Posted on May 19, 2013 Art Feierman
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Certainly Epson’s W16SK projector system, which consists of two W16 projectors, a stacking mount, and passive filters both both projectors’ lenses qualifies as most interesting. What sets the Epson W16SK projector apart from the competition? The W16SK is the first affordable, and practical 3D capable projector system that I’ve run across, that handles 3D with passive glasses and is geared for schools and businesses. If using passive glasses weren’t enough to differentiate the W16SK, this system seems to also be, by far the brightest affordable classroom 3D solution. And perhaps the least expensive overall. Let’s get our projector review of the Epson W16SK dual projector stack started.
We begin with the basics. The Epson W16SK are two of the same projectors stacked together! A projector system, is a better way to describe it. Individually, each projector starts out as an Epson W16 projector. The SK in W16SK, I expect, is an acronym for “StacK”, because that’s what the W16SK really is: A pair of identical projectors, mounted together, one above the other with their images converging to create a bright 3D image and a brighter 2D image. Each has a polarizing filter placed in front of their respective lens. The two filters are polarized differently (you could say opposite polarization). By doing that, each projector only projects an image for one of the viewer’s eyes, while the other projector handles the other eye. I should note that the purpose of these stacked projectors is to allow the presentation of 3D content by using low cost passive glasses (like in the local movieplex), instead of very expensive active glasses. Ultimately the cost of active 3D glasses is so high, that this Epson stacked projector system is still less expensive for 3D in a typical 30 student classroom than even those entry level DLP projectors that start at around $500.
Why? Because 30 pair of glasses is going to be at least $1000 and possibly twice that or more.
Sound complicated? Well, it is. Interesting too. In reality each W16 projector in the stack is a very capable projector which can project 3D for those using active shutter glasses. It’s just that a second W16, along with the filters and stacking brackets is still going to save big bucks, compared to running a single W16 with 30 pair of active 3D glasses.
Do you need a W16SK for a classroom or other location if you aren’t going to be using 3D?
The answer is no. I would say that the W16SK should only be on your shopping list if you need to project 3D, bright 3D in fact.
Stacking projectors is nothing new. We were stacking projectors for commerical applications needing maximum brightness way back 15 years ago. Stacking projectors is still done routinely for rental and staging applications, and in many large venues. The trick to stacking, is to get the projector properly aligned. Normally that is done with projectors that have optical lens shift, but those tend to be more expensive. Epson has come up with a way to accomplish the alignment by using keystone or corner correction. Not as ideal, but from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t matter, as the results are what count, and it really works!
You need lots of brightness for 3D, but nothing in the classroom really could claim that until the W16SK. Each projector is 3000 lumens. With one projector per eye for 3D (an easy way to think of it), expect the W16SK to be typically two to three times as bright as more traditional, active glasses single chip DLP 3D capable projectors.
Native resolution of the W16SK projectors is WXGA which is 1280×800 – a “computer resolution”, however the W16SK is also comfortable handling 720p and 1080p content in both 2D and 3D, as well as WXGA+ and a number of other non-native computer resolutions.
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