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Epson VS200 Portable Projector for under $450

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Epson VS200 Projector Epson VS200
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Street Price: n/a
Weight: 5.1 lbs
Aspect Ratio:4:3
Lens:1.35x powered
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:4,000 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:1 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In, USB
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i

If you search our database with criteria set for an 800x600 LCD projector with brightness over 2,000 lumens, contrast ratio over 1500:1, price under $450, audible noise under 35dB, and lamp life over 3000 hours, only one projector fits the bill . . . Epson's new VS200. That is a pretty good set of specifications for a native mode SVGA projector, but it requires closer examination to decide if this is the projector for you.

Billed by Epson as a portable small-business projector, the $429.99 VS200 has a few competitors that beat its specifications for a lower price, but they are all DLP-based projectors. Many viewers are sensitive to DLP rainbow effects (a common occurrence in inexpensive DLP projectors). An LCD projector eliminates that limitation, and that is a big plus for the VS200. On the other hand, some competitors have optical zoom capabilities where the VS200 has only a digital zoom. Optical zoom uses the entire chip capability when changing image size, but digital zoom uses fewer pixels at the telephoto setting which lowers image resolution and brightness.

As with any projector selection, you need to match capabilities with needs. The VS200 has its niche, but you need to look carefully to be sure it fits your requirements.


Preset Modes: There are five preset modes plus two others for non-standard projection surface colors (Blackboard and Whiteboard). Each preset alters color temperature to fit its purpose, and Photo mode is especially effective for making photos look balanced and vibrant. Dynamic mode has the most green color bias, but it is also the brightest projection mode.

Brightness and Uniformity: The VS200 is rated at 2,400 ANSI lumens, and our test sample put up 2,365 lumens in Dynamic mode. Presentation mode delivered 1,765 lumens, and Theater, Photo, and sRGB all came in at 1,575 lumens. Eco mode lowered brightness by an unusually small 10% given its big effect on lamp life (from 4,000 hours in normal mode to 5,000 hours in Eco mode). In fact, running the VS200 in Eco mode might be your first choice since it is quieter, less costly, and nearly as bright as normal mode. Uniformity was 90% with virtually no discernible brightness variation.

Image Size and Position: For a 100" image, the lens centerline is 6.5" above the bottom of the image and the projector is 117" from the screen. With this much offset in a tabletop placement, you may need to raise the image by extending the VS200's front elevator foot. The VS200 also has two rear feet that unscrew to accommodate horizontal leveling. Vertical keystone correction of ±30° is provided in the Settings menu or on the projector's control panel.

Compatibility: Computer resolutions from VGA (640x480) to SXGA+ (1400x1050) are scaled to fit the VS200's 800 x 600 native resolution. Video signals from 480i to 1080i are also accommodated.

On-Screen Menus: On-screen menu layering is minimal on the VS200, but a menu positioning and/or transparency setting would be a nice addition since it is located in the middle of the displayed image. Menus are logically arranged and offer a moderate range of image settings including three color temperature choices.

Maintenance: Although most DLP projectors lack them, LCD projectors have air filters that need occasional cleaning and eventual replacement. The good news is that air filters help prevent dirt build-up on the lamp which can lower its brightness prematurely. It is quick and easy to change the air filter on the VS200 because it is mounted under a hinged cover on the top left side of the projector. The lamp is also conveniently accessed through the top of the projector, so even a ceiling mount does not require de-mounting the projector for a lamp change.

Warranty Provisions: Epson provides warranties of one year on the projector and 90 days on the lamp.

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