Mon 21, July 2014 Projectors
By: M. David Stone of PC Magazine
As a group, ultra-short-throw projectors like the Epson PowerLite 585W WXGA 3LCD Projector ($1,499) stand out by being able to project a big image from an impressively short distance, making it easy to avoid shadows even in tight spaces. With the 585W for example, I measured a 92-inch (diagonal) image at its native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution with the projector 10 inches from the screen. Even better, the 585W offers a level of image quality that's equally impressive for data and better than typical for video. That's easily enough to make it our Editors' Choice for ultra-short-throw WXGA (1,280-by-800) projectors.
One of the advantages the 585W has over much of its competition is that, like the Hitachi CP-AX2503, our Editors' Choice for XGA (1,024-by-768) ultra-short-throw projectors, it's built around three LCD chips rather than a single DLP chip, like the Canon LV-8235 UST.
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The three-chip design means that the 585W is guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts (flashes of red, green, and blue) that most DLP projectors show, particularly with video. And without rainbow artifacts, video tends to be much more watchable. The design also ensures that white brightness and color brightness are the same—which often isn't true for DLP projectors—so you don't have to worry about differences between the two affecting color quality. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why It Matters.)
The one disadvantage of the LCD-based design is that, like most LCD data projectors, the 585W doesn't support 3D at all. For most people, this won't be an issue. If you need 3D, however, you should be looking at DLP-based models like the Canon LV-8235 UST or the Ricoh PJ WX4130N, which is our Editors' Choice for lightweight ultra-short-throw projectors.
Basics, Setup, and Throw Distance
The 585W is small and light enough—at 6.1 by 14.4 by 14.8 inches (HWD) and 11 pounds 11 ounces—to keep on a cart or even carry by hand from room to room. However, it's meant primarily for mounting permanently just above the screen. Epson even includes a wall mount in the box, and doesn't sell the projector without one. That said, if you need to put the unit on a desk or table, with the image projecting up to the screen, you can. The only problem you'll run into is that the case isn't designed to stay level if you simply place it on a flat surface. If you want to use it that way,you'll have to prop it up with whatever you have handy.
Whether you use the wall mount or not, setup is otherwise standard fare for an ultra-short-throw projector, with a focus control and no optical zoom. For my tests, I used a 92-inch (diagonal) image at the projector's native 1,280-by-800 resolution. I measured the front of the projector at roughly 10 inches from the screen, and the window that serves as a lens near the back of the projector at 11 inches farther away. According to Epson, you can use the projector for image sizes from 60 to 100 inches, with the window at the back of the projector 13.7 to 23.5 inches from the screen.
Choices for image input on the side panel include two HDMI ports, composite video and S-video ports, and two VGA ports for a computer or component video, one of which can also serve as a monitor-out port. There's also a USB Type A connector for a document camera or for reading files directly from a USB memory key, a USB Type B port for direct USB display complete with audio and for giving mouse commands from the projector's remote, and a LAN port for sending images and audio, as well as controlling the projector, over a network.
Finally, you can get an optional Wi-Fi dongle ($99), which will let you connect to a network by Wi-Fi to send images and audio to the projector. You can also connect directly to the projector from iOS and Android devices to send images only.
Brightness, Image Quality, and Audio
Epson rates the 585W at 3,300 lumens. According to recommendations from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and assuming a 1.0 gain screen, that makes the projector bright enough for roughly a 220- to 295-inch (diagonal) image size in theater-dark lighting. For moderate ambient light, it's bright enough for a roughly 145-inch image. For smaller screen sizes you can switch to Eco mode, one of the lower brightness preset modes, or both.
Image quality is a strong point, particularly for data images. The 585W sailed through our standard set of DisplayMate tests without any serious problems. Color balance was good, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from black to white in all but the brightest preset mode, and colors were well-saturated, vibrant, and eye-catching in all modes. The projector also held detail well, with white text on black crisp and readable at 9 points, and black text on white easily readable at 7.5 points.
Video quality was better than many data projectors can manage. Colors were a little oversaturated using some preset modes and washed out in others, but still within an acceptable range, as long as you're not too much of a perfectionist. The image is no match for what you'd see with a typical home-theater projector, but it's at least watchable for long sessions.
The audio system also counts as a plus, with the 16-watt mono speaker offering good sound quality along with enough volume to fill a midsize to large room. You can also plug an external system into the stereo audio output
If you need a WXGA ultra-short-throw projector that you can carry around easily, you should be looking at the Editors' Choice Ricoh PJ WX4130N. Similarly, if you need 3D, you'll want to focus on a DLP-based projector like the Ricoh model or the Canon LV-8235 UST. For the more common need of a projector for permanent installation and for 2D only, however, the Epson PowerLite 585W WXGA 3LCD Projector's combination of brightness, high-quality data images, and watchable video makes it the model to beat, and our Editors' Choice for a WXGA ultra-short-throw projector.