Epson PowerLite X15 XGA 3LCD Projector
  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$599 MSRP Discontinued

When it comes to education projectors, there are two characteristics that reign supreme: value and versatility. Epson's new PowerLite X15 holds the high ground in both categories.

In the value realm, at five pounds and 3,000 lumens, the X15 is one of four XGA projectors in our database that also sport a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a price tag of less than $600. What makes the X15 unique is that it is the only LCD projector among the four, so DLP rainbow artifacts are not a problem. And it's the only projector with a 4,000-hour lamp life rating in normal mode. To top off the value proposition, Epson's Brighter Futures education discount applies to both the X15 and its replacement lamp.

As for versatility, the X15 offers a wide range of inputs including a USB Type B connection that handles PC's or Macs with video, audio, and presentation control all in one cable. Self-installing software loads when the USB cable is first connected. That USB connection can also accommodate flash drives, memory card readers, and cameras or phones. Epson also provides a couple of unique keystone correction utilities called Quick Corner and Easy Slide which can generate ±30° of both vertical and horizontal keystone correction.

Keep in mind that at a $599 street price the X15 is a good choice for small to medium conference rooms, too, but its education pricing and all-around versatility make it a natural for the classroom.

 

The Viewing Experience

Right out of the box, the X15 is easy to get up and running. The rear panel connectors have bright, easy-to-read labels, and the top panel and the remote control are laid out logically with their buttons clearly identified. The X15 warms up quickly, and menu choices for image adjustment, aspect ratio, and other settings are quick and easy.

Like most LCD projectors, the X15 delivers a brighter video image than its 3,000-lumen DLP counterparts. This results from the color generation technology differences between the two projector types. Most DLPs have about 50% of their full brightness in video mode (Theater preset) while LCDs are in the 60-70% range. This can be a noticeable difference when ambient light is not well controlled.

Speaking of video, the Theater preset on the X15 is right on the mark. Saturation, contrast, and brightness need no adjustment to put up images that show good color depth and have well-defined shadows and highlights. Our test unit had a slight shading of green in the upper center and right portions of the image that was visible in data mode with a white background, but it was undetectable in video mode. Flesh tones were excellent, and with the sharpness control at the lower part of its range, video had a film quality to it that was attractive.

Data images were sharp and clear in the Presentation preset. The vertical and horizontal keystone adjustments were very effective and did not distort even small font material. A small boost from the contrast control helped give data images a bit of punch, and it also helped the Photo mode produce well-balanced renditions of a variety of photos on my flash drive.

Key Features

Education Pricing.Epson's Brighter Futures education plan offers substantial discounts to schools. The X15 can be purchased for $459 which is almost 25% off the street price. Even better, replacement lamps sell to educators for only $99 which, coupled with the lamps long life, adds up to real savings over the life of the projector.

Presets.The X15's seven preset modes (Dynamic, Presentation, Theater, Photo, sRGB, Blackboard, and Whiteboard) work effectively to emphasize saturation, contrast, brightness, and color temperature for each particular projection environment. Theater mode is particularly well designed to make videos look like movies with a soft look as long as the sharpness setting is in the low end of its range.

Easy Slide and Quick Corner. If you happen to be projecting at an angle to the screen, you can adjust both vertical and horizontal keystone effects either automatically or manually. The manual slider is located just behind the zoom and focus rings on the top of the X15 and adjusts for horizontal keystoning. The Quick Corner adjustment is made in the Keystone section of the Settings menu, and it adjusts for perfectly rectangular corners regardless of the projection surface's flatness.

Connectivity.You will find all the usual suspects on the connector panel of the X15. Computer signals are handled by 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 there are both audio in and out connectors. Rounding out the connections is a USB Type B input for single-cable data and video for PCs and Macs as well as USB-compatible storage devices.

Keystone Correction.It is unusual to find horizontal keystone correction on a projector in this class. It is even more unusual to find two options for keystone correction. The X15 scores on both counts. There is vertical and horizontal correction available on the control panel and on the remote control to the tune of ±30°. Horizontal correction is also available via the sliding bar located just behind the lens controls. There is even a manual mode called Quick Corner that lets you square up each corner of the image independently, a nice touch if you happen to be projecting on a non-flat surface.

Remote Control. The X15's remote control has easy-to-read button legends, and it has an array of direct action buttons for selections like aspect ratio, color mode, and individual source selection as well as an auto search button. A user-assignable button can handle any one of five functions including direct selection of ECO mode without going to a menu.

USB Type B All-in-one Connection.Epson provides an additional interface for connecting computers to the X15. The USB Type B connector accommodates a USB cable from a Mac or PC and sends the interface software to the computer automatically on initial connection. Once installed, files of any type can be displayed with both video and audio transiting the slim USB cable. If you want to avoid the hassle of separate VGA and audio cables, this is the way to go.

Computer-free Presentations. If your students want to show photos as part of a homework assignment, that is no problem for the X15 as long as the thumb drives or cameras holding the photos can be converted to a USB Type B connection. This can usually be done with a short adapter cable, and it eliminates the need for a computer to view these images.

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

 

Performance and Limitations

Brightness and Uniformity. In its brightest mode (Dynamic preset), our test unit did not quite meet its 3,000-lumen specification, but it came close at 2,710 lumens. Other presets delivered as follows: Presentation - 1,945, Theater - 1,710, and sRGB and Photo at 1,615 each. Brightness uniformity was excellent at 90%.

Lamp life.The X15's E-TORL lamp has an unusually long 4,000-hour life in normal mode at full brightness. Switching to Eco mode produces a small drop in brightness (~22%), but it extends lamp life to 5,000 hours.

Audio Quality. A 2-watt speaker is not going to fill a room with sound, but it is adequate if there is not much ambient noise to contend with. If external amplification is needed, an audio output is available on the X15. The built-in speaker was rattle- and buzz-free over its entire range.

Limitations

Placement Flexibility.The X15's modest zoom ratio of 1.2:1 leaves little room for adjusting the location of the projector for a desired image size. For example, a 100" image requires that the X15 be between ten and twelve feet from the screen. If that range is not convenient, you will have to settle for a different image size.

The bottom of a 100" image is about 5" below the centerline of the lens, so cart mounting is preferable to tabletop since no elevation of the projector is needed to prevent keystoning.

Fan noise In normal mode, the X15 is a little noisy although most of that noise is heard at the front right and left. Seating your audience behind the projector helps solve this problem, but switching to Eco mode does it even better with noise dropping substantially. Since brightness drops only 22% in Eco mode, this might be a good choice as a default unless ambient light demands full brightness.

No Monitor Loop Through.In classrooms, a monitor loop through can be handy when presenting with your back to the image, but the X15 does not offer this capability.

Not 3-D Ready.There is more 3-D material being prepared for the classroom every day, but the X15, like most LCD projectors, is not 3-D ready.

Conclusion

The Epson PowerLite X15 is a worthy successor to the PowerLite 92 with higher brightness and a lamp with a 4,000-hour life at full brightness. It can connect two computers simultaneously, and it offers many user conveniences like multiple one-button functions on the remote control and a keystone correction package unmatched by projectors in its class. Its data and video performance is excellent, and educators can purchase both the X15 and its accessories at a nice discount. If you are an educator looking for a bright XGA projector that has value and versatility, the X15 should be near the top of your list. It deserves our highest rating for value.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite X15 projector page.

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