When it comes to education projectors, there are two characteristics that reign supreme: value and versatility. Epson's new PowerLite X15 holds the high ground in both categories.
In the value realm, at five pounds and 3,000 lumens, the X15 is one of four XGA projectors in our database that also sport a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a price tag of less than $600. What makes the X15 unique is that it is the only LCD projector among the four, so DLP rainbow artifacts are not a problem. And it's the only projector with a 4,000-hour lamp life rating in normal mode. To top off the value proposition, Epson's Brighter Futures education discount applies to both the X15 and its replacement lamp.
As for versatility, the X15 offers a wide range of inputs including a USB Type B connection that handles PC's or Macs with video, audio, and presentation control all in one cable. Self-installing software loads when the USB cable is first connected. That USB connection can also accommodate flash drives, memory card readers, and cameras or phones. Epson also provides a couple of unique keystone correction utilities called Quick Corner and Easy Slide which can generate ±30° of both vertical and horizontal keystone correction.
Keep in mind that at a $599 street price the X15 is a good choice for small to medium conference rooms, too, but its education pricing and all-around versatility make it a natural for the classroom.
The Viewing Experience
Right out of the box, the X15 is easy to get up and running. The rear panel connectors have bright, easy-to-read labels, and the top panel and the remote control are laid out logically with their buttons clearly identified. The X15 warms up quickly, and menu choices for image adjustment, aspect ratio, and other settings are quick and easy.
Like most LCD projectors, the X15 delivers a brighter video image than its 3,000-lumen DLP counterparts. This results from the color generation technology differences between the two projector types. Most DLPs have about 50% of their full brightness in video mode (Theater preset) while LCDs are in the 60-70% range. This can be a noticeable difference when ambient light is not well controlled.
Speaking of video, the Theater preset on the X15 is right on the mark. Saturation, contrast, and brightness need no adjustment to put up images that show good color depth and have well-defined shadows and highlights. Our test unit had a slight shading of green in the upper center and right portions of the image that was visible in data mode with a white background, but it was undetectable in video mode. Flesh tones were excellent, and with the sharpness control at the lower part of its range, video had a film quality to it that was attractive.
Data images were sharp and clear in the Presentation preset. The vertical and horizontal keystone adjustments were very effective and did not distort even small font material. A small boost from the contrast control helped give data images a bit of punch, and it also helped the Photo mode produce well-balanced renditions of a variety of photos on my flash drive.