Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
As the Rolling Stones once put it, "You can't always get what you want." However, if you want a tiny portable XGA projector that'll put out over 2000 lumens AND have more features than you can shake a stick at, you can get the Epson PowerLite 1715c, and get everything you need without compromising. And at $2000, you don't need Mick Jagger's money to do it, either.
ANSI lumens: 2700
Contrast (full on/off): 400:1
Light Engine: 1024x768, native 4:3 three-panel LCD, 170W UHE lamp
Video Compatibility: HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p. NTSC/PAL/SECAM.
Data Compatibility: Computer resolutions up to UXGA (1600x1200).
Connection Panel: Composite, S-Video, VGA-in, 2x USB, 1/8" audio-in, Kensington lock.
Lens and Throw Distance: 1.20:1 manual zoom, auto focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal 4:3 image from 11' to 13.2'
Lamp Life: 2,000 hours (3,000 hours in eco mode)
Warranty: Two years.
General Impressions / Feature Set
The PowerLite 1715c is a feature-rich projector from Epson - a small box with big abilities. But you'd never know by looking at it. The projector measures 3.1" tall by 10.7" wide by 7.6" deep, which makes it smaller than a ream of printer paper. It weighs only 3.7 lbs. The case is plain white, with some labels on the top warning the user about hot exhaust and where the lamp is located.
Once the power button is pressed, the 1715c takes less than thirty seconds to display an image. The lamp keeps getting brighter for the next few minutes after that, but at least it puts an image on the screen quickly. You can also configure the 1715c to start up as soon as you plug in the power cord, if you should wish to do so. Shutdown is even faster, taking three seconds total, after which the fan shuts off and the projector is safe to unplug.
The 1715c's connection panel includes all the basics: composite video, s-video, 15-pin VGA, two USB ports, a 1/8" audio input, and a Kensington lock point. However, there are some added features that make the 1715c more versatile than it at first appears to be.
WiFi Connectivity. The PowerLite 1715c comes standard with a wireless interface, which will allow you to integrate the projector into a network for monitoring, as well as project wirelessly. With Epson's included EasyMP software, setup takes about ten minutes the first time, and less than a minute each subsequent time. The interface is easily fast enough for slideshows and text documents, as well as occasional video.
Computer-less Projection. The PowerLite 1715c is also capable of projecting without the use of a computer at all. If you attach a camera or USB thumbdrive to one of the projector's USB ports, you can browse and display photos as well as start a slideshow. If you attach an external hard drive, you will be able to display files from that, as well. And you can use Epson's included software to convert PowerPoint files into what are called "Scenarios," ad display these from a thumb drive as well. So for most common applications, the 1715c does not even require a computer.
Multi-Projector Display. Thanks to the multi-projector feature, multiple 1715c projectors can be placed edge-to-edge to create one large screen. If you've ever wanted to project across an entire wall, it is now a possibility.
The 1715c will throw a 100" 4:3 image from 11 feet to 13.2 feet with its 1.2:1 zoom lens, which is just about standard for a business projector. Zoom and focus are manual.
The throw angle, however, is somewhat odd. While most business projectors put the bottom edge of the image on the same plane as the centerline of the lens, the Powerlite 1715c places the image 80% above and 20% below the lens centerline. Conference room tables tend to be lower than the projection screen, and ceiling mounts tend to be close to the ceiling itself unless a drop tube is used. Because of the odd throw angle, it is hard to find a mounting point for the 1715c that does not require tilting the projector, which means either projecting a trapezoidal image or using keystone correction.
The Powerlite 1715c has auto-adjusting keystone that will correct up to 30 degrees in either direction vertically, which cuts down on set-up time significantly. Keystone correction causes text to be bolded slightly, but legibility is not significantly compromised. Images and video suffer almost no visible distortion at all. Complex, densely-packed spreadsheets can get muddled, so be careful to test the material you wish to display before you take this projector on the road.
The remote control is small and cluttered, with no backlight. However, remote mouse functionality is included if a USB connection is made between the projector and your computer, which allows for much more freedom of movement while making a presentation.
In high lamp mode, the 1715c puts out a considerable amount of audible noise, more than both home theater projectors and many larger business machines, but not atypical of small, bright portable data projectors. Fan noise is reduced quite a bit by running the projector in low lamp mode.
While the PowerLite 1715c is rated at 2700 ANSI lumens, our test sample was reading closer to 2100 ANSI in "Presentation" mode, which is the projector's brightest. Using low lamp brought that number to 1616 ANSI, or a roughly 25% drop. Using sRGB mode with the lamp on high measured 1751 lumens, and 1300 lumens in low lamp mode, with better contrast and color performance. Our projector also measured 90% brightness uniformity, which is impressive.
In a smaller conference room with the lights dimmed, 2000 lumens can often be too bright, and it may cause eyestrain and headaches. The various operating modes of the 1715c give you the option to drop lumen output to 1300, which is more appropriate for this type of environment. And since low lamp mode is still plenty bright, and since it adds another 1000 hours of life to the lamp, it makes budgetary sense to keep the 1715c in low lamp mode unless you have a larger venue in which you need the extra lumens. Gaining 50% more life from a $350 lamp is no laughing matter, and can save some serious scratch in the long run.
Contrast performance is more than sufficient for a business projector. While the 1715c is rated at only 400:1 On/Off contrast, the projector has more than enough dynamic range to display beautiful data and photographic images in a presentation environment. The reason is that in a presentation room with modest to moderate ambient light, it is lumen output and not contrast ratio that determines the viewers' perception of contrast.
Visible pixelation is typical of an XGA resolution LCD projector, but the projector is razor-sharp. Even among other data projectors, where sharpness and clarity are key, the 1715c stands out as having a crystal-clear image. And as far as visible pixelation goes, it is no longer visible if one is farther than about 1.6 times screen width away from the projected image. In any case, pixelation is more of a distraction with video material than it is with data presentations.
If video is to be shown, the 1715c will do a passable job with regards to color, with accurate hues that are reasonably well-saturated. But screen door effect and lack of contrast take a toll on the image, leaving shadow detail muddled. Overall, the PowerLite 1715c does a decent job with video for a data projector, but it is still primarily a data projector.
From looking at the outside, the 1715c looks like just another "Me-too" XGA projector -- but it's the features that make this one. The Epson PowerLite 1715c is loaded down with features and functionality, ranging from wireless connectivity to auto-keystone and a fast shutdown time. It can do just about everything a presenter on the road would ask of a projector, and it can do it all for less than $2000.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite 1715c projector page.