Epson Powerlite 96W Projector: Bottom Line
The Epson 96W packs a lot of punch for its price. It improves on both last year’s Best in Classroom winner, the Epson 85+, and its predecessor, the 826W. It does all this with a higher lumen output than either projector, widescreen resolution (vs. the 85+’s XGA), a lower price than the 826W and more power for its built-in speaker. It has every video input type one could want and includes the ability to be controlled and present via a network. While it only comes with wired networking capability, wireless networking is available with the addition of an optional, plug-in module.
As has been the case with many of today’s LCD multimedia projectors, the 96W displays good color balance even in its brightest mode. This makes using the brightest mode a viable option, even for photo or other presentations that require more accurate color than mainly text-based presentations. Additionally, it provides a reasonably sharp image at any resolution. Those requiring finer details on a larger screen (like CAD presentations) would likely be considering a higher resolution projector than the 96W. For permanent installation, the 96W has mounting screw holes for ceiling mounting, while retaining easy access to the lamp and air filter.
The Epson 96W also compares well with last year’s other Best in Classroom winner, the Optoma TX542. I was quite impressed with the Optoma last year and it still is quite a value for its sub-$700 price. However, like the 85+, it’s an XGA projector. Also, while the TX542 has very good color, it’s not quite up to the level of the 96W. The Optoma does have a slightly sharper image however. Other factors to consider between the two would be the Optoma’s lower rated lamp life and built-in speaker power.
The 96W has a lot to offer the K-12 presenter, who is limited by class time and can appreciate an all-in-one solution. It should be a strong contender for this year’s Best in Classroom.