Ultra Short Throw Interactive Projector
July 13, 2011
Optoma is a little late to the game with its first ultra short throw interactive projectors, but its first generation TW675UTi-3D is fully competitive with other companies' second and third generation models. In addition to interactivity and the ultra short throw, it's 3D-ready and, according to Optoma, will work just as well projecting downwards to create an interactive table top as in a horizontal position for projecting on a screen.
Built around a 1280x800 DLP chip, the TW675UTi-3D offers a 3200 lumen rating, the ability to turn on both interactive and 3D modes at the same time, and a size and weight that's appropriate for either permanent installation or a cart. It also offers a longer than usual, three-year warranty, which helps make it a more than reasonable choice at $1,799, with an education discount available through Optoma.
It's Interactive. As with any interactive projector, the interactivity is the main reason for considering a model that costs about 30 percent more than comparable choices without the feature. The TW675UTi-3D uses TI's interactive technology, which works by superimposing a grid on the image, with the grid serving the same purpose as map coordinates. The grid is invisible to the human eye but visible to the interactive pen, which lets the pen tell the projector what it's pointing at. Optoma includes one pen with the projector.
As is standard, you can use the pen as both a mouse and a drawing tool. It should work with any annotation software, but in case you don't already have a program, Optoma provides WizTeach, which includes some special features for the classroom, like built-in maps, but will serve just as well for business use.
Ultra short throw. At least as important as interactivity is the ultra short throw, which lets you project a large image and still stand close to the screen without worrying about shadows. Optoma's stated range for image size runs from 77" to 100" diagonally at a distance of 19.3" to 25.8" from the screen to the mirror at the back of the projector. That translates to roughly 4" to 10" from the front of the projector. For our tests at the native 1280x800 resolution, we measured a 92" diagonal image at 10" inches from the front.
No calibration. One of the strengths of TI's interactive technology is that because the grid always falls on the same place relative to the image, there's no need for calibration. This is particularly welcome if the projector is on a cart that you move into place each time you use it. Simply turn everything on, and the interactive feature is ready to use.
Can use any surface and can move away from the screen. Because the pen only has to see the screen, rather than touch it, you can use literally any surface. You can also stand to one side of the screen or step away and interact from a distance. Keep in mind, however, that it's hard to control what you're pointing at from more than a few feet.
Reasonably fast reaction time. One minor issue with early TI-based interactive projectors was a slight lag between moving the pen and seeing a result on screen, which took some practice to get used to. The TW675UTi-3D shows just a hint of that lag, but little enough so that using it feels natural immediately.