Posted on April 21, 2005 Art Feierman
Epson has long dominated that changing catagory that consists of the most powerful of the small and light projectors. Now, while it is true that the smallest and lightest projectors have long been DLP projectors, they have never been as bright as slightly heavier and slightly larger LCD projectors. This remains true today. The Epson 732c and 737c portable projectors aren’t the smallest out there, but none smaller can match their punch. These 3.8 lb. and 3.9 lb. (737c) projectors are small with a footprint just a bit smaller than a standard sheet of paper: 7.6″ deep x 10.8″ wide, by 2.7″ tall.
Last year we gave a Hot Product Award for Best Portable Projector, to Epson’s 745c, a 3.8 pound performance monster with 2500 lumens, making it the most powerful projector on the market pound for pound. The 745c offers wireless (and wired) networking while their 740c is identical but lacking the networking.
So, here comes the 732c and the 737c. These two are identical to the 740c and 745c in all ways except one – the Epson 732c and 737c offer a mere 2000 lumens, not 2500. (OK, and they cost less.)
Why these two new models? Price is the answer. While the 740/745c may be the best out there, they are pricey. The basic Epson 740c has a minimum advertised price (MAP) of $2299, and normally sells for close to that, and that is above the sweet spot of the market where most purchases are made, which is under $2000. By comparison the Epson 732c has a MAP that is $400 less, and a selling price that should be very attractive for most dicerning potential buyers seeking the best combination of pure performance, size, weight, and price.
And $1500 to $2000 is what most pay for hi res (XGA), highly portable projectors, as the projectors in this price range are the ones likely to properly serve most users. You will definitely be able to find other 2000 lumen LCD projectors for less than these two, but none will be as small or as light. Under controlled lighting these two video projectors can handle screens up to 25 foot diagonal.
Here is a quick tour of these Epson projectors, starting from the front. Both projectors have a lens that is recessed for protection, and there is a slot for either the provided 802.11g wireless networking card (Epson 737c projector only), or a memory card (737c projector only, not provided). Also found on the front is an infra-red sensor for the remote. A button to release/adjust the projector’s single front foot is mounted low, just above the foot. This means a 3 point system, so the projector will be stable and not rock.
Moving to the top, this is the fun part. These Epson LCD projectors have recessed adjustments for lens focus and zoom. (The zoom offers a 1.2:1 – 20% – adjustment range – limited, but typical of the smallest projectors out there.)
Toward the back top of these projectors is the control panel. It is attractively laid out, extremely functional and easy to use. Right behind the control panel you will find (on the top) labeling for all the inputs located on the back panel – directly below the labels. I think this layout works very well.
These Epson’s are typical of the smallest and lightest projectors. The back panel houses all the inputs. They have a single computer input (that can also do component video), and they lack a monitor out. (A monitor out supports an external monitor – something laptop users need not worry about.)
The logic goes like this – If you are looking for the smallest and lightest projector around, its logical to assume that you aren’t hauling a desktop computer around. Now if you are concerned about having only one computer input, you might want to seriously look at the 737c with wireless networking. If several people are presenting, and you want to present wirelessly, you can switch this projector between computer sources almost instantly.
You will also find the usual two video inputs – one S-video, and one composite video. The 737c projector has one additional input, a second USB (type A), for networking.
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