Introduction and design
The BrightLink series is Epson’s full interactive projector line. The series features two models, the BrightLink Pro and the BrightLink Ed. The BrightLink ED is for K-12 education and is a model that requires a connected computer and software to enable the interactivity that separates BrightLink models from standard printers.
The BrightLink Pro ($2,999, £1,946.18, AU$3,802.36), on the other hand, is fully autonomous in that it can be interactive without a dedicated computer or software. The BrightLink Pro can turn any surface into a projectable interactive whiteboard. Whether it be a table or a wall, the BrightLink Pro can project a computer that can be virtually written on with a digital pen.
Don’t want to replace your already existing conference system? The Epson BrightLink Pro is designed so that it can be an extension of your conferencing system. It can do Picture-in-Picture so you can see your meeting but also write on the board for viewers to see as well.
At just $3,000, the BrightLink Pro won’t break the bank. Not only is this comparable in price to a standard business-class projector, but when you add in interactivity the BrightLink Pro sets a new standard for price.
Design and specs
The BrightLink Pro weighs 12.3lbs (5.58kg) without the side plate and 14.1lbs (6.40kg) with the side plate attached. The dimensions of the BrightLink Pro are 14.5" W x 14.8" H x 7.5" D (36.83cm x 37.59cm x 19.05cm) without the feet. Now, depending on what attachment you have purchased, whether it is the table mount or the wall mount, depends on how much more weight or girth it will add.
Supporting a 10,000:1 contrast ratio and 3,100 lumens for both white and color, the lamp on the BrightLink Pro is bright and crisp. The depth and quality of the image is not as impressive as a high-end, high definition projector, but with a color reproduction of 1.07 billion colors, the BrightLink Pro does handle itself very well. The native image resolution is 1280 x 800 (WXGA) and the native aspect ratio is 16:9.
The BrightLink Pro unit I reviewed came with all of the accessories required to get started. In the box, Epson provided me with the following: three USB Cables, a power cable, six AAA Batteries, a projector remote control, two Interactive Pens, a pen case, a control pad, and a 802.11 b/g/n WiFi USB Dongle.
The BrightLink Pro has a ton of ports capable of handling even the fanciest of conference rooms: two HDMI ports, one VGA, one composite video, three audio-in, one mini-stereo out port, one LAN RJ-45 port, one RS-232c serial port, one monitor out D-sub 15pin, one USB type B for USB display, two USB type A and one mini-stereo port for remote control.
Performance, flaws and final verdict
The BrightLink Pro features several interactive modes that are perfect for business users. The two main modes are Whiteboard Mode (where the BrightLink Pro becomes a digital whiteboard on whatever source is projected) and PC-Free Annotation Mode (in which people can annotate on or around a shared projected file).
With Whiteboard mode, there can be two people using the pens and another six people using their fingers. For the PC-Free Annotation Mode two people can use two pens and another two people can use their fingers. There is also a Computer Interactive Mode, which allows a presenter to show their desktop and then that desktop can become part of the BrightLink Pro interactive experience.
You can collaborate in one room with the whiteboard. Just project on a table or a wall and start writing notes. Want to save those notes? Hit save and the Epson BrightLink Pro can save those notes and email them to participants. Want to print them? Well, as long as you have connected a printer, the Epson BrightLink Pro can send that whiteboard directly to a printer with a touch of a button. It was seriously that simple.
The BrightLink Pro can also accept connections from those in the collaborative meeting with their phones or tablets via WiFi. Once connected, you can upload images or use your touch device to write on the whiteboard and have the BrightLink Pro share your input to the meeting.
Want to just use the BrightLink Pro as a normal projector? Fine, just hook up your device via HDMI or VGA and it will be good. Add the USB cable to your device and the BrightLink Pro turns into a huge interactive monitor, allowing you to add some flare into that marketing deck.
Startup time takes about 30 seconds from off to image. The BrightLink Pro image is clear but the clarity does depend on the surface. For example, I used the BrightLink Pro on a table and I had to resize the image in order to be able to project on the table, and the image quality was not perfect.
As expected, the BrightLink Pro’s projector works well, but the collaborative touch-enabled aspects of the BrightLink Pro are incredible. Being able to use the pen, or your finger, to swipe through a deck, interact with your screen, is fluid and painless.
The one challenge I had was that I had to calibrate the pens. There was about a one-inch (2.25 cm) to three-inch ( 7.62 cm) difference between where the pen was and where the pointer on the whiteboard appeared. The calibration was not hard to do, though I did have to look at the user manual to find the setting to calibrate the pens on my own.
Flaws? The BrightLink Pro, in its current state, is pretty flawless but I suppose there are some improvements that I would recommend for a future release.
The BrightLink Pro UI is great, though it’s not necessarily pretty. To be fair, I am thinking of Android OS or iOS environments when I am using something interactive, and it might be beneficial for Epson to make it more pleasing to use. Also, when using the whiteboard, the drawing tools are on the right, and the save, print, email, and other buttons are hidden on the bottom. Outside of the save and print buttons, the images used for the bottom tool buttons are vague.
Setup of the BrightLink Pro is going to take time. There are two ways to install the BrightLink Pro. If you are going to use the table mount, then the process is a little bit easier than the wall mounting. The instructions for installing the mount on the back of the BrightLink Pro are confusing as the instructions do not say what screws to use in certain holes. I kind of had to guess which screws to use for the back mounts. I also had to guess what the parts of the BrightLink Pro were, like the case used for the pens, and the on/off buttons, as the instructions used a name for them that was found nowhere else in the packaging.
The Table Mount is big and bulky so you will want to make sure you set it up correctly in the middle of the table (long side) and you will want to make sure that the table is wider than 38 inches (96.52cm) or the picture will not fit on the table correctly and you will have to scale the image down. Also, there are a lot of cables that are used to ensure that everything is hooked up, and if you don’t tie them up and keep them hanging, it is super ugly. Also, and I didn’t realize this at first, but the cover on the front comes off of the BrightLink Pro which makes it easier to plug in your HDMI and USB ports. It took me forever until I grabbed a screwdriver and did it.
If you are installing the BrightLink Pro on the wall, well, get a contractor ready. The reason for this is that it will be best for you to run all the cables behind the wall so that not only the BrightLink Pro looks neat and clean but also so that there are no wires intruding on the image. You can use a projector screen but, to be fair, it does not make sense as the Pens do need a surface to press on. Also, if the BrightLink Pro is going to go in the middle of the wall, or higher up, you might need an electrician to run power up to right behind the projector. Either that or run a long power cord behind the wall.
The BrightLink Pro gets hot and gets hot fast. If you are going to use this projector in a small breakout room that is about 10ft x 9ft or smaller then make sure you have ventilation because that room will get hot. I had the BrightLink Pro in a room that is 20ft x 25ft and I felt the room getting warm after a couple of hours.
Pretty much everything. The BrightLink Pro is a revolutionary product that everyone should buy for their conference rooms. It redefines how collaborations and presentations are done.
Once physically installed, the BrightLink Pro not only sets up in minutes, but it is easy for you to use. All you have to do is power on the BrightLink Pro and there are only a couple of steps you will need to do. You won’t have to do much training to familiarize your employees with the system.
The Interactive Projector is stunning and awesome. It’s not only a cool feature but it is a feature that works well. The ability to turn any surface into a workspace, to be able to write on the projected wall, and to have partners use their tablets or smart devices to join in on the work is truly amazing.
To be honest, physically installing the BrightLink Pro projector was a bit of a challenge and if you are going to be installing it in a permanent location, you will probably want to run your cables behind the wall. Long story short, make sure you have a general contractor and an electrician on standby or you’re better off just placing this thing on a desk.
The BrightLink Pro may need some calibration for the pens at first, but that is not something that needs to be done every time you use the projector.
The BrightLink Pro has everything your business needs for presentations, to collaborate internally, and to share with people externally. Its interactive collaborative features are impressive and will revolutionize your team meetings.