Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
A few weeks ago, we reviewed the excellent Optoma EP716 in the SVGA shootout. Now, following closely on its heels comes the Optoma EP719, an XGA business projector that retains the EP716's small form factor and low weight. At street prices around $1000, the EP719 offers a lot more resolution for a small price increase, and is an attractive option for both education settings and portable presentation use.
Specifications. 2000 ANSI lumens, 2500:1 contrast, native 4:3 format 1024x768 resolution DLP chip with a 2x rotation speed color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to SXGA+ (1400x1050). Full NTSC / PAL / SECAM.
Lens and Throw Distance. 1.10:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 12.9 feet to 14.2 feet.
Lamp Life. 2,000 hours, 3,000 hours in eco mode.
Connection Panel. One composite video, one S-Video, One VGA-in port, one VGA-out port, one 1/8" audio-in, one DVI port with HDCP, and one RS232 port for an external control.
Installation Options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. Two years.
General Impressions / Feature Set
The Optoma EP719 is a tiny projector. Weighing in at under five pounds, the EP719 can easily be transported in carry-on luggage. The EP719 also comes with a sturdy zip-up soft carrying case with a shoulder strap and plenty of room for cables and other accessories. This is one projector that is perfect for the presenter on the go.
In this case, a small size comes at the expense of another feature. The EP719's 1.10:1 zoom range does not allow for much flexibility in placement. For any given diagonal screen size, there is about one foot of leeway in throw distance from the screen.
The remote control for the EP719 is built solidly, and buttons were easy to locate after using the remote for a short while. While the remote is not backlit, buttons are large and widely-spaced, which should prevent any errant presses after you familiarize yourself with it. The menu system is clean and easy to use, built around a tab-based system that separates adjustments into categories. We found this easy to navigate quickly and after a little bit of familiarization the menu system of the EP719 will feel like second nature.
The EP719 is nearly silent, and even more so in eco-mode. From only a few feet away it was not easy to pick up any fan noise from the EP719. The lack of fan noise is remarkable, given the EP719's small form factor and high light output.
Monitor pass-through allows you to display a computer's image on both the projector and a computer monitor simultaneously. This is a vital feature for education use, as it allows a teacher to face the class and control the image from the computer monitor, rather than having to constantly turn to the screen.
Also included is a locking port for a Kensington lock, which is a must for any projector left unattended. Whether it be in a classroom or a conference room, the EP719 can be securely locked to a desk or cart, which keeps your investment secure.
The Optoma EP719's 2x speed color wheel is perfectly acceptable for data presentations and still graphics, as people affected by color separation artifacts seem to be bothered by them less often when viewing stills. However, keep in mind that the EP719's 2x speed color wheel may limit its usefulness as a full time home theater projector.
Rated at 2000 ANSI lumens, our test sample produced 1465 ANSI lumens with settings tailored to presentation. When tuned to settings more favorable for balanced colors and better quality video, lumen output was still 417 ANSI lumens. This highly adjustable output means that the EP719 is adaptable to many different situations and audience sizes.
Brightness uniformity is 72%, which is about average. There is no obvious hotspotting to create any distracting unevenness in the illumination of the image.
Contrast, rated at 2500:1, is easily good enough to display text, powerpoint presentations, and spreadsheets that are easy on the eyes. When used for video, the EP719 can crush the low end of the grayscale if not calibrated carefully. However, once adjusted, the EP719 can display video admirably.
The EP719 has a mild upward throw angle - around 10% of image height. This means that for a 100" diagonal image, the bottom edge of the picture will be 6" above the centerline of the lens. This is an ideal upward angle for placement on a conference table, and should keep setup very simple indeed.
Edge-to-edge sharpness on the EP719 is excellent. With native signals, every pixel is equally crisp and sharp. Even text documents using very small font sizes are easily legible. Non-native data signals are compressed or upscaled very well, with very little loss in image quality.
Video scaling results in a slight loss of image sharpness, so video detail is not quite as razor sharp as it would be on a comparable home theater projector. Deinterlacing is not comparable to home theater quality either; artifacts and jaggies appear in quite a few scenes that are displayed cleanly on home theater projectors. However, both are good enough as to be acceptable for occasional home theater use.
Keystone adjustment is an important feature for portable projectors and the EP719 handles it well. When keystone adjustment is applied, a text document or financial spreadsheet retains much of its detail and sharpness. As with most projectors, the effect of keystone adjustments on graphics and video is hardly noticeable.
So what makes this projector worth the extra $300 over an otherwise comparable SVGA projector?
The obvious - and best - answer is resolution. XGA is at this time the most common resolution in use with personal computers and laptops. And in order to get the best possible image from your projector, you should always try to match your computer's resolution to the projector's native resolution. Chances are your computer is already displaying 1024x768, and will feed a signal to the projector in its native format. And due to the dramatic difference between native XGA and XGA compressed on an SVGA projector, it is an upgrade worth a few hundred dollars.
The EP719 is a very small, very bright XGA projector. Nearly nonexistent fan noise and monitor loop-through make it ideal for mobile presentation or classroom use. And at street prices around $1000, the EP719 is a bargain that you shouldn't miss.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma EP719 projector page.