Conference Room Projector
April 2, 2013
Depending on what you're looking for, you can think of the Epson EX3212 as either an inexpensive basic projector or as a much brighter, slightly heavier, alternative to the growing list of LED-based sub-three pound portable projectors. It weighs only about two pounds more than the heavier models in the LED crowd, but it's bright enough, at 2800 lumens, to make their 500-lumen images look dim. It's also widely available for $399.99, which means it costs less too.
Built around an LCD engine, the EX3212 offers a native resolution of only 800x600, which makes it a poor choice for showing images that put a lot of information on screen at once, like big spreadsheets or complex blueprints. However, it's well suited for showing simpler images, like a small spreadsheet or bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation. And within the limits of its resolution it offers excellent data image quality and above par video. As an inexpensive basic projector, in short, it gets the most important features right, and as a light weight portable, it's a tempting alternative to LED-based models.
Excellent data image quality. The EX3212 did particularly well with data image quality in my tests. Colors were bright, vibrant, and well saturated in all preset modes, and color balance was good, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from black to white. More important for data images, the projector holds details well, with both black text on white and white text on black crisp and highly readable at sizes as small as 7 points. Also worth mention is that the autosync worked unusually well. Even images that tend to cause pixel jitter were as rock solid with an analog connection as with a digital connection.
Above par video quality. Video quality for the EX3212 is no match for a home theater projector, but it's eminently watchable, which is more than many data projectors can manage. It also helps that as an LCD projector, the EX3212 is guaranteed not to show rainbow-artifacts.
The 800x600 native resolution obviously limits the ability to show HD video with full 720p or 1080p detail, but the projector handled skin tones reasonably well; it showed very little noise in areas like a large section of the sky; and it did a good job with shadow detail, even in scenes that most data projectors have trouble with. I saw some mild posterization in clips that tend to cause the problem, but even that was far less than I'm used to seeing with most data projectors.
Reasonably portable. Measuring 3.0" x 11.6" x 9.0" (HWD) and weighing in at 5.1 pounds, the EX3212 is small and light enough to serve as a regular traveling companion. It also comes with a soft carrying case, complete with a shoulder strap.
Long lamp life. Even at full power, the EX3212 offers a longer than typical claimed lamp life, at 4,000 hours. In Eco mode it increases by 25%, to 5000 hours. Replacements are $199 direct, which isn't a notably low cost, but is lower than with many projectors.