If getting an interactive ultra-short-throw projector for your school is both technologically and financially daunting, Epson’s affordable PowerLite 725W is for you. It’s bright, can project a huge image right next to the screen, has Wi-Fi built in and—best of all—it will never need a replacement lamp.
- Very bright ultra-short throw projector
- Five-year warranty for schools
- Simple, low-maintenance design
- Wi-Fi plus screen sharing software
- WXGA resolution
- No HDBaseT input
Want a high-quality ultra-short-throw projector for everything from classrooms to lecture halls to small auditoriums and don't need the complication of having interactive pens? Or maybe you're just replacing the light engine for an existing interactive learning system? Epson's $1,890 PowerLite 725W ($1,340 with Epson's Brighter Futures educational discount) puts up a bright, sharp and vivid image for a lot less than its older interactive brother, the $3,390 BrightLink 1485Fi, and other interactive projectors. With a great selection of ports, built-in Wi-Fi and a five-year warranty, the PL725W will fit right into a school's digital education scheme.
Equal parts technological marvel and considered restraint, the Epson PowerLite 725W is capable of putting at least 4,000 lumens on a screen or a whiteboard. And while it's aimed at schools, it could also function for boardrooms and business locations that can't accommodate a traditional long throw projector.
The laser-based PL725W will be easy to keep running for years (maybe decades) without replacing a lamp. The output of its projector's blue-diode laser is divided and runs through a phosphor wheel to create streams of red and green light. These beams travel to the projector's three LCD chips and the final image is sent through a mirror to the screen. Its illumination engine is rated to last for 20,000 hours of use.
The PL725W creates 16:10 aspect ratio images with its 1280x800 WXGA resolution imaging devices, but can't work with 4K inputs or 3-D imaging techniques. That might bring it up a bit short for highly detailed work like a virtual frog dissection in a biology class, but what the PL725W sacrifices in resolution it makes up for in price. Consider that ViewSonic's LS830, for example, offers full 1080p resolution and is brighter by 500 lumens, but goes for $3,300—more than twice what the PL725W costs with Epson's educational discount.
As with any UST, the PL725W's optics are aimed at putting up a large image close to a screen to eliminate shadows for an instructor standing in front. Capable of bright and sharp images of up to 10-feet (measured diagonally), it should be more than enough for a large classroom, a small auditorium or for use as digital scenery in the school play. All the throw details are available at ProjectorCentral's Epson PL725W throw calculator.
The projector's low maintenance design requires dust filter cleanings about every 10,000 hours of use—so in a normal environment, you'll probably do it once about halfway through the projector's expected lifetime. In this regard, it can't compare with zero-maintenance projectors, such as the BenQ LW890UST, which don't need an air filter. But this is a minor maintenance item and the $17 filter (model V13H134A60 (ELPAF60) is easy to clean or replace.
Also, unlike many of its peers that either don't offer critical Wi-Fi support or require you get a USB add-on module, the PL725W has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi that lets participants share material with the group. The PL725W can tap into a direct Miracast connection using a PC, Android tablet or phone or—with the right app—iPhones and iPads. It mirrored what was on my HP EliteBook Folio notebook without a problem.
Epson's iProjection app allows any student to share photos, documents and Web pages with the group. They can even annotate them, making it a great collaboration tool. The app is available for everything from Androids, iPhones, iPads and Chromebooks to Windows PCs and Macintosh systems. Another big bonus is that the projector can split its screen and show up to four inputs at once for things like projecting a physics lab on one side and the equations on the other.
If the PL725W is connected to the building's wired network, it's easy to tap into the projector's details from a PC on the same network. You can see things like the currently connected source or turn the projector on or off remotely. The PL725W also works with Epson's Projector Management program that lets you remotely monitor and make changes to a single projector or a fleet of them.
Like other UST projectors, the PL725W lacks an optical zoom, although it does have a digital zoom that can move the image in and out by 35 percent. A word of warning: like other Epson UST projectors, focusing the projector can be a little awkward. Instead of a lens ring, you need to open the dust filter door and move a focus bar up and down to get everything sharp. Next to it is a good control panel for doing anything from turning the projector on or off and getting to the home screen to opening the menu, maneuvering around, and making your selections. It can't, however, use a USB mouse to streamline using the menu the way some projectors can.
The projector comes with a capable remote control that feels a bit thick and heavy and has a 25-foot range. On top of the expected buttons for changing the source, opening the menu and changing the projector's color mode, the PL725W's remote lets you zoom in on a projected item, change the volume and even freeze the action to make a point. It uses a pair of AA batteries.
The PL725W has an excellent assortment of ports and connections, so a complex setup with four or five sources will not require a separate video switcher. In addition to three HDMI ports, the PL725W has a composite video input as well as a pair of VGA inputs; there's also a VGA-out port that can send a simultaneous signal to a second display for an overflow room or the teacher's podium.
On the other hand, one thing left off in the name of cost savings is an HDBaseT port to grab networked video. That's a feature found only in some of Epson's higher end USTs.
The PL725W has a 16-watt speaker that should be fine for spoken word programming but can drive an external sound system with an analog stereo audio-out jack. There are two audio-in jacks as well as a microphone port that worked well with a wireless microphone. This allows the PL725W to be effectively used in larger rooms without tethering the teacher to a desk.
A pair of USB connectors are for connecting a computer, a document camera or a flash drive. The projector can display anything from .jpg and .bmp images to .avi and .mp4 videos but not Microsoft Office documents; for that, you'll need a computer source.
Considering all it has inside and can do for a school, Epson's PL725W is surprisingly small and light. At 5.3 x 14.1 x 15.6 inches and 12.5 pounds, it's easily handled by one technician for installation.
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The PL725W comes with threaded feet, meaning it can be set up on a wall, ceiling, tabletop or floor. It has 10 threaded connection points underneath and worked well with my generic ceiling mount. A direct replacement for the PL585W and PL685W, the PL725W also works well with Epson's ELPMB62 wall mount, which at $109 is inexpensive, sturdy and allows precise adjustments up and down, in and out, as well as the distance between the projector and the screen (which stands in for a zoom control in reducing and enlarging the image size to correctly fit the screen).
On the downside, like most UST projectors, the PL725W does without up-down and right-left image shifting that can make quicker work of filling a screen. It can correct for keystone distortion of up to 3 degrees both vertically and horizontally or allow you to pull the image's corners in to perfectly fill a screen. As with all projectors, engaging keystone correction causes a loss of brightness. At 3 degrees, the PL725W's light output dropped 16 percent.
Without having to worry about the interactive receiver and pens that accompany a full interactive projector, the PL725W is a snap to set-up in as little as 10 minutes. It has five color modes that range from Dynamic (full-blast brightness) and Presentation (bright but with less green shift) to Cinema (lower output but more warmth) and sRGB (more accurate color balance but less brightness). There's also a mode for projecting onto a green blackboard that pumps up the red, but the PL725W doesn't have a specific REC709 mode that mimics the output of a flat screen display or a DICOM SIM setting for viewing medical scans. In other words, it's a non-starter for a nursing program or medical school.
Inside are extensive color balance controls, including adjustments for the projector's gamma and its RGBCMY settings. In addition to setting the color temperature to no fewer than 13 different levels, the PL725W, color balance can be fine tuned with both a G-M Correction control that shifts the image more toward green or red, and custom controls for adjusting RGB gain and offset.
With it set up on a whiteboard cart, the PL725W was a fast starter, putting an image up in 14 seconds. It took just 2 seconds for the projector to shut its fan off after being turned off. This makes it a good fit for all-day on-and-off use in a classroom.
The top of the projector has LEDs that show it is turned on, its status, whether the laser is damaged or the projector is overheating. There's also a light to show it is working as a wireless access point. When the projector is powered up, you're greeted with a functional Home page that provides access to inputs, split screen and other settings. It even has a clock, and the Home screen shuts down after 10 minutes of inactivity.
Connected to an HP EliteBook Folio displaying a white image, our sample of the PL725W put out 4,777 ANSI lumens in Dynamic mode and the Normal lighting setting, well over the 4,000 ANSI lumen rating and making it an overachiever for schools. Unfortunately, as is found with some projector's brightest picture mode, the PL725W's Dynamic mode looks overwhelmingly green, making skin tones look ghostly. Still, it was sharp and vivid with a 9-foot image (measured diagonally) and is good for graphics and tabular material.
The Presentation mode was closer to showing pleasing skin tones and nature scenes but still had a lot of blue tones. It put out 3,741 ANSI lumens, not far off the projector's 4,000 lumen rating. By using the Cinema setting, the color scheme warms up significantly—maybe, too much—and the brightness drops further to 3,208 lumens. Of the five modes, the sRBG was the best for color balance, but its brightness is lower at 3,118 lumens. Given this projector's place in the classroom, the PL725W also has a Blackboard mode for working with green classroom chalkboards, although that reduces output to 2,273 lumens.
Running at Normal lighting mode, the PL725W in Dynamic picture mode used 206 watts of power, and 0.1 watts at idle. Assuming it's turned on for eight hours a day for 200 days out of the year and you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt hour, the projector will cost an estimated $42 a year in electrical expenses.
There's a Quiet mode that lowers the output and fan noise as well as the Extended mode that lowers output but keeps the fan at full speed to prolong the life of the projector's lighting components. Both reduce brightness by about 25 percent compared to the Normal mode. In Quiet and Extended modes, the system used 147.3- and 141.2 watts of power.
Using the projector's Dynamic mode and Normal lighting setting, the PL725W produced 45dBA, though that can be reduced to 39.2dBA in Quiet mode, a drop of 13 percent. By contrast, the Extended settings reduced it by 4 percent to 43.6dBA. These readings were taken 36-inches from the PL725W's exhaust vent in a room that registered 37.2dBA in background noise with the projector off. By contrast, Epson rates the PL725W at 36dB and 26dB in Normal and Quiet mode.
The projector's fan was effective in keeping the PL725W cool; it never got above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires about two-feet of clearance all around and, as noted, its dust filter will need cleaning or replacement.
Epson's PowerLite 725W is for those who want a bright and vivid image but don't want the complications and expense of an interactive projector. Simple to set up, the 3LCD design delivered 4,777 ANSI lumens, well above Epson's 4,000 lumen rating, although the green tint of its brightest mode won't be appropriate for all content.
With a low maintenance design, great selection of ports and built-in Wi-Fi, the PL725W will be just as at home in a school's lecture hall as in a large classroom. On the other hand, its 1280x800 resolution and lack of an HDBaseT port may put it out of contention for some applications or networked environments.
Of course, for schools, its price and high value are the best parts of the PL725W. While it lists for $1,890, the PL725W can be had using Epson's Brighter Futures educational discount for just $1,340, and it comes with a five year warranty. In the final analysis, the PL725W is a great mix of economy and performance that leaves a few features on the table to get to a price tag that's tough to beat. It's a serious bargain and perfect fit for those who need an ultra short-throw laser projector, or many of them, on a tight budget.
Brightness. With a blue laser at its disposal, our sample of the PL725W measured 4,777 ANSI lumens in its brightest mode (Dynamic with lighting set to Normal), or 19 percent over the projector's 4,000 lumen rating. Overall, the Dynamic mode delivers a ghostly green quality of light that will be better for showing spreadsheets and graphs than for naturalistic images or movies.
Using the projector's Presentation mode adds some warmth to the equation but lowers output to 3,741 ANSI, while the Cinema setting lowers output to 3,208 ANSI lumens but oversaturates the red portion of the spectrum. The best balance between brightness and color balance is the sRGB mode, which lowered output to 3,118 ANSI lumens but is good for everything from a class photo contest to science simulations. There's also a Blackboard mode for those who want to stick with a chalkboard; it delivered 2,273 ANSI lumens.
The measured brightness for each picture mode in the Normal, Quiet, and Extended power modes are shown below.
Epson PowerLite 725W ANSI Lumens
Color Brightness. As is the case with projectors that use three LCD panels, the PL725W had a color brightness rating that was equivalent to the white brightness rating. By measuring the red, blue and green images individually and adding them together, the PL725W had a color brightness of 4,792 lumens, compared to 4,777 lumens for white brightness. The difference can be explained by random measurement error.
Power Use. Using the PL725W's top brightness mode, it used 206 watts of power. Using the Quiet and Extended modes lowered the power draw by about 30 percent. It is at the cost of lowered brightness, though.
Brightness Uniformity. Across the screen, the PL725W's uniformity appeared to be excellent with no visible bright or dull spots. This was reinforced by the measurements which showed an excellent brightness uniformity of 90 percent.
Fan Noise. Epson's averaged noise specs taken in a sound-proof testing room cite 36 dB for Normal power mode and 26dB for Quiet mode. By contrast, in a room with acoustic characteristics similar to what you might encounter at a school or office, with a background noise level of 37 dBA, we measured 45dBA from a single point 36-inches from the exhaust grill (Dynamic mode using the Normal power setting). Using the Extended and Quiet modes reduced this to 43.6- and 39.2dBA, respectively. Note that our casual noise measurements always come out higher than the rated specs.
- HDMI (x3, Version 1.4b)
- Composite Video In (RCA)
- Computer VGA RGB In (x2 15-pin D-Sub)
- Computer VGA RGB Out (15-pin D-Sub)
- Audio-in (x2, 3.5mm)
- Audio-out (3.5 mm)
- Microphone input (3.5 mm)
- USB (Type A, for USB media drive or document camera)
- USB (Type B, for computer)
- LAN (RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet)
- RS-232 (for control)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite 725W projector page.
The Epson PowerLite 725W is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Epson EB-725W. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Epson for complete specifications.