- Good data-image quality.
- Great video for a data projector.
- Reasonably loud audio.
- USB Type-A port.
- Compact and easily portable.
- No 3D capabilities.
- Lacks optical zoom.
Given that it's an under-$500 model, the Epson EX3260 SVGA 3LCD Projector ($449.99) has much to recommend it: accurate color rendition, a solid assortment of ports, easy portability, and—above all—good quality for both data images and video. The EX3260's relatively low resolution limits its effective use to relatively small screens, and to presentations without very fine detail or small type. Within those constraints, the EX3260 stands out, and is an easy pick to replace the now-discontinued Epson EX3240 as our Editors' Choice SVGA data projector.
SVGA's Still Got Some Kick
The EX3260's native SVGA resolution (800 by 600 pixels) is in the 4:3 aspect ratio that's commonly used in traditional data presentations. This allows for considerably more image height than you'd get with a widescreen projector. (Most widescreen models are geared to entertainment and have 16:9 aspect ratios.)
A decade ago, SVGA-resolution data projectors were commonplace. Although today's data projectors are mostly higher-resolution models—XGA (1,024 by 768), WXGA (1,280 by 800), and even 1080p—the relatively low price of SVGA models keeps them in demand for budget-conscious schools and businesses that can get by without showing minute detail in presentations.
At 3,300 lumens, the EX3260's light source—based on the 3LCD technology developed by Epson—is near the low end of the brightness scale for current full-size data projectors. That said, it should be bright enough to use in a small-to-midsize room, depending on lighting conditions.
The EX3260 has a two-tone chassis (white with black trim) that measures 3.6 by 11.9 by 9.8 inches (HWD), including feet. It weighs 5.5 pounds, so it is easily portable, and it comes with a soft carrying case. Behind the lens is the focus ring, as well as a slider for manual horizontal keystone correction. Like the EX3240, it lacks an optical zoom.
The EX3260 has a solid, if basic, set of ports. The core display connections are a VGA port (which doubles as component video), an HDMI input, and three RCA plugs for composite video/audio. Also on the body are a USB Type-B port for connecting with a PC and mirroring its screen, and a USB Type-A port that fits a thumb drive or an optional Wi-Fi adapter. (The latter costs $99.)
Data Image Testing
From a distance of about 6.5 feet away, the EX3260 ($369.00 at Amazon) filled our test screen with an image about 70 inches in size, measured diagonally. The image showed no sign of degradation even when I introduced a fair amount of ambient light.
In data-image testing using the DisplayMate suite, the EX3260's image quality was suitable for typical business and classroom presentations. Text quality was good; both white text on black, and black text on white, were easily readable down to 7.5 points. (The white text looked purple at sizes smaller than that.)
Colors were bright and well saturated, which is typical of LCD projectors, whose color brightness matches their white brightness. DLP projectors have lower color brightness than white brightness and tend to have duller-looking colors, which was the case, for example, with the ViewSonic LightStream PJD5155.
Color balance was slightly off with the EX3260, with some white and light-gray backgrounds showing a trace of green. This should only affect grayscale images. As an LCD projector, the EX3260 is free of potentially distracting red/green/blue flashes—the so-called "rainbow effect"—that appear in the images of many DLP projectors.
Solid for Video, and Audio is AOK
Video quality with the EX3260 is above par for a data projector, good enough for showing long clips as part of a presentation, or even feature-length films. With the video source I used, the output was again free of rainbow artifacts.
Color balance and contrast were both good. I saw a trace of a horizontal pattern resembling hatching in some backgrounds, but I may well have missed it had it not been my business to look for such artifacts. The projector's single 2-watt built-in speaker provides reasonably loud audio—good enough for a small-to-midsize room—of decent quality.
Like the Epson EX3240 and most other LCD projectors, the EX3260 lacks 3D capability. For that, you would want to get a DLP projector such as the ViewSonic PJD5155 ( at Amazon) , which has good data-image quality and decent video quality for a DLP projector, even if you might have to tolerate the occasional rainbow artifact.
A Winner for Data Presentations (and Movies!)
The Epson EX3260 SVGA 3LCD Projector provides a good set of features for a low-cost, portable data projector. It lacks an optical zoom and the ability to project 3D content, both features you will find on the ViewSonic PJD5155. But the PJD5155's zoom ratio is a very modest 1.1x, and the EX3260 has better image quality for both data and video. As a result, when you're not using it for work, you can use it for entertainment. The EX3260 replaces the discontinued Epson EX3240 as our Editors' Choice SVGA data projector.
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