A Hot Product Award for Epson's G6550WU
Epson sells two versions of this projector - the Powerlite Pro - for commercial, and Pro Cinema version for home. We combine their names for simplicity at times. First and foremost these G6550WU projectors are business/education/commercial use projectors. They were designed that way. There are only minor differences in the home version. Epson could have gone a good deal further to maximize performance for the home, but that would require hardware rather than firmware changes. When it comes to the home version, ultimately I look at it by how it performs, not what it could have been.
As a projector for business, education and some other segments, the G6550WU is very bright full high def, WUXGA resolution projector suitable for university lecture halls, hotel ballroom presentations, house of worship and rock concerts, plus, of course, all kinds of digital signage, small auditoriums, and conference rooms. It's almost certainly too much projector for K-12 classrooms.
This Epson produces over 4500 lumens at brightest, and 4000 lumens with really good color. It's good at placement in larger venues, thanks to its selection of six different lenses. You can purchase the projector without a lens, and choose the lens you need, or buy a version with a standard zoom lens for not much more. This G series has specialty features including Edge Blending (although not as capable as the edge blending on the top of the line G6900WU that we reviewed last year). It operates vertically, horizontally, and many ways in between.
The G6550WU is very well endowed when it comes to networking. It has advanced networking with all the usual - push notifications, scheduling, monitoring, also add Wifi capabilities and peer to peer, closed captioning, also the ability to split the screen between four computer images, or use split screen to show two sources of info at once.
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The projector is Crestron RoomView capable, with all those advanced features, but there's also Epson's EasyMP, which will control a network of Epson projectors with its own respectable feature set.
Other than dual lamp applications, and applications when you need flawless reproduction quality instead of just great, I'm pretty hard pressed to come up with uses for a projector like this Epson, that this projector can't do well.
Commercial Grade Picture Quality - And Great for Football...
OK, we've established that the G6550WU is a very serious, and well endowed projector. Its picture quality for typical applications is excellent. That is, color is excellent, sharpness is very good, black levels could be better. There might be some specific applications where you need an even better picture, but those should be very few indeed.
Moving the projector to the home, gets you a Sports mode instead of a Photo mode, etc. What you really get, though is a projector with excellent color. This projector is built to play in a variety of rooms in your home, but a dedicated home theater isn't one of them. It's too bright. There would be better choices.
This projector is for rooms with more than a little ambient light, such as my own very bright living room, where we ceiling mounted G6550WU a few months ago. The primary reason for the project, was to shoot some videos about using projectors in brighter rooms. So we did a video based on this review, one showing the projector's installation (and a screen), and one showing how this projector performed under tough conditions.
I find it works great for sports viewing. Sports viewing was a primary reason we put a projector in the living room when we already have a home theater that performs great. It's more fun to be downstairs watching my sports in the daytime, with friends over, while wandering in and out to the back deck. We also tend to watch some TV news type shows, HGTV, etc. Movies are saved for the theater (where there's also a lot of other content being watched usually off of satellite or streaming).
For home, it could have used a 12 volt screen trigger. But it really could have used a smoother iris as found on their UB series. It is slightly noticeable at times, for the more critical observers. Hey, you don't need to use the iris for sports, anyway! And naturally any improvement in black levels on almost any projector is appreciated.
Missing compared to the more expensive and brighter G6900 is built in HDBaseT (for long data runs over CAT5/6), and HD-SDI which allows for football field length coaxial to deliver clean 1080p content from video cameras and other live sources. If you don't need those, or the more enhanced version of edge blending, this G6550WU will save you a lot of money, and still 80% as bright.
How does the competition stack up? True, you can buy some high brightness DLP projectors for less money, (with the same resolution). From a practical standpoint, though, if you need at least "good" color, most of those single chip DLP projectors need to drop down in brightness a good bit (up to half) before their color approaches that of the Epson in, say, its Presentation mode. As a result, you really don't end up with an as bright projector for less, just a less bright projector for less.
For home, the stiffest competition would likely come from other companies using 3LCD or LCoS technology. But no one else is really offering anything this bright - that they are marketing for home, without getting into extremely expensive 3 chip DLP projector.
Powerlite Pro G6550WU Projector: Competition, and The Bottom LIne
One example of a projector which could compete at home would be an LCoS projector from Canon. Canon's top of the line is definitely competition, though more money. We reviewed Canon's WUX6000 this past year, and were most impressed. On the commercial side too offers DICOM or rather one version of it does - just like this Epson and a number of other features that this Epson shares. And it too is a nice bright commercial projector, that offers great color. That Canon, although more expensive, is a competitor for the G6550WU as a commercial projector, so would be one example of another such projector that could be used in the home. On the other hand, since Canon doesn't target the home, their support for home users, would likely be an issue. Well, that's one possible competitor.
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So far, only Epson seems to be actively marketing to this home entertainment category, although technically any bright commercial projector is competition.
All considered, the G6550WU is a serious, highly competitive commercial projector with a cut above quality warranty, or a crossover for very bright home entertainment, in which case, it has a best in class warranty compared to other home projectors.
This projector review is included in our 2015-2016 Best Classroom Projectors Report, which is sponsored by Epson America.