Color and Picture Quality
The Epson PowerLite 99W displays presentation materials with very clear text while both presentations and video are generally displayed with rich, well saturated colors. For my initial evaluation of the PowerLite 99W, I used the factory default settings for each picture mode As a general observation, applicable to all picture modes, this projector only offers a relatively low contrast ratio and fairly high black levels in the projected image. Blacks appear only as a moderately dark grey. This is typical for this class of 3LCD classroom projectors in terms of contrast ratio and black level performance . Also I found that the default settings for brightness and contrast generally resulted in both the blacks and the whites being crushed (i.e., the darkest shades of grey all appeared the same and the brightest few shades all appeared as full white). I confirmed that adjusting the projector's brightness and contrast controls could correct these issues.
In the brightest mode (called “Dynamic”) the whites had an overall green tint and the greens also were shifted a little toward yellow while the yellows were shifted a little toward green resulting in mid-level greens and yellows appearing too close to being the same color. In this mode the reds were a little too dark as compared to the blues and greens, which is in part the result of the Dynamic mode having a default color temperature setting of 7500K. Frequently the brightest mode on a projector has such poor quality that it's of little value except in the rare cases where every last bit of light output is needed to overcome room lighting. In the case of the PowerLite 99W, its brightest mode could prove useful for classroom presentations where room lighting cannot be easily controlled.
The PowerLite 99W offers a “Presentation” picture mode that is approximately 90% as bright as the "Dynamic" mode and offers somewhat more accurate colors. As was the case in "Dynamic" mode, the image in “Presentation” mode still has an overall green tint and the reds are darker than the greens and blues, which is in part the result of the Presentation mode also having a default color temperature setting of 7500K. White and yellows in the projected image appear more accurate than they do in the “Dynamic” mode. The greens in this mode continued to show a shift toward yellow.
The "Theater" mode provides overall good color with the out-of-the-box settings. While the green color tends to be shifted a little toward yellow, the remaining colors appeared reasonably accurate. The default color temperature setting for the Theater mode is 6500K. When viewing video in "Theater" mode the projected image appeared just a little too warm, especially in the brighter picture elements. This indicated the actual color temperature with the factory default settings was actually under 6500K.
The "Photo" mode also provides good colors with the out-of-the-box settings. In fact the color accuracy of images displayed in Photo modes appears nearly the same as when the projector is set to Theater mode. Photo mode is only available with when the HDMI input signal is in RGB signal format (i.e., Photo mode is not available when the HDMI signal is in component YCbCr format).
The "Sports" mode is intended for viewing sports programs in a bright room and this mode has the third most light output from the projector (only less than the Dynamic and Presentation modes). Sports mode has a overall blue-green tint to the image (i.e., producing a "cooler" appearance) with the reds being a little too dark). This is at least in part the result of having a 7500K default color temperature setting for Sports mode as compared to 6500K for the Theater and Photo modes. The Sports mode overall provided more accurate colors than the Dynamic or Presentation modes and still offered a very bright image sufficient for use in rooms with moderate ambient lighting. The Sports mode is only available when an HDMI input signal is in component YCbCr format and not RGB format.
The "sRGB" mode is intended for use with a computer as the input signal source. I found this color mode to be a little on the warm side tending to have a slight red shift for the mid through brighter tones (in this respect not unlike the Theater mode when using its default settings). Overall color accuracy was good.
"Blackboard" mode has really poor colors when viewed on a white screen, but that is not the intended projection surface for this color mode. When viewed on a white surface the image has a strong magenta tone indicating a low green output as compared to red and blue. Since I did not have the intended surface to project the image onto, I could not properly evaluate how the colors would appear for the intended application of this mode.
"Whiteboard" mode is intended for projection onto a classroom whiteboard, instead of a conventional projection screen. This mode has fairly well balanced colors for brighter areas of the image with just a little shift toward cyan in the darkest areas of the image. The image in Whiteboard mode was a little brighter than in Theater mode but the color temperature was also a little higher producing a somewhat 'cooler' image when viewed on a white projection screen.
The PowerLite 99W image resolution and text clarity is very good for a projector with a native 1280 x 800 resolution. Even 8-point text was very easy to read in both black text on a white background and with white text on a black background. When my attached laptop PC was set to the projector’s native 1280 x 800 resolution (as shown in the photos above) the text readability was very good. The was no noticeable color fringing on the text from a normal viewing distance and very little color fringing even when viewed up close. This is very good performance for a LCD projector and even better than some of the DLP projectors that I have reviewed that exhibited a significant chromatic aberration. I was able to get sharp focus over the entire image.
After evaluating the readability of text with an input signal at the projector's native 1280 x 800 resolution, I increased the input resolution first to 1600 x 1200 then to 1920 x 1080. If found the scaling performance of the PowerLite 99W to be excellent, as can be seen in the photo below when using a 1920 x 1080 input signal.