005ECO is halfway there, putting the temperature display on the remote, but the thermostat is still inside the machine.) Another improvement would be to reduce the fan noise, or at least tune it to a lower frequency so it blends in with the compressor. Also, for my purposes, the flat back and smaller size of the AP10000HW were better, but that model is noisier and I can't find it in stores anymore.