Product: EPSON PowerLite 73c LCD Projector
Pros: Comprehensive feature set offers flexibility; easy out-of-box operation
Cons: Lower lamp life than comparable models; no on-board menu access
Summary: Epson's 73c is a solid performer with a comprehensive feature set that makes it suitable for a variety of presentation situations.
MSRP: $3,249 -- Street Price: $1,899
For those of you that are new to projection equipment, don't let the comprehensive input panel on the 6.4-pound Epson PowerLite 73c overwhelm you. What all those connections bring you is flexibility. You'll be able to connect the projector to a computer, laptop, external monitor, DVD player, VCR, gaming console, camcorder and more. Included in the package you'll find a Quick Setup guide to get first-time users up and running for presentations using a laptop in minutes. There is also a comprehensive User's Guide and cables for computer (VGA), RCA A/V and USB mouse operation. If you've ever gone hunting for a misplaced remote, you'll be happy to know that the credit card-sized remote control can be stored right on the projector. On the 73c, it will be especially important to keep track of the remote since it is the only way to access most of the menu operations. IR receivers on both front and back of the unit will make remote operation easy from nearly anywhere in the room. As with most remotes, the maximum operating distance is 20 feet. A cable lock feature is included for the security-conscious. A padded carrying case doubles as convenient storage for the projector and its accessories. With all projectors, it's important to minimize exposure to dust, extreme temperatures and rough treatment.
After power up and connection, manual zoom and focus rings allow for easy image adjustment. If you are not able to position the projector to achieve a squared-up image, the 73c comes preset with the Auto Keystone feature enabled. If you prefer to make a manual adjustment, change the option via the Setting tab on the projector menu. The 73c offers ±15 degrees vertical digital keystone correction. The 73c also comes with 2 spring-loaded, retractable front feet so you can get additional height if needed.
Fan noise is a little above average compared to similarly-featured units. Heat vents to the front of the unit. This is a mixed blessing. On the positive side, fan noise will be less perceptible to your viewing audience. However you may notice some image distortion from heat waves rising in front of the lens. Whenever possible, use the economy lamp mode to increase lamp life, reduce heat generation and reduce fan noise.
If you run into difficulties with either the image or sound, you can use the 73c's on-board troubleshooting feature. On-screen menus take you through several common problems and display solutions.
The 73c's 1500 lumens make it bright enough for lights-on presentations using average screen sizes. Dim the lights and you'll still achieve good image quality for applications where a larger image is needed. The 1500 hour lamp life is a disappointment - especially when similar units offer 2000 hours. Use the lamp economy mode to reduce lumen output to a still respectable 1200 lumens and you'll likely get an increase in lamp life hours.
The XGA resolution is powerful enough to bring data-intensive spreadsheets into crisp detail and Epson's SizeWise compression technology means you can effortlessly connect to the latest notebook computers with SXGA resolution. The native aspect ratio is 4:3, but through menu options, the 73c provides support for 16:9 and 5:4.
Throw distances are from 3.0 to 34.4 feet which allows you to project up to a maximum diagonal screen size of 300 inches. At a more typical viewing distance of 10 feet, the diagonal image size ranges from 88 inches to 102 inches. As with most projectors, you can mount the 73c from the ceiling or use it in a rear projection setup.
A video out connection let's you access an external monitor for those times when you need to conduct your presentation from outside the viewing area of the screen. Upload your logo or a custom graphic to personalize the startup screen.
The 73c includes a VGA cable, an RCA A/V cable, and a USB A to B cable for mouse operation. There is an optional VGA to component video cable. The 73c is capable of handling composite video, S-video (Epson recommends using a 3rd party s-video cable), component video (using the optional cable), and DTV and HDTV in the following standards: 480i, 480p, 575i, 575p, 720p and 1080i.
2-year repair warranty on the projector, 90-day lamp warranty
We tested the 73c for both business and casual entertainment. For business use, we connected to a Dell Latitude laptop using the 73c's included VGA cable. Then we connected the 73c directly to a Panasonic DVD-S31 DVD player and tested it with the included RCA cable.
As a presentation projector, the 73c's XGA resolution means you can project more data-intensive material and still get great image quality. With our particular unit, we noticed some minor image distortion from the heat venting on the front of the unit. This issue was not as noticeable using standard presentation material or when running the DVD. The 1500 lumen brightness provides the flexibility to use the 73c in larger rooms with dimmed lights or in smaller rooms when ambient light is not easily controlled. Although not suited to video or larger rooms, the 1-watt speaker enables you to bring a nominal level of audio to your presentations.
As a projector for DVD movie viewing, the 73c is an adequate performer for occasional use. The 500:1 contrast ratio is not sufficient to handle the demands of full-time video. This is especially apparent when the 73c is projecting pastel or light tones against white. On the plus side, Epson's LCD technology generates rich, vibrant colors in the medium to darker tones. If video is your primary interest, then you'll want to consider some of the newer projectors specifically designed for cross-over from business into home theater applications.
The Epson PowerLite 73c is a versatile projector with a comprehensive feature set. Users will enjoy the fast and easy setup, multiple connection options and intuitive menu system. Solid performance and good image quality make it an easy choice to handle most of your presentation needs.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite 73c projector page.