Classroom Projector Report 2013: Epson W16SK

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Epson Powerlite W16SK

Epson W16SKThis Epson Powerlite W16SK WXGA resolution projector system consists of two projectors stacked together. The stacking hardware comes pre-attached to the two projectors which ship in a single box.  It took only about 20 minutes to unbox and assemble, and align the two projectors. The W16SK can be used either ceiling mounted or table top.

The main thing about the Epson Powerlite W16SK however, is it’s passive glasses 3D capability.  Virtually all 3D capable projectors use active shutter glasses which are prohibitively expensive if you need 30-40 pair for a classroom, and that’s before the occasional pair of glasses disappears and has to be replaced.

True, you are spending for two projectors, but with passive glasses at $3, not $40, or $100, it’s easy to see that this Epson “stack” may be the least expensive (and likely the brightest) solution for the typical K-12 or college classroom.

You can run one or both projectors when in 2D. Each projector claims 3000 lumens.  Due to some loss from the polarizer and glasses, you don’t get all of that, but we measured over 5000 lumens with the polarizers in place.  None of the 3D capable, lower cost DLP projectors can manage to be even half as bright in 3D.  The thing is, 3D brightness is one of the greatest challenges, and this Epson has that nailed with this W16SK projector system.  Being LCD, black levels could definitely be a bit better, but that’s rarely an issue in a classroom, since there usually is a good bit of ambient light.

I saved the review of the W16SK for myself, because it looked to be a potential breakthrough product, and I do believe it is.  That doesn’t mean it’s not without some issues.  I really only have three issues to complain about, none in any way fatal:  The first is that while it’s the only 3D capable projector in this year’s report (of the 10 that can do 3D) that can do Blu-ray 3D, it cannot do field sequential which is a popular 3D format when doing 3D from PCs. That’s ok, in most cases, that can be dealt with extra software.

The other issue is the slight softness of the W16SK’s image when running both projectors.  It’s not terrible by any means, but Epson is using digital conversion to align the two projectors, rather than optical lens shift (the preferred, and far more expensive way).  There’s a silver lining however:  In almost all setups, you won’t need the 5000+ lumens for 2D, which we presume will be the bulk of the Epson projector’s work.

It’s simple to just run a single projector for 2D and have close to 3000 measured lumens, and have a very nicely sharp image.  The third item is sound.  each projector has a 2 watt speaker.  That leaves the Epsons a little thin on both volume, and bass.  Of course you can always add a low cost powered speaker to the installation, but it would have been nice, say, if each had a 5 watt speaker.

Although the starting price of the Epson projector system is high – $1899 MAP, $1699 for Education, it’s still a potential big money saver for schools and others needing bright 3D.  Long term, it can save lots of money!

Not perfect certainly, but awesome!  For it’s affordable and bright 3D it earns our Best In Classroom – 3D Capable Projector award. I should note that it is on the short list of contenders for this year’s Outstanding Projector of the Year, due in large part to its uniqueness, and it’s ability to provide an intelligent solution for 3D in the classroom.   PS it would be great in a sports bar too, if there were enough sports in 3D to convince those bars to upgrade to 3D.

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