Epson VS200 Portable Projector
for under $450
Image Quality: You would expect that a projector promoted as a small-business projector would deliver very good data images, and the VS200 doe just that. Images are crisp and well saturated, and even with full vertical keystone correction small fonts are easy to read. Photos look natural and color balance is very good.
The pleasant surprise may be how good the video images look. Video images are very satisfying with reasonably deep blacks and good shadow detail. Color settings need minimal adjustment to achieve realistic flesh tones. The Theater setting may be a bit bright for movie viewing in a dark room, but choosing Eco will lower brightness, improve highlight depth, and reduce fan noise as well.
One reason for the VS200's video performance is its auto iris. It is unusual to find an auto iris on a projector under $500, and it pushes contrast up to 2000:1. Since the VS200 is an LCD projector, its on/off contrast is probably closer to 500:1, but an auto iris can make a noticeable difference in shadow and highlight detail. One caution: the motor noise when the auto iris is adjusting can be heard if the audio level is low, but you have the option of disabling the auto iris if it is distracting.
USB Input: For those who prefer the convenience of the smaller USB cable over a VGA cable. The VS200 offers a USB type-A connector for computer connection. A simple one-time automatic software download from the projector is all that is needed. A USB cable with a Type-A connector on one end and a Type-B on the other is needed to make this connection, but it is an extra cost accessory for the VS200.
Remote Control: The VS200's remote control is well laid out and makes it easy to navigate the on-screen menus. It offers some special function keys that are designed for presentations. For example, you can move from page to page or left/right click with the touch of a button as long as a USB connection is made to your computer. There is also a Pointer button that puts up an arrow icon that can be moved around the image using the directional buttons . . . positioning is not as fast as a handheld laser pointer, but if you forget yours or its batteries die, you have a handy alternative. There is even a User button which can display any of four projector features including information about the current source selected.
Quick Start/Stop: If you are in a hurry, Epson offers a nice touch with its Instant On/Off® feature that lets you shut down and go without waiting for the lamp to cool down. You can also power up with minimal lamp warm-up time.
Lamp Life: Very few sub-$450 projectors have normal lamp lives of more than 3,000 hours, but the VS200 stretches that to 4,000 hours. Eco mode adds another 1,000 hours, and a replacement lamp can be purchased from Epson for $199.
Auto Source Search: When you have several sources connected but cannot recall which inputs are active, the VS200 solves the problem. Unlike some inexpensive projectors that make you search for sources manually, the VS200 searches sources automatically. On power up, it searches all four inputs and selects the first active connection it finds. Pushing the Source key on the remote begins a search for and selection of the next connection detected.