Projector Reviews

Projectors Considered: Standard Classroom Projectors 2

Here’s the second batch of typical small install and portable projectors we refer to as the “standard” class of education projectors.    The remaining two standard classroom projectors will be found on the third page.  The table showing these three, along with all the other projectors in this “class” is located on the first page of this section.  It also has a table showing those previous winners of this class, that are still current models and should be considered comparable.

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

Epson Powerlite 955WH

The Powerlite 955WH is one serious WXGA projector.  Oh, it’s far from the brightest small Epson, but if you can “get by” with less merely 3200 color and white lumens, then check this one out.

Plenty of placement flexibility with a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens, plus lots of keystone correction and corner adjust.  Lamp life is awesome – 5000 hours at full power and up to 10,000 hours with all eco features engaged.  It’s got HDMI with MHL, 2 VGA, a monitor out, lots of audio inputs and a stereo audio out.

Networking?  You bet.  There’s a LAN connector, and Crestron Roomview support for advanced networking.

Extra special is having a microphone input for those who take advantage.

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As mentioned, there’s MHL so you can use streaming sticks.  The optional (snap in) wireless dongle ($99) plus free Epson Apps let you work with Apple and Android devices, PC’s and Macs all wirelessly.

Epson’s Easy MP software (for all their projectors) allows for command and control of the projector (an alternative to controlling it using the network software.)   More significant is their free Moderator software, mentioned elsewhere.  That allows the screens of up to four computers and other devices (phones, tablets),  to be displayed at once out of up to 50 total devices, over a network. That’s very powerful as a classroom tool, especially in classes where these devices are primary “working” tools, such as computer courses, architecture, engineering, many sciences…

For a projector with a standard throw zoom lens, there’s very little that Epson could have included (that would have further enhanced value), that they didn’t, that would have made this an even better projector for the classroom and multi-purpose room, or even a small auditorium.

Epson’s MAP pricing is $899, by comparison through  Brighter Futures pricing is only $645. That per Epson’s public website.  I do not have knowledge relating to Epson’s volume discount pricing to schools.

Their program also extends the warranty of the Powerlite 955WH to 3 years parts/labor, with three years of free overnight replacement.

Epson Powerlite 97H

The Powerlite 9x series has been dominating awards in this report for years, in an assortment of models and resolutions.  Epson considers it part of their Classroom line of projectors.  Once considered a pretty feature laden  line-up of small install/portable projector, it’s now more mainstream and a lot more aggressively priced. The 97H is a traditional XGA resolution projector, and it’s a great replacement model for schools that are replacing aging older non-widescreen projectors.

Note: Upgrading from SVGA or XGA to a WXGA widescreen model in the classroom, also means getting and installing a new screen.  That adds significant extra cost.  Thus many schools stick with 4×3 aspect ratio projectors.

Back to the 97H!  List price is $549 and Brighter Futures standard school pricing is $489.

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2700 color and white lumens!  The zoom is a modest 1.2:1.  But the projector is loaded with inputs.  In that it’s almost identical to the Epson 955WH on the previous page.  2 HDMI’s one with MHL, all the old school connectors, including composite video.  I’m told lots of schools still have VCRs in the classroom.  Two computer inputs, and a monitor out, USB, multiple audio inputs (including microphone) and a stereo audio out. And let’s not forget wired advanced networking. (Wireless is the usual $99 optional for an Epson). With the wireless, there are apps for your phones and tablets.

Warranty under Brighter Futures is 3 years parts/labor, instead of the standard two, and three years of the Epson Care rapid replacement program.

This is a very affordable replacement projector, but also a solid, affordable XGA projector for schools on a budget, especially if networking is needed.

This projector was new last spring.  We had hoped to get it in, and reviewed in time for last year’s Education report.  The review wasn’t finished until last June – a month late.  That’s a reason why we have more Epson projectors in this year’s report.

Epson W29

Wow, this is the fourth Epson projector in this section.   It’s the “value proposition” one of the batch.

$599 List, and $479 Brighter Futures pricing, which is impressive in that it offers 3000 color and white lumens, networking (including Crestron Roomview), and like the other Epson models accepts their $99 wireless module.

I should mention that there are two even lower cost siblings, one with SVGA and the other with XGA resolution.


Despite being loaded in many ways, the value comes in if your requirements don’t have a problem with these differences compared to the higher end 955WH or even the 97H.

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So what are those missing features?  It has a smaller speaker, but it’s still a hefty 5 watt one (compared to a 16 watt ones on the some  Epsons, or two watt speakers on the most portable ones). It also only sports one HDMI input, and no MHL so no streaming sticks without getting fancy. Teachers can still interface phones, computers and tablets wirelessly if that Epson wireless module is plugged in. Finally, no mic input either. Obviously the smaller speaker and no mic should be fine for smaller K-12 classrooms, but even in larger ones, there’s that audio out for a powered speaker.

This W29 is another Epson projector with ridiculously long lamp life (rated 5000/10000 hours).  Of course, if a school finally need to replace one, replacement lamps through the program  are a rock bottom $79 each.

The excitement that the W29 brings to a school isn’t the razzle dazzle, but the still impressive feature set, the Epson education warranty (3/3, plus 3 years replacement program), and the pretty entry level price for schools