Classroom Projector Report: Awards For Best School Projector

Our Best In Classroom awards (and other awards) for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. Quite a few of these projectors we’ve reviewed for this report, have just started shipping recently. They are in time to be considered this spring/summer for purchase (and installation?) in time for the 2012-2013 school year. Several were introduced last year, but not in time for the report, while a couple are now more than a year old.

For your consideration: On this page, on some of the charts, and elsewhere, you will find inks to two projectors from last year. As it turned out, both of these remain current products, but we did not re-review them, or consider them for this year’s awards.  I’m talking about the BenQ MP780ST and the Epson Powerlite 96W.  Consider these two to both be highly competitive with the best of this year’s crop.

On this page we list the Winners of our Best In Classroom awards with comments, for the most impressive projectors we’ve reviewed for education. In addition a number of projectors have received (in addition, or alone) our more general, Hot Product and Special Interest awards. While in this report we are discussing projectors for education, almost all of these projectors are equally competent in business, and other environments as well.

School Projectors for K12 - The Award Winners:

We finished off this year’s education projector report with 16 separate projectors reviewed…

As was the case last year, emails and conversations have been going back and forth between myself, and Tony, and Mike (the other reviewers), as we sorted out which were the most deserving.

This year, plenty of interactive projectors, although most here, are rather pricey. Let’s call it five full interactive projectors, with varying skills, and a couple more with optional interactivity.  If you consider functionality working with the iPad and iPhone interactive, then even more.

Projectors (standard) Interactive Projectors Pocket Projectors
BenQ LW61ST Acer S5201M Acer K330
Canon WUX4000 Epson BrightLink 485Wi Optoma ML500
Casio XJ-M145 Hitachi iPJ-AW250N Viewsonic PLED-W500
Casio XJ-ST155 (int. opt.) NEC U310W
Epson PowerLite 435W (int. opt.) Optoma TW610STi
Mitsubishi WD380U-EST
Optoma ZX210ST
Panasonic PT-VX400NTU
**Projectors in bold use an LED light source

Best In Classroom: Interactive Projector Awards:

No more tie like last year, with two winners out of 4 entries (and no runner-up). This time around we have five, ready to go interactive entries.  The bottom line, we picked just one winner, and one runner-up this year.

Best in Classroom - Interactive Projector Award: Epson BrightLink 485Wi

This is starting to get old.  For the third year in a row, a Best In Classroom Winner goes to Epson.  Each year Epson replaces the previous one with an even better projector with more capabilities. The latest of these is Epson’s flagship education projector, the Brightlink 485Wi (click for full review).  Right off the bat, it corrected what was our biggest complaint about the Epson Brightlink 455wi last year. No HDMI input last year.  That’s no longer the case.  And a good thing too.

Tony has reviewed most of the interactive projectors last year and this time immediately recommended the 485Wi as his first choice. OK, it still doesn’t have 3D capability, which is going to be a problem for a still small percentage, but after that, it’s solid, with no rough edges.  If only it had an LED or Laser light source and had the same price.

A Few of the Epson Brightlink 485Wi projector strengths:

  • Excellent color
  • Plenty of Brightness for virtually any classroom
  • Extensive networking (control and notification)
  • Microphone Input
  • Best interactive feature set of those reviewed
  • Good sound from 10 watt speaker system
  • Excellent Input and output flexibility: HDMI, Computer (analog), USB Display Link over USB, plus networking, video, mic input, variable audio out, and more
  • Low cost of operation
  • Best warranty: For education (Brilliant Futures program) three years P/L with 3 year replacement program
  • Brilliant Futures Education program offers replacement lamps for $79!
  • Good sound from 10 watt speaker system
  • Ultra-short throw for easy, and low cost mounting directly above the screen
  • Ultra-short throw keeps projector light out of the teacher (or presenting student’s) eyes, when working at the board

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