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Epson VS220 -- 2700 Lumens for $359!

Highly Recommended Projector
Performance
4.5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Education
Epson VS220 Projector Epson VS220
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Street Price: n/a
Contrast:3,000:1
Lumens:2700
Weight: 5.1 lbs
Resolution:800x600
Aspect Ratio:4:3
Technology:3 LCD
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:4,000 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$199.00
Warranty:1 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In, HDMI, USB (x2),
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i
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Epson VS220 Portable Projector:
Lots of Light for just $359

Allan Abbott, May 10, 2013
ProjectorCentral.com

If you are not projecting detailed images (engineering drawings or fine art) and you are often in uncontrolled light environments (no shades or undimmed lights), then Epson's new VS220 LCD projector may be just what you are looking for. At 2,700 lumens with SVGA resolution, it is not going to be found in home theaters or corporate boardrooms, but when a bright image with moderate resolution is called for, the VS220 is up to the task. In addition, at just five pounds it is small and light enough to serve both fixed and portable applications, and its $359 street price is easy on the budget.

At the moment, there are three other projector models under $400 that put out at least 2,500 lumens and have an HDMI input. But among them, the VS220 delivers more lumens per dollar, and does so in the smallest package. Combine that with its much higher color light output, and its versatility is unmatched.

Not only is the VS220 a good choice for the classroom teacher or the road warrior, it handles virtually all sources with the exception of 3-D material. It offers a variety of connections including HDMI. The built-in 1-watt speaker will not fill a room with sound, but it will suffice for relatively quiet surroundings. If SVGA is enough resolution for your projection needs, then the VS220 is an excellent choice.

The Viewing Experience

The simplicity of the VS220 is immediately apparent. The Connector panel is clean and clearly labeled, the menu and control buttons on the top of the projectors are distinct and tactile, and the remote control is laid out in four easy-to-identify sections. Connect your sources, turn the VS220 on, drop the front foot if the image needs to be raised, rotate the rear feet if the tabletop is tilted, and that is about all there is to getting an excellent image on the screen. The menu system is easy to understand and operate, and some functions (e.g., aspect ratio and color mode) can be selected from the remote without opening the menu.

Data images were focused and saturated, but because of the SVGA resolution, type smaller than 10 point was hard to read on spreadsheets running at less than 100% of normal size. On the other hand, video images had good highlight and shadow definition thanks to the VS220's automatic iris, and there were no motion artifacts which is the norm for an LCD image. Flesh tones were excellent in the Theatre preset with no adjustment, and the only improvement over factory settings for the overall image came from a slight increase in brightness. Color brightness matched white brightness which is another hallmark of LCD projectors, and in brightly lit rooms, this advantage is clearly evident as the image avoids a washed-out appearance.

Key Features

Presets. There are seven Color Mode presets including Dynamic, Presentation, Theatre, Photo, and sRGB along with black- and white-board options. Dynamic and Presentation have a little more green bias than the others, but if color accuracy is important, Photo and sRGB have sufficient brightness for many rooms.

Automatic Iris . It is unusual to find an auto iris in such a low-cost projector, but it does add to the projector's video performance by improving contrast as scene brightness varies. Its operation is sometimes audible, but given the VS220's fan noise, most audience members will not be aware of the iris' operation. If iris noise is an issue, simply disable it in the Image menu.

Connectivity . While there is a wide variety among the rear panel connectors, there is only one VGA connector that serves dual purposes as a computer or a component video input. In addition, there is an HDMI input, a composite and S-video jack, audio jacks, and both USB-A and USB-B connectors.

Computer-free Presentations. If you have a photo collection or a short video stored on a USB device, you can connect directly to the USB-A connector without the need of a computer. The slideshow feature supports .jpg, .bmp, .gif, and .png formats.

Lamp Life In normal mode, lamp life is 4,000 hours, but switching to Eco mode extends that time to 5,000 hours without significant brightness reduction.

USB Connectivity. You can avoid the one VGA connector limitation by connecting your computer via the USB-A connector.

Maintenance. The VS220 has air filters that need to be changed when dirty, and the side grills should be vacuumed occasionally. Lamp replacement is easy as the lamp assembly can be removed from the top of the projector making maintenance simple even if the VS220 is ceiling mounted.

Warranty. The VS220 carries a warranty of one year.

Performance

Brightness and Uniformity.The VS220 delivered a bit more than its specified brightness in its Dynamic preset with 2,770 lumens. The other presets put up the following numbers: Presentation - 2,300 lumens and Theatre, Photo, and sRGB - 2,210 lumens each. Brightness uniformity was exceptional at 93% with the upper half of the image slightly brighter.

Image Controls. Unlike most inexpensive and even some more expensive projectors, the VS220 allows complete image control in all projection modes including HDMI. In the Image menu, brightness, contrast, and tint can be varied, and should that prove insufficient, the Color Adjustment sub-menu allows individual control of red, green, and blue levels. It seems ironic that with all this image manipulation available, there is really little need for it . . . the Color Mode settings are very accurate.

Image Size and Offset.The centerline of the lens is at the bottom of the image at all projection distances, so tabletop mounting works well. At a projection distance of 70", the image diagonal will be 100", and the image is bright enough for almost any room condition.

Menu Selection and Navigation .The VS220's six menus are intuitive and not deeply layered. The Image and Settings menus cover most of the settings you are likely to need, and the only limitation is the absence of a User memory to retain preferred settings. New users are going to have to change settings if they prefer different display characteristics than the previous user.

Remote Control.The remote control is full size and is divided into four separate functional areas: source selection, numeric keys, direct action keys, and menu navigation. Source selection can be sequential or specific, and menu navigation is controlled with the Menu, Enter, and Escape keys. The only menu of any complexity is the Image menu, and although it has several variables, it is easy to move from one sub-menu to another. The remote control can also function as a computer mouse or a pointer as long as there is a connection between the projector's USB-B connector and your computer.

Limitations

Placement Flexibility. Even though the VS220 touts Wide and Tele controls, this is not an optical zoom but a digital approximation. As you move from Wide to Tele, the image size decreases, but the image also loses resolution as fewer pixels are used to display the image. The net is that for full resolution, you are faced with a single image size at any particular projection distance, and if you need to change the image size, you will need to re-position the projector.

Fan Noise.At 2,700 lumens with a small footprint, the VS220 generates heat that must be exhausted quickly, and fan noise is the result. Fortunately, the heat is exhausted from the front of the projector, so audience impact is minimized. Nevertheless, those sitting within ten feet of the VS220 may be distracted, so using Eco mode is a good option. Brightness is only reduced by 22% in Eco mode, and this will have little impact on image quality in all but brightly lit rooms.

The noise reduction in Eco mode is dramatic . . . barely a whisper. So, since brightness reduction is minimal, Eco mode is a good choice for many projection conditions.

Conclusion

Epson's new VS220 is a versatile SVGA projector that suits both fixed and portable applications. It is small and light for a 2,700-lumen projector, and its data and video images are excellent for those environments where high resolution is unnecessary. It may not handle 3-D media, but it accommodates just about every other source in a classroom or conference room. At less than $400 street price, the VS220 represents a real value, and we give it our highest rating in that category.

(05/22/19 - 08:25 AM PST)
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