When it comes to office space for small businesses and start-ups, flexibility often rules. That’s why the Epson PowerLite 826W  is an excellent projector choice for these environments.
The PowerLite’s picture, color, brightness and ease of use adapt well to most room setups. The quick access — powered up and connected within 60 seconds — prove a major advantage. From the IT staff’s perspective, the projectors are easy to manage because each unit sends e-mail notifications when maintenance is needed or a problem occurs. Plus, the 826W makes hardly any noise when running and has a lamp life of up to 6,000 hours per bulb.
The Epson’s menu, power and navigation buttons, located atop the unit, are easy to use. The unit comes with all the standard input jacks on the back of the projector. Epson’s PowerLite 826W has two USB ports and a LAN port for network connectivity; an optional wireless card can be added.
There are two connections for video input (VGA, S-Video or RCA) and a 3.5 mm slot for audio and microphone. Digital Video Interface or High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connections would have been nice, but their absence is not surprising given that Epson created this projector for business and education use, not for home theaters.
Another good feature is the retractable lens, which protects the lens while traveling but can also be used to halt the video without turning off the projector. The three rubberized feet on the bottom help level and stabilize the projector, and the filter, mounted on the side, is easy to remove.
The 826W’s LAN and wireless connections make the projector ideal for use in small conference rooms and if you need to run a handful or more of projectors in your offices simultaneously.
Each projector can be mounted on the ceiling, and then by running power and network cables to it, a presenter can use it from a desktop or notebook computer. The included software program lists every projector on your network, making it simple for employees to select the one they want.
Additionally, the 826W’s optional add-on wireless module can transform the projector into an access point through which employees can connect wirelessly to display screens from their notebooks or desktops. One caveat: If your offices have a wireless network, you will need to set the projectors’ wireless information to a different Service Set Identifier. With the add-on, the projector creates its own wireless network.
The IT team can manage the projectors using a web portal that identifies units by IP address. Once on the portal, a systems administrator can adjust the network, wireless, picture, color and most other settings from the browser. The web page for each projector also keeps tabs on lamp hours, which helps track maintenance needs.
Epson’s EMP Monitoring software, also included with the projector, lets IT manage all projectors from a single EMP window.
Even though the PowerLite is not a home theater projector, it would benefit from the addition of an HDMI connection, particularly given the increasing use of video. Also, a colored (rather than white) projector housing would be easier to keep clean. But these are minor points. The Epson PowerLite 826W is a smart projector choice for wide-ranging use.