Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p Business Portable Projector Review - General Performance
Powerlite 1815p Wireless Networking
The Epson Powerlite 1815p offers extensive wireless networking capabilities, in addition to standard wired networking. The less expensive Powerlite 1810p, still offers wired networking, but not wireless. This section will therefore focus on just the Powerlite 1815p's wireless networking.
First of all, to use wireless networking, you need to insert the provided wireless module on the front left (looking from the rear), of the Epson projector. It just snaps into place.
Next, install the provided software on any computer that will be wirelessly communicating with the projector.
There is a basic or advanced setup. I started with basic. Installation was fine, but when it came time to find the projector, my laptop couldn't see it. Of course my laptop was already doing its wireless thing, for internet access. Turns out, with the Basic setup, you need to close your wireless connection and choose the Epson projector instead.
However, the Epson wireless scheme is very flexible. From the Advanced setup, instead you can essentially define the projector as another device on the wireless network. This allows the software, first of all, to see the projector (it will show "Standby", and when you click on it, bingo! Now the Epson 1815p shows what's on your computer's screen.
The best news, though, is that, in this Advanced mode, you can project wirelessly to the Epson while still having full internet access, and that makes a lot of sense, especially today, where many meetings and presentations may need to access the web while using the projector wirelessly. Kudos for that capability.
There is some technical stuff going on, such as setting an essid name, on the computer to match the projector, so those who prefer to rely on knowledgeable support people, might want to call them in to do the whole setup. It is a 10 minute process from beginning to end.
Myself, when it comes to networking, I know little enough - enough to be dangerous. I took advantage of Epson's telephone support as soon as I realized that I couldn't get both internet and wireless working simultaneously (Basic setup). It was a wonderful experience. Despite my being on a Mac, not a PC, the support person, had virtually no problem. He had to put me on hold once for about a minute, but essentially we had the advanced running inside that 10 minute mark.
While talking with him, I addressed the issue of how well the Epson can handle videos wirelessly.
Turns out the software offers a Movie mode (selectable from the tool bar that appears when you launch the wireless software). The Movie mode is specifically for MPEG2, which can produce excellent quality videos (think Blu-ray and HD-DVD both, I believe).
Now remember, the projector is XGA - 1024x768, not your basic VGA of 640x480. In the past I've seen wireless solutions that could smoothly handle VGA, but XGA has roughly 3 times the size and data, making smooth full screen videos a true challenge.
I was most pleasantly surprised. Using the movie mode (and a 45 megabyte mpeg2 file that the Epson support person shot over to me), I was able to actually watch full screen hi resolution video, with out any jerkiness, nor visible degradation of image quality. That makes the Epson Powerlite 1815p a benchmark performer, that others will have to measure up to.
The Epson's other networking features include mail notification which will allow the Epson, interfaced to your network, to send out emails with the status of the projector, reminders to clean filters, fan problems, lamp replacement and more.
This is not uncommon today, with networked projectors, but more typically, this much capability, is found in the larger, more expensive ones that also offer interchangeable lenses. It's nice to see this type of ability in projectors that are getting down to reasonable prices for mass implementation in schools and universities, where a large fleet of projectors can be managed, mostly remotely.
Epson also has software for command and control operation, being able to adjust settings on the projector, from computers - (remote or local) on the network.
Overall, wireless networking performance was most impressive, expecially the full frame smooth video capability, a true weakness for just about all wireless networking solutions. If I have one bitch, it is that the documentation should warn right away, that when first installed, on your computer, that the projector won't be found by the software, if you are currently online wirelessly. That warning, with the instructions to go to the advanced setting, would probably save many people some frustration. (Not you, though, you've been warned.)
The Powerlite 1815p also has a PC card slot for computer free presentations. I did not test it but have used this capability myself in older Epson portable projectors, with great success.
Enough! time to look at the other general performance capabilities of the Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p.
Epson Powerlite 1815p Menus
The Epson Powerlite 1815p menu structure is extremely similar to that of the many other Epson business projectors reviewed in the last few years. I would have to say, that Epson's attitude is that they have developed an excellent menu structure, and except for minor changes/improvements, have stuck with it.
As I have always found the Epson menus to be very logically laid out and intuitive, that Epson has been wise to stick with "what works."
The menu above is the Epson's main Image menu, and offers the bulk of the image and color handling controls. First is the Color Mode which offers a number of preset "color modes". In addition, the usual controls for brightness, contrast, color saturation, tint (available only with certain types of sources - notably lower quality composite video), sharpness, and access to the Color Adjustment (color management) system. There is also an adjustable Color Temperature control, that allows a range of color temperatures, from very warm (redish) to cool (bluish) color balance of the image. The image below is one of the RGB color sub-menus. There is also a second one that provides six color control!
The Signal menu (not shown), relates primarily to locking in PC sources, if manual override is required. I found this Epson Powerlite 1815p projector, however to do an excellent job, automatically, and never had the need to do manual adjustments using the Signal menu.
The Settings menu (also not shown) offers an array of controls, including manual keystone correction both vertical and horizontal, or automatic, where the Epson adjusts the keystone setting based on the angle of the projector. This normally automatically gives you a nice rectangular image. Note that keystone correction always degrades the image slightly (as does compression technology). Since it does many will prefer not to use keystone correction if the image is only slightly trapazoidal.
Also on the Settings menu; lamp brightness mode, volume control, choosing whether to have just the front or rear infra-red sensors working, or both together, menu control of volume, and selection of which pointer style you want to use. Also present is operation lock, part of the security features.
Next comes the Extended menu, shown here. From here you can put in a custom logo (to show up at powerup, etc.), some network controls, set the orientation of the projector (front, rear, ceiling, table)
With the Operation control, you can set Direct Power Up. This allows the projector to automatically power on when it receives AC power. This is a nice touch for ceiling mounted projectors, where a wall switch might control power to the projector and other devices. In such a case, throwing the wall switch would turn on the projector immediately, without having to hit the power button the projector or remote.
Multi-screen, is an interesting feature, although few will ever use it. It allows one to match the color balance, etc. of two Epson projectors working near each other, so that the image color aspects, brightness, etc., are as close as possible to each other.
The USB type B option allows you to send your computer's display image to the Epson projector so it can display from the USB B, instead of the usual computer inputs. The other option here relates to setting up the remote mousing.
The Network menu, has already been covered above. Info gives you the usual information, source, lamp hours, etc.
An excellent menu system overall, and probably at least as important, the documentation of the menu system in the User Guide is comprehensive and overall, pretty easy to follow.
Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p User Memory Settings
Epson offers a customized color preset mode from the main Image menu.
Epson Powerlite 1815p Remote Control
I strongly prefer backlit remote controls. Sure, the Epson Powerlite 1815p is an extremely bright projector, and rarely (except in auditorium and ballroom sized rooms), will be used in pretty dark room lighting. Still, better to have a good backlight capability should you need it, than not.
The Epson remote is also very small. Which is handy for some, but it also means that buttons are small and tightly packed together.
It does support wireless mousing, a feature that seems to be less popular on projectors today, than in the past. (There are "3rd party" wireless remote systems available from under $50 to $200 depending on capabilities). It requires the usual USB hookup between the Epson projector and your computer. When up and running, it works just fine, allowing you to go forward and back in powerpoint presentations, move the cursor, launch applications, etc. (All the usual stuff.)
The Epson projectors also have their own pointer mode - allowing you to choose a pointer style, and move the pointer around the screen, to make your point. The pointer system is totally internal, that is, separate from the remote mousing capability. You can put a pointer on the screen at any time, with just a touch of the pointer button, and then navigate with the disc pad on the remote. (Note pointer movement is up/down/left/right - it cannot move directly in a diagonal fashion. (A minor issue.)
Here's a quick run through of the remotes features, from top to bottom:
Top left, the orange power button (press once for powerup, twice to power down). on the top right are two pairs of buttons; page up and down for remote mousing, and some PC card functions, and E-zoom, which lets you zoom and magnify any area of the image.
Then back towards the right is the Menu button, and below it the disc pad for navigating around the screen. Below the disc pad, are the obligitory Enter button and an Escape button (moves you back up in the menu structure...)
On the same row as those two, but on the left, is the Pointer button mentioned earlier. Pressing it brings up your selected pointer (you can choose from several styles), press again, and it goes away.
Now we get into the packed area of buttons consisting of 4 rows of four buttons each. Each button has a specific function, but many of them have numbers on them (0-9), for inputting numbers such as for passwords or wireless setup.
As to their primary functions, first on the left is the Color mode (presentation, etc.), moving to the right, is the A/V mute (which can also be accomplished physically on the projector by closing the lens cover slider. Next is a Freeze button, and on the right, the Num button which switches you to the numeric keypad mode.
Below Freeze is a resize button for aspect ratio control, and to its right is the ID button. An Auto setup button is below the Resize, and to its right is the Help button (green with a big question mark on it), which takes you into Epson's interactive help system - a very nice feature.
Back to the left side, below the Color mode and A/V Mute, are four buttons for direct source selection (computer 1, computer 2, video, S-video)., and below them on the last row is EasyMP for the wireless networking, and also a Search button (didn't check that one out.) Opposite those two are the last two buttons - volume up and down. Since these Epson's have an audio out, if additional speakers (powered) are wired through the audio out, then adjusting the projector's volume will also adjust the external speakers as well. That's a nice touch, as few less expensive projectors have audio outputs.
All-in-all, it's a nice little remote control, and I especially like the direct source selection, the remote mousing, pointer system and the ability to magnify any area of the image. I personally prefer a larger remote, with bigger buttons, but this remote is very funtional, and, the disc pad, and Enter and Escape keys are well positioned for easy navigation.
Epson Powerlite 1815p Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The Powerlite 1815p and 1810p have a 1.6:1 ratio zoom lens, which provides a great deal of placement flexibility, whether on the road, or celing mounting the projector.
To fill a fairly large 100" diagonal 4:3 ratio screen (standard ratio for XGA), the front of the Epson projectors can be as close as 9.5 feet (that's pretty close for that large a screen), and as far back as 15.7 feet. For a projector in the under 7 pound range, that is more zoom than most other LCD projectors, and far, far more than the typical DLP projectors (which normally have zoom lenses with as little zoom range as 1.15:1, and rarely more than 1.3:1. The Epson provides enough range for some real choice as to where it will be positioned, whereas most under 7 pound projectors just offer enough range for "fine tuning" Set them down where they are close to filling the screen and most only have enough range to move the projector closer or further by a foot or two, not the 6 plus feet of the Epson.
Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p - SDE and Rainbow Effect
As these Epson projectors are LCD, there is no rainbow effect to worry about. As the projector is XGA resolution, pixels are going to be slightly visible to those sitting closest to the screen. As is typical, though, with XGA resolution LCD projectors the screen door effect will rarely if ever, be an issue. That's not so say, that the pixels may not be visible, but the screen door effect usually implies that the pixel structure for the projector, clashes with fine detail (usually a photo) to create a sort of moire' type pattern. All said, not to worry about either of these.
Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p Audible Noise Levels
Definitely, these Epson projectors are not the quietest game in town. In full power mode they put out 37 db of audible noise, and that, in a small to medium sized room will make the fan noticeable. It's not loud enough to have to raise your voice to present, but it could be a notch quieter. Drop the lamp power down to low, and the projector gets, I believe about 5 db quieter, and that puts it in line with some of the noisier home theater projectors, and a level which would definitely be considered "non-intrusive" while presenting. All considered, the noise level is probably about typical for a projector their size and brightness, but possibly a little noiser than average. Mind you the bigger heavier projectors - in the 10-20 pound range tend to be noisier still, some as noisy as 40 - 45 db. By the way, these noise levels be they 37db or 45db, are non-issues in larger rooms, when presenting to a couple hundred people or more.
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Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p - Projector Brightness
One thing I love about reviewing Epson projectors, be they small portables, larger business projectors, or home theater projector models. Epson generally meets or exceeds their brightness claims, whereas most of the industry seems to have settled (based on mine, and other reviews), with the idea that if a projector tests out at 70% to 80% of the brightness they claim (based on reviewer measurements) , then that is "acceptable."
That said, how did the Epson Powerlite 1815p perform in terms of brightness? Hmm, I hate to use puns, but, the answer is: Brilliantly!
The Epson has many color modes, and two brightness settings. I started with the Presentation mode, which produces an excellent image, but is not the brightest of all the modes, yet still measured out at 3007 lumens, very impressive. There are two significantly brighter modes, one is Game, and the other, Sports. Sports goes heavy on the greens, so I don't consider it a great choice for presentations, when you need every last ounce of brightness. Game, however, did a better job on color balance, and is definitely viable for good looking presentations.
Game measured at 3948 lumens about 13% over claimed spec. Sports was right there too, only a few lumens less, at 3890 lumens.
There is a text mode (the dimmest measured) at 1958 lumens, and then there are two other modes, Theatre and sRGB (both which you would expect excellent color accuracy, so it's no surprise that they measureed almost identically.
Theatre clocked in at 2271 lumens, and sRGB (a standard for color matchin), at 2315 lumens, only a 2% difference between them. Color temperature on each of these two was also close to identical, with Theatre at 7010K and sRGB at 6893K. sRGB by the way, had the best green color balance of any of the modes. (Boosting green disproportionately is a "cheap" way of boosting lumens.)
There is one more color mode - Blackboard mode, designed to work with old fashioned blackboards (or better - green boards) in schools. I did not measure this mode.
As noted elsewhere, the Epson has two brightness modes - lamp on full power and in economy mode. I only measured the difference in Presentation mode, and found a drop of 22.5% (down to 2328 lumens) in the economy mode. That same 22.5% should be very consistant as you change lamp power, regardless of which color mode you are using.
So, what we have here is an under seven pound projector that actually can crank out 4000 lumens (ok, it was 52 lumens short, let's not get too picky). 4000 lumens is a lot of lumens, enough to fill a 25 foot screen with moderate room lighting in front of 500 people!
In fact here are two images, the first is a low resolution picture of the projected image (you can see our homepage as the front window on the screen). When taking the photo, I was filling a screen size slightly larger than 100 inches diagonal.
The second image (below) shows the room lighting when I was doing this photo shoot (the blue backgound on th slice of screen you are viewing, is from the EasyMP (networking menu).
As you can see the room is pretty bright, two large windows had sunlight pouring in, although none of it was hitting the screen.
Bottom line, at over a 100 inch screen size, in a fairly bright room, the Epson image is only slightly washed out. That means that the Powerlite 1815p (and the 1810p), have plenty of lumens for all but the largest room presentations, and can handle those large hotel ballrooms easily with moderate lighting control! Not bad, no, make that downright impressive for under 7 pounds!
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Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p Lamp Life and Replacement
These two Epsons have lamps rated at 3000 hours in low power mode, and 2500 in full power. That's a little better than average (most typically, in full power mode, projectors are rated 2000 hours). In low power mode a few projectors can do better (a handful of Mitsubishi projectors, for example, are rated 5000 hours, but they are truly the exception. 3000 hours in low power mode is typical.
On using the Epson Powerlite 1815p and 1810p for home theater
In this day and age, there are maybe two good reasons for using a business projector for your home theater projector.
Reason number 1: You have a business projector for work, that you can bring home for occasional use - movies, sports, and so on. So, why not!
Reason number 2: You are setting up a home theater or media room and you can't darken it. Home theater projectors are not particularly bright creatures, in fact few produce more than 500 - 600 lumens in their best modes, and only a couple approach 2000 lumens in their worst performing (least color accurate) modes.
The Epson Powerlites, have the lumens. The Theatre mode does very good color, and still manages to crank out almost 2300 lumens, brighter than any under $10,000 home theater projector, and in reality about twice as bright as most.
And that's with the Epson doing really good color. Kick in Game mode, and contrast gets a little iffy, and so on, but now you've got 4000 lumens. That's enough lumens to do a respectable job in a moderately lit room, except on the darkest of movie scenes.
So, while I don't recommend business projectors for the home anymore, if you need the lumens, these two projectors can do the job.
I must point out that with LCD projectors like these, the weak link is contrast, and therefore the ability to do a good job of trying to produce blacks and details in dark areas. That is these projectors biggest weakness should you show a movie.
As this image above shows, all the details in the dark areas are gone, simply because the best these Epsons, and other business LCD projectors can do, is very dark grays. Thus all detail below that dark gray level still comes out that same dark gray, and is effectively part of the background - no details. In case you are wondering about LCD based home theater projectors, they go to great lengths to drastically improve black levels and shadow details, utilizing advanced processing and dynamic irises (which adjust the image on the screen frame by frame to do the best possible job.