The Design Bits
As mentioned earlier, the headline feature of the new projectors in the EB-1700 series is their incredibly small size. While the footprint is arguably about the same as most business-oriented projectors, the height of the chassis is dramatically shorter (44mm). So instead of having two bags (laptop and projector), a slightly wider laptop case may just suffice to fit both items. More importantly, the projector is of a rectangular shape and has no weird protrusions to create unsightly bulges once it’s in a bag.
A Matter of Lens
The lens resides behind a plastic sliding door and is revealed by sliding the A/V mute slide knob at the top of the projector. If you wish to temporarily hide the computer's image and sound from your audience, the quickest way is to close the lens door, which in turn activates A/V mute - very handy. Alternatively, you can press the A/V Mute button on the remote control.
The lens used in the EB-1775W has an F-number range of 1.58 - 1.7, and a focal length range of 13.52 - 16.22 mm (i.e. 1.2x zoom). While focus adjustment is automatic, zooming is not. At its widest end, you can achieve an 80-inch (measured diagonally) projection from a distance of about 1.8 meters away.
On the left of the projector's front face, you can see the air exhaust vent. Having it pointed to the front means that people sitting directly behind or at the side of the projector wouldn't be subjected to hot air blowing in their faces.
Top Panel Controls
The manual zoom ring resides in a cavity at the top of the projector. For the EB-1770W, EB-1760W, and EB-1750, the same area also houses a manual focus ring. The EB-1775W doesn't have a focus ring; it has a powered Focus button instead.
Controls offered here are pretty standard: besides the power button, you've the Menu and Source Search buttons. It's worth pointing out that most projectors in this class offer automatic correction for vertical keystoning distortion, but not for horizontal keystoning distortion. The EB-1775W is one of the very few that provides automatic correction for both. Of course, if you're not happy with the results, there are always buttons for manually correcting such distortions.
If you're projecting onto a screen that has black borders, press the Screen Fit button and the projector will attempt to fit and maximize the image within the borders. That's yet another handy function to get you up and running quickly.
In order to make the slimmest projector possible, something has to give. In this case, Epson has done away with a few A/V inputs/outputs (I/Os). Going from left to right, we have the following:-
- Power inlet (yes, power supply is integrated; so there's no need for an external power brick)
- 1 x composite video input (RCA)
- 1 x analog RGB/VGA port (using 15-pin D-Sub connector)
- 1 x USB Type B port (for connecting the projector to a computer to project images from the latter)
- 1 x USB Type A port (for connecting to a USB storage device for PC-free projection using the slideshow function)
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x 3.5mm audio input jack (for audio output using the projector's single-watt, monaural speaker)
Missing here, and which are common in most business projectors are component inputs, RJ45 port (for wired LAN connection), and RS-232C serial port (typically used for PC control).
For the most part, we can understand the logic behind Epson's choice of I/Os. In fact, for PC presentation, a VGA connection is probably all you need. Removing component video connections that use RCA plugs is understandable - it takes up too much space. Furthermore, if you really need to send component video signals from video sources such as a DVD player to the projector, you can use a component-to-VGA adapter. The inclusion of HDMI is an interesting move, and one which we certainly do not object to. We can only assume that it's an attempt to future-proof the projector. Our only gripe is that wired networking is now impossible due to the lack of RJ45. This may be a concern for IT administrators who prefer to manage their peripherals over a wired LAN or WAN. Of course, the counter argument is that if the projector is going to be on the road most of the time, wireless connectivity for hooking up the presenter's computer to the projector is all you need.
Regarding compatibility, the EB-1775W accepts 480i/480p and 576i/576p standard-definition signals. Both the component and HDMI inputs accepts high-definition signals of up to 1080p. The computer input accepts widescreen resolutions of up to 1680 x 1050 (WSXGA), and 4:3 aspect ratio resolutions of up to 1600 x 1200. Naturally, resolutions higher than the projector's 1280 x 800 pixels native resolution are given the scale-to-fit treatment. For the sharpest image possible, we recommend setting your computer to output a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels to the projector.
After seeing how thin the EB-1775W was, we were half expecting to see a very small and thin remote control. Alas, what greeted us was a regular-sized remote that's about 14 cm long. That being said, we rather have a bigger remote as this means that it has the real estate to incorporate more dedicated buttons for accessing frequently used functions.
In this case, the remote control has somewhat dedicated buttons for each of the different inputs. There's no dedicated button for HDMI; to get to it, you need to press the Video button to toggle between composite video and HDMI. Each time you press the USB button, it cycles between the USB Display function and the USB (Type A) port. The LAN button is used to switch the projected image to the one used by the supplied EasyMP Network Projection software, or when doing a wireless presentation. Controls on the projector's top panel are mostly replicated here: Menu, Screen Fit, A/V Mute, Focus, and Source Search. There's no dedicated Eco mode button on either the top panel of the projector or the remote control. However, there's a user-customizable button on the remote. You can assign one of six functions to it; and one of them is to call up the Power Consumption submenu where you can select Eco mode.
If you don't have a laser pointer, but wish to draw attention to certain parts of the image, you can press the Pointer button to bring up an on-screen pointer. You can move the pointer using the arrow keys on the remote. If you've connected the computer to the projector via the latter's USB (Type B) port, you can also use the remote control to control the computer's mouse pointer. You can then move the mouse pointer using the arrow keys, and perform left and right clicks using the Enter and Esc buttons respectively. You can also change pages of your PowerPoint presentation using the Page Up and Page Down buttons.
One notable downside is that the buttons on the remote are not back-lit, so discerning them in a darkened room may be a challenge. Other aspects which we would very much love to see is the incorporation of a laser pointer within the remote and it being able to control the computer's mouse control without using the navigation buttons. Of course, these will add to the cost significantly, so it's just a wish list of sorts.