Projector Reviews

Epson Brightlink Pro 1430Wi Projector Review – Picture Quality

BRIGHTLINK PRO 595WI PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  Color Modes,  Video Picture Quality, Text Image Quality, Image Contrast, and The Bottom Line on Picture Quality

Color Mode

The Brightlink Pro 1430Wi offers a selection of seven preset color modes plus one user defined custom mode.  Impressively, most modes can claim to offer a range from pretty good to downright great color.

The most light output comes when using the Dynamic mode, which is very usable on the 1430Wi, although not the first choice if you want maximum color accuracy.   With Dynamic mode the color balance shifts toward excessive greens.  This occurs more toward the white end of the grey scale with especially bright greys and white appearing to have a noticeable, but not extreme, green tint.  This is a very usable mode with this projector when maximum light output is needed and it does not have the “over the top” color shift as seen with many other projector’s dynamic mode.

Presentation mode also has somewhat  excessive blues and greens, but in this mode the amount of color shift is more modest as compared to dynamic mode.  Presentation color mode offers better colors overall than dynamic mode but it was still less accurate than the best modes.  With most projectors of this type the Presentation mode is second only to Dynamic in brightness, but with this projector it was essentially tied for 3rd place, behind Sports mode and similar light output to Theater mode.  Overall the image in Presentation mode had a somewhat ‘cool’ appearance.

The Theater Mode looked very good when using the default settings.  When viewing video from a Blu-ray player, I did note the color intensity was too high so I reduced the setting for the projector’s Color adjustment to a setting of -8 to correct that.  The projected image was also just a little too warm with mildly excessive reds, but overall providing fairly accurate colors.  I took a just a couple of minutes to lower the projector’s color gain adjustments for red to a setting of -4 which improved the grey scale and produced a average color temperature very close to the ideal 6500K.

Sports mode was a little excessive on the greens and blues with an overall  cool appearance.  Not bad, but the colors were less accurate than with several of the other modes.  After Dynamic mode, Sports mode was the brightest with the default settings.

Photo mode tended to be a little too warm with a the image that was shifted a little toward the reds with the blues a little too weak.  Photo mode was not a bright as Theater mode, but overall provided a reasonably good picture.

sRGB mode produced a warm image with excessive reds.   Certainly a less accurate image than produced by the Theater or Sports modes, both of which also had somewhat excessive reds.  sRGB mode has similar brightness as Photo mode, but, it was not as bright as the Theater mode.

Whiteboard mode has good colors with the factory default settings without the excessive intensity of the Reds found with the Photo and Theater modes.   Color accuracy both in terms of grey scale and gamut were both good.  The Whiteboard mode may very well be the most frequently used mode with the 1430Wi, since all of the interactive features of this projector are enabled in this mode and an actual whiteboard is likely to be the most common projection surface to be used with this projector in the intended business application.  Overall, the out of the box color performance is excellent in Whiteboard mode.

DICOM SIM mode is a special purpose picture mode intended for projecting black and white images with a unique gamma curve.  This mode is intended to be used for viewing X-rays and other medical imaging for education and training purposes.  I did not evaluate its performance for this specific application.

Video Picture Quality

The above section discusses the image color accuracy in each of the color modes.  The gallery above shows photos taken from the screen with the projector operating in Theater Mode and using the Blu-ray Disc release of Casino Royale playing on a Panasonic player outputting video to the projector in 1080p format.

I used the Theater color mode for viewing the videos along with the minor user adjustments described in the section above for this color mode.  The 1430Wi projects images that look good during bright scenes but some shadow details are lost during dark scenes.  Blacks in the image are displayed as a dim grey, which is typical for a 3LCD business or classroom projector – See the section below on Image Contrast.

Text Image Quality

As can be seen in the gallery photos above, the Brightlink Pro 1430Wi does a very good job in clearly displaying text.  I noted just a very little red-blue-green misconvergence when viewed up close to the screen, but his was not visible from normal viewing distance.  Convergence is never perfect with any projector using 3 display chips, be it a LCD, DLP or LCoS based projector.  The recent Epson models that I have reviewed have, overall, been improved in this respect than the typical 3 chip projector from just a few years ago.   The sharpness/readability of text projected by the 1430Wi is primarily limited by the projector’s native 1280 x 800 resolution rather than its lens or the convergence of the 3 primary colors.  This is a good thing as some ultra-short throw projectors have a problem in achieving uniform focus over the entire projected image, but this is an not issue with the 1430Wi.

I also tested the 1430Wi’s performance for scaling high resolution signals down to the projector’s native 1280 x 800 resolution.  The 1430Wi does an excellent job with this and even when the input signal is at the highest resolution (i.e., 1920 x 1200) that can be accepted by the 1430Wi through its HDMI input, this displayed text (close-up photos below) appears to have similar sharpness compared to when the input is at the projector’s native resolution, as shown in the gallery photos above.

The photo below shows the scaling performance with an input signal having 1440 x 900 resolution

Image with 1440 x 900 Input Signal
Image with 1440 x 900 Input Signal

The photo below shows the scaling performance with an input signal having 1920 x 1200 resolution

Image with 1920 x 1200 Input Signal
Image with 1920 x 1200 Input Signal

 

Image Contrast

While this Epson may do a great job on color, it shares with other LCD business and classroom projectors the basic limitation of having lower native contrast than other technologies.  That means that blacks aren’t as black, more dark gray, than say, a typical DLP projector.   When critically watching a movie in a fully darkened room – theater, that difference is rather dramatic.  In the real world of classrooms and conference rooms though, all lights out is a real rarity in this day and age.  Noting that even a small amount of ambient light wipes out a lot of contrast, the Brightlink Pro 1430Wi works well enough in terms of contrast and black levels for the situations it’s designed for.  Yes you can get higher contrast, and no matter how much ambient light a projector with higher contrast will remain higher, but the difference, with no ambient light up to a fair amount, goes from big difference to barely noticeable difference.  Few would trade Epson’s really good color for a touch blacker blacks in a classroom with some lighting on.

Epson does provide an automatic iris to help out with the black levels.  That also improves the contrast numbers they publish, but as with many other classroom and business projectors, the automatic iris operates far slower than the typical dynamic iris on a home theater class of projector.  The 1430Wi uses its automatic iris and lamp dimming when the input image goes full black and that produces the very low black level the manufacturer will use to calculate the published contrast ratio.  Since this does not indicate how much contrast a projected image will actually have, the contrast ratio listed in the spec. sheet for such projectors is of very little real world value.  The bottom line though is the Brightlink Pro 1430Wi has reasonable contrast and  black level performance for almost all business uses.  Contrast is definitely not a strength of the Brightlink 1430Wi projector, but nor is it a significant weakness, since this class of projector is normally being used in a room with low to moderating lighting where truly dark on-screen levels are not possible.  So for its intended application, limited contrast ratio is not a real issue.

Bottom Line on Picture Quality

Overall, the Brightlink Pro 1430Wi deserves an ‘A’ for picture quality from a business class, ultra-short throw projector.  While we do not calibrate commercial projectors for color accuracy, there are multiple good to great modes, and menu features to adjust color further, such as I noted above for the description of the 1430Wi’s Theater Color mode.  The 1430Wi also displays text that is very sharp over the entire image.  Few, if any will find the 1430Wi lacking in terms of picture quality.  Oh, there are higher resolution projectors out there, and some with significantly better contrast, but in the real world this Epson basically nails picture quality in the areas that count, for a conference room or board room projector.