Over the last five years most of the interactive projectors have been reviewed by Tony, with me tackling one or two each year. This year, there were only 3 interactive projectors that came in, so we didn’t break out interactive as a category. Let’s just say that the 585Wi has the best picture of any of the three ultra-short throw projectors (although the NEC was close). But it really is all the interactive abilities of the 585Wi that make it an award winning projector. Epson uses a pen system with the 585Wi, and it works very well, with the provided tool bars. There’s a great many tools including the ability to capture the sessions, which make this projector especially desirable in the classroom. My only complaint about the 585Wi interactively is due not to what it can do, which basically it does very well, but what it can’t do. Epson is also about to ship their new top of the line interactive ultra-short throw 595Wi, which has one fascinating difference – it can use pens, but also works well, no make that works great, with simple finger touch. In fact you could have 4 students using that projector, using a total, working on 8 annotations at once, perhaps 6 fingers, and two pens, or some other combination. And it works across quadrants. Unfortunately for us, the 595 was not yet available. That touch feature notwithstanding, the 585Wi is otherwise as capable, and costs less. As is usual, Epson provides significant additional education discounts, and an extra year of warranty and replacement program on top of the standard two years of each.
Bottom line: Bright, energy efficient, feature laden, very responsive interactive controls, ultra-short throw to not blind the presenter, and advanced networking (Wireless is optional via a $99 plug in module). It’s the whole package.
We were impressed with the NEC’s edge to edge sharpness, a problem with many of the ultra short throw projectors to come though here. We also liked that the NEC, with its standard wired networking and optional wireless networking, also has a basic media player on board. It can do slideshow presentations from jpgs (you can, for example easily convert a Powerpoint presentation to jpgs for the purpose. Oh, a more capable media player would have been nice, but rare on this type of projector.
Sound is big – 16 watts, suitable to handle all but the largest classrooms (and NEC even has a 30 watt optional speaker system that can plug in.
The NEC UM330W is dripping in features, and inputs. One additional one worthy of note here, is the microphone input, so that a teacher or professor can use the projector’s speaker system to help them fill the room when speaking.