Posted on March 7, 2019 By Nikki Zelinger
Epson PowerLite 5520W Business/Education Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise
Epson claims 5,500 lumens for the PowerLite 5520W. I measured its brightest mode, Dynamic, at full wide angle – this is with the iris wide open, so the most amount of light gets through. Not surprisingly, this Epson beat its claim by 1,692 lumens, coming in at 7,192! For the rest of the modes, I measured them at mid-zoom, so the iris is closed halfway. This is because it’s more common that the projector is zoomed in a bit for installation than it is for the projector to be installed at full wide angle. This gives potential buyers a better idea of what the projector will be able to do in terms of brightness once it’s installed.
So that same mode, Dynamic, measured 4,690 at mid-zoom, full power. That’s excellent! I’ve included two photos in the slider below – the first shows what the image looks like in some serious ambient light, and the second, in a fully darkened room. These photos were taken in Presentation mode, which measured at 3,450. It performed well! In the most serious ambient light conditions, you can go ahead and use Dynamic, but definitely adjust the color to try to get rid of that green/yellow tinge a bit. It can be done!
The Epson PowerLite 5520W projecting in a fully darkened room.
The Epson PowerLite 5520W projecting in a room with a lot of ambient light.
The remaining modes all measured above 3,175 lumens, which is plenty of brightness to handle ambient light conditions seen in most classrooms, conference rooms, lecture halls, houses of worship, and any other room this projector may be used in. Multi-Projector mode actually measured brighter than Presentation, at 3,702 lumens. Cinema is the next brightest mode after Presentation, and came in at 3,334 lumens. DICOM SIM. measured at 3,198 lumens, and sRGB, the least bright mode, clocked in at a respectable 3,178 lumens.
The Epson PowerLite 5520W has a contrast claim of 15,000:1. Since we don’t have any way to measure this claim, we don’t concern ourselves with it. What we do concern ourselves with is how the projector performs in terms of black levels. When we talk about black levels, we are talking about how blacks the blacks look. Do they look true black, dark grey, or, at worst, light grey. Gag. Business and education projectors tend to hang out in the medium grey to medium dark grey spectrum, and we don’t expect them to have true black. The closest I’ve ever seen to true black on a business and education projector was on a $9K Sony, and that was a surprise.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in color.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in monochrome for comparison purposes.
So, we ask, are the blacks recognizable as black? With the Epson PowerLite 5520W, the answer is yes, they are recognizable as black. They are a medium-dark grey, as to be expected. You can definitely tell it’s the black of space in certain scenes from Journey to Space. In the slider above, I have provided a color and black and white photo of the same image from Journey to Space. The color photo shows what the blacks of the projected image look like in real life, and the monochrome photo shows the lightness of the blacks. These images are overexposed to resemble the colors I saw in person, and to give you an accurate idea of what to expect.
The PowerLite 5520W has a rated fan noise of 38db at full power, 28db in ECO Mode. Though that’s not considered quiet, it’s definitely one of those sounds that disappear into the background – that is, you get used to it. I was standing right next to the projector to take my photos, so naturally, the fan was louder than you can expect for your installations. This projector will likely be ceiling mounted, far above the heads of the audience, so that sound will diminish with height. I’d rate it as about the same volume as the low hum of an air conditioner.
Now, that ECO Mode rating is quiet. 28db is quieter than my home theater projector when operating at full power. In the home theater market, fan noise is supposed to be kept to a minimum, and if 31db is acceptable for home theater projectors, 28db is awesome for a business and education projector such as the Epson PowerLite 5520W. With the volume on, I couldn’t hear the fan at full power, and I definitely couldn’t hear it in ECO Mode. I wouldn’t worry about the fan being a distraction, whether presenting or showing video content.
That does it for our review of the Epson PowerLite 5520W projector! On the next page, I summarize everything you learned in the review, and tell you my take on the pros and cons to the 5520W. See you on the last page!
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