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Epson PowerLite 905 classroom projector review

Epson PowerLite 905 Conference/Classroom Projector Review

by Allan Abbott on April 27, 2011  |  ProjectorCentral.com  |  Subscribe
Highly Recommended Projector
Performance
5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Education
Epson PowerLite 905 Projector Epson PowerLite 905
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Street Price: n/a
Contrast:2,000:1
Lumens:3000
Weight: 7.4 lbs
Resolution:1024x768
Aspect Ratio:4:3
Technology:3 LCD
Lens:1.6x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:5,000 Hrs
6,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In (x2), HDMI, Network, USB (x2), RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 576i, 576p

Epson's new PowerLite 905 is a powerful classroom projector that has "everything but the kitchen sink" . . . and closer review might even remove that limiter. At a retail of $999 and an education program discount of $769, it will be highly competitive. This XGA projector has every conceivable input and output including a microphone jack and a whopping 16-watt speaker. Both data and video images are stunning, and its LCD light engine produces no rainbow artifacts one sees on many DLP projectors. At 7.4 pounds, the 905 is not designed as a portable projector, but cart mounting will get it from classroom to classroom if it is a shared resource. The 905 sample we received exceeded its brightness specification of 3,000 lumens and put up very viewable images in a moderately bright room, so ambient light control was not a major issue.

The primary appeal of the 905 is its versatility. It has a 1.6:1 zoom lens that lets you put up a 100" diagonal image anywhere from nine to fifteen feet from the screen. It offers single-cable audio and video via HDMI and USB connections. Both vertical and horizontal keystone corrections can be made, and it handles wireless presentations with an optional LAN module and USB key. Even with a dedicated classroom computer connected to the 905, its USB Type A input makes it easy to display student-prepared files on thumb drives, including certain presentation formats such as PowerPoint. About the only thing the 905 can't do is 3-D, but that is a small price to pay for its overall versatility.

Advantages

Image Quality: In many cases, classroom projectors do not have particularly satisfying video projection capability, but that is not the case with the 905. Movie scenes had good color balance with a minimum of image adjustment, and flesh tones were excellent. The auto iris was effective in enhancing perceived contrast, and both shadows and highlights were rendered with detail. Sharpness could be varied to give video a film-like appearance, and HDMI signals were rendered without any digital noise or harshness.

Computer and photo projections were crisp and clean with good color saturation and easy readability even for small fonts at maximum keystone correction. Even in a well-lit room, the 905's brightness overcame any tendency for the image to wash out. Edge-to-edge sharpness was consistent, and uniformity was excellent (90%) with no hot spots.

Brightness: The 905 exceeded its brightness rating with 3,170 ANSI lumens in Dynamic mode. Presentation mode delivered 2,435 lumens, Theater mode checked in at 2,050 lumens, and Photo and sRGB modes both put up 2,130 lumens. Eco mode dropped brightness by about 22% which is typical of LCD projectors.

Placement Flexibility: The 905's generous 1.6:1 zoom capability gives you plenty of projection distance variation for a particular image size. For example, to project a 100" diagonal image in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the projector is about 12 feet from the screen and can shift about ±3 feet and maintain that image diagonal. The centerline of the lens is even with the bottom of the image, and this is a good offset for cart mounting. If you need to raise the image for tabletop mounting, just extend the front elevator foot of the projector. The projector can be tilted by unscrewing either/both rear feet to correct any horizontal leveling issues although horizontal keystone correction is also available.

Connections: You will be hard pressed to come up with a source that the 905 cannot handle. Computer signals are connected via the supplied USB cable or via the two VGA connectors, and video signals arrive via an RCA composite video connector or through the VGA connectors for component video. Digital signals are accommodated via an HDMI connector, and USB devices like thumb drives and cameras connect through a USB Type A connector. There are two audio in mini jacks as well as a microphone input jack. Rounding out the connections is a USB Type B input for single-cable data and video for PCs and Macs.

Keystone Correction: Vertical keystone correction is common on lower cost projectors, but it is unusual to find horizontal keystone correction on a projector in this class. The 905 provides auto or manual correction of vertical keystone and manual correction of horizontal keystone up to ±30°. There is even a manual mode called Quick Corner that lets you square up each corner of the image independently . . . a very nice touch if you happen to be projecting on a non-flat surface.

Auto Source Search: The 905 has a convenient Source feature that relieves you of remembering which of your connected sources is active. On power up, the 905 searches all inputs and selects the first active connection it finds. When the Source key is pushed on the remote or the projector keypad, it begins searching and selects the next active connection it detects.

Quick start/stop: On applying power, the 905 is up to full brightness in less than 30 seconds, so you won't be delayed by a long warm-up period. When it is time to shut down, there is no need to wait for a cool down interval . . . you can pack up the projector about five seconds after you hit the power switch.

Computer-free Presentations: Do your students want to show a bunch of photos or a PowerPoint presentation they concocted as part of a homework assignment? That is no problem for the 905 . . . photos and converted Powerpoint files (Epson provides the conversion software) can be stored on a USB thumb drive that plugs into the 905 without the need for a computer. Files can be selected and controlled with the 905's remote control.

Wireless Presenting: If you want to connect several PCs, then the extra-cost LAN module and USB key will be worthwhile as they eliminate cable swapping, function key activation, and other time-consuming and distracting activities. With the 905's wireless connection LAN hardware installed, you simply install the USB key sequentially in each PC (not Mac-compatible), and its output is wirelessly shown on the screen.

Audio Quality: Even though it develops a slight rumble at maximum volume, the 905's 16-watt speaker is plenty loud for most classrooms. This eliminates the need for additional amplification equipment and reduces cabling requirements.

Lamp Life: Lamp life for the 905 is 5,000 hours in normal mode and Eco mode extends it to 6,000 hours, so you will not be replacing lamps as often as you must for most 3,000-lumen projectors. This is especially convenient if you have the 905 ceiling-mounted, and access is limited. A replacement lamp can be purchased from Epson for $299.

Warranty Provisions: Epson offers a 2-year warranty on the projector and a 90-day warranty on the lamp. They also have a very liberal replacement policy that provides shipment of a replacement unit to you before you ship yours back if trouble occurs.

Limitations

No 3-D Compatibility: While 3-D content is still a bit hit or miss, there is increasing interest in this medium for the classroom. Unfortunately, the 905 is not capable of displaying 3-D images on its own, so you will have to forego this type of content.

Remote Control: Lettering on the remote control is small and contrast is minimal. There are also some double function keys depending on the current operation. In a darkened room, it can be a test discerning what key does what.

Maintenance: Like most LCD projectors, the 905 has an air filter that needs occasional cleaning with a small vacuum cleaner. The good news is that the filter can be replaced quickly if it becomes worn. Lamp replacement is reasonably easily as lamp access is through the top of the projector.

Other Considerations

Network Connections and Management: Epson supports a remote monitoring application called Easy MP which uses a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to communicate with compatible computers and projectors. It can remotely monitor projector status such as lamp condition and internal temperature and alert maintenance personnel to possible problems. The 905 is also compatible with Crestron's RoomView monitor.

Fan noise: With its lamp putting out 3,000 lumens, the 905 needs to evacuate a lot of heat from its interior. Surprisingly, fan noise in Normal mode is only 33dB which is not especially distracting if you are seated next to the projector. Eco mode further lowers the noise to 28dB, and brightness only drops 22% in the process, so Eco mode may be your default choice.

On-Screen Menus: The 905's seven on-screen menus are pretty straightforward with minimal layering. Navigation is easy, and when image adjustments like brightness and contrast are made, the menu conveniently collapses to a single line at the bottom of the image.

Preset modes: There are five color modes (Presentation, Dynamic, Theater, Sports, and sRGB) as well as blackboard and whiteboard settings. There is also one customizable setting for storing your favorite image adjustments.

Conclusion

Compared to most classroom projectors we review, Epson's new PowerLite 905 is a powerhouse. It handles nearly any signal source, puts up a bright picture with excellent data and video images, and even accommodates portable USB storage devices for certain kinds of content. The 905's prime attraction is its versatility: easy set-up, image correction, placement flexibility, and a wide variety of inputs. It cannot display 3-D content and its native resolution is 1024x768, but if you want to retain all the features of the 905 and step up to a native resolution of 1280x800, then the Epson 915W fills the bill for an additional $100 (we plan to get this projector in for review shortly). But given its flexibility and cost, the Epson 905 is a classroom projector that is hard to match, and we give it our highest performance and value ratings.

(08/25/19 - 04:06 PM PST)
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