Over the past few weeks, FoS has spent some time reviewing a number of projectors, both for home as well as business. While the home projector system inherently offers a few more gimmicks (such as 3D) and often clearer image projection, the business units have a few features of their own worth noting. It doesn’t mean to say that the two categories of projectors aren’t interchangeable; often one solution fits many, if not all.
This week we feature another of Epson’s projectors, the EB-X20 Multimedia Projector for business. This unit also falls below the R10,000 mark, well below as it turns out, and competes with the likes of Acer’s K335 offering.
Unlike many of the previous Epson projectors we’ve reviewed over the last while, the X20 doesn’t come across as something you’d expect to knock the socks off your person. Instead, there a lot more calm and standard form when it comes to its design. The biggest problem I have with the X20’s design is the fact that it’s white. With so many appliances these days opting for matte and glossy black finishes, along with the occasional chrome coatings, I don’t see a space for a white projector amongst the rest. At the same time, since this is a “business” projector, perhaps white is the colour of preference to showcase seriousness and commitment to quality.
And a serious business projector it is. While the top has a few of buttons and levers we’ve become accustomed to with the Epson brand, including the horizontal keystone, zoom and focus adjusters, a quick look behind at the inputs and outputs is what impresses. The X20 offers 6 separate video inputs, which allow ease of use when more than one presenter will be using their laptop during a session. For instance, you will be able to use the HDMI port as the main input from a set media source in a meeting room, and then have two laptops plugged in using the two D-SUB (15pin VGA), both with their own 3.5mm audio inputs, and switch between them with a simple switch on the remote. Additionally, you can also use the Composite and S-video inputs to connect even more devices if you so choose. The unit does have its own 5W loudspeaker, but isn’t anything to write home about, and possibly does just enough to get away with during a brief presentation with a few audio snippets. The X20 also offers an Ethernet interface, Cinch audio in, USB 2.0 Type B, and RS-232C ports. At 2.6KG, the unit isn’t considered as heavy either. With the included carry case, being mobile isn’t a big issue.
While there may not be a vertical shift to change the projection height, there are two adjustable feet on the rear of the unit to lower the displayed projection, as well as another foot on the front if you need to project a little higher. For security purposes, if you’re using the device outside the confines of your home, there is also a Kensington lock, software password lock, as well as security cable hole. I still cannot find the point to have an A/V mute slide, which effectively mutes the audio, as well as turn off the display. It may be a lot quicker to use than having to switch to Standby mode, but you’ll be saving some power and turn off the fan when doing so.
Display and Performance
The X20 using the same projection technology found in the previously reviewed units, with Epson’s 3LCD Technology and 0.55 inch with MLA (D8) LCD Panel. While the device does have a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, blacks aren’t as dark as they should be, which can be easily detected when viewing in total darkness at night. The colours produces are bright enough to please most eyes with its 2,700 lumen lamp, but there is a slight sense that it isn’t as vivid as it should be (a little washed out). Using the native 1024×768, XGA resolution with a 4:3 aspect ratio, the clarity of the images produced is very respectable. There aren’t much issues using the VGA and component inputs with these settings. Switching to HDMI, however, doesn’t provide the best of clarity even at a 720p resolution. The device is capable of upscaled HD in the form of 720p, and 1080i, but you shouldn’t expect anything breath-taking here. Instead, it does enough to get buy, with users being able to view their 1080p content at a lower frame rate and reduced quality.
Viewing sizes range between 30” and 300”, depending on the distance the projector is from the screen (or wall), and has a projection ratio of 1.48 – 1.77:1 and a zoom factor of 1.2. To achieve full 300” display size it is recommended that the unit be around 10m back from the screen. There are also a number of different viewing modes, not only to compensate for the type of screen, but also for the type of media content being watched. These modes include Blackboard, Dynamic, Presentation, Sports, sRGB, Theatre, and Whiteboard.
Note: In case you’re wondering about 1080i, it isn’t quite the same as 1080p, which is often termed as full HD at 60 frames per second. 1080i instead projects two images at 30 frames per second each, producing two 1920x540px images, one even and one odd scan line field. This process is called interlacing, as the two images are produced directly after one another. The big downfall of 1080i compared to 1080p is that there is a reduced sharpness, especially during fast-paced action scenes, which quickly switch between views.
Points of Topic
Since the unit is indicated as a business multimedia projector, there are a few additional software features added. The first of these is the network administration functions, which allow the IT team to remotely access the device, as well as control its use to adhere to company policies. There is also another ‘input’ mode apart from the physical inputs highlighted previously, this being the network projection. This allows remote network connection for employees to present without physically connecting to it. This should also work well in a telepresence environment, with employees being able to present slides without actually being in the same room. Even with its network functionality, there is an undeniable absence of Wi-Fi. This would undoubtedly make life easier when connecting to the device compared to that of standard Ethernet.
Used as a straight-out business projector, the Epson EB-X20 excels in many areas. With its multiple display and audio inputs, it makes presentations from more than one presenter a breeze. With its 2,700 lumen LCD lamp, brightness isn’t a major factor when viewing at any hour of the day. The only real soft spot here being the additional fan noise, which is generated in normal mode, and often prompts the user to switch to the, less audible, Eco mode, projecting at roughly 1,800 lumens.
For home use, the X20 still provides adequate viewing pleasure at a reasonable cost. Although, truth be told, its 1080i/720p (explained above) resolution doesn’t provide the greatest of clarity for full HD movies, it shouldn’t phase you much when viewing a 300” (max) projection. The resolution becomes even more of a negligible point of concern when you consider that the unit will only set you back R6,550 (RRP). As with flat screen, HD, and now Smart TVs, projectors are becoming more and more affordable, and will soon be a viable replacement for your TV. Having spent a large majority of the past few months viewing content on some or other projector, I’m already hooked. And with the cost of units such as the X20 (again, mostly for business use), the thought of purchasing another TV in the future has already faded.