Epson Powerlite S5 Business and Education Portable Projector Review - General Performance
Epson Powerlite S5 Menus
Epson has pretty much been using the same Menu layout for 5 years or so. I believe that translates into something like "if it ain't broke, don' fix it." Overall, I have found Epson's layout to be logical, and easy to read and understand.
The first main menu, is the Image menu, and, as the name implies, controls most things that relate to image quality. First is the Color mode (there's an image immediately below, showing the numerous color modes), followed by the usual suspects - Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Tint (certain types of sources only), Sharpness Color Temperature and finally Color Adjustment (individual colors).
As it turns out, Game, I believe is the brightest mode, with Presentation being not quite as bright, but better color balance, And there's Sports mode, another bright mode, but way heavy on green, to cut through more ambient light. The sRGB mode is designed for color matching a system that's been around for quite some time, but rarely used. The idea of sRGB has been that if all displays are color matched, then if you look at the color of a fabric on your laptop's display, or a projector, it would look exactly the same as the original fabric. This makes sRGB perfect for online shopping where color accuracy is important.
The next major menu is the Signal menu, not shown here. This menu is pretty basic, which lets you set aspect ratio, and adjust the image if it doesn't correctly lock in on a computer input.
The Settings menu is next. It offers control of keystone correction, and the digital zoom.
There is a security feature, and the Brightness (lamp hi or low) control, and the volume control. All very straightforward.
Next comes the Extended Menu, shown here. This menu allows you to control "everything else", such as putting in a User logo (your company or school name) for when the projector has no source or is powering up. Actual projector orientation is controlled here as well (ceiling, table, front, rear).
Link 21L is Epson's provided software for command and control of the projector from a computer. To use this feature, you must install the software on your computer. And, of course, you can select menu language.
The Info and Reset menus are not shown here, but are rather self explanatory. Info will tell you what your source is, how many hours on the lamp, and so on. Reset allows you to do a master reset of the projector, or to reset lamp hours when you replace the Epson lamp.
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Epson Powerlite S5 Remote Control
I'm not happy here. Epson has replaced a perfectly good remote control with a smaller one, and I don't think it was such a great move. The new smaller remote retains most of the features as the older one (which is still used on a number of more expensive Epson projectors), but is definitely more cramped, and it's a lot harder to find the buttons you want.
The remote is only about three inches from top to bottom, so depending on your display, the image here, may actually be larger than the real life remote.
From the top left, there is the usual power button (red) with press once for on, twice for off. In the middle is the Source Search button for choosing your source, and on the right, the Help button. I've already mentioned Epson's interactive help, definitely a nice touch.
The next three rows consist of Menu in the top left, and Esc (top right) with the four arrow keys and an Enter/Auto button in the center of the arrow keys. The left and right arrow keys function as volume up and down, when you aren't in the menu system.
To the left of the down arrow key is the Color Mode button, and the Aspect ratio button is opposite it, on the right.
The bottom two rows have on the left, Page Up and Down for interacting with a computer, and programs like Powerpoint (assuming you are running the USB cable between computer and projector). The E-zoom - the digital zoom feature + and - are in the center, and a Freeze image button, and A/V Mute are on the right side.
That about covers it, except to say that there is a numeric pad (you can see the small white numbers in black boxes around the keys) integrated into the center keys to be used with the security system, for passwords.
What's notably missing on the S5 remote control is the pointer system found on almost all Epson business projectors. This pointer system allowed the presenter to place a pointer (several graphics to choose from) icon on the screen and move it around, to accomplish the same effect as using a laser pointer to highlight information.
It's a very small remote, the buttons are even smaller, and it lacks the disc pad which I really liked on other Epson remotes. I realize this is an entry level projector, but, most I think would be happy paying about three bucks more, for the old remote. On the bright side, the range of the remote is very good, working effortlessly at 20+ feet, which is more than a lot of other remotes can claim.
Epson Powerlite S5 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As stated on the first page, the Epson S5's lens is fixed focal length - that is, no zoom feature. As such, normal setup, to completely fill a 100" diagonal 4:3 aspect ratio screen would have you place the front of the projector 11.6 feet from the screen. Also mentioned is that the Epson S5 has digital zoom out, so that the entire screen image can be reduced in size. Doing so uses a type of compression technology, so the image quality degrades slightly, but this does allow you a setup range, as if the projector had an optical zoom lens. Using the digital zoom feature, you could instead place the projector as far back as 17.2 feet. That's a rather good working range. For large type Powerpoint presentations, the digital zoom out likely will never be noticed, and, if you are already feeding the Epson S5 a higher than native resolution, it will already be using compression technology, so that there is already a little degradation. Bottom line, the digital zoom out gives you placement flexibility if needed. I recommend not using it unless you really have to, but if you do, the loss in quality, is still slight.
Epson Powerlite S5 - SDE and Rainbow Effect
As the Epson S5 projector is LCD, there is no rainbow effect (caused by a DLP projector's spinning color wheel) to worry about. Since the projector is SVGA resolution, pixels are going to be visible to those sitting closest to the screen. Generally this is not an issue for a business or education use projector. In fact the pixels tend to make the projected image appear sharper, if anything.
Epson Powerlite S5 Audible Noise Levels
The S5 is on the quiet side in terms of audible noise, with a claim of 35db with lamp in full power mode. Even in high lamp power mode, with the fan at its noisiest, the S5's 35 db is reasonably quiet. Drop into low power lamp mode, and the noise level drops to 28 db, which is actually quieter than a lot of home theater projectors, and by any definitiion, very quiet. In a small room, you will definitely hear the fan noise (hi power), but you won't have to yell to be heard over it.
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Epson Powerlite S5 - Projector Brightness
Everytime I review an Epson projector, I tend to lecture that they are about the only company that consistantly exceeds their claims when it comes to brightness.
The S5 is no exception. First, it is rated at 2000 lumens. Now, to put that in perspective for you, back about 6-7 years ago, 2000 lumens was what we called an "auditorium projector". Back then 2000 lumen projectors typically weight 15-40 pounds, were audibly very loud, and rented for about $300 - $500 a day for presentation purposes. Those big monsters were widely seen in hotel ballrooms and other larger venues, filling 20 and 25 foot diagonal screens. Of course the lights were kept pretty low. Now, today, you can buy a projector that bright for not much more than a 1 day rental back in 2000. That's progress. But, I digress, so let's get back to the S5.
I measured the brightness of the Powerlite S5 in each of its seven modes. For starters, even in the Epson's dimmest mode, it still managed 1601 lumens.
Here's how the modes stack up, in terms of brightness, plus, I've indicated the color temperature Kelvin, in parens:
S5 Game mode: 2692 lumens (5775K)
S5 Presentation mode: 2117 lumens, (6230K), note: green is a touch strong
S5 Text mode: 1601 lumens (8610K)
S5 Theatre mode: 1879 lumens (6764K - very close to the ideal 6500K for movies)
S5 sRGB mode: 1847 lumens (6810K) green, btw, is dead on
S5 Sports mode: 2662 lumens (5680K) with very strong green tendencies, as is typical for a projector mode that assumes ambient light.
S5 Blackboard mode: 2662K, (6713K).
Low power mode (lamp set to Low), measured a drop of 21% in lumens when measured in the Game mode. That 21% drop should be consistent, regardless of mode. So, for example, the Sports mode, with 2662 lumens in bright mode would still be producing 2130 lumens in Low lamp mode - which is still brighter than Epson claims for Bright mode. Most impressive, to say the least.
In each case the color temperature was measured with the default color temp setting. No attempt was made to use the controls to improve color, or to increase lumens.
Epson Powerlite S5 Lamp Life and Replacement
Well, the purpose of the Epson S5 is to produce a very respectable image, at a very affordable cost. Of course, purchase price is only one component, cost of operation is another. The S5 has one of the longest life lamps as well, to keep costs down. Epson rates the lamp as 3000 hours in bright mode, and 4000 hours in economy. Not the longest out there, but better than the vast majority which are rated 2000/3000 hours respectively. Since huge numbers of Epson S5's end up ceiling mounted in schools, Epson designed it so that the projector does NOT have to be unmounted to change the lamp. This makes the S5 rare among lower cost projectors, and this feature reduces labor costs, further making the S5 an excellent projector when it comes to low cost of ownership and operation. IT and AV managers will really appreciate this feature if they are managing a fleet of projectors.
On Using the Epson Powerlite S5 for Home Theater
Yes, you can bring it home and hook it up to your cable/satellite box, or a DVD player and watch movies. That said, this is no home theater projector. Actually, it's colors are very good in theater mode, but there are two serious weaknesses. First, contrast is typical of a business LCD projector, about 400:1, and that's terrible, when it comes to black levels. Areas of a scene that are supposed to be black or very dark gray (or very dark red...), come out medium dark gray (or red...) Lots of details are lost.
The other reason, is resolution. Most home theater content is 16:9 (DVD HDTV) and beyond (movies on DVD are mostly 2.35:1, thus the lettter box at top and bottom of the screen). Well, the S5 doesn't even offer resolution as high as a standard DVD.
So, sure, you could bring it home once in a while, but you can also certainly find a home theater projector out there for under $1000 that is light years better.