Conference Room Projector
April 2, 2013
No optical zoom. Although the EX3212 offers digital zoom, it doesn't offer an optical zoom. The digital zoom lets you adjust the image size without moving the projector, which can be handy for setting up quickly. However, if you use anything other than the equivalent of the widest angle setting, the projector has to scale the image, which can introduce artifacts in the form of unwanted patterns added to fills with closely spaced lines or dots. This may or may not be an issue, depending on the images you're showing.
No 3D. Given that most DLP projectors today include at least limited 3D support, it's worth noting that the EX3212 doesn't. If you need 3D, or think you might need it in the near future, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Low volume audio. The EX3212's audio system delivers reasonably good quality, but not much volume. At about 3 feet from the speaker, I was able to make out almost all the words in quietly spoken dialog that's unintelligible with many projectors. However, the 2-watt mono speaker is barely loud enough for a small conference room. If you need audio, you'll probably need an external sound system.
Epson rates the fan noise in Normal mode at 37dB, which is loud enough from 3 feet that if you're sensitive to fan noise, you'll probably consider it bothersome. In Eco mode it's significantly quieter, with a 29dB rating.
For anyone who needs an inexpensive projector, the Epson EX3212 offers a lot to like, starting with its excellent data image quality, above par video quality, and bright image. Only slightly less important are the wide range of brightness levels, a long lamp life, and the low price.
It helps too that it doesn't have any serious weaknesses. The back panel may not have all the connectors you'd like, for example, but it has all the ports you're likely to need. Similarly, a zoom lens would be a welcome addition for easier setup, but not having one is a minor issue at worst. You may consider the 800x600 native resolution or the lack of 3D a reason to rule the projector out, but that's because it's the wrong tool for the job, not because it doesn't do the job it's meant for well.
Whether you're looking for a low-cost projector for a conference room or classroom, or a brighter alternative to 500-lumen LED projectors for portable use,the Epson EX3212 a strong contender. For either role, it's a highly attractive choice. Compared with portable LED projectors in particular, its low price and substantially brighter picture make it an outstanding value.