Epson PowerLite 93+

Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive XGA (1,024 by 768) projector, a lightweight model to use as a regular traveling companion, or both, the 6.9-pound, Epson PowerLite 93+ ($549 direct) should be on your short list. Although its 2,600 lumen rating is a little low by today’s standards, it’s as bright as most earlier-generation projectors in its class. More important, it’s easily bright enough for the small to mid-size conference room its meant for, and bright enough to be Editors’ Choice.

It’s not hard to find competing projectors, like the 3,000 lumen NEC Display Solutions NP-V300X ($779 direct, 3.5 stars) that offer higher brightness ratings, but they come with higher price tags as well. In addition, many of them, including the NP-V300X and the still more expensive Editors’ Choice Optoma TW610ST ($1,000, 4 stars) are built around a single DLP chip, which means they suffer to a greater or lesser extent from a rainbow effect—the tendency for light areas surrounded by dark areas on screen to break up into little red-green-blue rainbows.

These rainbow artifacts grow out of the way single-chip DLP projectors create color. Some people are more sensitive to the effect than others, and some DLP projectors show it more easily than others, but it’s always a potential concern. A three-panel LCD projector like the 93+, in contrast, eliminates any possibility of the rainbow effect. That’s an important plus if you’re concerned that some people in your audience may find rainbow artifacts annoying.

The Basics
The 93+ is a little large for its weight, at 3.7 by 13.6 by 10.3 inches (HWD)—or 4.2 inches high if you include the feet. However, it’s small and light enough, at 6.9 pounds, to carry without much effort. It doesn’t come with a carrying case, though, so be sure to add the cost of one to the price if you compare it to other models that include one.

Setup is standard. Simply plug in the appropriate cables, adjust the 1.2x zoom, and focus the image. The connectors for image sources include an HDMI port for a computer or video source, two VGA ports for computers or component video, and a composite video and S-Video port. In addition, you can connect to the USB port to either send an image from the computer or control the computer mouse from your remote, although you can’t do both at once.

Image Quality and Other Issues
Image quality for both data and video is among the projector’s strongest points. The 93+ sailed through are suite of DisplayMate tests without any serious problems. Colors were vibrant and fully saturated and color balance was excellent, with all levels of gray from black to white suitably neutral in all but one of the color presets. Impressively, I saw no pixel jitter with an analog connection on screens designed to bring out jitter. Also very much worth mention is that both black on white and white on black text were crisp and highly readable down to the smallest sizes we test with.

Video image quality was well short of what you’d want from a home theater projector, but excellent for a data projector. I saw a touch of posterization (colors changing suddenly where they should change gradually) and a moderate loss of shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas), but only on test clips that are particularly hard to handle well. Most data projectors do far worse. And neither problem showed up on more typical scenes.

The built-in audio, with a 16-watt mono speaker, is still another plus. The speakers in most data projectors in this weight class are hardly worth having. The 93+ speaker is loud enough to fill a small to mid-size conference room or classroom, and high enough quality to make out every word of a low volume monologue in a particularly challenging clip in our test suite. Unlike most projectors in this weight class, even if you need good sound quality, you can very easily get by without needing an external sound system.

The Epson PowerLite 93+ offers a more than attractive combination of brightness, portability, data image quality, video image quality, audio quality, and price. Its relatively low brightness by today’s standards is a small strike against it, but more important is that the projector is bright enough for its intended use. The overall balance of features is easily enough to make the Epson PowerLite 93+ the budget-priced Editors’ Choice for an XGA portable projector. 

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