Sharp's latest entry in the classroom projector market, the PG-F255W, is a compact 1280x800 DLP projector. It combines a bright, high-contrast image with great sharpness and clarity, then adds a dash of low maintenance and a dollop of great warranty. Bake at 2500 lumens for 4,000 hours. Once you taste it, you'll wonder how they can afford to give it away at street prices under $1,000.
Strained baking metaphors aside, the PG-F255W is an extremely capable projector, with 2500 ANSI lumens of brightness, a 2200:1 contrast ratio, 4,000 hour lamp life, $250 lamp replacements, and a three-year warranty with 24-hour turnaround replacement service. It is a hard deal to beat.
Lumen output. The PG-F255W is no slouch when it comes to brightness. Our test sample maxed out at 2195 ANSI lumens, in Presentation mode with the lamp on High. With low room lighting, the projector should be able to power a 80" to 100" screen with no problem at all, and a 120" screen is not too much of a stretch. However, if a larger screen size is desired, it would help to lower the room lighting accordingly. If you already have a darkened environment and want to conserve lamp life, switching to Eco + Quiet mode drops lumen output by 22%, to 1733 lumens. It also extends lamp life from 3,000 hours to 4,000 hours.
Good contrast. As is somewhat typical with DLP projectors, the PG-F255W clearly has high ANSI contrast. Any high-contrast image is displayed with wonderful dynamic range, especially in the image modes where BrilliantColor is active. The effect is lessened somewhat in Cinema and sRGB modes, where color is the most accurate, so anyone planning to use the projector for the display of photography should keep that in mind.
Edge-to-edge sharpness. The PG-F255W has a razor-sharp picture, all the way out to the very edges of the screen. While this sounds like something you'd take for granted - and indeed, we sometimes do - it only takes one bad experience with a projector that has inconsistent sharpness to cement the importance of this feature.
WXGA Resolution. We have mentioned this several times in the past, and we'll mention it again now - if you're looking for versatility in the classroom, 1280x800 is the way to go. A projector in this resolution can natively display data signals in 1280x800, 1280x768, and 1024x768 resolution, as well as 1280x720 HD video. There simply is not another resolution available with this kind of flexibility, especially not under $1,000.