Suitably bright for a small to midsize room. Native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution. 1.6X zoom. Near-excellent quality for data images. Better-than-typical video for a data projector.
No 3D support.
- BOTTOM LINE
The Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector delivers high quality for data images, with enough brightness for a small to midsize conference room or classroom.
The Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector delivers all the right features to make it worth a close look. Key points on the checklist include a 3,200-lumen brightness rating, a 1.6X zoom lens, and a long lamp life to help keep running costs down. Finally, it had near-excellent quality for data images in our tests and better video quality than most data projectors. That’s easily enough to make it our Editors’ Choice WXGA (1,280-by-800) projector for a small to midsize conference room or classroom.
At first glance, the 955WH seems almost identical to the Epson PowerLite 955W WXGA 3LCD Projector that it’s replacing in Epson’s line. However, it offers a number of small improvements, including a minor boost in brightness, newly added Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support, and a longer claimed lamp life at up to 10,000 hours in Eco mode.
The two models are similar enough that both are head-to-head competitors with the NEC NP-M311W. But where the Epson 955W and the NEC NP-M311W are so closely matched that we named both as Editors’ Choices for the category, the 955WH’s features add just enough to give it an edge over the other two and make it our single preferred pick.
Like the Epson 955W and the NEC NP-M311W, the 955WH is built around a three-chip WXGA LCD engine. That gives it the advantage of being guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts (flashes of red, green, and blue) that are always a concern with DLP-based projectors. It also ensures that it delivers the same color brightness as white brightness, which isn’t true for most DLP projectors, and which can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images.
The key disadvantage that grows from having an LCD engine is that, as with most LCD data projectors, the 955WH doesn’t offer the 3D support that you’ll find most DLP models, including, for example, the Acer S1385WHne, our top choice for a moderately priced short-throw WXGA projector for a small to midsize room. However, this won’t matter unless you need to show 3D material, which simply isn’t necessary for most data-projector use.
Setup and Brightness
The 955WH measures 3.5 by 11.6 by 10.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 6 pounds 6 ounces, which makes it light enough to carry with you. However, most projectors in this size and weight class wind up permanently installed or on a cart.
Setup is typical, with manual controls for the focus and 1.6X zoom. Image inputs on the back panel include two HDMI ports for computers or video sources, two VGA ports for computers or component video, and both composite video and S-Video ports. In addition, there’s a USB Type B port for direct USB display, a LAN port for sending images and audio, as well as for controlling the projector over a network, and a USB Type A port for reading files directly from a USB memory key or for connecting an optional ($99) Wi-Fi dongle. One of the HDMI ports also supports MHL.
According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations, the 955WH’s rating makes it easily bright enough for a small to midsize room. Assuming a 1.0-gain screen, 3,200 lumens would be suitable for a 215- to 292-inch (diagonal) image in theater-dark lighting. With moderate ambient light, it would be bright enough for a 140-inch image. If it is too bright for the ambient light level at the image size you need, you can use one of the projectors’ lower-brightness preset modes, its Eco mode, or both.
Image Quality, Lamp Life, and Audio
Image quality for the 955WH is near-excellent for data images. The only issue worth mention that I saw with our standard suite of DisplayMate tests was a minor problem with color balance. In most of the predefined modes, the brightest gray levels show a slight tint relative to darker levels. This is only obvious with gray-scale images, however, and there are also modes that offer suitably neutral grays all the way from black to white. Colors in all modes are vibrant, eye-catching, and well saturated.
More important for most data images is that the 955WH maintains crisp detail across the entire screen. In my tests, for example, white text on black was crisp and readable at sizes as small as 9 points, and black text on white was highly readable even at 6 points.
Video quality is limited by the native 1,280-by-800 resolution, which translates to a maximum video resolution of 720p HD without scaling the image. Within that context, however, the quality is much better than is typical for a data projector. Contrast is a little low, which means you won’t mistake the image for something you’d expect from a home-theater projector, but the video is good enough to be watchable even for long sessions.