Epson PowerLite 915W WXGA 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$899 MSRP Discontinued

Products often promise the perks of certain bells and whistles, but ultimately fall short of true functionality-- just think of the hundreds of phone apps that still can't quite prevent dropped calls. This is not the case with the Epson PowerLite 915W, where function is key. This 1280x800 LCD projector combines 3200 lumens of light output with all of the features needed to excel in the classroom or the conference room. With the control panel featuring large, easy-to-read buttons, plenty of inputs, extensive networking capability, and a powerful zoom lens, the 915W is easy to use. While the published price is $1049, Epson offers an education discount that drops the price down to $799.

Applications & Best Uses

The 915W is primarily a classroom projector that is very well equipped. Its 3200 lumen output is ideal for classrooms where ambient light is a concern. Screen sizes of 80" to 100" diagonal are possible when using the projector's Dynamic mode. In rooms with less ambient light, the projector's other image modes offer better color accuracy and contrast. Even the least bright mode still produces over 1300 lumens with the lamp set to full power.

Placement flexibility is unusually extensive for this class of projector, as the 915W features a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens. Depending on zoom, this lens can project a 100" diagonal 16:10 image from 9' 9" to 15' 10", making it a good choice for classrooms where the projector will sit near the back of the room. The projector has a mild throw angle, such that the bottom edge of the image is level with the center of the lens. This throw angle works well in a ceiling mount with a small extension tube or on a tall rolling cart.

 

Key Features

Picture quality. Whether looking at PowerPoint slides, still images, or video clips, the 915W renders material cleanly and clearly. Its preset color modes cover the projector's most likely usage cases, from high ambient light presentations to darkened room video display. At 87% brightness uniformity, the image is smooth and evenly illuminated. Color saturation is rich and vibrant, with the Theatre, Photo, and sRGB modes having neutral, balanced, and accurate color. Detail is sharp, with even 8pt text appearing legible at normal viewing distances. Meanwhile, visible pixelation is only visible at distances shorter than 1.2 times the screen width.

High light output. The 915W is rated at 3200 lumens maximum light output and in the Dynamic mode preset our test unit delivered 3080 lumens, an impressive 96% of specification. Color accuracy and black level in Dynamic mode are lackluster compared to the projector's other image modes, but in a room with ambient light it will provide the most visible image. The next mode is Presentation that, at 2357 lumens, offers more accurate color than Dynamic as well as deeper black. If color accuracy is a priority, the 915W's Theatre, Photo, and sRGB modes all produce roughly 1900 lumens and give the best color accuracy of any of the projector's preprogrammed image modes. If the classroom lacks a screen, Blackboard mode (1382 lumens) and Whiteboard mode (1648 lumens) incorporate color compensation for the surfaces after which they are named.

All of the 915W's image modes tend towards high brightness. However, its Eco lamp mode reduces light output by 33%, which is slightly more than other projectors in this class. This helps to reduce lumen output for smaller screen sizes or rooms with better control of ambient light. Dynamic mode still measures 2065 lumens even with the lamp in Eco mode, so it is also a feasible option for those wishing to extend the life of the projector while still projecting a bright image.

Good video performance. The 915W's Theatre and Photo modes both have excellent color accuracy and contrast for a classroom projector, making the 915W a good choice for video display. The 915W is mainly built to present material in rooms with significant ambient light, where black level is not a concern. However, contrast is strong enough in the projector's Theatre and Photo modes that movie display is quite satisfactory. The projector's 1280x800 resolution can natively display HD 720p video without scaling and its compression of 1080p video is sharp and free of artifacts. The 915W uses LCD panels, so rainbow artifacts do not exist. The 915W has an auto iris that deepens black levels when appropriate, which is useful when ambient light can be controlled. In addition, the 915W's HDMI port makes it easy to connect to high definition video sources.

Long lamp life. The 915W's lamp is rated to last 4,000 hours in Normal mode or 6,000 hours in Eco mode. While other classroom projectors also offer long lamp life, the 915W's 6,000 hours is the best in the field. Replacement lamps cost $299 direct from Epson. The projector has an air filter which also must be vacuumed or replaced on occasion. Replacement filters cost $15.

Fan noise. At full power, the 915W's fan is noticeable without being overwhelming. If viewers need to sit near the projector, switching to Eco mode reduces fan noise from an audible rush to a low, smooth hum.

NEC UM383WL
WXGA Conference Room Projector
NEC UM383WL
WXGA Conference Room Projector

Portability. At 7.5 pounds total weight, the 915W is light and transportable by any standard. Quick shutoff takes the projector from operation to full shutdown in three seconds, making it safe to unplug and pack away without waiting for a full cool-down cycle. Direct power on will start the lamp as soon as the AC adapter is plugged in. Auto vertical keystone is also included and functions as advertised.

Placement flexibility. A 1.6:1 zoom lens puts the 915W above its competition when it comes to placement flexibility. The 915W can display a 100" diagonal image from 9'9" to 16' 10", which helps make the projector fit in a variety of different sized classrooms.

Connectivity. With two VGA inputs, one HDMI, an S-video and a composite jack, the 915W can be connected to almost any source. The 915W also conveniently includes two USB ports. One of these can be used to display images from a USB flash drive, while the other can be connected directly to a Windows computer for transmission of video, audio, and mouse movements.

Networking. In addition to the physical ports, the 915W has both wired and optional wireless networking using an adapter that must be purchased separately. The included EasyMP software is almost foolproof: turn on the projector, start the software, and it will show you any projectors in WiFi range or on the same wired network. The 915W also allows control over the network using a browser-based interface, which is compatible with any computer that can run a web browser-- basically all computers. The wireless adapter costs $99 from Epson.

Security. The 915W has three separate physical restraint systems-- a Kensington lock point, a padlock hardpoint, and a loop for a security cable. In supplement, the projector supports password protection, which prevents unauthorized use and provides a deterrent for theft. After all, if the projector can't be used without the password, there's no reason to steal it.

Warranty. The standard Epson warranty includes two years of coverage including Epson's Road Service support. If a projector fails, the company will send a replacement product via overnight shipping. This can reduce downtime and the need for a technology department to maintain spare projectors. Extended service plans are also available, starting at $129 for an additional year of coverage.

Limitations

Remote control. The 915W's remote control is about the size of a deck of cards. It has small, tic-tac shaped buttons with labels printed above them and it can be easy to confuse the label for the button above with the label for the button below. The remote is cumbersome when compared to the buttons on the actual unit, which provide good tactile feedback when pressed. Users unfamiliar with the projector may find themselves hunting for the correct button every time they pick up the remote. Luckily, between the hardwired control panel and the web interface, there are other ways to control the 915W. However, these are generally not as useful if you are planning to use the 915W as a portable projector.

Price. The 915W costs $1049 from most retailers, while many competing 1280x800 units cost less than $1000 and some are priced under $800. However, for school districts, Epson's education discount brings the price to a more attractive $799. Projectors purchased through their education program also include an extra year of warranty coverage. In addition, the 915W is comparatively rich with features when compared to these other projectors. Its 6,000-hour Eco mode lamp life and 1.6:1 zoom lens are both valuable additions and the express replacement warranty can reduce downtime. If all that is required is a 3,000 lumen WXGA projector, there are less expensive options, but for schools the 915W can still be an economical choice.

Conclusion

The Epson PowerLite 915W performs beyond the expectations of projectors in its class. In fixed installations, the extensive connection panel and 1.6:1 zoom lens mean the 915W will fit in just about any room. Network capabilities help to integrate the 915W into a school or business's existing IT infrastructure. If used as a transportable projector, the 915W's long zoom lens will help get the image squared up with the screen without too much fuss, and its quick startup will get your presentation going quickly. Its quick shutdown capability helps you pack up fast when you're done. In just about any situation, the projector's potential for up to 3200-lumen output will keep the image bright regardless of ambient light.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson PowerLite 915W projector page.

Comments (1) Post a Comment
Max Snook Posted Dec 15, 2013 3:20 PM PST
My Surface Pro 2 will not run in Presenters Mode with an Epson 915W. Any suggestions?

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