- Good image quality
- Low noise
- Password protection
- Oversaturates colours by default
- No DVI or HDMI ports
- Modest resolution and contrast ratio
Epson recently released four multimedia projectors — the EMP-S5, EMP-X5, EMP-83 and the EMP-822 — all featuring improved brightness, increased security and reduced operating costs for the education and business markets. Each of the four projectors also use Epson’s patented low-cost E-TORL lamp, which has a typical life of 3000 to 4000 hours depending on operating mode (replacements cost around £250). As a result the models have a relatively low operating power consumption of 231 Watts and a standby consumption of just 5.8 Watts, making them all good choices for reducing your company’s carbon footprint.
Sitting near the top of Epson’s business range, the EMP-822 offers a lot of projector for its £775 (ex. VAT) price. Measuring 24.5cm by 32.7cm by 10.8cm, the white-and-grey unit isn’t the most portable display solution, and it’s also heftier than many business projectors at 2.9kg. Therefore it’s more suitable as a permanently installed device for use in a boardroom or conference area. That said, it isn’t as large as many home entertainment units, so lugging it around occasionally isn’t out of the question.
The EMP-822’s 2600 ANSI lumens brightness is ideal for training, seminars or conference rooms, but a native XGA resolution (1,024 by 768 pixels) is typically too low for projecting detailed graphics such as schematics and floorplans. It's also far from the most stylish projector on the market (InFocus and Sony are ahead here), but a no-frills look and feel does suit its target market. Further testament to its business pedigree is a tough built-in security bar that allows it to be locked to a mount as a reliable countermeasure against theft when used in public areas and lecture rooms. There’s also password protection to stop unauthorised use.
The EMP-822 is based on 3LCD technology, which has no moving parts and no interruptions to the light path to generate bright, natural images and smooth and sharp playback of action scenes with no colour break-up. 3LCD projectors operate at lower lamp temperatures than other projection systems of similar brightness, allowing for quick startup and shutdown — and most importantly, making the projector quieter with less fan noise. This also keeps operating costs to a minimum by reducing the amount of power used for cooling during operation.
The projector has a contrast ratio of 400:1, which is average for a business projector. Having said that, those working full time with video should look for a least 1500:1 or more to reduce motion blur (the latest home theatre projectors offer 4000:1 contrast ratio). The projection lens offers both manual focus and a 1.2x optical zoom (F=1.60-1.74/F=18.40-22.12 mm), and can produce a display size of 0.84m to 10.42m (30in. to 300 in.). Other technical highlights include digital keystone correction (vertical: -30 to +30 degrees), source search, auto detection of RGB, seven colour modes, high altitude mode, freeze, E-Zoom and the ability to add your own company logo on boot-up. The menu offers a further variety of options, including sharpness, brightness and colour adjustments.
Network connectivity is possible thanks to the single LAN (RJ-45) port, while projector control and projector management is done via SNMP using the bundled driver software. You can assign an IP address and a name, and then using the provided software access the projector externally and broadcast from another machine. You can also configure email alerts, sent to a designated address when a fault or issue is detected within the projector.
Other connection options are relatively basic but practical, including two RGB, RCA and S-Video. There’s also an integrated 7-Watt mono speaker. Unfortunately there are no DVI, SCART or HDMI inputs. Although many notebooks retain VGA for external monitor connection, it would have been nice to see DVI support for future proofing.
Epson’s EMP-822 is a strong all-rounder. Although its primary purpose is business projection, it performs pretty well in other areas, such as occasional movie-watching. Image quality is more than adequate, but it does saturate colours by default. Thankfully you can tone this down using the calibration options, and by switching from one colour mode to another. Black levels are good, while the projector's high brightness level helps to deliver a clear, sharp picture.
The EMP-822's size means it isn’t really suitable for mobile professionals to carry on a regular basis. However, it can be transported easily enough if need be, and is worth considering if you need a reasonably-priced networkable projector primarily for office-bound duties. The additional security features provide peace of mind.