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Projectors Considered: Interactive Classroom Projectors 1

Posted on June 3, 2015 by Zachary Zanger
This group of projectors includes ultra short throw projectors with interactive features.  The projectors are listed in alphabetical order. We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year's Best Classroom Projectors report.

This group of projectors includes ultra short throw projectors with interactive features.  The projectors are listed in alphabetical order.

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year's Best Classroom Projectors report.

Interactive Projectors Considered

Interactive Projectors
Projector Model Image Overview Review Specs Type
Casio XJ-UT310WN Wall mounted Casio projector Overview Review Specs DLP technology, Wired networking
Epson Brightlink 595Wi Epson Brightlink 595Wi Overview Review Specs 3LCD technology, Wired networking
Epson Brightlink Pro 1430Wi  Brighlink Pro 1430wi wall mounted Overview Review Specs 3LCD technology, Wired networking
Hitachi CP-TW2503 Hitachi CP-TW2503 Overview Review Specs 3LCD technology, Wired networking

Casio XJ-UT310WN

Casio’s got an interesting ultra-short throw interactive projector.  The leader in solid state light engines introduced the XJ-UT310WN – which does have a solid state LED/Laser light engine, to take on the leader in ultra-short throw interactive projectors – which is Epson with over half of the US market for this type of projector, and has by far the most models in this category

Let’s start with the basics, the DLP Casio XJ-UT310WN is a WXGA resolution (1280x800) projector – the most common resolution for interactive projectors.  It claims a 20,000 hour light engine and 3100 lumens.  Color in brightest mode is definitely heavy green, but step down to better modes and good color starts at about 2100 lumens, and excellent color above 1500 lumens, which is still a healthy amount for an ultra short throw projector.

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This Casio is interactive, but relies on devices – such as iPhones, tablets, Androids, for annotation, etc., rather than having pens, so it is a little less versatile than the other interactive projectors featured in this report.  But it does allow annotation and saving of work.  It also has a basic media player capability with controls on the remote.  The windows based software is included, but Mac users will have to do a free download.

The UT310WN has LAN networking support and comes with wireless as well.  Warranty is an impressive 3 years parts and labor, and the LED/Laser light engine is guaranteed for 5 years or 10,000 hours, whichever comes first.  Since it doesn’t work with pens, for  perspective, this Casio interactive projector costs more than Epson’s non-interactive ultra short throw projectors, but is about $400 less than the 595WI their full touch interactive, and on top of that it has long term low cost light engine.  (Epson’s lamps are some of the longest lasting, but still no match), to further keep costs down.

Epson Brightlink 595Wi

The 595Wi is very, very, similar to the 585Wi reviewed last year, with the major change being that the 595Wi can use typical pens for interactive drawing, etc., but it can also sense and work based on using a finger, or several.  In fact it supports simultaneous use of two pens and six fingers – which allows multiple people to work interactively on a project simultaneously.  Imagine 4 or 5 kids doing math on the whiteboard at the same time.

All considered the 595Wi offers impressive interactive features, and it supports screens up to 100” diagonal at its WXGA resolution.  Typically larger surfaces (than 100”) are impractical for interactive, since the upper parts of the whiteboard would be too high for most to reach – besides 100” diagonal is far larger than the typical projection screens found in most K-12 classrooms even if that’s a common size in large university classrooms.   Without the need to fill huge spaces, the measured 3176 maximum lumens (3300 claimed), is plenty, even with a healthy amount of ambient light present.  Presentation mode is the brightest with very good color, and still measures 2644 lumens.

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The 595Wi has a full complement of networking capabilities including being Crestron RoomView compliant.  Wireless is handled by an included, plug in module.   There are, of course, iOS and Android Apps.

This WXGA projector is a true ultra short throw, with the projector normally mounted above the whiteboard/screen, and only a handful of inches from the wall.  (note for the touch function to work the projector must be “above” the screen, not below.  (It’s the orientation – “above the top”, as the projector can also project onto a table top and have the touch feature working).

Ron considered the overall image quality as extremely good, with bright vivid colors, and overall very good sharpness that allows even tiny 8 point type (that would rarely be used) to be very readable.  The sharpness remains good across the projected area, a problem for many ultra short throws.

A wall plate can mount next to the screen allowing for easy interfacing with USB, and other non-permanent content sources, as well as one touch printing, saving, and other functions.

Epson offers many ultra short throw interactive projectors, including still offering last year’s top rated 585Wi (no touch), but this is their flagship education model, and comes with a 3 year warranty with 3 years of replacement for schools through their Brighter Futures program.

Epson Brightlink Pro 1430Wi

While the 595Wi (above) is the top interactive targeting the education market, some university and other applications may favor the more expensive commercial version, the 1430Wi.  It has all the same features, but in addition is more collaboration focused,  Use several in meetings with other offices around the country, perhaps for symposiums or conferences, or just research meetings between teams at different universities.   Up to 16 1430s (or the less expensive 1410s  can collaborate at the same time – draw on any one, it appears on all of them, use it split screen with video conferencing for a just like being there meeting.  Or tie in a mix of phones, tablets and computers - but 16 in all.  This type of extra capability is most impressive, and can be a powerful collaboration tool over distances.

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If advanced collaboration makes sense, then the 1430Wi will be a better choice than the 595Wi.  The 1430Wi should be eligible for the same Brighter Futures 3 years parts labor with 3 years of  rapid replacement program.  No need to repeat the standard 595Wi feature set here.

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