Epson Powerlite 96W: Color & Picture Quality
As usual, I connected my laptop to the 96W via HDMI and fed the projector its native resolution (1280 x 800). Right away, the 96W displayed the sharp image and accurate colors we’ve come to expect from Epson multimedia projectors. Unlike many projectors, the 96W’s colors are quite good in Dynamic (the brightest) mode. This means you can make full use of the projector’s lumen output even with photo presentations, without the result looking unnatural. However, if you don’t need the full lumen output, dropping down to Photo or Theatre mode will give you the most accurate colors, with better contrast contributing the greater image depth.
As a result of the very good color rendition, photographic images displayed crisp, well-saturated colors. Small details were well defined as well and various nature photos viewed looked quite natural, without any particular color oversaturation or deficiency.
As is typical of projectors in this class, there is a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen. The zoom feature can then be combined with the on-screen pointer to focus in on details in photos or charts. Both features can be controlled from the remote.
Epson Powerlite 96W: Readability
The 96W provided a very sharp, clean image with our usual variety of source material. Bringing up our usual spreadsheet with a range of text sizes and colors, small (8 pt.) text was easily readable on a 90” diagonal projected image. This was also true of white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.
Some projectors, when fed higher-than-native resolutions combined with different aspect ratios, have difficulty accurately displaying the different colored text/background combinations in the spreadsheet. This was not the case with the 96W, which did an excellent job with both. Switching to 1680 x 1050, the 96W handled the text spreadsheet quite well, with only a minimal color bleed at the smallest text size. The 96W also did an excellent job on lower resolutions, like the old standard XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. There was a little bit of blue fringing with white text on a black background, but again, only on the smallest font size. Additionally, there was only minimal loss of sharpness in the text. Typically, 3-chip LCD projectors don’t achieve the high sharpness of their single chip DLP counterparts and the 96W is no exception. That being said, if you regularly have presentations that require the smallest details to be displayed with laser-like sharpness, you’re probably going to be looking a higher resolution projectors.
Overall, an excellent performance for any projector, much less one in the 96W’s price range.