Projector Reviews

Epson BrightLink 696Ui Projector Review – Special Features 2

Epson BrightLink 696Ui Projector Review – Special Features 2: Crestron RoomView Ready and Control4 Compatible, 1 Year Subscription/Support for SMART Notebook Software, Brighter Futures Education Program, Warranty

Crestron RoomView Ready and Control4 Compatible

The Epson BrightLink 696Ui is Crestron RoomView ready and Control4 compatible. Crestron RoomView allows AV managers to monitor the status and vital statistics of each room, such as lamp life or room occupancy. Crestron, for those unfamiliar, is the most recognized name in networking.

You can view and control attributes remotely, such as power, volume, source, lights, room temperature, etc. But that’s just the tip of the advanced networking iceberg that is RoomView.  There are a host of other “advanced” features, including push notifications (a school district IT person could have every Crestron Roomview device – projector or display – power on and show, for example, an Emergency message. Other features include email notifications, presenting over IP… it’s a pretty long list. Crestron’s RoomView is widely supported by corporations, government, universities, and school districts.

Control4 is an automation solution that allows you to connect multiple devices to the hub and control them from one place. Both could come in handy in either business or education environments, so count the 696Ui’s compatibility with them a major plus. Note that many business and education projectors come with compatibility for at least one of these, but not all do. Control4 (like AMX) is a Crestron competitor. They are generally thought of as lower cost. I cannot weigh in on which is the more powerful solution, but I would guess Crestron, because, they are by far the market leader and considered by many to be the premium product.

1 Year Subscription/Support for SMART Notebook

The projector comes with a one-year subscription with support for the SMART Notebook software. SMART Notebook is one of the leading education software programs out there for creating interactive lessons quickly and easily. It features 60,000+ free resources for crafting those lessons, including templates of already-created lessons, and allows you to record them so students can revisit the material and go at their own pace both inside and outside of school. You can even use the SMART Notebook Player app to control the lesson while roaming the room. To get more excited about that and learn other key features, you can read the brochure here.

Brighter Futures Education Program

Epson’s Brighter Futures program offers extensive discounts to educators on projectors, accessories, and replacement parts such as the lamp. The program drops the price of the 696Ui by $700, bringing it down from $2,799 to $2,099. That’s a huge difference, especially when buying these in bulk. A replacement lamp is discounted to a ridiculously rock bottom price of  $49.  Consider that some competitors are still charging $400 and $500 for replacement lamps – although most are now in the $200-$300 range. I believe Epson’s secret to low lamp pricing is that they manufacturer their own.

While the Table Mount – one of the two options for mounting this projector – is discounted at $149, down from $209, the Ultra Short Throw Wall Mount is $109, with no discount available. I imagine this would be the more popular option, as most will want to mount the projector directly above their whiteboard. You can even purchase a 100” whiteboard for projection and dry-erase use directly from Epson for $629, which is $50 off the original price.

The full list of education discounts through the Brighter Futures Program can be found here. It details which projectors are available at lower prices, as well as discounted accessories, warranties, and lenses for those projectors with interchangeable lenses (the 696Ui, being an ultra short throw projector, does not have interchangeable lenses).

696Ui Warranty

Epson provides a two-year limited warranty on the projector with 90 days on the lamp. That’s a very good warranty, by virtue of the extra support programs they offer alongside it. The warranty covers normal use in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, but, as you would expect, does not cover excessive continual (24/7/365) use.  Warranty also doesn’t cover filters and other consumables, normal wear-and-tear or damage caused by handling or failing to properly maintain the projector. It also does not cover damage caused by interaction by third party products, such as non-Epson add-in cards or cables.

Now, onto those extra support programs. Epson’s ExtraCare Road Service runs concurrently with your basic warranty. What does this service entail? If it fails for any reason, Epson will immediately ship out a refurbished unit to wherever you are in the country. This allows you to continue on with your presentations without having to wait for repairs. All you have to do is send back the damage projector within three days of receiving the new unit, which will arrive within one business day to most locations.

One thing to note – in order to use this service, you must provide a credit card number for a security deposit. That deposit can be up to 90% of the projector’s MSRP, and will be returned to the card upon receipt of the damaged projector. If this isn’t feasible, you’ll be directed to your nearest authorized carry-in service center for repair. Other than that, the ExtraCare Road Service is free for the two years of your warranty.

Next up is our tour of the Epson BrightLink 696Ui’s hardware!