Epson PowerLite 1985WU Projector Review

The Epson Powerlite 1985WU is one of a new breed of affordable high brightness projectors suitable for medium and larger venues.  100″ screens even in bright rooms handled well.

Powerlite 1985WU Overview

There used to be a time, not very long ago, when if you needed  say 4000 lumens (twice what was typically used in auditoriums a decade or so ago), you spent a small fortune on a projector that was not only bright but loaded with features, including very expensive interchangeable lenses (and lens shift), that many people who needed the brightness did not require.  In fact, typically a long or short throw lens for one of those projectors still costs more than this new Epson projector.

That’s the point of the Powerlite 1985WU, which is the flagship of Epson’s 1900 series, and highest resolution projector at 1920×1200 – WUXGA!  If maximum placement flexibility isn’t a requirement, this projector may be just right.  It still has advanced networking and an impressive list of capabilities, but at under $2000 instead of more like $5000+.

In other words, the Powerlite 1985WU is Epson’s top of the line, highest resolution, high volume, affordable projector.  It should work well in university classrooms, large corporate rooms for training and meetings, board rooms and small auditoriums.

So, what we have here, is a very serious WUXGA projector.  It’s large venue bright at 4800 lumens.  That’s white and color lumens – which matters.  If you have the interest, click for our video on the importance of color lumens).  Overall it has a very impressive feature set.  It costs less  than half of Epson’s G series projector with the same resolution (but slightly brighter).

You obviously get a better return on investment if you don’t need the lenses, and perhaps some other advanced features such as edge blending (which no one had under $10,000 even a few years ago, and even fewer need).  So, why spend for a projector with all the expensive bells and whistles, especially when it can more than double the price?

The Powerlite 1985 is one of the newest in Epson’s 19xx series.  We previously reviewed the lower resolution (and older series) Powerlite 1945W with 4200 lumens (which remains current, street price $1699), and also the 1965 ($1899, XGA, 5000 lumens).   The rest of the product series plays out like this:

  • The least expensive of the lineup is the Powerlite 1940, at $1299 with the lower WXGA resolution, and 4200 lumens.  Also:
  • Powerlite 1955: XGA, 4500 lumens, Street Price 1699
  • Powerlite 1960:  XGA, 5000 lumens, Street Price $1499
  • Powerlite 1980WU:  WUXGA, 4400 lumens, Street Price $1499
  • Powerlite 1975W:  WXGA, 5000 lumens, Street Price $1999

The features sets do vary.  Some have Wifi built in, some have MHL on their HDMIs.  This chart may help you simplify which one best suits your needs:

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 4.46.46 PM

Chart of Current Epson Powerlite 19xx series projectors

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report, in which this projector is considered.

Powerlite 1985WU Projector Highlights

OK, enough about all the different models in the series.  Here’s a list of the key major features of the Powerlite 1985WU beyond the usual brightness and resolution already mentioned:

  • Wide range Zoom lens:
  • WiDi, and Miracast (see Special Features section), screen mirroring
  • MHL on HDMI for streaming from MHL compatible devices
  • Split Screen (two sources)
  • Auto Fit let’s the projector resize the image to fit your screen
  • DICOM simulation for observing medical films such as X-rays, CAT scans, etc., meeting training level display requirements
  • Wireless and advanced Wired networking, including remote monitoring, push notifications…
  • Moderator and PC Free – connect with up t0 50 devices, display up to 4 simultaneously for real collaboration
  • 2 year warranty with two years of rapid replacement program

MiraCast and MHL

Epson not only offers MHL on one of its two HDMI inputs, but goes a step further and offers Miracast built in to its wireless capabilities.  Let’s talk Miracast first.

Miracast is first, a certification process for peer to peer wireless.  If a projector (as a display device) has Miracast, it can display what the source screen displays.  It does this wirelessly from devices that also support Miracast.  Note that Miracast supports only certain protocols, so it doesn’t work with all or most peer-to-peer solutions out there.  But, in most cases, two Miracast devices should work together.

There are resolution limits.  Officially Miracast will stream up to 1080p (1920×1080) just a little less than the maximum native resolution of this projector at 1920×1200.  Miracast also supports audio up to 5.1.

Think this way.  We’re used to communicating wirelessly in many cases over a local WiFi network.  MHL is an example of that.  Take an MHL source – such as some of the Android tablets, and they can, using your home wifi, talk to, a display that supports MHL, such as this Epson Powerlite 1985WU projector.

WiFi and Other Networking, Moderator

If it wasn’t obvious from the above, the Powerlite 1985WU, has Wifi built in.  The Wifi capabilities are complemented by the 1985WU also having hard wired networking as well.  Epson offers several software solutions, including the latest version of Easy MP, which has been around for years, supporting networking with lots of control and features.

The 1985 can track a large number of computers on a network, and display up to four selected computers displays at once over the local network.

This allows, for example, four student’s computers screens to be displayed simultaneously on the Epson projector.  The teacher could then replace those with other computer’s displays.

Longer Lamp Life

Historically high power projectors – in this day and age I’d consider a projector with 4800 white and color lumens to “still” be high power – have not had great lamp life.  In other words, they’d work the lamps hard to get maximum brightness out of them in exchange for shorter life.   Traditionally, such projectors are often 2000 hours at full power, and 2500 to 3000 lumens in their Eco modes.

The Powerlite 1985WU has been rated at 3000 hours at full power, and 4000 in Eco.  That should prove to be bargain compared to most competitors, especially since Epson seems to charge less for lamps than most of the competition, and charge minimal amounts for the education market.  I mention that because the Powerlite 1985WU should be an excellent projector for larger classrooms – such as at colleges and universities, with Epson education program lamp prices falling between $79 and $129.  Talk about inexpensive – when a few years ago, $400 – $500 was normal.

In fairness, Epson’s less massively bright small projectors often provide 4000 hours at full power (some 5000), and 5000 to 6000 hours in Eco. Still, the lamp life is very good for a projector in this class.

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