Epson’s EMP 5500

PCQ Bureau
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So many of us have had to choose between

lugging a bulky multimedia projector, or carrying a lightweight LCD tablet with a dull

picture, that this Epson projector turns a lot of heads. It’s ultra-compact, 4 kg

light, amazingly bright, and feature-packed.

color="#FFFFFF">Epson EMP-5500


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:

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.