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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
NO audio output
The Epson VS355 WXGA Projector is a fantastic projector that offers great image quality at a reasonable price.
Whether you need to present your latest slideshow at your next earnings report or want to have a movie night with friends and family on a 100-inch screen, projectors are there for when you need a massive screen size that (most) TVs can’t offer. The options are seemingly endless, but for this review, I’ve taken a look at the Epson VS355 projector, an LCD projector that’s more office-oriented, but wouldn’t be out of place in a budget home theater.
I spent more than three weeks with the projector, racking up more than 60 hours of testing. From gaming to presentations and bright environment to pitch-black rooms, I gave the projector everything I had and have compiled my thoughts below on where it stacks up on our list of the best projectors.
The Epson VS355 looks like most projectors. It features a rectangular design with an offset lens and numerous vents along the outside to help keep the lamp cool via the onboard fans. Unlike many other projectors, the VS355 features a recessed lens, which not only helps to prevent fingerprints and other unwanted smudges, but also gives space for the clever slide-over cover that keeps dust off the glass when the projector isn’t in use.
On the top of the projector is an array of buttons used for navigating the menu and adjusting the picture, as well as physical rings for dialing in the optical zoom, focus, and keystone settings. The back of the projector features a collection of inputs, including: USB-A, USB-B, RCA connections, VGA, and HDMI. It looks how you’d expect a projector to look and considering the market it’s targeting, it features a nice design without any major compromises.
Setting up the Epson VS355 was fairly straightforward. After unpacking it, it was as simple as plugging in the power cable, plugging in my media of choice, and positioning the projector to roughly fit the size of the 100-inch Silver Ticket 16:9 projector screen I used for testing. To fine-tune the image, I used the onboard zoom, focus, and keystone rings, which proved simple to dial in.
Out of the box, the colors of the screen proved impressive, as the following section will attest to, but the color settings are also fairly easy to access using the onboard controls. Speaking of controls, about the only complaint I had regarding getting the device set up is the lack of a remote. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it would’ve been nice to see at least a basic remote control.
In a world where 4K projectors are hitting the sub-$1,000 price point, you would think a 1280x800 pixel (WXGA) projector would miss the mark for image quality. But, truth be told, I compared this projector up against a different 1080p projector and the difference was indistinguishable from eight feet away. A large part of this appeared to be the 210 E UHE lamp inside the VS355, which outputs 3,300 lumens.
To test how well the projector performed in various lighting situations, I tested it using three real-world scenarios. The first scenario consisted of an open window that provided natural, indirect light into the back of the room where I was projecting the image. The second situation consisted of a small lamp in the back of the room, which provided artificial, indirect light. The third scenario was the ideal setup, wherein all-natural light was blocked out and no artificial light was used—effectively pitch-black.
In the pitch-black environment, the highlights were bright, the blacks weren’t crushed and overall it offered impressive color rendition.
As with any projector, the VS355 was a bit washed out in the first scenario and slightly less washed out in the second scenario (although the warmer artificial light did give the image a more orange cast). The third scenario, however, yielded fantastic results. In the pitch-black environment, the highlights were bright, the blacks weren’t crushed and overall it offered impressive color rendition.
Speaking of color rendition, I used a Datacolor SpyderX Elite calibration tool to run a complete color gamut test on the VS355. It concluded the VS355 covered 92 percent of RGB, 68 percent of NTSC, 71 percent of Adobe RGB and 74 percent of P3 color gamuts. For a projector that isn’t necessarily labeled a cinema projector, these numbers are quite impressive.
From basic presentation slides to Monday Night Football and even some light console gaming, the projector held up well in a variety of environments. Sure, the 1280x800 pixel resolution was limiting in terms of resolution, but unless you’re comparing it side-by-side with the latest 4K projector, it’s highly unlikely you’ll notice, especially if you’re playing a video game or watching a sporting event where text isn’t consistently on the screen.
The speaker onboard the VS355 is located on the back of the projector. This placement is convenient for situations where you’re standing behind the projector, such as in an office environment, but in a situation where you’re seated in front of the projector, as tends to be the case when using this to play movies and videos, this leads to the sound being rather muddled, as it’s then directed and projected off whatever wall is behind you.
This wouldn’t necessarily be so much of a problem if the projector featured an audio output port, but it doesn’t. That means you need to have the audio being output through either the device you have plugged in or through an audio receiver if you’re planning to use it essentially anywhere outside of an office environment.
Projectors are rarely known for their audio capabilities and the VS355 is no exception. It would be nice to see a built-in 3.5mm audio output and although the internal speaker isn’t bad, per se, having it face the rear of the projector can result in less-than-impressive audio quality if the projector is positioned behind you.
Projectors are rarely known for their audio capabilities and the VS355 is no exception.
The Epson VS355 WXGA Projector retails for $460. This is about in line with other office-oriented projectors with similar specifications. If you’re looking for an office-only projector, it’s a solid price for a more-than-capable projector. However, if you’re looking for a more cinema-specific projector, you’ll probably find a better option within this price point, as we’ll address in the following section.
As mentioned above, the VS355 is a fantastic office projector, but could use a few slight improvements in the cinema department. As such, I’ve chosen a similarly-priced cinema-oriented projector to compare it against, the Optoma HD243X (view at Amazon).
The Optoma HD243X is a 1080p (1920x1080 pixels), 3,300 lumen projector that is designed for watching videos and gaming. In addition to a much higher resolution, it features a 24,000:1 contrast ratio (double that of the VS355), uses a Texas Instruments DLP chip and has REC.709 and REC.709b color space support for much better color reproduction than what the Epson VS355 offers. The HD243X also has double the lamp life of the Epson, which should mean less maintenance cost in the long run. It even offers 3D support, although the 3D fad seems to have largely died out.
Yes, the Optoma HD243X weighs nearly double that of the VS355 at seven pounds, but assuming you’re using it for video, it’s unlikely you’ll have to move it around too often. On the connection front, the HD243X includes two HDMI inputs, a 3D sync port, a 12V trigger port that can be used to turn on the projector with an electric projection screen, and a 3.5mm audio out port.
The HD243X retails for $469, meaning it’s only $10 more than the Epson VS355, so if you’re looking for a more cinema-specific projector in the price range, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than the HD243X. However, if you want something that’s a little more well-rounded, the VS355 still has plenty to offer.
A capable, utilitarian projector that benefits from solid performance.
The Epson VS355 WXGA Projector is a wonderful, utilitarian projector that works as well outside the office as inside. It’s relatively compact and although its resolution isn’t the most impressive, the overall picture quality holds up against other projectors with much higher resolutions. All-in-all, it’s a fantastic do-it-all projector that won’t break the bank and doesn’t require too much effort to get set up.
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