by March 31, 1999 0 comments

Epson EMP-5500

Portable
multimedia color projector. 4.2 kg, 650 ANSI lumens. Price: NA.
UK: £ 3,995.

Features: RGB projection with three
polysilicon TFTs, 19-300″ image, zoom lens, ultra-high efficiency lamp, SRS 3D stereo
sound, 800 x 600–up to 1152 x 864 with dot resizing.
Pros: Extremely portable, very bright and sharp image, feature-packed.
Full-function remote includes mouse.
Cons: Narrow-angle projection, needs long distance from screen for large image.
Somewhat expensive.
Source: Epson India, 301 Prestige Meridian I, 29 M G Road, Bangalore 560001. Tel:
80-5095465/70
Fax: 5095474

What’s new about the EMP-5500? For
a start (and a surprise), it’s rather like a three-gun projector. It uses three
0.9-inch polysilicon active-matrix LCD panels, with red, green and blue light. They
combine to create a spectacularly bright and sharp color image. The brightness is
impressive: it’s all of 650 ANSI lumens, from a 120-watt high-efficiency lamp rated
for 2,000 hours. The efficiency really is good; the projector ran just mildly warm. The
manual zoom lens lets you change from normal to tele, while preserving sharp focus.

The three TFTs inside are 800 x 600 pixels
each, but the projector handled images up to 1152 x 864 using dot conversion. The image
isn’t as sharp, but using a Resize button you can get 800 x 600 parts of the picture,
which are razor-sharp.

The remote-control is powerful and versatile,
covering not just the projector’s own features but also replacing your
notebook’s mouse. A cable connects the projector to your notebook’s PS/2 mouse
port (the results were a bit erratic with different notebooks). The remote has
custom-effect buttons, to project pointers, highlight lines, and draw lines and boxes on
the screen. This does not of course edit your original image, but only its projected
version. You can even add a “wallpaper” or company logo, to replace the default
blank screen–just capture a part of a current image, and save it in the projector.
Finally, there are picture invert options for ceiling mode and rear projection, and color
temperature and other adjustments.An optional serial link lets you adjust the
projector from your notebook. We didn’t test this out, as it wasn’t in our
standard package.

The front elevation adjustment is nice and
fast: pressing a plastic tab drops a prop-up stand. But it’s fiddly when you want to
adjust it with precision.

The sound is okay, though a bit tinny (1 watt
per channel, with stereo speakers inside), and sound controls are limited.

There’s a nice carry-handle strap, and
the projector stands nicely on its side (though it doesn’t project that way). The
carry-case is nice, with ample room for cables, but it doesn’t have a usable
handle—only a shoulder strap.

My biggest crib with the EMP-5500 was the
narrow projection angle; to get a 5-foot high image, the projector had to be 14 feet
away—even at the widest angle setting of the 37-48 mm manual zoom. Nice for a large
hall, but what about a small room? If you keep it 10 feet from the wall, you get a
much-too-bright 3-foot high image. On the other hand, you can project a 25-foot high
image, too, in a large hall.

The price is stiff. But its sheer versatility,
power and portability makes it good value, and among the most desirable portable data
projectors in the world for mobile professionals.

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