Epson BrightLink 485Wi
Interactive Short Throw Projector
May 9, 2012
Ultra short throw. As with any ultra short throw projector, the ability to throw a big image from a short distance is one of the 485Wi's key attractions. In my tests, using a 92" diagonal image at the native 16:10 aspect ratio, I measured the throw distance at just 10 inches from the front of the projector, or 21 inches from the back, where the image actually comes from. This is consistent with Epson's projection distance chart, which ranges from a 60" image at 2.5" from the front of the projector to a 100" image at 12.2".
Comes with everything you need. Most interactive projectors come with one interactive pen, an annotation program, and a driver that will let the pen work as a mouse as well as with any annotation program. The 485Wi adds your choice of a table mount or wall mount plus a second pen, so there's nothing else to buy.
Interactivity with full Brightness. Unlike most DLP interactive projectors, the 485Wi doesn't have an interactive mode that lowers the projector brightness. It's always ready for interactive use, even at its highest brightness level.
Automatic calibration. The interactive technology in the 485Wi needs calibration between the pen and the projector any time you move the projector or adjust image size or resolution. Unlike most projectors that need calibration, however, the process is fully automatic when you change resolution, and nearly as automatic when you move the projector or adjust the digital zoom. You only have to press two buttons on the remote and wait about 10 seconds. The projector puts an image on the screen, analyzes it, and calibrates itself. This makes setup nearly as easy as not needing calibration at all, and it helps make the 485Wi that much more suitable for room to room portability on a cart.
Use two pens at once. In addition to coming with two pens, the 485Wi lets you work with both at once. Two presenters, or a teacher and student, can both interact with the screen simultaneously, each adding notations to a different part of the screen.
Interact with anything mode. One of the 485Wi's more unusual touches is that it extends interactivity to image sources besides computers. A built-in annotation mode in firmware lets you mark up images from sources ranging from Blu-ray players to iOS devices. You can even freeze the image in a movie to mark up a single frame. The player will keep going, though, so when you unfreeze the image, you'll skip over everything that was played in the meantime.
Easy to handle pen. The interactive pens for the 485Wi are thinner than the pens that come with most DLP interactive projectors. This will be particularly useful in a classroom, where children with small hands may have trouble handling a thicker pen.
Near excellent data image quality. The 485Wi's data image quality is excellent or close to it, depending on which preset you use. Red was a little on the orange side with the Photo preset, for example, and color balance was a little off with the brightest preset, with the brightest shades of gray showing a yellowish tint. However, all colors were nicely saturated and vibrant in all preset modes, and color balance was excellent using most presets, with various shades of gray suitably neutral. Text in small font sizes wasn't as crisp as it could be, but it was easily readable at sizes as small as 7 points.
Better than par video quality. Video quality for the 485Wi is good for a data projector, which makes it watchable for a full length movie, but not something you'd mistake as coming from a home theater projector. Colors were a little dull, as expected for a low contrast ratio. However, the 485Wi did a much better job than most data projectors with shadow detail, it resisted posterizing scenes that most data projectors have trouble with, and because it's LCD-based it also has the advantage of never showing rainbow artifacts.
Can use for an interactive tabletop. The 485Wi handles vertical mounting for tabletop applications much more elegantly than Epson's earlier models. There's no tabletop mode to set, and Epson says there's no decrease in lamp life. The fan noise is rated at 35dB in Normal mode, which is loud enough so it could be an issue if you're sitting next to it. Eco mode, however, is a far quieter 28 dB, and the lower brightness makes Eco mode much more useful for a tabletop size image in any case.
Good audio quality. Very much on the plus side, the 485Wi offers a 16-watt mono speaker with reasonably good audio quality and high enough volume to easily fill a mid size conference room or classroom. For larger rooms, you can connect an external sound system to the stereo audio output.