Hitachi CPX8 XGA 3LCD Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value

The Hitachi CPX8 provides over 2,600 lumens of real brightness and a razor sharp image at street prices under $600. The XGA resolution CPX8 is an ideal fit for the budget conscious user who needs a flexible projector that emphasizes image quality over advanced features. Hitachi has successfully prioritized image quality in this portable and affordable package.

Applications/Best Uses

An ideal use for the CPX8 would be as a semi-mobile projector that can be shared between different classrooms or conference rooms. At five pounds in weight, the projector is easily portable and can be quickly setup by using the combination of quick release front adjustment feet, a well performing auto-keystone feature and auto input source lock.

With a case size of 12x9x2.75 inches, the CPX8 could also be used as a traveling projector, but it is not quite as small and light as today's 'ultra portables'.

The high light output of the CPX8 allows it to maintain a quality image even in a well-lit room, letting the user focus on the presentation and not on ambient light control. The projector can produce peak brightness levels comparable to LCD flat panels for screen sizes in the 90-inch diagonal range.

The CPX8's brightness was a major asset when I tested it in a near-worst case conference room setting: an early afternoon presentation in a corner room about the size of a standard 30 student classroom. The room has windows on two walls and usually requires adjustment to the window blinds in order to create a suitable environment for a projector. On a screen of about 82" in diagonal, the CPX8 was able to produce a highly viewable, punchy image without any dimming of the room light.

The CPX8 will also work well in larger rooms with screen sizes up to 10 feet wide (150 inches in diagonal). However, at this screen size, users will want to dim or control room lighting to achieve peak image quality.

The CPX8 is a good fit for both the basic, non-technical user as well as the advanced user. It defaults to Hitachi's Easy menu that allows the user to change basic projector options but initially hides settings that are more advanced. Additionally, the CPX8 allows a custom name to be assigned to each input. For example, the S-video input and D-SUB PC inputs could be renamed to 'DVD' and 'laptop', helping to avoid any input source confusion by the end user.

Advantages

Brightness: Our CPX8 review sample performed very close to specification with a peak brightness value of 2,650 ANSI-Lumens or 98% of the 2,700 ANSI-lumen specifications. Peak brightness was found in the Daytime mode with similar brightness levels found in both Green and Black Board modes. Switching to Eco lamp mode dropped brightness by a little over 30% to 1,771 ANSI lumens in Daytime mode. Brightness uniformity measured an above average 84%.

The viewability of a projected image depends on the light output from the projector, the size of the image and the amount of light in the room. The level of brightness the CPX8 produces allows it to sustain image quality in situations with significant amounts of ambient light.

For viewing in a room with normal lighting, I prefer an image that is at least 30 foot-lamberts, or about the output of a standard direct view CRT television. In simple terms, a foot-lambert is a measurement unit that takes into account the light output from the projector and the size of the screen. The CPX8 can support a screen size of over 120 inches wide and still maintain a brightness level greater than 30-foot lamberts. On a smaller screen of 100 inches in diagonal in the native 4/3 aspect ratio, the CPX8 will throw an image with peak brightness of close to 80 foot-lamberts, which is a vibrant image even in a well lit room.

Image Quality The CPX8 presents a very sharp image with excellent edge-to-edge uniformity across the zoom range. The projector features a 1.2 zoom ratio allowing it to throw a 100 inch diagonal image between 8 feet 5 inches to just over 10 feet away. Under close inspection of text and test patterns, I found the convergence of the three LCD panels to be very good with less than a half pixel of misconvergence between green and red. While most convergence errors will not be noticeable from standard viewing distances, the above average convergence of the CPX8 positively contributes to overall image sharpness.

The CPX8 has an image offset of approximately 14% of image height with the image starting below lens center when the projector is tabletop mounted. With the tabletop mount, the negative image offset will usually require the user to incline the projector using the front adjustment feet and the application of keystone to square up the image on the screen. While it is a good idea to minimize keystone for maximum image quality, the CPX8's keystone does not cause any obvious image distortion.

The Hitachi CPX8's forte is with presentation or data material, yet the projector does a respectable job with video for a business class XGA projector. Viewing photos and video on the CPX8, I appreciated the high light output of the projector and found image depth to be above expectation for a projector with a 500:1 contrast ratio. I tested video performance with NFL football during the day and ended up viewing the projector for longer than expected because of the bright and sharp image. Even in the more color balanced Cinema image preset, the CPX8's color performance tends to the aggressive side. The natural grass football field was noticeably more neon than one would expect to see in mid fall. Due to its brightness and relatively low contrast, the CPX8 is best suited for video and picture reproduction when used in a normally lit room for non-critical viewing.

Template/Whiteboard Function: The CPX8 features Hitachi's exclusive Template function that allows it to display a variety of image overlays. The templates include two different circle patterns, four different grid patterns (notebook and grid style paper) plus two different world map formats. While focused on the classroom, the various patterns are also applicable to conference room use such as constructing flow diagrams using a grid pattern as a base. I found the template feature to be the most functional by using the Whiteboard image preset (also a Hitachi exclusive) and projecting on a dry erase board. The Whiteboard mode adjusts the projector's gamma curve to maintain brightness while mitigating the hot spotting that occurs when a highly reflective projection surface is used. I did notice some hot spotting in Whiteboard mode, but it was significantly reduced as compared to Daytime or Dynamic modes.

Input Options: The CPX8 input panel includes a single D-Sub HD-15 connector for component video and computer in and a second dedicated monitor pass through output. Additional video inputs include a digital HDMI input along with composite and S-video connectors. The CPX8 provides dual 3.5mm audio input jacks and a third 3.5mm audio output jack. Additionally, external control of the projector is available via the DB-9 connector that supports the RS-232 protocol.

Low power consumption in stand-by mode: Hitachi advertises the CPX8 as having low power consumption in standby mode. I measured the CPX8 at only 0.4W using a 'Kill-A-Watt' measurement device or lower than the 0.5W specification.

Value: The CPX8 can be found on-line for prices under $600. The low street price, a 4,000-hour Eco mode lamp life and filter maintenance required only every 5,000 hours make the CPX8 a great value for the dollar. When required, the lamp and filter are accessible from the top and side of the projector. This allows for easy access even if the projector were to be ceiling mounted.

 

Limitations

Black Level: The CPX8 is not able to reproduce a very dark black. The color of projected black is closer to a dark grey and is noticeable when source material other than a 4:3 aspect ratio is displayed. While I found the black level to be distracting when displaying 16:9 aspect ratio materials, it should be not a major concern if the projector is being used for presentation-based material that fills the entire screen.

No network capability: For fixed business or classroom environments, network capability provides advantages for integration into control systems and allows for the monitoring of lamp life and maintenance requirements from a centralized location. The Hitachi CPX8 does not include any IP network capability, but does contain an RS-232 port that can be used as an alternative form of wired control.

Projector Noise: In Normal lamp mode, the CPX8 produces a noticeable amount of cooling fan noise. However, the white noise sound quality of the output is not extremely distracting. Switching to Eco mode drops fan noise output to a nearly unnoticeable level. In most settings, I would prefer the additional brightness provided by Normal lamp even with the additional fan noise. Unless the use scenario requires people to group close to the projector in a very quite environment, it is unlikely that fan noise would be a major issue.

Conclusion

The Hitachi CPX8 an inexpensive, XGA 3-chip LCD projector that is ideal for the value-oriented mobile classroom or business environment. It includes features unique to Hitachi projectors such as the ability to custom name each input, built-in Template images and the Whiteboard image preset. The CPX8 distinguishes itself from other projectors in its class by providing an engaging picture with exceptional brightness and sharpness at a very reasonable price.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Hitachi CPX8 projector page.

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