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Epson Powerlite 1985 WU Projector Review - Performance

Posted on January 4, 2015 by Art Feierman
POWERLITE 1985WU PROJECTOR - PERFORMANCE:  Brightness by Mode, Eco Mode, Auto Sensors, Audible Noise, Image Noise

Projector Brightness Measurements

Powerlite 1985WU Brightness - Wide angle on zoom (closest)
Mode Brightness (Lumens)
Dynamic 4956
Presentation 3497
Theatre 3390
Photo 4133
sRGB 2668
BlackBoard 1499
WhiteBoard 1731


Measuring the various modes was done with the zoom lens at full wide angle, which is to say, with the projector projecting the largest image possible from its distance from the screen.

As is typical with any projector with a zoom lens, as you adjust the amount of zoom, that will affect the brightness.  At full wide angle most projectors are at their brightest.  Considering that the 1985WU has a 1.6:1 zoom, you could place the projector at the opposite range of the zoom, which would put it 1.6x further from a screen for the same sized image.

That results in a drop in brightness of approximately 20%, which is certainly enough to be a visible drop in brightness, but still a pretty small one.  It's less, for example than going from full power to Eco mode.  Leave the room for a minute, while someone decreases a projector's brightness by 20% and when you re-enter, it's unlikely you would notice the change unless warned in advance.  Eco modes, by comparison typically result in drops of 25-40%.

Powerlite 1985 WU Eco Mode

Epson offers a Normal Mode, an Eco Mode and an Auto mode.

Eco mode measured approximately 32% below Normal mode.  That difference should be consistent, no matter what image mode you are using (Presentation, Theatre...)

We really can't measure Auto in any meaningful way, because when presented with a full white (100 IRE), it will measure the same as Normal.  If an image has no maximum bright areas, then Auto mode will limit the brightness accordingly.  Use Auto to save some energy, but not as effective as Eco mode.  Fan noise is typically louder than in Eco mode.

The first image below is just a closeup of the Eco menu.  The next four images show relative brightness (and color differences) in order:  Theatre mode (Eco), Theater mode (Normal), Presentation (Normal), and Dynamic (Normal).  From a practical standpoint that goes from the best mode (Theatre) at lowest power, to the brightest the projector is capable of.  The differences in brightness are certainly signifiant, but even Theatre (Eco), isn't dramatically darker (although a drop of roughly 50% brightness)

Powerlite 1985WU Sharpness

Welcome to the wonderful world of WUXGA projectors.  Whether you are displaying spreadsheets, MRI images (using DICOM mode), photos, or architectural drawings, 1920x1200 resolution is about as good as it gets.  Oh, 4K projectors exist - a few, but by comparison, a 4K Sony with 2000 lumens is over 15 times the price.   So unless you have a compelling need for true 4K, this is about as good as resolution gets.

The optics of the Epson seem fine, and everything appears nice and sharp.  In the images in this player, are just a few typical images but there's also a close up of small type from our test spreadsheet.  If you stare hard, even 8 point type is (barely) readable.  But then, it's being diplayed at 1920x1200.  That same 8 point type would be almost 4 times the size (and sharpness) on an XGA projector, so that's pretty good.  Consider that on a 10 foot screen, with 20/20 vision, you'd have to be standing probably 5 feet away to even read 8 point type at that resolution.

The point is, no one who's not standing right by the screen would be able to read 8 point type no matter how perfect - it's just too small at this resolution!

Auto Sensors

Epson has three sensors of interest.  Call them special features.  both affect brightness, so are discussed here.

The first is more of image processing - rather than a physical sensor.  That is the Auto mode on the Eco menu.  I just mentioned that as a way of maintaining maximum brightness but able to save energy when the image content itself isn't a very bright one.

The other two though are sensors.  The first located on the front of the projector enables the projectors Auto Fit (so the image does not overshoot the screen) and focus assist functions.

The other sensor is located on the top of the projector behind the lens focus and zoom controls.  This sensor faces up, and measures the brightness of the room.  When engaged, it will adjust the brightness of the projector accordingly.  If the room is relatively dark, it will lower the brightness of the projector.  If the room measures very bright, it will not.

Sensors used for adjusting brightness have been around for probably close to a decade.  They do work, but I usually wonder if they are really needed, or more of a marketing device.   You know:  "sounds great - maybe I should get a projector with this capability, just in case I decide I will need it in the future?"  Well, this Epson has it, and it provides another tool in the Epson's energy management and control capabilities.  My point though, is that if it didn't have this feature, I can't really imagine anyone deciding to choose a different projector simply because this feature wasn't available!

Audible Noise

If this were a much less bright projector, one might have a problem with the amount of fan noise.  At full power this would be pretty noisy in a small conference room.  But then one doesn't need 4800 lumens or anything to it for the size screens you would find in a smaller room.

Officially Epson says the 1985WU produces 39 db at full power and 31 in Eco.  The typical range of brightness projectors in the general 5000-8000 range is probably from 36 to 44 db, so overall, the Epson is likely average.  31 db in Eco mode, on the other hand is pretty quiet.  Consider than many of Epson's home theater projectors claim 32-34 db at full power so are a touch louder than this projector's Eco mode, thus 31 should be considered reasonably quiet in a small room for a presentation to a half dozen or so people sitting around a conference room table with the projector in the ceiling right above.

Most folks, most of the time, will be able to use Eco mode.  Well, that's true unless you are tackling a pretty large screen in a pretty large room.  An example might be, perhaps, a college classroom that holds 200.  Full power would come in handy in a room like that with fluorescent lights going, and a 10 foot screen.  But in a huge room like that, this projector would be considered reasonable at 39 db.

We don't measure audible noise levels (it's a complicated process), but from experience, Epson's decibel claims seem reasonable.

Image Noise

Overall I viewed standard computer material displaying at the native resolution of this projector, upscaled by my MacBook Pro to  1920x1200, but also output at the Mac's native resolution and let the Epson upscale to WUXGA.  Both look nicely sharp, with no noise problems or jitters of any sort.  In addition I viewed video clips that were on the Mac as well. Again, no issues to report.

I have also hooked up the projector to a DirecTV DVR and to a Blu-ray player.  Again no issues, except when using the Guide on the DirecTV menus.  The small window that displays the live channel showed a little image noise around the top of that window when the box was tuned to some standard channels, but not HDTV channels.  Count that very minor, and not something anyone's likely to duplicate.

No issues with viewing movies or all digital content off of the Blu-ray player.

Bottom Line:  No issues.  Of course that's not surprising, considering companies have been refining image processing in projectors for more than 15 years.  In other words, I'm sort of reporting about something that hasn't really been an issue with projectors for years (unless they really screw up).

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