Epson’s managed to cram two of most important facts about the Epson PowerLite W16 3D WXGA 3LCD Projector into its name. It’s a 3D projector, and it’s built around an LCD engine. The combination matters because, until now, one of the best arguments for choosing a DLP data projector has been precisely that if you need 3D, it’s pretty much been the only way to go. Suddenly, that’s no longer true, at least, not if what you need is a WXGA (1,280 by 800), 3,000-lumen projector, like the W16.
In many ways, the W16 is in competition with DLP projectors like the Editors’ Choice ViewSonic PJD6683ws that I recently reviewed, and the more expensive Editors’ Choice Optoma TW610ST. Unlike the W16, both of these DLP projectors offer short-throw lenses, which puts them in a slightly different category. However, the three models are comparable in almost every other way, with the same native resolution, similar brightness ratings, a similar level of portability, and, of course, 3D support. Where they differ primarily is in the technology they use: DLP or LCD.
The LCD engine gives the W16 two key advantages. First, it can’t show rainbow artifacts, which are always a potential issue for single-chip DLP projectors because of the way they create colors. And second, its color brightness is the same as its white brightness, which isn’t true for most DLP projectors. A difference between the two can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. With most LCD projectors, you have to weigh these advantages against the disadvantage of not having 3D. With the W16, you don’t.
Basics: Portability, Connections, and Setup
At six pounds, the W16 is in a weight class that often winds up permanently installed in one room or on a cart for moving from room to room. However, it’s also light enough to carry, and Epson ships it with a soft carrying case, complete with a shoulder strap, so you can take it with you easily.
Setup is standard, with both manual focus and zoom controls plus a fairly typical set of connectors on the back, including the expected HDMI for a computer or video source, VGA for a computer or component video, and both S-Video and composite video ports. Also worth mention is a USB A port for reading files from a USB memory key and a USB B port for USB display and audio as well as for providing mouse control from the projector’s remote.
Brightness and Image Quality
The W16′s 3,000-lumen rating is in the typical range for the projector’s price and weight class. In my tests, it was easily bright enough for the 92-inch diagonal image I used, or even a somewhat larger image, to stand up to the typical level of ambient light in a conference room or classroom.
The data image quality was near excellent, with the W16 handling most of our standard suite of DisplayMate tests without problems. Colors were fully saturated, vibrant, and eye-catching in all modes. Color balance was also good, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from white to black in all but the brightest mode, with a slight yellowish tint in the brightest shades in that mode. However that’s not really an issue, since it’s typical for projectors to have less than perfect color balance in their brightest modes.
A potential issue for data images is that the W16 doesn’t hold detail as well as it could. In my tests, black on white text was readable at 6.8 points, but not as crisp as it should be. White on black text wasn’t as well formed, and was easily readable only down to 7.5 points. For most images, this won’t matter, but if you need to show a lot of fine detail, it may.
Video quality is better than par for a data projector. In fact, it’s good enough to let you watch a full-length movie comfortably. I saw some mild loss of shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas) and just a hint of posterization (shading changing suddenly in areas that should change gradually). However, these showed only in scenes that tend to cause these problems, and the W16 handled those scenes far better than most data projectors. It also helps that, as an LCD-projector, it doesn’t show rainbow artifacts.
3D and Other Issues
Like most 3D data projectors, the W16 doesn’t come with glasses. But the really bad news is that if you’re replacing a DLP 3D projector, you can’t use your old DLP-link glasses. You have to buy Epson’s, at $99 (direct) each. As with most other data projectors, if you need enough for an audience of more than a few people, you’ll wind up paying more for the glasses than for the projector.
Keeping that in mind, it’s still worth mention that even though Epson says the projector doesn’t fully support HDMI version 1.4a, it can connect directly to a 3D Blu-ray player, game console, or other video device for full 1080p 3D input (with the projector scaling it to 720p).
Also note that although Epson says that the 3D will work with a 3D computer equipped with a Quad-buffered, Open GL 3D-compatible graphics card, it doesn’t support the 3D format that computers typically use, and it doesn’t support 3D with a VGA connection. To get the right 3D format, according to Epson, you have to add third-party software on the computer and connect by HDMI.
For my 3D tests, I connected the projector to a Blu-ray player. The 3D video image quality was reasonably good overall, despite some minor 3D-related motion artifacts I saw in scenes that tend to bring out the problem. I didn’t see any crosstalk.
A last important note is that if you need sound, you shouldn’t count on the W16′s anemic audio system. The 2-watt mono speaker offers reasonably good sound quality, but only if you’re close enough to hear it. If you need sound, plan on using an external audio system, even for a small room.
The Epson PowerLite W16 3D WXGA 3LCD Projector falls short of getting an Editors’ Choice, with good, but not great, image quality for both data and video, and underwhelming audio. Even so, it may well be your preferred choice, especially if you’re bothered by rainbow artifacts in DLP projectors but need 3D now or want to future-proof your purchase for later. The Epson PowerLite W16 3D WXGA 3LCD Projector lets you have it both ways, so you can get your rainbow-free cake and 3D too.
|Native Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA, HDMI|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||5000|
|Rated Brightness||3000 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc