Posted on July 27, 2017 By Art Feierman
The Epson BrightLink 696Ui is an ultra-short throw, 3LCD, interactive projector claiming 3,800 lumens. With WUXGA resolution (1920 x 1200 pixels), Wired and Wireless Lan, and advanced interactivity, this is a serious projector to be considered when shopping for your business or education applications. Targeted toward the education market, the Epson BrightLink 696Ui is suitable for both higher education and K-12 classrooms, with an emphasis on higher education.
Priced at $2,799, this projector offers schools the opportunity to create interactive lessons for their students that can aid in retention of those lessons. The price may cause some to shy away from the 696Ui in favor of something more affordable – but, great news! Epson has an outstanding education program that significantly lowers the overall cost of the projector and its maintenance, such as lamp replacement. The Epson Brighter Futures Program makes this projector available for $2,099. It’s not cheap, but the Epson BrightLink 696Ui is worth it.
This projector is the “little brother” of the Epson BrightLink 697Ui. That one has more advanced features (such as Whiteboard sharing) and is priced at $3,299. It is also WUXGA resolution, but claims a wall-melting 4,400 lumens. That’s really bright! The Epson BrightLink 696Ui that is the subject of this review is bright at 3,800 lumens – so bright, in fact, that with the windows open at high noon, the projected image looked clearer and brighter than some of the other projectors I’ve reviewed while projecting those in a fully darkened room. This is one of my top (current) favorite business/education projectors, hands down.
The Epson BrightLink 696Ui was included in our 2017-2018 Classroom Projector Report, where it won an award for Best in Classroom – Best Performance Ultra Short Throw or Interactive.
Though targeted toward the education market, this projector would be suitable for business applications as well. The BrightLink Series by Epson has a number of other projectors targeted toward businesses for conference rooms, including interactive projectors that offer video conferencing, such as the BrightLink Pro 1430Wi (priced at $2790 – 3,300 lumens and WXGA resolution), but the 696Ui could just as readily compete with such models for its place in a corporate boardroom, conference room or training space. Due to the brightness and interactive capabilities, it could also be very useful at trade shows, conventions, and similar events where an interactive display could heighten the intrigue of your booth.
It features advanced networking features, with both Wired and Wireless LAN. The Wireless LAN function is quite awesome – more on that on the Special Features page of this review. Speaking of inputs and connectors, the 696Ui has all the bells and whistles you would want on a business/education projector for professionals. I even appreciate the layout of said inputs, as all the most used connectors can be accessed outside of the cable cover for easy switching. Other projectors I have reviewed that have cable covers would require you to remove the whole thing in order to access those ports – though, as you most will likely plug in a cable once and leave it there once everything has been installed, that’s not really a big deal.
This model is intended to be wall mounted, inverted, directly above the whiteboard or wall intended for use as the screen. The projector can be used on a blank wall with a smooth surface – no whiteboard needed. These interactive BrightLink projectors cannot be set up or used when positioned on a table – it’s meant only for wall mounting. Other BrightLink models without interactive features can be placed on a table. The projector can also be mounted on the wall in a vertical position to project downward and create an interactive table. We’ll get more into that on the next page.
The projector comes with two interactive pens, but can also be operated using a finger. Up to six people (or fingers) can be recognized at a time. A whiteboard or alternative smooth surface is necessary to use the interactive features. Using the pressure-sensitive pens on a traditional screen surface would stretch the screen in roughly an inch before the pen’s contact would click and, over time, distort the images that project on that screen. Yuck. The Epson BrightLink 696Ui also comes with the interactive module, seen in the image of the wall-mounted projector above, which allows nearly any screen or surface to become interactive. That’s cool technology, which I’ll explain later.
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