Large Venue WXGA DLP Projector
October 15, 2010
Mitsubishi is getting into the large venue market with the new 8000 series, a line of dual-lamp, interchangeable-lens projectors for 24/7 operation on the biggest of big screens. The first one to cross our desk is the WD8200U, a single-chip DLP WXGA projector that can put out over 6,500 lumens - or run for 8,000 hours at a stretch with zero down time. With plenty of options for lensing and a whole pile of installation-friendly features, the WD8200U is a perfect projector for lecture halls, megachurches, museum installations, or large photography clubs.
Image quality. The WD8200U has a sharp, clear, crisp image with very good color for its class of projector. The image is bright, yes, but it also has well-saturated color and plenty of dynamic range. With the optional 6-segment color wheel, which we will discuss later, color improves even further. Edge-to-edge sharpness is impeccable. The projector uses a 2x-speed color wheel, which is a limiting factor when talking about video, but for a data projector it is less of a problem--rainbow artifacts tend to appear when bright highlights move across the screen at a rapid pace, a situation encountered less frequently outside of film. Whatever your data presentation needs, the WD8200U has got you covered.
Light output. The WD8200U is a big dual-lamp projector built for large installation use, so serious lumen output is expected; the spec sheet declares maximum output of 6500 lumens. As it turns out, our test unit measured a whopping 6719 lumens in Presentation mode with both lamps on and set to high power. This is the maximum possible output, and is the preferred setting for large (150" to 200" diagonal) screens with significant ambient light.
What makes the WD8200U so unique is that there are so many ways to customize the image so that it is just right for your installation. Aside from Presentation, the WD8200U has a number of other presets that make the projected image more suitable for specific applications. First up is Standard, which has a higher color temperature (more blue) and higher color saturation than Presentation; it measured 4172 lumens with both lamps on high power. Standard is a good mode to use for Powerpoint presentation or just rooms with some degree of light control, as the increased color saturation can at times be more important than the brightest possible picture. Theater measured 3872, gave the image a warmer cast (lower color temperature), and improved black level and dynamic range. The final preset, sRGB, gave by far the best color and contrast of the bunch, though lumen output dropped to 3187. Both Theater and sRGB are well suited to film, video, and photo use. Color is more accurate than it is in other presets, while the contrast improvement gives your content more depth and three-dimensionality.
Most of the WD8200U's lumen range comes not from image presets but from lamp configuration. The readings listed come from having both lamps burning at full power, which will always give the highest reading in any given image mode. Using both lamps in low power mode drops output by 23% and increases lamp life to 4,000 hours, up from 2,000 hours in high lamp mode. You can also use a single lamp at a time, which cuts lumen output by a predictable 50%. One lamp in low power drops output 63% from maximum; in other words, Presentation would measure 2483 lumens using this setting. This also extends lamp life to 8,000 hours, the projector's maximum. As you can see, no matter your ambient light or screen size requirements, the WD8200U probably has a setting that will give you the correct amount of light output for your screen.
Longevity features. The WD8200U is designed as a true 24/7 projector, able to run for days, weeks, or months at a stretch. Indeed, using one lamp in low power mode would allow for 8,000 continuous hours of operation, or 333 straight days--about eleven months, all told. As such, it has several special features that are designed to deliver maximum longevity with minimum maintenance required.
Automatic lamp switching. The key to the WD8200U's constant-on system is automatic lamp switching. Many large venue projectors offer some variant of this technology, which alternates downtime to maximize lamp life. If you use one lamp at a time, this is simple enough; the projector starts the second lamp, then shuts off the first. Things get tricky when you use both lamps at the same time, though. In this case, the WD8200U will shut down one lamp at a time for an hour each day, allowing it to cool down and thereby extending life. Other options include a weekly shutdown schedule or a custom schedule, where the user specifies how often (and for how long) each lamp is allowed to cool down. The user may also customize single-lamp mode, so you can decide when you want the switching to occur.
Perpetual filter. The WD8200U is not the first projector to include an auto filter; it has become a desirable feature in projectors built for dusty or smoky environments. However, Mitsubishi brings the auto filter to the next level. The WD8200U's filter is not only automatic, but self-cleaning and perpetual as well. The filter material goes in a loop; at one point on the loop is a cleaning brush and a dust catch compartment. When the filter gets dirty, it rotates a clean section into place, which sends the dirty section past the cleaning apparatus and dumps any dust into the compartment. Periodically, one must remove the filter and empty the bin, but the filter itself never needs to be replaced. What's more, the user has the ability to set the frequency of the self-cleaning cycles, allowing you to adjust for your environment. Think of it as a vacuum with a removable dust canister instead of a bag--you do have to empty it, but you don't have to replace it. The projector will even remind you when it's time to clean it out.
Noise and heat exhaust. While it is seriously bright, the WD8200U is quieter than you might imagine. Large venue projectors sometimes sound like jet engines. But the WD8200U is different. Heat pipe technology helps efficiently funnel heat away from the critical components of the projector, which lessens the need for a powerful exhaust fan. This all boils down to a quieter projector; the official noise rating is only 36dB with both lamps at full power.
360-degree cooling. While it is not widely known, most projectors are meant to be used in a relatively small number of positions. All projectors can be used either right-side up or upside-down, but other angles may impact the efficiency of cooling and shorten operational life. The WD8200U has a customizable cooling option that allows the projector to be used at any angle or position. From the menu, the user can set the projector's current mounting angle and the internal fans will optimize for the new configuration. This helps keep lamp life at its peak without restricting operator choices.