Posted on June 1, 2016 By Art Feierman
This group of projectors includes eight good small fixed install / portable projectors, that represent the “standard” type of projector that gets installed in today’s K-12 classrooms and some small college classrooms as well.
Last year we had 3 large “pocket” LED projectors in this category as well, but for this year, we’ve moved solid state pocket projectors to a section for “other” projectors. I mention that, because in this section we do still have one projector using a solid state light engine, the Casio XJ-V110W, but it is more of a traditional projector, but one with an LED/laser light source.
We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report.
BenQ’s MX631ST is both a very typical classroom small install/portable projector, and at the same time, it’s a little different than the other seven projectors in this section, in that it is XGA resolution (while most are widescreen models). Of course BenQ has similar models in different resolutions.
As a low cost XGA projector that makes it a candidate to be a replacement model for schools needing to move away from ancient VGA and SVGA projectors – the bulk of projectors installed prior to the last 4-5 years. In that regard it is very suitable. I like that it has both S-video and composite video inputs, which a some newer projectors no longer support. These, however can be very important, for example, as one manufacturer was recently pointing out to me, a lot of K-12 classrooms still have, and use, at least occasionally, VCRs which rely on either composite or S-video as their only output. That’s true of a lot of many older DVD players as well.
3200 lumens claimed, this single chip DLP projector can easily handle a standard classroom.
The MX631ST has a pair of HDMI inputs and one of them supports MHL for mobile devices including streaming sticks. The 10 watt speaker – also more than sufficient. There’s an audio out, as well.
It is a short throw projector. The MX631ST will either be used table top (perhaps moved from room to room as it weighs 5.7 lbs.), or, more likely in schools, ceiling mounted. Although it is a short throw model, it is not “very” or “ultra” short throw. Those other two types are capable of being wall (not ceiling) mounted right above the screen (a money saver in terms of installation). The slightly shorter than normal throw can be helpful as far as not “blinding” the teacher when up close to the screen, but, again, it is the very, and ultra short throw models that are best at that. The zoom lens offers a basic 1.2:1 zoom ratio. There’s plenty of keystone correction.
What the MX631ST doesn’t have is networking – wired or wireless. That makes it strictly a value projector. As to pricing, street pricing is in the low $500’s, but BenQ does have an education program with the moniker BEST. They provide no pricing specifics on their site but indicate special educational pricing on projectors to K-12 and higher education.
Bottom Line: Biggest strength is as a low cost replacement for aging projectors with XGA or lower resolution.
This year we reviewed the Casio XJ-V110, one of Casio’s value oriented V series models. If Casio is known for one thing when it comes to projectors – it is that they don’t use lamps. All Casio projectors for years, have used hybrid LED/Laser projectors. Casio’s been making a good living off of them.
Now including a 20,000 hour solid state light engine, brings great benefit, but also a higher price. In this case the price is $799 list.
Last year we were barely able to review a pre-production version of the V1, the first of the series in time for the report.
Once again, the value proposition is impressive, but the V110 is a significant upgrade from the V1. First of all it is WXGA rather than XGA. It also sports an impressive zoom lens with a 1.5:1 ratio (up from a mere 1.1:1 – barely a zoom). Still no built in speaker, but the variable audio out makes it easy to pair with an external powered speaker placed nearby, or wirelessly using a pair of bluetooth transmitter/receivers. You also don’t get networking for the price, but the need to never replace a lamp can save several hundred dollars or more over the life of the projector. Bottom line – higher upfront cost – lower overall cost of operation.
Also of note, it is only $100 more than last year’s V1, for which you do get more brightness, WXGA resolution and, this time around, a lens with better than most zoom range.
If you don’t need networking, this Casio may make a whole lot of sense as a classroom projector.
The EX7240 is one of four Epson’s in this section (last year we had no Epsons in this section. (Timing!)
The EX7240 is the only of the four that isn’t part of Epson’s Brighter Futures education program, which puts it at a serious disadvantage to the other three “standard” Epson projectors in this section for those institutions that qualify for the program. For those that do not, however, the EX7240 may fit your needs.
The EX7240 is a very capable WXGA projector that claims 3200 lumens, and a 1.2:1 zoom lens. it comes with built in wireless (which tends to be a $99 option on many Epsons). Warranty is one year parts/labor, and includes Epson’s excellent, free rapid replacement program also covers that year.
As you might expect, it does PC free presenting with its on board media player. It also offers MHL with its HDMI, to support streaming sticks, and portable devices.
All that aside, consider this Epson with its MSRP of $649 to be a good value as a business portable or for those rare education uses that wouldn’t qualify for Brighter Futures.
That said, the EX7240 is not competitive when compared to the other three Epson projectors in this section, for most school usage. The other three all receive a three year warranty with 3 years of rapid replacement program thanks to Brilliant Futures.
They also receive rather substantial discounts, from list price. So that, for example, the Epson W29 (below) lists for only $50 less (at $599) but sells to schools for $479, and they have lower priced replacement lamps.
We’ve included the EX7240 despite not being eligible for Brilliant Futures (virtually all US schools are). On the other hand, I have little info on Epson’s, or, for that matter, any other manufacturer’s education programs outside the US. It may be more competitive where you are.
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