Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector review

The Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector is an excellent, low-cost choice for presentations that don't include fine detail.
Photo of Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector

Projectors with SVGA (800-by-600) resolution, like the Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector, don’t offer suitable resolution for images with fine detail, like complex engineering drawings. However, they’re a great choice for showing less detailed images, like typical PowerPoint presentations. Within that context, the EX3212 delivers a bright image, excellent quality for data images, high-quality video, and a reasonably portable size, all of which makes it an Editors’ Choice for low-cost business projectors.

As with the DLP-based NEC NP-VE28 that we recently reviewed, the LCD-based EX3212 is in a weight class that often winds up permanently installed or on a cart. At 5.1 pounds, however, it’s also light enough to carry easily. Significantly, Epson ships the projector with a soft carrying case, complete with a shoulder strap, to make it easy to take with you. And that raises an interesting point. As a lamp-based projector, the EX3212 is most obviously in competition with, or at least an alternative to, higher-resolution lamp-based projectors like the ViewSonic PJD6553w. However, its portability also puts it in competition with LED-based projectors like the InFocus IN1144.

Compared with models like the Viewsonic PJD6553W, the EX3212 delivers a lower resolution, but with the benefit of a lower price. Compared with LED-based projectors, it weighs a bit more—by about 2 pounds—but it costs less than those models as well, and it delivers a much brighter image. The brightness rating for the InFocus IN1144 and similar models is 500 lumens. The rating for the EX3212 is 2,800 lumens.

As a point of reference, for SVGA’s 4: 3 aspect ratio, 500 lumens is appropriate for roughly a 96-inch diagonal screen in theater dark lighting according to SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) recommendations. At 2,800 lumens, the recommended size jumps to 229 inches. For moderate ambient light, the difference translates to roughly a 61-inch diagonal size at 500 lumens versus 144 inches at 2,800 lumens. In most cases this extra brightness is well worth the effort of carrying an extra two pounds worth of projector.

Connections, Setup, and Data Image Quality
Setup for the EX3212 is typical for a data projector, except for the lack of an optical zoom. That means you either have to move the projector to adjust image size or use the digital zoom, which can introduce artifacts on screen if you use images with closely spaced lines or dots, as with patterned fills.

Not surprisingly considering the price, there are relatively few connectors on the back, but there’s everything you’ll likely need and, indeed, more than you might expect. In addition to the usual VGA and composite video ports, choices for image input include S-video, HDMI, and a USB A port for reading files directly from a USB memory key.

Data image quality in my tests was excellent. On our standard suite of DisplayMate tests, colors were vibrant and eye-catching in all preset modes, and color balance was good, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from white to black. The projector also did well with detail, with both black text on white and white text on black offering crisp edges and easy readability even at 6.8 points, the smallest size we test with. In addition, images designed to cause pixel jitter were so rock-solid steady with a VGA analog connection that I saw no visible difference when I switched to a digital connection.

Video Quality and Other Issues
Video quality was also reasonably good, although the 800-by-600 native resolution obviously limits the EX3212′s ability to show HD video in full detail. In particular, the projector did well with skin tones, and it did a good job holding shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas) even with scenes that tend to cause problems with most data projectors.

It also helps image quality that, as an LCD projector, the EX3212 is guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts that are always a potential issue for single-chip DLP projectors. In addition, it offers equal color brightness and white brightness in all modes, which helps ensure good color quality.

The audio earns only partial praise, with reasonably good audio quality but low volume. The wimpy two-watt mono speaker is arguably loud enough for a small conference room, but if you need sound, you’ll be far better off with an external sound system.

The Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector offers a lot more strengths than weaknesses. If you need higher resolution, you’ll obviously need to look elsewhere, and if you must have maximum portability, you might prefer a 500-lumen, sub-three pound LED projector like the InFocus IN1144. If SVGA is the right resolution for your needs, however, the Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector’s bright image, excellent data image quality, and better than par video is enough to put it on your short list as well as make it Editors’ Choice.

Specifications
Native Resolution 800 x 600
Video Inputs Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA
Wireless Connectivity No
Weight 5.1 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 3000
Engine Type LCD
Type Business
Aspect Ratio 4
Rated Brightness 2800 ANSI lumens

Verdict
The Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector offers a reasonably bright, high-quality data image, a relatively light weight, and a budget price.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc