Epson's re-envisioning of its stalwart Pro Series large venue projectors has resulted in a surprisingly compact 16,000-lumen workhorse with an excellent assortment of lenses and an innovative calibration camera for making edge blending and other tasks a snap.
- 16,000-lumen output in small chassis
- 4K Enhancement via pixel-shifting
- NFC for changing settings
- Zero maintenance design
- 9 lenses available
- Mechanical Shutter and 3D imaging
- Optional PixAlign camera
- More expensive than the competition
- Three-year warranty falls short of some competition
The start of a new generation of large venue projectors, Epson's EB-PU2216B has downsized the venerable Pro L Series line without limiting its ambitions to fill lecture halls, houses of worship and large conference rooms with large, bright and vivid images. Its laser illumination components combine for more than 16,000 lumens of light with a triple-chip LCD design that can show 1920x1200 video or can simulate 4K imaging. In other words, the EB-PU2216B can be a powerful way to light up a large room.
It takes several steps forward with a zero-maintenance design that only needs an occasional dusting. The projector's nine available lenses make it adaptable to a wide variety of locations and it's easy to transfer operational settings to different units in a fleet with a phone's Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. Another key advancement is compatibility with Epson's optional PixAlign ELPEC01 camera to aid in edge blending, geometric correction and even to keep an eye on the projector's image over time.
There are six members of the EB-PU2100/2200 family with a similarly compact form factor and weight for their respective brightness classes. List prices range between $19,200 and $60,700, though if you shop around you might find some discounting. The line starts with PU2113W and the EB-PU2116W which put out 13,000- and 16,000-lumens and run on the more common 110-volt AC current; the W designates a white cabinet. If that's not enough light, the EB-PU2120W requires a 220-volt line to operate but is hailed as the world's smallest and lightest 20,000 lumen projector.
There are also three projectors in black cabinets that add SDI input and output as well as a mechanical shutter, which is said to be helpful for fully shutting the light output in situation where no idle brightness is permitted. They range from the EB-PU2213B (13,000 lumens) to the EB-PU2220B (20,000 lumens). In between is the EB-PU2216B unit that I examined, which has a typical MAP street price of $27,700 without a lens. Epson says the average purchase price will be well below that, however, and the company reports that it's published price for educational institutions is $17,700.
A redesign of Epson's Pro L Series family of large venue projectors from the pixel up, the platform for the EB-PU2216B has a simpler design and is smaller yet brighter with an optional calibration camera. Among the most powerful projectors in its class, the EB-PU2216B makes the most of its laser illumination, liquid-cooled components, sealed light path and filter-free cabinet. It will likely make for a zero-maintenance experience for years, maybe decades, to come. Once the projector is installed you might want to clean the case every so often, but that's up to you.
As is the case with others in its family, the EB-PU2216B that I looked at starts with Epson's new, compact Four-in-One miniature diode lasers that put out a steady stream of blue light. Half of the light output goes to an inorganic phosphor wheel to create a powerful stream of yellow light that passes through a pair of dichroic mirrors to split it into red and green components. The EB-PU2116B's red, blue and green beams pass through individual 1.0-inch LCD panels and come together at the output lens.
Its imaging panels natively create 1920x1200 WUXGA-resolution streams that can be boosted using Epson's 4K Enhancement pixel-shifting technology. It rapidly shifts a glass plate to create double HD resolution and combines the pixel-shift with detail enhancement processing to simulate a 4K image on screen. Of course, as a three-chip projector, the EB-PU2216 offers equal white and color brightness plus immunity from rainbows that most single-chip projectors can't match.
Inside, the laser light source's 20,000-hour rating means that it will never need a lamp replacement and could potentially outlast the majority of computer and AV gear around it. It's the equivalent of nearly 13 years of use for a duty cycle of eight hours a day and 200 workdays a year. The EB-PU2216B's sealed optics and liquid cooling don't require a dust filter.
Speaking of optics, the EB-PU2216B has nine lenses available including carryovers from the Pro L era, so if your institution is upgrading your existing lenses may be reusable, significantly reducing acquisition cost. They lenses provide a good assortment of throw ratios, features and price to cover most medium and large venues. In addition to the expected standard, medium and long throw lenses with motorized zoom, focus and lens shift, the EXPLX02 ultra-short throw model sends its image over the projector's body with a 0.35 throw ratio for those with oddly shaped rooms or limited installation options, like a rear projection.
For this review, I used the more mainstream ELPLM15 middle-zoom lens that should work in most medium sized venues. It has a 1.6X zoom with a 1.57:1 to 2.56:1 throw ratio, and tops out at an 83-foot image. There's more detailed projection data for the Epson EB-PU2116B and its array of lenses at ProjectorCentral's EB-PU2216B throw calculator, where you can drop in each available lens and explore the options for screen size and throw distance.
All of the EB-PU2000 series models feature an embedded Near Field Communications (NFC) chip that allows the AV manager or IT director to create a standard setup file for a fleet of projectors and transfer it to each projector from a phone in seconds. While this can also be done with a USB flash drive, the NFC technology allows the transfer to take place with the projector turned off, unplugged or even still in its shipping box, which means merely opening the flaps on a new fleet projector to transfer settings prior to moving it to its installation site. Just bring the phone close to the NFC target on the projector's top and the data is transferred using Epson's Configuration Tool app. There's software for Androids as well as iPhones.
After the transfer, the projector can block an NFC device reading from or writing new data to it. Someday, all mid-sized and large room projectors will have this feature but for now, just a handful, including the EB-PU2000 line and Panasonic PT-RQ family, do.
Compatibility with Epson's PixAlign ELPEC01 camera, which costs $509, is even more important for complicated multi-projector setups and available across the board. First seen built into Epson's Pro L Series projectors to great effect, the current version is optional and easy to install in the EB-PU2216B behind a removable panel in the front. It can also be attached to an ultra-short throw lens and aimed at the screen. It's used in conjunction with the free Epson Projector Professional Tool (EPPT) app.
In addition to helping with color calibration and screen matching, the camera is a big help with geometric corrections for a tiled array and edge blending. It can also just monitor the projector's output for consistency. (By contrast, the Optoma ZU1700's built-in camera can make sure the image is tightly focused and has consistent color. The company will add geometric correction software by the end of the year.)
The EB-PU2216B that I looked is identical to the EB-PU2116W, except that its cabinet is black, and it adds SDI-in and -out ports as well as a mechanical shutter to deliver a totally black screen in between tag-team presentations or theatrical scenes or help with smooth fade-ins and -outs. It will also help avoid damage to the projector's LCD panels from stray beams in a laser light show. The EB-PU 2113W, EB-PU2116W and EB-PU2120W models mentioned earlier come in a white cabinet and lack these items.
Regardless of which one you get, the projector's back panel has a good assortment of connections, with HDMI, DVI-D and an old-school VGA port for use with a computer. The EB-PU2216B's SDI-out port can be used to send a video stream to a display in an overflow room, podium or control booth, while the audio out jack is for sending sound to an external speaker system.
Meanwhile, the RS-232 serial connection is for connecting the projector to a wired remote-control system. The projector has a USB Type B port for transferring settings to the projector, while the two USB Type A ports can power a variety of items and directly play images and video from a flash drive. There's another USB port for the $75 Wi-Fi module behind a back door.
The EB-PU2216B has a pair of RJ-45 ports, one for receiving video and control commands via HDBaseT. The other is a standard gigabit Ethernet port for connecting with the building's wired network for remote operations regardless of whether it's from a projection booth or a remote location. After typing the projector's IP address into a browser window, I needed to enter the projector's password (hint: it's the serial number printed on the projector's side). The main screen shows Basic Control, OSD Control Pad and Status Information as well as Lens Control and using the projector's PixAlign camera, if it has one installed. The projector can also work with Epson's iProjection apps.
There's also access to a wide variety of actions. My favorite is displaying the 18 different test patterns. This helped me set it up and optimize the image in record time. You can dig a little deeper for many of the projector's details in the Advanced controls, where you'll be rewarded with options many projectors can do only locally including zooming, focusing and shifting the image right-left as well as up-down.
The front of the case has five LEDs to show if the projector is turned on, its status, whether the laser is active and to warn of overheating. A last light shows if the Wi-Fi module is installed and working.
While the projector's control panel is a little simplistic with access to the Menu, a four-way control, and source search, its remote control is a workhorse. It is backlit and has everything needed to set up and optimize the projector. This includes buttons for On/Off, Standby and Menu as well as for focus, zoom and shifting the image. As with some other large-venue and installation projectors, its range can be increased with a 3.5mm jumper cable plugged into the Remote jack on the EB-PU2216B's connection panel.
The EB-PU2216B has a three-year warranty. This coverage falls short of Panasonic's five year and 20,000 hours, but on the positive side, Epson places no limits on how many hours the projector's light engine is used.
The EB-PU2216B measured in at 7.3 x 23.1 x 19.4 inches and a little over 50 pounds. Add in the feet and it's 8.6-inches tall. It is small for its brightness class but still a lot to haul and hang. It's roughly the same size and weight as the slightly less bright Pro L1755UNL 15,000-lumen model. Of course, the full benefit of Epson's compact new chassis design is most evident when you step up to the new 20,000-lumen EB-PU2220B mentioned above, which is nearly 60 percent smaller and more than 50 percent lighter than the earlier Pro L20000.
In addition to Epson's ELPMB67 ceiling mount ($320), the company's ELPFP15 bracket ($170) can hang the projector up to 27 inches from the ceiling. The company's ELPMB59 stacking frame ($3,700) was designed for the EB-PU2000 family, though Optoma's ZU920TST, for example, has corner cutouts that fit the feet for a projector above and makes for a cheap and simple—though maybe not as stable—stacking method. My EB-PU2216B worked well with generic mounting hardware. Underneath, the EB-PU2216B has four attachment points for use with mounting hardware and one for a wire rope or safety chain. Happily, each of its feet are threaded to level and raise the projector on a shelf or projection booth.
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It took less than a minute to install the ELPLM15 lens I used, lock it in place and replace its cover plate, and the lens has remote zooming, focusing and image shifting of a maximum of 60% up or down as well as up to 18% right or left. It also has keystone correction for tilts up to 45 degrees vertically and 30 degrees horizontally. Correcting for a 15-degree tilt reduced the projector's output by 10.7%, which is less brightness loss than we've seen in some other projectors.
Epson's menu is straightforward but has lots of detailed options below the surface. For instance, the EB-PU2216B can also be run in split screen mode, displaying two video streams at once in a variety of formats. It's worth at least skimming the 330-page manual to get some sense of the many features and options.
It was a snap to get a perfectly rectangular image by using Epson's QuickCorner routine for pulling in or pushing out each corner until the image is just right. The EB-PU2216B can also correct for a curved screen and corner wall projection as well as perform several imaging tricks that range from Frame Interpolation with three levels to noise reduction to the ability to fix a small screen defect using the projector's Point Correction.
As mentioned, the projector's 4K Enhancement can mimic a 4K stream with a stable and sharp image. On the downside, activating 4K Enhancement automatically deactivates some key features like Frame Interpolation, Noise Reduction, Edge Blending and Corner Wall projection.
It was quick and simple to set up the EB-PU2216B on the test bench. I loved the included AC cord lock. It's a small thing but it can prevent embarrassing moments if the power cable gets kicked free, and it's found on surprisingly few commercial projectors.
It took 22.1 seconds to start the projector up, and it fully turned off its four cooling fans off 2.7 seconds after being shut off.
With the ability to adjust the color temperature in 100K increments from 3,200K to 10,000K, the EB-PU2216B can be set up for the right look based on ambient light and what's being shown. The projector has six Color Modes that correspond to a variety of content types. Many parameters, like Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, Color Saturation and Tint can be individually adjusted.
Of the six Color Modes, the most powerful was Dynamic, which over emphasizes the green portion of the spectrum for maximum output as is typical of most projectors. But it's good enough for blasting business or educational graphics onto the screen and I measured 16,714 ANSI lumens at its disposal.
The Presentation mode sacrifices some brightness for a better color balance. This mode delivered 13,070 lumens of light. It's still a bit garish for anything more than spreadsheets and graphics wouldn't quite do for the video feed of a church's choir or an art history class.
However, if projecting movies and photography are the goal, the Natural and Cinema modes are excellent choices. There's a lot less green in the image and a warmer overall appearance. They provided 12,630 and 12,530 lumens of light, respectively.
If you use the BT709 setting, you'll get neutral color balance that's modeled on the HDTV television standard. It delivered 12,610 measured lumens. The Dicom Sim mode for showing medical scans (educational purposes only; not diagnosis) was good for 12,450 lumens. There was also a MultiScreen mode for creating a projector array.
With its usage of 909.4 watts, the EB-PU2216B is comparable from a power perspective to a two-slice toaster. At idle the projector uses 2.2 watts, adding up to an estimated annual power bill of $206 if it's used for 8 hours a day for 200 days out of the year and your organization pays the national average of 14 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity.
Helped by a quartet of cooling fans, the projector's exhaust vent hit a temperature of 110-degrees Fahrenheit. Using the Dynamic mode, the EB-PU-2216B was also among the most boisterous, measuring 46.2 dBA of noise in my casual measurement taken 36 inches from the exhaust vent in a room with 34.5dBA background noise. This is loud, but a large venue projector like this will likely be far enough away from any participants that they won't even notice it. By contrast, the lower output NEC PA1004UL, with 10,000 lumens, hit a peak at nearly 48dBA in our tests. Epson rates the EB-PU 2216B's fan noise at between 34 and 38 dB depending on mode using the industry standard measurement that averages sound from all sides in a soundproof room.
The EB-PU2216B has two ways to reduce the projector electricity usage and carbon emissions. The Quiet mode lowers the devices thirst for electricity by 37% while lowering its output by 29% and my measured noise level to 42.5 dBA. Plus, the brightness level can be adjusted in 1% increments, lowering its brightness, power use and noise level correspondingly.
With the ability to blast a screen with more than 16,000 lumens while never needing a lamp change or dust filter, the Epson EB-PU2216B lives up to the ideal of a zero-maintenance large venue projector. Perfect for hanging in the middle of an auditorium, house of worship, or a school's lecture hall, the EB-PU2216B has nine lenses available and features not found on some top competitors. These include the ability to mimic 4K resolution from a native WUXGA projector with Epson's pixel shifting 4K Enhancement technology, a Near Field Communications (NFC) target to send or receive settings data with a phone, and the option to connect wirelessly using the accessory Wi-Fi module. Notably, the PixAlign camera option, which can be cleanly integrated into the chassis, provides a strong assist for setting up and monitoring multi-projector installations.
At its most common current MAP price of $27,700 before any additional discounting, the EB-PU2216B costs a bit more today than the primary 3LCD competition, Panasonic's PT-MZ16KL series. But it shares a similarly compact and lightweight form factor, and the Epson's attractive and loaded feature set are sure to win fans, especially among facilities who previously favored the Pro L Series and are now looking to step up to a 16,000-lumen projector that runs on a 120-volt outlet and uses their existing lenses.
Brightness. Using the EB-PU2216's high-output Dynamic mode, the projector delivered 16,714 ANSI lumens to the test screen in our measurements, nearly 5 percent above its 16,000 ISO lumen spec. As is typical of many high output commercial projectors, the brightest output comes at the cost of an overwhelmingly green image. However, color balance improves in all the other modes, and the projector's Natural, Cinema, and BT709 modes were suitable for photorealistic content while still delivering in excess of 12,000 lumens to the screen. Using the projector's Quiet mode reduced output by 29 percent and the power use by 37 percent.
Following are ANSI brightness measurements for each mode at full laser power. As a three-chip LCD projector with no color wheel, color brightness measurements are essentially equivalent to the white brightness results shown below.
Epson EB-PU2216 ANSI Lumens
Zoom Lens Light Loss. From the widest to maximum zoom, the EB-PU2216B with an EPLM15 lens lost 28.7 percent of its light output.
Brightness Uniformity. With the EPLM15 lens, the EB-PU2216B had a brightness uniformity of 89.6 percent.
Fan Noise. Epson rates the EB-PU2216B's fan noise at 38dBA using the industry-standard measurement that averages noise from around the projector in a sound-proof chamber. In our testing it was on the loud side, with its four fans pouring out 46.2dBA in Dynamic mode as measured 36-inches from the exhaust vent. The test lab had a background noise level of 34.5 dBA.
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.3
- Computer RGB in (15-pin D-Sub)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- USB (x2, Type A, for accessory power and flash drive data)
- USB (Type B for connection to a computer)
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- HD Base T (RJ-45)
- Audio in (3.5 mm)
- 3G-SDI in/out
- Remote Control extension (3.5mm)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson EB-PU2216B projector page.