There was a time when projectors were the almost exclusive domain of big companies and those with money to burn, as a decent model cost as much as a small car. With prices falling, however, they’re becoming increasingly popular as a television alternative or an addition to the travelling salesman’s wheelie-bag.
The EB-1775W is the top of the line in the 1700 series from Epson and earns itself instant kudos by being incredibly easy to use and offering a plethora of connectivity options.
With options for VGA, HDMI, Wi-Fi and two sorts of USB input — it takes both a regular “type A” USB 2.0 cable and the “type B” sort most often found on printers — getting it connected is a breeze. Unless, that is, you’re trying to connect it wirelessly.
Aside from the cabling, the EB-1775W includes two dongle-like devices, one of which connects to its USB port with the other intended for the laptop or desktop from which you wish to project.
Though it was easy enough to select the right source on the projector and pick up the secondary dongle as a wireless device on a laptop, we simply couldn’t get the two to talk to each other. Even a dig through the manual failed to shed any light on what we were doing wrong.
Though the difficulty of getting the wireless to work is annoying, the automatic vertical and horizontal keystone correction is phenomenal. In layman’s terms, it works out how high or low or oblique an angle the projector is at and corrects the projected image accordingly. There’s the option to correct it manually, too, should it get it wrong, but in our tests the projector got it right every time.
The on-screen menu system is well thought out, easy to navigate and provides access to every setting you could conceivably want to fiddle with, although considering how well its automatic modes work you’re unlikely to spend much time digging around in the menus anyway.
The included remote control is similarly uncluttered and intuitive, although we felt it could be even simpler and even smaller. Instead it duplicates most of the physical buttons found on the projector itself, which seems a little unnecessary as you’re unlikely to use it to set up the device and far more likely to use it to control it once that’s been seen to.
At its brightest, the EB-1775W delivers 3 000 Ansi lumens with a WXGA resolution of 1280×800 pixels, an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a 2000:1 contrast ratio. What this means is that it projects an incredibly bright image at the same aspect ratio as most laptop screens with respectably dark blacks. Moreover, it can project an image as large as 60 inches diagonally.
There is, however, a price to pay for these respectable features, and that comes in the form of noise. With the brightness turned all the way up, the EB-1775W’s fan kicks into overdrive and produces a sound reminiscent of a Boeing attempting to get airborne. The same fan also pumps hot air out of the front of the device, but at least that will put people off sitting in front of it.
Both the heat and noise are easily overcome by switching to the “eco mode”, but that reduces brightness to 1 700 lumens, and curiously doesn’t promise any more lamp life than the 4 000 hours for which the projector is rated normally.
So, although the projector lives up to its claims of being useable in well-lit environments you may have a hard time hearing each other across that sunny boardroom.
Weighing in at a paltry 1,7kg and a mere 44mm tall, the EB-1775W is designed for portability and could fit into any average-sized laptop bag. Its travel-friendliness is reinforced by its ability to play presentations directly from a USB memory stick, although if you’re carrying a projector you’ve probably packed a laptop, too.
On the audio front there’s a composite and stereo 3,5mm input and a built-in 1W mono speaker, which is as average as its specifications suggest.
If you’re the sort who does a lot of travelling and presenting, the E-1775EB is one of the most portable projectors you’re likely to find, but considering the noise it makes at full tilt and its substantial price tag of R19 300, you might be better off with a bulkier, cheaper unit and the assistance of a lackey who likes pushing weights at the local gym. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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