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Review: EPSON PowerLite 745c Mobile Presentation Projector

Highly Recommended Projector
Epson PowerLite 745c Projector Epson PowerLite 745c
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400:1 Contrast Ratio
2500 Lumens
Street Price: n/a
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Epson PowerLite 745c

Bill Livolsi, March 9, 2005
ProjectorCentral.com

The Epson Powerlite 745c is a light, highly portable mobile presentation projector. It is unique in that it is currently the brightest projector on the market weighing under five pounds. But in addition to its exceptional light output, it has an extensive set of features that make it a powerful presentation tool for those on the go.

Product Overview

Specifications. 2500 ANSI lumens (reduced to 2000 in low-brightness mode), 400:1 contrast, native 4:3 full-frame format with three 1024x768 (XGA) resolution LCD panels.

Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to XGA (1024x768). NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL, PAL-N, PAL-M, PAL60, SECAM.

Lens and throw distance. 1.2 Manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 11-13 ft., depending on zoom.

Lamp Life. 2000 hours in high brightness mode, 3000 in low brightness mode.

Connection Panel. One 15-pin VGA port that accepts both component and computer signals, one S-video, one composite video, One 1/8" audio jack to connect the onboard speaker, one each of USB-A and USB-B ports, one cardbus slot on the front of the unit for the included Wi-Fi card.

Installation options. Table, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.

Warranty. Two years, 90 days for lamp.

Performance

When we first got our hands on this projector, the first thing we noticed was how bright it was given its compact form factor and 3.9 lb weight. Putting out over 2,000 lumens in high brightness mode, it produces more lumens per pound than any other projector on the market. For those who want a projector that packs a punch without a lot of weight, the 745c is worth a close look.

This is a projector designed specifically for quick set-up and high-quality mobile presentation. For that task it is well-designed. With the 745c in its case and a laptop in sleep mode we were able to get the 745c plugged in and projecting an image in a little under two minutes. Set up is even more rapid with the auto-keystoning option, which measures the tilt of the projector and compensates accordingly (for those who dislike any sort of image scaling whatsoever, this option can be turned off).

The menu system is simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate - though when changing settings, the escape button - not the enter button - confirms the change, leading to some initial confusion. The unit also saves the user's configuration and calibration settings automatically, and these settings are stored when the unit is unplugged.

When using a data source, the 745c puts out a clean, bright image that shows its strengths clearly. On a 100" diagonal image, full text documents and spreadsheets are crisp and sharp in all areas of the picture.

In addition to quick set-up and an extremely bright image, the PowerLite 745c offers wireless networking capability via an 802.11b/g cardbus card that connects to the front of the unit, over the exhaust vent. The included software installed quickly and behaved as advertised; however, as with any networking appliance, issues may arise from incorrect IP address or firewall configuration. As with typical wireless connections, it lacks the bandwidth for full-motion video. But is ideal for PowerPoint presentations and other still media. Furthermore, upon the establishment of a wireless connection, the unit switches sources automatically to display the computer desktop. While it can be switched back, there is no way to disable this option.

Another excellent mobile presentation feature of the 745c is its 512mb USB thumb drive. This drive can be loaded with digital pictures, mpeg movies, sound files, or even PowerPoint slide shows (once converted into a file called a "presentation" that the projector can understand - a converter is included on the disc). This feature can eliminate the need for a computer altogether, thereby cutting down on setup time and reducing the chances of technical complications. While this would make the 745c an excellent projector for digital photography, the projector lacks sufficient color saturation or contrast to make it an ideal tool for the display of digital photography. [NOTE: As of 3/30/05, we have been informed by EPSON that the USB thumb drive is not included with retail models of the PL745c. -bl]

In high brightness mode the 745c's fan noise is moderate and not particularly objectionable. Fan speed and fan noise are reduced in low-brightness mode. However on our test unit there was an accompanying high-pitched electric buzzing sound that was more noticeable when sitting in front of the unit than behind it. So in a conference room setup in which the audience is behind the projector it would not cause any distraction. ProjectorCentral has been informed by EPSON that this buzzing noise is a flaw in some of the earliest units produced, from which our test unit was drawn, and it has been eliminated in those manufactured subsequently.

There is also some light leakage through the front and rear of the unit - through the front vents, and through the case surrounding the connection panel in the back. In a table-mount situation, this could create a visual distraction in a darkened presentation room.

As far as video is concerned, the 745c is not a strong contender as a crossover product. The engineers at EPSON clearly designed the 745c to be a powerful, wireless, optionally computer-free presentation tool for mobile presenters. Therefore they didn't compromise the weight or form factor of the unit by adding features that would make it perform well in home theater applications. If you're shopping for a projector and intend to use it frequently for home theater video, the 745c is probably not for you.

Conclusion

The Epson Powerlite 745c is an excellent, full-featured multipurpose data presentation projector. It combines a small package, a crisp, bright image, and an expansive feature set that make it ideal for sales reps, trainers, and speakers on the road. The 745c is a lot of projector in a very small package, and it is highly recommended for mobile presentation applications.

(05/20/19 - 09:37 AM PST)
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