Epson PowerLite 93+ XGA 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$549 MSRP Discontinued

You may wonder, as I did, why Epson would offer yet another 2,600-lumen, $549 XGA projector for the classroom market. A quick look through our database reveals that there are eighteen other projectors with similar specifications, and most of them are less expensive. The answer is improved connectivity and versatility, with an added measure of customer support thrown in to sweeten the deal.

The rear panel of Epson's new PowerLite 93+ has connections for virtually any source found in classrooms including HDMI. You can have up to two computers and three video sources connected simultaneously with two methods of switching between them. About the only format that cannot be accommodated is 3-D.

The way the 93+ interfaces with the classroom is impressive. For hard-wired environments, no cable changes are required to handle virtually every data and video requirement. Everything can be connected simultaneously. Where there are multiple projectors, it is common to find that they are networked, and the 93+ shines as a networked device. Projector monitoring is handled via Epson's own protocol or Crestron's command and control software. If it is a shared resource, the 93+ can save on power consumption. It can be shut down and powered up so fast that there is no need to keep it running between classes. Even source selection is offered in two flavors. For those who prefer manual selection, the remote control accesses computer or video sources directly, although you may encounter some inactive inputs. Alternatively, if you like automatic source selection, there is a Source key that cycles through only the active sources connected, but you may have to cycle past a few sources to get to the one you want.

The sweetener is Epson's "Extra Care Road Service" which applies during the warranty period. This service only applies when you are away from the classroom and the 93+ has a problem, but if that occurs, you can contact Epson and get a replacement unit on its way at no cost, not even for the shipping charges. Be aware that the projector you receive replaces your original, so if you have tag numbers that have to be maintained, you will have to use Epson's normal warranty service plan, not Extra Care Road Service, to get your original projector back.

The Viewing Experience

Classroom projectors are usually thought of as good data projectors with less than sterling credentials as video projectors. The first five minutes of movie viewing with the 93+ will put that notion to rest. Admittedly, the 93+'s native mode 1024x768 is not the ideal resolution for the avid movie buff, but for the classroom it is more than adequate, especially when it performs is as well as it does. For example, there are several complex scenes in Gladiator with shadows and highlights that strain a projector's color capability, but the 93+ did an excellent job of getting color balance right with enough pop to please the eye.

Flesh tones are always a tough test, and the 93+'s Theatre preset mode got them right with almost no image adjustment needed. The good news is that if you like to tweak the image for maximum appeal, you have all the tools necessary in the Image menu. In fact, you can adjust all image settings in all preset modes, an uncommon feature in projectors of this class.

Data images are excellent with plenty of saturation and flawless edge-to-edge sharpness. Small fonts were easily readable even with full keystone correction.

Key Features

Connectivity - The 93+ has got it all: dual VGA connectors for computers or component video, composite video, S-video, USB Type A and Type B, HDMI, RS-232 and RJ-45 network connections, audio in and out, and a VGA monitor loop through.

Audio Output - You will not find any other sub-$600 projectors with a whopping 16-watt audio capability. This means that for most medium-size classrooms, no external audio amplification is needed to fill the room with sound. At the high end of the volume setting, there is a bit of rumble, but a ¾ setting is plenty for most classrooms.

Networking -Wired networks connect via the RJ-45 connector, and options such as e-mail alerts in the case of projector failure can be provided. Setting up SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is easy, and you can control networked projectors using a Web-based browser. If available on your network, you can activate Crestron's RoomView system for projector command and control.

Presets - The 93+ has five Preset modes (Dynamic, Presentation, Theatre, Photo, and sRGB) and two board modes (Whiteboard and Blackboard) that preset image adjustments for each application. In many low-cost projectors, these presets miss the mark in terms of image quality, but the 93+ has gotten it right. Contrast, brightness, and color temperature are very close to optimal, especially in Theatre and Photo modes. And if you are not satisfied, the 93+ has one of the most extensive array of image controls of any projector we have seen in its class.

Picture Controls - The 93+ not only allows saturation and tint adjustments for any source, but it also gives you individual control over red, green, and blue intensity for any input and for any Preset. Your individual settings are stored for each mode, and this eliminates the need for the User mode normally found in this class of projector.

Menu Selection and Navigation - The on-screen menus for the 93+ are typically three levels deep, but their construction is intuitive and easy to navigate. Menu position is immovable, but common settings like brightness and contrast are reduced to a single line at the bottom of the image so it is easy to see what effect changes are having.

Keystone Correction - Vertical keystone correction on the order of ±40° is common on many projectors, but horizontal correction is unusual on low-cost projectors. However, the 93+ has ±30° of horizontal correction. As an added attraction, there is a built-in feature called Quick Corner which allows individual squaring of all four corners of the image. Suffice it to say that locating the projector off axis from the screen is no problem for the 93+.

Closed Captioning - Closed captioning in the classroom is required to meet the requirements of ADA508 for hearing-impaired students. With built-in closed captioning, schools can save the cost of a decoder and its installation.

USB Connection -Two types of USB connection are available on the 93+. A PC or a Mac can connect via the Type B connector and stream data or video, and devices such as thumb drives or document cameras can be connected via the Type A connector.

Performance

Brightness and Uniformity -It is always a nice surprise to find a projector that exceeds its brightness specification, and the 93+ beat its 2,600 lumen specification by over 15%. Dynamic mode produced a 3,045 lumen reading, Presentation checked in at 2,410 lumens, and Theatre, Photo, and sRGB all hit the 2,150 lumen mark. That is plenty of light even for a classroom with limited ambient light control, but the real shocker was the brightness uniformity. Our test unit delivered an astounding 99% uniformity . . . the highest uniformity percentage we have ever seen. It is so good that even with an all-white background, there are no detectable hot spots in the image.

Image Size and Offset - The centerline of the 93+'s lens is aligned with the bottom of the image, so tabletop or cart mounting works well. A drop tune would probably be required for a ceiling mount. With a zoom ratio of 1.2:1, the 93+ can put up a 100" image from distances ranging from 9.9-11.9 feet, so placement flexibility is a bit limited.

Lamp Life - Epson uses its E-TORL lamp in the 93+, and that gives it a life of 5,000 hours in normal mode and 6,000 hours in Eco mode. Since Eco mode reduces fan noise and only reduces brightness by about 22%, it may be a good choice for everyday operation.

Limitations

Auto Iris - An auto iris does help video quality by varying the light level between bright and dim scenes, but it comes at a cost. In low volume passages, the noise of the auto iris is a bit distracting. If this is a problem, the auto iris can be disengaged with only a minor impact on movie enjoyment.

No 3-D - Like most LCD-based projectors, the 93+ cannot handle 3-D content.

Conclusion

Epson has found a niche with their new PowerLite 93+. It may be overkill for some classrooms, but for those that need a wide range of input connectivity and an ability to interface with network protocols, it is a winner. Images are high quality in both data and video environments, and off-axis placement options are broader than any of its competitors with both vertical and horizontal keystone correction. It cannot handle 3-D, but everything else in in range. Is it worth roughly ten percent more than most of its competitors? The answer depends on your needs, but in our book, it is a decision worth considering seriously.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite 93+ projector page.

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