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Portable Projector Review: Epson Powerlite S5 Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons

Posted on October 4, 2013 by Art Feierman

If you are convinced that you can live without a higher resolution projector, have determined that the budget is tight, and you can live with a projector lacking a zoom lens, then stop right here. You've almost certainly found your projector. You can spend more, for more features, and for higher resolution, but the value proposition of the Epson S5 is outstanding.

Let's look at the Powerlite S5's strengths and weaknesses.

Epson Powerlite S5: Pros

  • Low cost!
  • Excellent overall image quality, sharp, and with accurate colors
  • Extremely sharp image when fed SVGA resolution sources
  • Very good compression technology for easily readable smaller type, and virtually perfect larger type sizes when fed XGA and higher resolution sources
  • Locked on and worked well with every resolution thrown at it, all the way up to SXGA+ (1400x1050)
  • Long life lamp (4000 hours in low power, 3000 in full), and low cost, too
  • Extremely bright, suitable for all but large room (ballroom and auditorium) use, even with moderate lighting
  • Excellent warranty - 2 years, with 2 years of overnight replacement
  • Lamp can be changed out without unmounting the projector
  • Filter can be changed/cleaned without unmounting the projector
  • Very well laid out menu structure
  • On board interactive Help
  • Lens cover doubles as AV mute
  • A monitor out is provided
  • Superior documentation - there's tons of it, but more detail than most competitors provide, and the fold out Quick Guide should get just about everyone up and running in a few minutes
  • Quick powerup and powerdown
  • Excellent price/performance

Epson Powerlite S5: Cons

  • No HDMI or DVI (digital) inputs
  • Remote control is small, with many, very small buttons, not backlit
  • User manual is on disk only, it may be a really good manual, but hardcopy documention is a real plus
  • Small 1 watt speaker is a bit tinny sounding
  • Only one computer input

Epson Powerlite S5: Typical Capabilities

  • Physical size for a high powered portable
  • Overall color handling (for an LCD projector) and much better than most DLP projectors
  • Audible noise - just a little quieter than average
  • Number and types of inputs

Epson Powerlite S5 Summary:

I suspect there are a few current model projectors on the market that are slightly less expensive than Epson's S5, and not having reviewed any of them, it's hard to be definitive. The Epson Powerlite S5 is an excellent, solid projector. It is well thought out, produces great, rich, saturated, data and video images. And, it has to be the brightest projector anywhere near the price. Not enough, the S5 is easy to use, and comes with a world class warranty.

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If there is a downside, it is that it lacks a true zoom lens. Nevermind that most projectors that have zoom lenses near the price of the S5, only have a 1.2:1 or less zoom ratio, meaning only placement flexibility of a foot or so, for a typical classroom or training room sized screen.

Yet, the S5 has enough brightness to present to groups of several hundred, on screens as large as 25 foot diagonal, with low to moderate lighting. In a conference room, the S5 hardly notices full flourescent lights, it's that bright.

All of these capabilities, for less than $600? As a reviewer, sometimes it's easy to figure out which projectors deserve one of our awards. Other projectors might be borderline, making it hard to decide. Giving the Epson S5 our Hot Product Award, has to be the easiest award decision I've had to make yet, regarding a projector for business or education, regardless of price.

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