Epson Powerlite VS350W WXGA LCD Multimedia Projector Review
Epson VS350W Color & Picture Quality
Starting with my laptop connected to the VS350W via its VGA input and at its native resolution (1280 x 800), the VS350W displayed a clean, sharp image with good color depth. We’ve come to expect this combination from Epson multimedia projectors and the VS350W was no exception. Also like many of the current crop of Epson multimedia projectors, the VS350W’s colors are quite good in Dynamic (the brightest) mode. This means you can make full use of the projector’s lumen output even with photo presentations, without the result looking unnatural. If you want even better color while still maintaining good brightness, Presentation mode will give it to you. The most accurate colors, as well as better contrast, are found in either Photo or Theatre mode contributing the greater image depth.
Photographic images, particularly skin tones, look very natural. Colors are generally well saturated and deep. Outdoor photos display good realism, without any particular color oversaturation or deficiency.
As is typical of projectors in this class, there is a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen. The zoom feature can then be combined with the on-screen pointer to focus in on details in photos or charts. Both features can be controlled from the remote.
Epson VS350W Projector: Readability
Starting with its native resolution (1280 X 800), the VS350W produced very sharp text of any size with our usual spreadsheet. Small (8 pt.) black text-on white background was easily readable on a 60″ diagonal projected image. White text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.
The sharp image and good readability was maintained at different resolutions and aspect ratios as well. Switching to 1680 x 1050, the VS350W handled the text spreadsheet quite well, with only a minimal color bleed at the smallest text size. The VS350W also did an excellent job on lower resolutions, like the old standard XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. There was a little bit of blue fringing with white text on a black background, but again, only on the smallest font size. Additionally, there was only minimal loss of sharpness in the text. As we’ve noted in the past, 3-chip LCD projectors can be subject to a loss of sharpness with only a slight misalignment of its LCD panels. The VS350W however, displayed very little misalignment, especially for a projector in this price range. It speaks well for Epson’s manufacturing process that such close tolerances are achieved even in the lower end of their line. In any event, the VS350W is sharp enough for all but the most demanding presenter. If you regularly have presentations that require the smallest details to be displayed with laser-like sharpness, you would likely be looking into a higher resolution (and more expensive) projector.
Epson VS350W Projector: Video Quality
As the VS350W is most likely to be used with a PC or laptop, even for video playback, I used my laptop computer, connected via VGA, to check the video performance. As is the norm these days with Epson’s 3LCD projectors, video displays well-saturated colors and accurate skin tones. The Theater mode of the VS350W can make use an auto iris that, when activated, can improve the contrast ratio up to 2500:1. A 2500:1 contrast ratio is quite good for a multimedia projector, especially one this bright. Using the auto iris with video that includes some dark scenes and/or shadows reveals greater depth in the blacks and more detail in shadows. Overall, you get a more film-like image with the auto iris on. The auto iris is also available in Dynamic mode as well, to keep the high brightness from washing out grays in darker scenes. Combining the iris with Eco mode will give you even better perceived black levels, so if you have good light control that would be the way to go.
As the high brightness of the VS350W lends itself to viewing in less than ideal lighting conditions, it’s good to know that this brightness provides for a highly watchable picture that is not washed out, as most home theater projectors would be. Additionally, the good color reproduction of the VS350W in Dynamic mode makes it a good choice for classroom video presentations where light control is at a premium.
As a lot of video also has sound, the VS350W’s built-in 5-watt speaker will be adequate for a normal-sized classroom or conference room. Anything larger will likely require additional powered speakers. Overall, while the lack a digital input does not lend itself to critical video viewing, the VS350W could certainly be used for movie or TV viewing with good picture quality.
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