Epson BrightLink 455wi Projector - Physical Tour
The Epson BrightLink 455wi projector earned our Best In Classroom: Interactive Projector Award in this year's 2011 Classroom Projector Report: The Best School Projectors for K-12 Education!
May 19, 2011 - Anthony Arrigo
Epson BrightLink 455wi Setup and Menu
The Epson BrightLink 455wi is an ultra short throw projector that mounts above the screen to reduce shadow while annotating over the whiteboard surface. This particular unit uses a mounting system much like a plasma display. The included ceiling mount actually attaches to the wall right above the screen as mentioned. An arm is connected to the mount and that then extends out a few feet over the screen. A special mount is then attached to the projector. The projector slides on to the arm and can then be adjusted forward and back to achieve the right image size. The 455wi can produce a max image size of 96 inches diagonal. Overall the installation is very easy. It might even be easier to mount than your typical front ceiling mounted projector. The projector weighs 14 pounds with the mount arm so it will be important to mount the projector correctly. Epson provides interactive software for annotating and using the projectors interactive features. Once installed you plug the USB cable into your computer and the other end into the projectors USB Type 2 port. Once completed, you will need to calibrate the projector to your screen size. Epson provides two levels of calibration. The main difference being the amount of dots you have to hit with the pen to calibrate. I found the simple calibration was all that was necessary to get the pen to work accurately.
Lets take a tour of the projector and get a little more familiar with all the features. Starting from the front you will notice the projectors menu system. The menu system gives you full access to all the projectors functions. A nice touch in case you lose your remote. Moving to the lens you will notice it is fixed and does not look like your conventional projector lens. Adjusting the zoom is done by physically moving the projector forward and aft, or digitally. I recommend not using the keystone correction buttons you see below, using digital zoom or keystone correction will cause the projector to use compression to make the image look correct and that degrades image quality. This is the case with all projectors, not just this one.
In the middle of the projector we find the input panel. The input panel has a nice cover to hide all the unslightly inputs and wires. The cover is easily removed during installation so everything can be hooked up without a problem. You will find two VGA computer inputs, VGA out, a Microphone input, LAN port, RCA port, and a USB Type B and Type A input. The type B USB input is the connection that makes the projector and desktop/laptop communicate with each other. On the opposite side you will find a door that houses the lamp. It is easily opened without tools. This unit has an optional port for a wireless module. The port can be found directly below the filter. The IR Sensor for the interactive pen is near the lens, so directly overhead when the projector is mounted. When presenting, standing away from the screen, the included remote control has a range of about 19 feet. The BrightLink also comes with a 12 Watt monaural speaker which is an improvement over the 450wi which has a 10 Watt speaker.
Epson BrightLink 455wi Menus
Epson always seems to produce nice, easy to use menus and the BrightLink 455wi was no exception. What I like most is that the menus are clearly labeled. This is not the case with all projectors, so not having to spend a lot of time trying to get to the settings you desire is nice. One final thing about the menu I liked was that switching color modes could be done without entering into the menu system. Just a little bit more convenience that I believe is ultimately helpful in keeping your presentation flowing along at a nice pace.
It should be noted that this projector can't be mounted on a table for projection onto a vertical wall. It is only designed to be ceiling mounted either in front of or behind the screen. Also it can be mounted on a table so you can project onto the table. An example of this interesting feature is below.
Epson BrightLink 455wi Remote Control
I was not totally impressed by the remote control. It is fully functional but most of the buttons except the navigation buttons are the same size, so you clearly would have to keep looking at the remote during the presentation if you wanted to change settings like the source, or to freeze the image at certain points. This just ruins the fluidity of the presentation in my opinion and more thought could have gone into the buttons and arrangement.
The issues with the remote that I just described are not as important when working with the menu system because it is controlled with the up, down, left, right and center Enter key which are large and easily discernable under the thumb without looking.