Epson Powerlite 732c and 737c LCD projectors - Performance continued...
Overall design: Excellent! The layout works very well with everything clearly labeled. Epson has a reputation for building extremely reliable projectors, and these two new models are, as noted simply slightly less powerful 740c and 745c projectors, which have been around a while and have proved very dependable from my conversation with our local dealer who sells up to 20 units a month of the combined models.
Anytime you design an extremely small and light projector, you have to expect compromises, and these Epson projectors are no exception. So what is normally given up compared to larger and heavier projectors?
Adequate for a tiny projector. These Epson's have a single 1 watt speaker, again typical of under 4 lb. models, if you need bigger sound - look to 6-10 lb projectors, where you might get as much as 2 five watt speakers. These Epson projectors have exactly what you expect, so-so sound, small and tinny. But consider - it's still better than most laptops offer, and those are heavier. A stereo mini jack allows you to input stereo (which is combined and pushed out the single speaker).
The smaller and brighter the projector, the harder it is to keep the overall noise levels low. You still need a hefty fan to cool a 2000 lumen projector, and with less room to baffle the noise, small projectors tend to be much noisier. If these Epson's have a weakness, it is noise. Rated 41 db in full power mode (2000 lumens), the Epson 732c and 737c projectors are noisy enough to bother some buyers. You can choose to drop either projector into economy mode, which extends lamp life from 2000 hours to 3000 hours and lowers noise to a respectable 36db. I suspect that most presenters, in small rooms, will just drop down to economy mode. In larger rooms, noise is not likely to be a problem, and the 2000 lumens will let you handle large audiences, and audiences up to 400 people with low lighting and even handle a 10 foot screen (good for 75+ people) under pretty bright lighting in your training room.
The thing that confuses me however, is why the 732c and 737c, aren't any quieter than their more powerful siblings. It would seem logical that should have been able to quiet these models compared to the 740c and 745c. I don't have the equipment to measure noise levels but hope to be able to put a 732c side by side with a 740c. If it is quieter, in full power mode - I'll update this review.
Many of the smallest data and video projectors also come with a credit card sized remote, which is unfortunate, as they lack certain features, especially full remote mousing. Some featherweight projectors do come with full sized remotes. Fortunately, these Epson projectors has a fully equipped remote control, with disk pad for remote mousing and an added bonus - a pointer system, one which allows you to perform any number of tricks, from putting and moving different designed and colored arrows on the screen, to hightlighters, and line drawing tools.
Automatic Keystone Correction
Every projector has keystone correction, but mostly you really are better off not using it, because like compression technology it degrades the image quality slightly. With theseEpson projectors you have your choice, they can automatically adjust the keystone projection when you turn them on and adjust the elevation of the image with the feet, or you can go into the menus and turn off the auto feature, and ignore keystone correction or adjust from the top control panel or the remote.
Only the Powerlite 737c has the wireless and wired networking capabilities. Epson's solution requires (as do all) that you install the wireless software on your computer, and that your computer has either an 802.11b or 802.11g wireless networking card.
The Epson 737c projector comes standard with support for both the original (and slower) 802.11b, and the more recent and roughly the five times faster throughput from 802.11b.
In fact, these Epson's are the fastest I have seen yet in terms of speed in putting a wirelessly transmitted image up on the projection screen. They are not, however fast enough to do full frame video. Roughly 20%-25% of the screen is about as large a video image as you can send and maintain a fast frame rate of at least 24 frames/second for smooth movement. Still, this is a huge improvement over the bulk of the competition which still are limited to 802.11b. In comparing the 737c projector with another similarly equipped (802.11g) projector by a different manufacturer, I estimate that it could handle a 30% larger image and still remain smooth.
The Epson 737c projector's wired networking (via USB) also allows the projector to be monitored from anywhere on a network, handy for IT people. Of course, this is projector isn't a logical choice for being ceiling mounted. In fact since size is not normally an issue, if you are an Epson fan, and want to ceiling mount a 2000 lumen projector, you'd go with the Epson 81p (a 9 pound unit) which offers big sound (5 watts), two computer inputs, 4 sets of audio inputs, etc. etc. etc. And it sells for the same price as the 732c. That, of course tells you that you have a choice - lots of features or a highly mobile projector, for the same price.
Computer Free Presentations (737c only)
You can replace the wireless networking card from the front of the projector and put in a memory card for PC free presentations. This is accomplished by using Epson provided (free) software on your computer to put together your presentation, which can consist of Powerpoint files, images, and other documents. The software converts all the files to a format that the projector can read off of the PC memory card. Setting up a presentation for PC free, is pretty straightforward, and not likely to create any challenges.
Epson's menu system has always been excellent, easy to navigate and not a whole lot of layers to have to search through.