Epson PowerLite 93+
May 16, 2012
You may wonder, as I did, why Epson would offer yet another 2,600-lumen, $549 XGA projector for the classroom market. A quick look through our database reveals that there are eighteen other projectors with similar specifications, and most of them are less expensive. The answer is improved connectivity and versatility, with an added measure of customer support thrown in to sweeten the deal.
The rear panel of Epson's new PowerLite 93+ has connections for virtually any source found in classrooms including HDMI. You can have up to two computers and three video sources connected simultaneously with two methods of switching between them. About the only format that cannot be accommodated is 3-D.
The way the 93+ interfaces with the classroom is impressive. For hard-wired environments, no cable changes are required to handle virtually every data and video requirement. Everything can be connected simultaneously. Where there are multiple projectors, it is common to find that they are networked, and the 93+ shines as a networked device. Projector monitoring is handled via Epson's own protocol or Crestron's command and control software. If it is a shared resource, the 93+ can save on power consumption. It can be shut down and powered up so fast that there is no need to keep it running between classes. Even source selection is offered in two flavors. For those who prefer manual selection, the remote control accesses computer or video sources directly, although you may encounter some inactive inputs. Alternatively, if you like automatic source selection, there is a Source key that cycles through only the active sources connected, but you may have to cycle past a few sources to get to the one you want.
The sweetener is Epson's "Extra Care Road Service" which applies during the warranty period. This service only applies when you are away from the classroom and the 93+ has a problem, but if that occurs, you can contact Epson and get a replacement unit on its way at no cost, not even for the shipping charges. Be aware that the projector you receive replaces your original, so if you have tag numbers that have to be maintained, you will have to use Epson's normal warranty service plan, not Extra Care Road Service, to get your original projector back.
The Viewing Experience
Classroom projectors are usually thought of as good data projectors with less than sterling credentials as video projectors. The first five minutes of movie viewing with the 93+ will put that notion to rest. Admittedly, the 93+'s native mode 1024x768 is not the ideal resolution for the avid movie buff, but for the classroom it is more than adequate, especially when it performs is as well as it does. For example, there are several complex scenes in Gladiator with shadows and highlights that strain a projector's color capability, but the 93+ did an excellent job of getting color balance right with enough pop to please the eye.
Flesh tones are always a tough test, and the 93+'s Theatre preset mode got them right with almost no image adjustment needed. The good news is that if you like to tweak the image for maximum appeal, you have all the tools necessary in the Image menu. In fact, you can adjust all image settings in all preset modes, an uncommon feature in projectors of this class.
Data images are excellent with plenty of saturation and flawless edge-to-edge sharpness. Small fonts were easily readable even with full keystone correction.