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2014-2015 Award Winners: Standard Projectors

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Art Feierman

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

Epson PowerLite 99W: Best in Classroom - Standard Projector (Tie)

The more things change, the more they remain the same?   The Powerlite 99W is a new entry from Epson, but it is the direct replacement for the Epson 96W, the only two time Award winner in our Education report series.

The short version, is that this is a classic small, portable or fixed install WXGA resolution projector that is loaded with features desired in the classroom, plus excellent support programs, at what has to be considered an impressively low educational price.

3000 lumens!  (That’s color and white lumens as this is a 3LCD projector), means great color in all but brightest mode, and even there, while heavy on greens (typical), color isn’t too bad.  More to the point, close enough to 3000 lumen with very good color.

With Epson’s extended warranty for education (3 years parts labor, three year rapid replacement program, and long life lamps – in this case 5000 / 6000 hours (full/eco), and of course Epson’s $99 lamp program for schools, the long term cost of operation is about as low as one could hope for with a projector that still has a lamp to change.

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Sound is most impressive, with 16 watts of speaker, and a microphone input to help the teacher or professor’s voice carry the room.

The 99W supports Epson’s “Moderator” feature that allows the projector to work directly with as many as 50 networked computers, even allowing up to four of their screens to be displayed in four quadrants.  There’s Epson’s iProjection app for working with iOS and Android devices, such as iPads.

Wired networking is advanced with support for Crestron RoomView, AMX, etc. so things like scheduling, monitoring, push notifications, closed captioning and more are available.

The Powerlite 99W can go PC free presenting with its media players, an assortment of video and photo formats as well as running Office and Keynote from iOS devices.

The Powerlite 99W is basically a poster hild for pretty much what most school IT/AV coordinators are looking for for large school and district wide deployments.  If it’s not, it’s probably because they are looking for ultra-short throw interactive projectors, not that you can’t do some interactivity from portable devices.  The official price of the Powerlite 99W is $749, before regular, and Epson’s hefty educational discounts.  If this one’s up your alley, you’ll want to learn about Epson’s school “Brighter Futures” program.

ViewSonic PJD6544W: Best in Classroom - Standard Projector (Tie)

Like Epson, ViewSonic is back again with an award winner in this year’s report, in fact, we rated these two projectors a tie.  The PJD6544W is a DLP projector claiming 3500 lumens.  Unlike the other projector to share this award, the ViewSonic offers 3D, and not just “PC” 3D, but Blu-ray 3D as well.  That’s good to know if your classroom has 3D in its future.  At an official $839 price you might think the PJD6544W is on the expensive side, but ViewSonic treats schools well with promotions discounts, and extra warranties.

The PJD6544W is WXGA (1280x800 resolution), which is where most classrooms want to be at this time.  Equipped with the optional wireless, you can use Viewsonic’s apps with iOS and Android devices to do typical tablet style interactivity, essentially drawing and annotating on the screen.  Although not as flexible or quick as using pens, this provides some serious interactive abilities, including some video support!

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The projector has a modest 1.2:1 zoom lens, and pretty standard throw, so although this 4.7 pound projector could be used portably, it will normally be ceiling mounted in most school environments.

Wired networking is standard, with advanced features thanks to Crestron RoomView and AMX compatibility, making this projector suitable for mass installations tied to a large network.  Wired capabilities include projecting for (out of a maximum of 8) projector’s screens simultaneously in four quadrants.

The built in media player is very capable for pc free presenting from usb including support for Microsoft Office documents, photos and videos.

ViewSonic provides a 3 year warranty standard, but education customers who join their ViewSchool program will get three years and a 3 year replacement program.  To further sweeten the pot for this spring/summer’s shopping period for the upcoming school year, Viewsonic has put together a deal with Elite Screens to provide a free 80” screen (freight not included).  That program expires 6/30/14, right at the end of the bidding season.  Other discounts for education run through year end.  Viewsonic has a number of those additional programs and discounts for schools, even a bid desk for districts, states and consortiums buying large volumes.  In other words, ViewSonic takes the education market very seriously.

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