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Projectors Considered: Standard Projectors 2

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Art Feierman

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

Epson PowerLite 99W

When it comes to standard projectors for the K-12 classroom and other purposes, a couple of years ago, we considered Epson’s PowerLite 96 to be a top award winner.  Consider the PowerLite 99W to be the direct replacement!

This 99W is a WXGA projector, claiming 3000 color and 3000 white lumens for impressive color, even close to its maximum brightness.  In fact Presentation mode, it’s second brightest, has very good color and still measured more than 3000 lumens.  Wired networking is standard, while a wireless networking module is optional, but easily plugs in.  The 99W supports BYOD, working with phones and tablets as well as computers and traditional video sources, with Epson provided Apps.  Standard warranty is 2 years but schools qualify for a 3rd year as well, and the rapid replacement program lasts for 3 years as well.  What the 99W doesn’t have is 3D capabilities.  (See Epson’s W16SK 3D solution for the classroom.)


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Lamp life is an important topic, with a 5000 hour life in standard mode, which is truly excellent, but even better, Epson provides replacement lamps to schools for a rock bottom $99.  That tends to make this lamp based projector a far more affordable solution than projectors with 20,000 hour solid state light sources like LED or Laser!

The Powerlite 99W is a standard throw projector with a basic 1.2:1 zoom lens.

Epson’s Moderator software allows up to four student’s computer’s work to be displayed simultaneously, out of a classroom filled with networked computers (and other devices).

A typical K-12 classroom, but not the largest of university classrooms can be handled by the internal 16 watt speaker.  An audio out, though will make it easy to add sound for those largest 400 seat  “Subject 101” type college classes, for a very affordable $749 MAP price, but that’s before Epson’s Education discounts.

Panasonic PT-RW430

The PT-RW430 is one of Panasonic’s solid state light source projectors.  It’s a fixed install single chip DLP technology and has a native resolution of WXGA 1280x800. There is a whole family of related projectors up to WUXGA/1080p.   Its light engine should easily outlast the usefulness of the projector.   Typically we’ve found that most solid state engines,whether led, laser, or hybrid, are not particularly bright.  The RW430, though, claims 3500 lumens.  The surprise is that it is at its brightest in Dynamic mode, when fed grayscale source materiel.

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That mode drops brightness down significantly when any color is part of the image, even just opening a menu.  As a result, the 3500 lumens is very optimistic for most situations, however remember that solid state engines lose brightness very, very slowly, so while a lamp based projector may lose 50% before you replace the lamp, this projector should go years and years before there’s a dramatic drop in brightness.  The good news is that all the color modes produce at least good color, including the Dynamic when color is present.  That is, no modes with murky dark reds or mustardy green yellows as is typical of many DLP projectors in brightest modes.   The not so good news:  with grayscale, the projector measures just shy of 3100 lumens, but manages only about 1700 good looking lumens with color.  Still, that’s plenty of brightness for most small to medium classrooms!  The Panasonic does support DICOM presenting.

The Panasonic comes with a good 3 year parts and labor warranty, and the light engine is guaranteed for 10,000 hours!   The RW430 is great at placement flexibility sporting a 2:1 zoom lens (impressive) and lens shift.  The projector also supports DICOM making it suitable for teaching when x-rays and other films are used for learning.  The projected image was very sharp.  Overall, a well endowed projector, but probably one more suitable for special situations than the typical classroom.  I’m talking about when capabilities such as 360 degree operation portrait mode, or edge blending are required.  That is, the RW430 might be more at home in a visual display area, museum, or art display than a small to medium sized higher education classroom.  As you would expect for a projector at its price point, it does have wired networking and many related features.

ViewSonic PJD6544w

The PJD6544W is a feature laden small fixed install projector / portable projector ideally suited for the classroom.  In addition to very good brightness of 3500 white lumens this DLP projector has interactive features, networking and big audio -16 watts – suitable to fill a classroom with sound.

This Viewsonic projector is a widescreen projector with WXGA (1280x800) native resolution and is part of a family that includes other resolutions and feature sets.  Manufacturer’s suggested list price is $839.99, with street price looking to be a thte time of this report, to be about $100 below list.  As you would expect it is 3D capable, just add active 3D glasses.

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In this case networking abilities include both wired networking AMX Discovery compatible) and also wireless networking.   But there’s more too, in addition to projecting from computers and video sources, the PJD6544W, it does PC free presentations from USB flash drives.   The internal media player supports Powerpoint and other Microsoft formats such as .Doc, .XLS, as well as the usual .JPG, for photos, .WAV for movies and .pdf, for, of course, pdfs.

In the classroom, one of the capabilities is through the networking, to be able to project up to four computers at one time in four quadrants, out of up to 8 defined computers.

All considered an extremely capable feature set, for a small, and not particularly expensive projector.  An excellent example of a very good value proposition.

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