BrightLink 595Wi Interactivity
Epson offers a built in suite of many annotation tools and other capabilities, but in addition, it supports 3rd party interactive software (and vice versa). This means more than just having a nice collection of tools, but also templates, and in the case of school, even pre-created coursework. Ideally you work interactively with the projector by being up at the screen, and this Epson Brightlink is excellent at that.
In fairness, you can react interactively from a distance with some projectors, if their “pen” system isn’t directly tied to a sensor on the projector. This Brightlink can do some of that, the best example would be doing annotation using an iPad or other mobile device where there’s an appropriate App.
Epson does offer both iOS and Android Apps, so they can support both “up close and personal” pen/finger touch based interactivity, or use tablets, etc. We have seen pens that will work from a distance, and while that let’s a teacher or presenter move around the room, the general issue is the further the distance from the screen, the more coarse the interaction. You just can’t write in fairly small type with that type of pen, from 15 feet away, let alone 40. (But that will work for a quick check mark, or underlining something, just don’t start “writing.”
Pens have been the primary tool for interactive work for more than a decade and the 595Wi come with two of those. The 595Wi is the first Epson projector to add fingertips to the available tools in the interactive arsenal. The Epson system can detect the touch position of up to 6 fingers and this is a big step forward in interactivity for video projection systems.
For example, two people could be standing next to the white board/screen with each drawing with different colors, using up to three fingers on one hand, and a pen in the other. That’s right, the ability to have eight simultaneous actions to be done. In theory, as many as 8 people could be up there (assuming a large enough projection surface to have room for them all to work around the white board/screen) with each doing their own drawing/annotating of the projected image. Some could be drawing, others annotating, deleting, or adjusting the menus, or all eight might be writing 100 times “I will learn to be interactive!”
The finger touch ability has several benefits. I appears to be more precise, and faster, and it also means you don’t have to use a pen, find a pen, etc., which means no opportunity to lose or break a pen. Keep this capability in mind. It will mean spending a bit more on the 595Wi than the otherwise similar 585Wi (i.e., with pens but without finger touch capability), but in many cases it may well be worth it.
These interactive capabilities are not limited to just drawing on the electronic white board, as the fingers/pens can be used to do such things as selecting items from a menu, scrolling pages, resizing or rotating objects, etc. It makes the electronic white board more-or-less act like a giant multi-touch tablet which should make it a lot easier to keep the electronic-age students involved in the classroom learning process.
Epson has a short video on their web site (HERE) that demonstrates some the interactive features in action using a combination of pens and fingers. Since the multi-touch interactive capabilities are not unlike using the interactive touch features on an iPad, Android tablet or a smart phone, users of such devices should quickly be able to be productive at using the interactive features offered by the 595Wi.
See the later section of this review for information and the setup, calibration and use of the BrightLink 595Wi's interactive features.
Epson has on-board software in the projector which allows for all the core interactive functions, to control color, line thickness, highlights, and so much more. You can toggle between pen/touch and mouse modes, between computer free, and interfacing with a computer.
Of particular note, you can save all your annotations if you are in computer mode, a great way to “record” a presentation, or keep classwork to be made available online later.
You can annotate over video, another nice touch. Teachers or presenters can pause a movie, then draw arrows to point out certain aspects of a scene. Perhaps an instructor or presenter might highlight areas that they want the user pay particular attention to when the video starts back up again.
All in all, the 595Wi has a really good collection of tools built into the projector, but the additional downloadable software definitely adds a whole new level of functionality.