With a powerfully bright laser light engine, effective interactive whiteboard features, integrated wireless sharing, and helpful teaching software, Epson's BrightLink 1485Fi is a total classroom package that's hard to beat.
- Very bright
- Two interactive pens plus finger interaction
- Doesn’t need computer for using whiteboard function
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Included SMART software
- Complicated setup
Easily the most versatile classroom projector available, the Epson BrightLink 1485Fi breaks new ground for ultra-short throw devices by combining a high-brightness laser illumination engine with a responsive interactive system and wireless networking. It deserves a place in any classroom due to its ability to not only work with images and video from a computer or network, but also function as a digital whiteboard on its own. The BrightLink 1485Fi (BL 1485Fi) is designed for the modern classroom with its wireless capabilities, some excellent curriculum software that comes with the projector, a comprehensive selection of ports, and one of the brightest images in its product class.
On the downside, the BL 1485Fi is larger, more complex, and a higher-priced option than much of its interactive classroom competition. Granted, its complexity is partially the result of its sophistication, with an all new operating system and rich feature set that other solutions in this category don't offer. For example, at $3,390 ($2,850 with Epson's school discount), it is much more expensive than the lamp-based and less-bright Viewsonic PS750HD or BenQ MW855UST+. On the other hand, its discounted price is on par with the Maxell MP-TW4011, another laser-driven, interactive UST projector that falls short of the BL 1485 on overall rated brightness, resolution, and other features.
Regardless of price or the work required to set it up, many districts will find that it's worth the effort to create a connected classroom with the BL 1485Fi because of how it puts it all together with a no-maintenance laser engine, top brightness, and a world of educational interactivity that can push digital curriculum to the limit.
The Epson BrightLink 1485Fi is the rare classroom projector that includes everything needed to create a digital learning space from scratch. In a very real sense, all that's needed is an AC outlet, a Wi-Fi connection, and some setup time.
In addition to the projector, the package includes two interactive pens, a pen holder, cables, as well as the projector's Interactive Touch Module and a wall-mounted control pad that's used to turn the projector on and off and choose between two different HDMI and USB computer inputs. In fact, there's so much to offer that going from the box to a functioning interactive projector takes at least an hour and a little patience.
Inside, the projector's blue-diode laser is split and converted to red and green components using an inorganic phosphor wheel. The three streams travel to three individual polysilicon LCD chips, after which the images are combined before being sent to the screen through the projector's massive convex lens.
While each LCD imager has a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels, Epson's pixel shifting technology upgrades the image to the equivalent of full 1920x1080 HD resolution at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Regardless of whether you're looking at a website, digital curriculum or a projected map of the world, the images are rock solid, sharp, and lack any dithering or movement that might result from the shifting process. The BL 1485Fi accepts signals up to UHD or full 4K resolution (4096x2160) for display at 1080p, though it lacks the ability to project 3D streams—something that most teachers aren't likely to miss.
All told, the imaging array and laser light source is rated to last for 20,000 hours of use, so the BL 1485Fi will never need a new lamp; this translates into an expected lifetime of more than 10 years in typical school use. And if our review sample is any indication, Epson's 5,000-lumen brightness specification appears to be on the conservative side.
The projector can fill screens from 65- to 100-inches in 16:9 mode or up to 120-inches in 16:6 mode. It can create a 10-foot (diagonal) image when it's only a few inches away, making it just as appropriate for classroom lessons as for digital scenery for the school's spring musical. You can check on the projection throw details for the traditional 16:9 image size with ProjectorCentral's Epson BrightLink 1485Fi Throw Calculator.
On the other hand, the image's consistency was a bit on the low side, with noticeably darker areas in the two upper corners. The projector's fixed lens sits in a rectangular tower. There's a 1.35x digital zoom, but as mentioned, it follows most other UST projectors in its lack of an optical zoom. However, as noted below, if you are wall-mounting above a whiteboard and spring for Epson's dedicated mount you'll be assisted by various mechanical adjustments.
As is the case with many other short-throw devices, the BL 1485Fi does not use a ring around the lens for focusing. Instead, you need to use the vertical focus lever behind the door in the back (if the projector is wall mounted, this is actually the front, audience-facing panel). Behind the same door you'll not only find the four-way keypad for working through the Menu but also dedicated buttons for Menu, Escape, Source Search and returning to the Home screen. There's also a power button next to the lens and, happily, for classrooms that are used by different teachers during the day, the BL 1485Fi can be controlled with a plain old light switch and also set to start up when it sees a video signal.
Because it will probably be wall mounted, the BL 1485Fi has all its ports mounted in the front panel that goes nearest to the wall, and the package includes a thoughtful cable cover for hiding its inputs and outputs. The projector has a thorough assortment of ports that should satisfy any teacher or AV support person. In addition to a trio of HDMI inputs, the BL 1485Fi can use VGA and composite video signals, and it has an HDMI- and VGA-Out for driving an external monitor. There are two USB Type B and two Type A ports for flash drives or connecting a document camera, one of which can provide up to 2 amps of current. A dedicated RJ45 HDBaseT connector also serves as the link from the wall-mounted control pad if you install it and functions as the signal cable from any source connected to the pad. As mentioned earlier, it allows toggling between two HDMI sources or lets you load content from a flash drive to the PC-free whiteboard. Additionally, if the projector is on the network, you can use the onscreen menu to open or save files on the network without a PC.
In addition to a connector for attaching the Touch Control Unit that allows the use of finger-touch interactivity, the projector has input and output Interactive Synchronization ports for linking with another projector to form a projector array. The BL 1485Fi can be controlled from afar using the BL 1485Fi's wired network as well as an RS232 serial connection. But it also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking built in, something that many competitors still charge about $100 to add on.
There are three audio inputs, an audio-out jack and a microphone input. A pair of integrated 8-watt speakers will do the trick in a pinch for classwork but they sound hollow compared to an external audio system. A bonus is the inclusion of the microphone input, which worked well with my wireless microphone; there was no static or hum and the projector's speakers easily filled a classroom with my voice.
Much of the BL 1485Fi's actions can be performed by the teacher with the projector's remote control. It uses a pair of AA batteries, has a range of about 20 feet and not only lets you pick the source, but also freeze the image and mute the audio for a class-wide discussion. There are dedicated buttons for using the projector's digital zoom as well as a Home button to return to the BL 1485Fi's connection menu.
The projector's Menu responds to both the pen input and the remote control as well. It's different from the run of the mill menu with its ergonomic design. There is a list of 13 major topics for major categories on the left for things like Image, Display and Network. On the right are details for each section—for example, Color Mode, White Balance or Gamma. The result is that rather than moving in and out of tabs to find what you want, you can scroll up and down in one fluid motion. While it can be a lot to take in, this organizational scheme lets you quickly go from one setting to another.
All told, the BL 1485Fi is a masterpiece of technology and integration aimed at the classroom and teaching. After using it for two weeks to perform mock lessons on cursive writing, the westward migration and quadratic equations, I can say it lives up to expectations.
Its pens are color-coded and you can use two at once because they use different infrared patterns for the projector to locate them. They each require a single AA battery and the kit includes a pair of Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable cells and a plug-in charger. The pens are a little bulky but work well, and the package includes several replacement tips.
The action is surprisingly precise with only a tiny amount of lag. You not only have the choice of several colors, line weights and a highlighting mode, but at any time you can erase anything written or save it as an image.
While the two pens can be used at once, if you've installed the projector's interactive Touch Control Unit, you can use your fingers to draw, write or graph items. The BL1485Fi can accommodate up to six users at once this way.
Teachers and students can not only mark up projected items but use the included teaching pages for teaching cursive writing and sketching a graph of lab data. (I, however, miss MimioConnect's interactive protractor and ruler.) The bonus for the BL 1485Fi is a license for the SMART Technologies Learning Suite that combines interactive activities, games, and curriculum with a collaborative workspace and assessments. It works with Windows and Mac computers and only requires entering an included activation code to use.
Teaching with the projector takes a while to get used to because it has so many facets. It may not have the simplicity of the BenQ EW800ST's Launcher screen that provides a path to all of the projector's features, but the BL 1485Fi has the next best thing. Its main page shows the projector's serial number as well as its connection choices (along with a preview of the input signals). Plus, along the bottom are selections for using it as a whiteboard, screen sharing and access to the projector's Settings.
If you set it up using the projector's optional 16:6 aspect ratio, the BL 1485Fi's screen can be divided into two with each side fed by a separate input. If you like, you can do without a computer connection. Just walk up to the screen, pick up one of the digital pens and start right on it as if it were a whiteboard.
The screen's toolbar is at the bottom. On top of allowing the choice of six colors and the use of a fine point, or highlighting digital ink styles, it lets you select an area of interest and zoom in or out on a particular item. Tap the "+" in the corner of a rectangle and the board will add a blank page for the next section of the lesson; it can accommodate up to 20 pages that can be saved together as a package.
In addition to using its cabled inputs or projecting a lesson that's in the form of .jpg, .png, .gif and .bmp images and motion JPEG video from a flash drive, the BL 1485Fi has wireless teaching covered as well. It can use MiraCast to share screens and, like BenQ's EW800ST, the BL 1485Fi can invite students to connect via a projected QR code to lessen the frustration. It lacks the EW800ST's ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, though.
Educators can also tap Epson's iProjection app for notebooks, phones and tablets. One of the best apps for connecting with a projector, it is available for Android phones and tablets, iPads, and iPhones as well as Chromebooks. It not only provides the teacher with the ability to control the projector and put material on the screen, but also choose who in the class can project. It supports up to four separate streams for comparative work.
Without a doubt, the BrightLink 1485Fi is a lot of projector. To start, it is among the largest ultra-short throw projectors I've seen at 5.4 x 18.1 x 14.8 inches. The lens tower at the projector's back adds another 2.8 inches to its height. And, at 21 pounds, it weighs as much as 10 pounds more than some competitive USTs. It's a good idea to have two people on hand to hang it on a wall and optimize its image.
Designed with wall-mounting in mind, the BL 1485Fi lacks any adjustable feet for mounting it straight up on a table or floor. But, with eight separate mounting points underneath, it should fit just about any wall or ceiling mounting hardware. Epson's ELPMB62 mount is a bargain at $109 that can sturdily attach the projector to a wall while providing more than enough adjustments to create a level, rectangular image. It facilitates changes in arm length and distance to the wall (in lieu of optical zoom), and allows you to tweak the image roll, pitch, and yaw. Unfortunately, there's neither horizontal nor vertical image shifting in the projector for fine-tuning the image's placement on the screen, but the BL 1485Fi can compensate for a 3-degree vertical or horizontal tilt. It includes both incremental keystone compensation as well as the ability to pull the corners of a trapezoidal-shaped image into a rectangular one with the remote control.
Expect that it will take at least an hour, likely more, to set up and make the projector classroom-ready. After mounting it on wall hardware, the projector needs to be leveled, aimed and squared off. You'll also need to install the Touch Control Unit (TCU) above the screen, the control pad if you use it, and the pen holder. When everything is in place, the BL 1485Fi does an autocalibration routine to make the pen's placement and the image line up.
Helpfully, Epson has produced a series of ten short support videos available on YouTube covering installation and adjustments that begins here.
For optimizing the setup, the BL 1485Fi has seven Color Modes including Dynamic, Presentation, Cinema, sRGB, and Blackboard, and a separate mode for setting up a multi-projection array. Nursing and medical programs will be happy to see the inclusion of the DICOM SIM setting for viewing x-rays and medical scans.
In addition, you can tweak the settings of the preset Color Modes to reflect the material and room lighting conditions with extensive image adjustments, including RGB gain and bias calibration controls for white balance and a full RGBCMY color management system to tune hue, saturation, and brightness for all the primary and secondary colors. The projector can be set to automatically adjust its output to compensate for a dark or sunny day with the blinds up or down.
On the test bench, our sample of the BL 1485Fi pumped out 6,128 lumens in its Dynamic mode, about 22% higher than its 5,000-lumen spec. In fact, while others present washed out images at their projecting extreme, the BL 1485Fi still goes strong with a sharp and vibrant 9-foot diagonal image. On the downside, like the brightest mode found in many projectors, the Dynamic mode's colors are askew and not very flattering for pictures of people—in this case due to an overwhelmingly blue cast to its images.
The Presentation mode does a little better by boosting pink hues but at the cost of some light output, though at 5,463 lumens measured in our sample that's still well above the projector's specified brightness and an excellent choice for tabular or graphic material. For realistic images and videos, the sRGB setting has much warmer images that are able to recreate photos and the one to choose for an art history class. It measured 4,603 lumens, which is still very bright.
The Cinema setting is a bit too warm for most classroom use, but for a movie night fundraiser or film class it might be just right. Its output in our sample was measured at 4,363 lumens.
With the ability to compensate for projecting onto a blackboard, the Blackboard color mode delivered a measurement of 4,882 lumens and actually looked surprisingly good, considering what's being used as the projection screen. Finally, our BL 1485Fi sample put out 5,051 and 3,996 lumens in the Multiprojector and Dicom Sim modes used for projection arrays and medical scans, respectively.
At its full laser power, the projector's power use was constant at 292 watts regardless of which Color Mode was used. At idle, it uses just 0.1 watts of electricity, making it a miser. If it's used for 8 hours every school day over the year, it will cost an economical $79 in electricity bills but no extra cost for replacing lamps. At this rate, the projector's laser illumination engine could last as long as 10 or 12 years of use.
With so much brightness, the BL 1485Fi is the rare projector where you could actually use its power-saving Quiet and Extended settings and still get brighter images than many projectors running full-out. For instance, while using the projector's Dynamic mode, the Quiet and Extended settings measured 3,882 and 3,720 lumens, respectively, and consumed 199 and 187 watts. That could translate into a savings of $25 a year.
The BL 1485Fi kept its cool, even while teaching with computers connected to it. At the exhaust, the projector measured a sedate 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The case never got more than warm. When using the Quiet and Extended Modes, the temperature went down to 95 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
This projector's fan noise is unlikely to obstruct a class, particularly if it's wall-mounted in the front of the room. Epson has a sound-proof room specification of 36dB, but in the test lab, which recorded a background noise level of 35.9dBA, the projector registered 42.4dBA as measured 36 inches from the exhaust vent. Using the Quiet mode reduced this to 39.7dBA.
To keep the BL 1485Fi from overheating, Epson recommends having at least 20 inches of clearance around the projector for cooling air. Its dust filter needs to be cleaned periodically by tapping on it or vacuuming it clean. Epson recommends doing this once a year or more often in a dusty location. It took about 2 minutes to open the projector and change the filter; a replacement costs $54.
Finally, the BL 1485Fi is a fast starter, with the ability to project an image in just 14 seconds. This means that it can easily be turned off between classes. The BL 1485Fi took just 5.3 seconds to shut itself down and turn off its fan.
Big, bold and bright, Epson's BrightLink 1485Fi can be the basis for turning just about any room into a digital classroom. With laser illumination, it not only delivers best-in-class brightness and will never need a lamp change but is inexpensive to use. Teachers and students can draw, annotate and control the board with either of the two included interactive pens or their fingers.
With an excellent assortment of connection possibilities and Wi-Fi built in, the BL 1485Fi works equally well connected to a computer, either through cables or wirelessly, or on its own as the equivalent of a digital whiteboard. For those schools that use the SMART Learning Suite, or wish to try it, the BL 1485Fi will fit in perfectly because it includes a license for the digital curriculum software.
On the downside, the BL 1485Fi is one of the largest and most complicated UST projectors to install and set up. One more caveat is the price, which may be high for some strapped districts. The projector lists for $3,390, though Epson's Brighter Futures pricing lowers that to $2,850. Still, if your school can afford it, the BrightLink 1485Fi comes fully loaded and leaves other interactive projectors in the digital dust.
Brightness. The BL 1485Fi's laser illumination engine puts out a lot of light. Using its Dynamic Color Mode, our sample delivered 6,128 ANSI lumens, over 20% more than its 5,000-lumen spec. While this mode would be fine for graphics, charts and text, it had an overwhelmingly blue cast to it and made flesh tones look ghoulish.
The Presentation mode adds more warmth to the images but reduces the projector's output to 5,463 lumens. That's still above the 5,000-lumen Epson spec for the projector's brightest mode. This dropped to 4,363 lumens in the Cinema mode and a still strong 4,603 lumens for the most accurate of the seven, the BL 1485Fi's sRGB mode..
Using the projector's Blackboard mode, the BL1485Fi delivered 4,882 lumens, while using the Dicom Sim mode for projecting medical scans reduced its output to 3,996 lumens. If you wanted to gang several BL 1485Fi projectors together in an array, the Multiprojection mode can be used; it put out 5,051 lumens of light.
Epson BrightLink 1485Fi ANSI Lumens
Color Brightness. As is the case with all projector images based on 3-chip LCD technology, the BL 1485Fi delivered essentially equal color and white brightness.
Power Use. At full blast, the BL 1485Fi consumed 292 watts of power, regardless of the color mode. There are two ECO modes built-into the projector that can reduce power usage, while quieting the fan and extending the life of the projector's laser. The Quiet mode lowered its output in Dynamic mode to 3,882-lumens and used 199-watts. The Extended mode had an output of 3,720 lumens and used 187-watts.
Temperature. The exhaust fan temperature readings show the BL 1485Fi to be able to keep its cool, even when putting out over 6,000 lumens of light. Its exhaust temperature was 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That drops to 95.0 and 93.2 degrees F in Quiet and Extended modes.
Brightness Uniformity. Although uniformity issues aren't unheard of in UST projectors, our sample of the BL 1485Fi had some detectable lack of brightness uniformity with dark regions appearing in the upper corners. Overall brightness uniformity measured 70.5%.
Fan Noise. Epson's acoustic chamber rating for noise is 36dB. In casual measurements on the lab bench, taken 36 inches from the exhaust vent, in a room with 35.9 dbA of background noise, the BL 1485Fi's fan emitted 42.4 dBA of noise at full power output and Dynamic mode—its worst-case scenario short of having to turn on its High Altitude mode. Still, it should be fine for most classrooms, particularly if it's mounted near the ceiling in the front of the room. Quiet mode effectively lowered the noise level measurement to 39.9dBA.
- HDMI-In (x3, Version 1.4b)
- HDMI-Out (Version 1.4b)
- Composite Video
- Computer VGA RGB-In (15-pin D-Sub)
- Computer VGA RGB-Out (15-pin D-Sub)
- RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
- RJ45 HD Base T
- RS-232 Serial
- USB (x2, Type A, 1 powered; max: 2 amps)
- USB (x2, Type B)
- Analog Audio-In (x3)
- Analog Audio-Out
- Touch Unit Connector
- Interactive Synchronization in and out
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson BrightLink 1485Fi projector page.
The Epson BrightLink 1485Fi is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Epson EB-1485Fi. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Epson for complete specifications.