Epson Powerlite 96W WXGA LCD Multimedia Projector Review

Epson Powerlite 96W Brightness

The 96W is rated at 2700 lumens.  The 96W did not achieve this level of output, but still managed to measure 2459 lumens in Dynamic mode (the brightest).  This output did not vary much over the full (albeit limited) zoom range.  We measured 2425 lumens at full wide zoom and 2378 lumens at full telephoto zoom.  This performance was slightly better than the recently reviewed 1775W, which only measured 2606 lumens, despite being rated at 3000.  Using Presentation mode (which would probably be used in most cases to achieve the best combination of brightness and color), the output dropped to 2020 lumens.  Photo mode, another mode that might be popular in the classroom, suffered a greater drop to 1728 lumens.  Other modes measured as follows:  Theater – 1676 lumens, sRGB – 1740 lumens, Blackboard – 1409 lumens and Whiteboard – 1960 lumens.  Overall, the output is quite good and should be well suited to the classroom setting.  As has been the case with previous Epson models, the decent color accuracy in Dynamic mode makes it a more usable mode than it is with some of the competition, thus expanding the size of room that the 96W can handle.

Dropping the lamp into Eco brightness mode only resulted in a 24% drop in lumen output.  This equates to 1874 lumens in Dynamic mode, still more than enough in room with some level of light control.

Wired and Wireless Networking

The Epson 96W not only offers the ability for wired network control and presentation, it also offers wireless network capability via an optional, plug-in wireless module.  With the optional wireless LAN module, the 96W allows for simple wireless connection to any desktop or laptop with 802.11 b/g/n capability.  Like the recently reviewed Epson 1775W, there are two ways to connect wirelessly to the 96W.  The first is to use the optional USB key.  We did not have one for the 96W, but from our experience with the 1775W, you simply plug it into the rear USB port of the projector to record the network information.  Then plug the key into any available USB port on your computer and follow the installation screens that appear.  This only takes a few minutes and when done the computer image will project on the screen.

The second way to set up a wireless connection is to install Epson’s networking software on your PC from the CD provided with the 96W.  Your computer will see the 96W as an available wireless network and you can connect to it.

If you need to display videos, you’re likely to have problem doing it wirelessly.  In fact, Epson has removed the video player from their EasyMP software.  Using another player, like Windows Media Player, results in choppy playback with all but the most basic video.  Basically, if you need to display video via the network, plan on using a wired connection.

Audible Noise

The Epson Powerlite 96W is reasonably quiet (33dB in Normal lamp mode) for a multimedia projector.  There would be no problem with the presenter being heard, even without using a microphone and the built-in 16W speaker.  If a quieter environment is desired, dropping the 96W into Eco lamp mode reduces the noise level to 28 dB.  If the aforementioned 20% drop in lumen output is acceptable, the 96W would easily be quiet enough in Eco mode for comfortable video or movie viewing.  To put this noise level in perspective, 28 dB is exactly the same noise level of Epson’s 8700UB Home Cinema projector running in its Normal lamp mode.  The bottom line is that regardless of the lamp mode, the 96W’s fan noise is never objectionable.

Additional Features

EasyMP – Short for Epson Administrative System for Meeting and Presentation, EasyMP allows for flexibility in presentations with such features as follows:

  • Slide Converter (which allows you to perform a slide show without connecting to a computer.
    A PowerPoint file is converted into a scenario file which can then be transferred to a USB storage device and installed in the projector.)
  • Multi-Screen Display (which allows connection to up to 4 projectors for a wide spreadsheet or flowchart).  This mode also allows for the display of a PowerPoint slide, while the presenter’s monitor is also displaying the PowerPoint tools.
  • Presentation Mode (which allows for display of PowerPoint or Keynote slide shows)
  • Distribution Function (which allows for display from a remote computer on the network)

Email Notification - When using the networking ability of the 96W, either wired or wireless, it can be set to notify the owner of the projector status, reminders or any problems via email.

PCFree – This feature enables you to display photos, videos, PowerPoint presentations and other files stored on a USB storage device, without the use of a PC.  Presentations created with Slide Converter (above), can also be used with PCFree.

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