Epson BrightLink 585Wi Projector Review

BRIGHTLINK 585WI PROJECTOR – SPECIAL FEATURES PAGE 2:  Interactivity

Brightlink 585Wi Interactivity

Epson offers a built in suite of many annotation tools and other capabilities, but in addition, it supports 3rd party interactive software (and vice versa).  This means more than just having a nice collection of tools, but also templates, and in the case of school, even pre created coursework.  Ideally you work interactively with the projector by being up at the screen, and this Epson Brightlink is excellent at that.

In fairness, you can react interactively from a distance with some projectors, if their “pen” system isn’t directly tied to a sensor on the projector.  This Brightlink can do some of that, the best example would be doing annotation using an iPad or other mobile device where there’s an appropriate App.

Epson does offer both iOS and Android Apps, so they can support both “up close and personal” pen based interactivity, or use tablets, etc.  We have seen pens that will work from a distance, and while that let’s a teacher or presenter move around the room, the general issue is the further the distance from the screen, the more coarse the interaction.  You just can’t write in fairly small type with that type of pen, from 15 feet away, let alone 40.  (But that will work for a quick check mark, or underlining something, just don’t start “writing.”

Interactivity the Brightlink 585Wi Can't Do

This is worthy of note:  Pens have been the primary tool for interactive work for more than a decade.  Other types of pointers go back even earlier.  But, fingertips were never one of the tools in the interactive arsenal.

More than a year ago, I saw a DLP.com (Texas Instruments) demonstration at CES where touch was being used instead of a pen.  At that point, it was simply a technology demonstration, no products on the market or announced at the time using it if I recall correctly.  But TI was making the technology available to those projector manufacturers using DLP chips (for a cost, of course).    It was interesting, I played with it, and it worked.  Prototype that it was, it wasn’t perhaps fast enough or precise enough to be “ready for primetime”, but the benefits were obvious.

It wasn’t shortly before the Brightlink 585 arrived for review that I got a demonstration of the top of the line Brightlink 595Wi.  There are a couple of differences, but the big one is touch interactivity.  I got to see two people working the 595Wi simultaneously, each drawing with different colors, using three fingers on one hand, and a pen in the other.  That’s right, the ability to have eight simultaneous actions to be done.  Eight people could be up there (assuming a large enough projection surface to have room for them all to work around the board.)   Some could be drawing, others annotating, deleting, or adjusting the menus…  Or all eight might be writing 100 times “I will learn to be interactive!”

It really was impressive.  The Epson pens work well enough, but I have to admit, I’d rather be able to use a finger.  and, with the finger touch, it probably would work with a conventional screen (although that still might not be a great idea – wash your hands first)?

The finger touch ability has several benefits.  I think it’s more precise, and faster, and it also means you don’t have to use a pen, find a pen, etc., which means no opportunity to lose or break a pen.  Keep this capability in mind.  It will mean spending a bit more on the 595Wi than the 585Wi, but in many cases it may well be worth it.

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More Interactivity

Epson has on-board software in the projector which allows for all the core interactive functions, to control color, line thickness, highlights, and so much more.  You can toggle between pen and mouse modes, between computer free, and interfacing with a computer.

Of particular note, you can save all your annotations if you are in computer mode, a great way to “record” a presentation, or keep classwork to be made available online later.

You can annotate over video, another nice touch.   Teachers or presenters can pause a movie, then draw arrows to point out certain aspects of a scene. Perhaps an instructor or presenter might highlight areas that they want the user pay particular attention to when the video starts back up again.

All in all, the 585Wi has a good collection of tools built into the projector, but the additional downloadable software definitely adds a whole new level of functionality.

MHL on HDMI1

Epson seems to be big on adding MHL to many of their projectors.  Mostly, other than Epson I’ve seen it most on the home theater side, or on pico and pocket projectors.  For those not familiar, think of MHL as a mobile device standard that works over HDMI.

My best example is that you could plug in a Roku stick, which, through wifi, can access Netflix and other online content.  Some Android phones and tablets support MHL, which would simplify showing photos and videos on those devices on to the 585Wi’s screen.

And, using those same devices, that would allow you to browse the web with the pages viewed being projected.  MHL just adds another flavor of interfacing to the world.

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