The Powerlite 826W has its lens offset to the right side of the projector when facing it. There a manual, sliding lens cover, adjustable from the top of the projector, that protects the lens when not in use and also provides video and audio mute (A/V Mute) when the projector is in operation. A/V Mute can also be accessed from the remote without closing the cover and also allows for display of a blue screen or alternate screen (such as company logo). This is a feature that has appeared on other Epson projectors, allowing for a pause for questions during a presentation while helping to save lamp life. Right behind the dust cover lever are tabbed rings for adjusting lens focus and zoom. There is an IR receiving eye on the bottom left corner of the front panel and a push button for adjusting the front height in the center. There are also two screw feet in the rear corners of the 826W for adjusting the rear height.
On top of the projector, just right of center, is a control panel with the most oft-used functions, plus indicators for power on, lamp status and temperature (if overheating). There are buttons for Power On/Off, Source Search, Menu, Navigation (Up, Down, Left and Right), Escape, Enter and Help. The menu navigation buttons also function for Volume Up/Down and keystone correction. The Help button (also on the remote) is a feature found on many Epson projectors. It allows the user to solve simple problems that may occur, without having to stop and consult the manual. Pushing this button brings up some questions designed to narrow down the problem. Selecting the appropriate question takes you directly to the appropriate section of the menu to address that problem.
In the rear left corner (again facing the front of the projector) is the cover for access to the lamp. Having the cover on top of the 826W allows for access even if the projector is ceiling mounted. However, the cover wraps around to the rear of the projector and the screw to release the cover must be accessed from the rear. This could present problems in certain installations where the projector is mounted close to the back wall. There is a large exhaust port on the left side of the projector (right next to the lamp). Moving to the right side, right near the front edge, there is a cover for the dust filter that wraps slightly over the top of the projector. This is also where the wireless LAN module is inserted and a small window in the top edge of the cover allows for an indicator light to shine through from the module. Moving toward the rear, there’s security anchor bar for a cable lock and a Kensington lock.
Now let’s look at the rear panel. The Powerlite 826W is well endowed when it comes to inputs, but it is missing one that some of the competition have, and that's HDMI. That really is about the only thing missing. Most people do not need HDMI (or DVI), but, we still would have liked to see it.
Moving across the top from left to right, there is an second IR receiving eye for the remote and LAN jack, followed by USB Type A and B jacks. The Type A is for a USB thumb drive and the Type B is used for connection to a computer to output video over USB to the 826W. Next are two standard computer monitor inputs with associated audio input jacks and a microphone input below them. Below that are an RS-232 serial control input and a monitor out jack with associated audio output jack. Finally, to the right, are video inputs for composite and S-video, with stereo RCA jacks for audio input. Moving across the bottom from left to right is a 10-watt speaker and the power cord connection.
Epson Powerlite 826W Setup
The Powerlite 826W is simple to set up. It fires up quickly and between the zoom and the three height adjustments mentioned in the Physical Tour, it’s easy to size and square the picture to the screen. I should mention that there is an auto keystone feature that is enabled by default. I would recommend turning it off before you adjust the position of the projector. Ideally, you would not want to use any keystoning at all as it can have a detrimental effect on the image quality. However, if you are limited in your ability to position the projector due to space restrictions, then turning the auto-keystoning back on, after you’ve done all you can to align the projector, will give you a properly proportioned image with minimal reduction in picture quality.
As we’ve noted on other Epson projectors, there is a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen. This can come in handy for pointing out details in photos or graphics, as well as making sections of charts easier to read over a larger audience.
Unlike much of the competition, the 826W’s 10-watt amplified speaker has enough power to create an acceptable volume level for most classrooms or conference rooms.
Epson Powerlite 826W Remote Control
With the exception of a few buttons, the 826W’s remote is almost a duplicate of the previously reviewed 1735W. It’s well laid out, allowing easy access to the most used functions. From the top down, there are buttons for Power, a input search button, plus buttons to access each input directly. Below that are dual function buttons for A/V Mute, Freeze, User, Auto, Aspect, Color Mode and a “Num” button that changes these buttons to number functions 1-6. Below that are buttons that control page up and down (Up is also number key 7), the electronic zoom (also number keys 8 and 0), bringing up the on-screen pointer (which is also number key 9), Help and Volume Up/Down. Below all that are Menu and Escape buttons, along with menu navigation (and pointer movement) keys for Up, Down, Left, Right and Enter.
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The buttons are not backlit, but that is not unusual for multimedia projectors where backlighting might be more of a distraction than a benefit. And then there's the fact that this projector is bright! Rarely would anyone darken a room enough to need the remote to be backlit. Overall, the remote works quite well. As with the 1735W, the only issue I have with the remote is that most of the buttons are the same size and shape, making it difficult to locate them by touch in a darkened room.