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Hitachi CP-AW250N Projector Hitachi CP-AW250N
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Street Price: n/a
Contrast:2,000:1
Lumens:2500
Weight: 8.6 lbs
Resolution:1280x800
Aspect Ratio:16:10
Technology:3 LCD
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$499.00
Warranty:3 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In (x2), HDMI, Network, USB (x2), RS232 (x2),
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 1080p/50, 525p, 576i, 576p

Hitachi iPJ-AW250N Interactive
Ultra-Short Throw LCD Projector

Marc Davidson, September 16, 2011

Surprisingly small and light for an ultra short throw interactive projector, the Hitachi iPJ-AW250N is also unusual in being built around an LCD, rather than DLP, engine. The relatively small size makes it a better physical fit than most for keeping on a cart or even carrying it by hand from room to room rather than mounting it permanently on a wall. In most other ways, however, it's typical for the breed.

As you'd expect, the iPJ-AW250N lets you project large images from just a few inches, so you can interact without worrying about casting shadows. Except for the short throw and the interactivity, though, it's decidedly mainstream for a projector aimed at small to mid size conference rooms and classrooms, with a 1280x800 resolution and a 2500 lumen rating. It costs more than most DLP-based competitors, at $1,799 estimated street price, but if you prefer LCD to DLP technology, you may well feel that it's worth the extra cost, particularly if you want a projector you can move around easily.

Advantages

Surprisingly portable. The iPJ-AW250N's small size is a clear advantage if you want to use it in more than one location. At 9.1 pounds and 3.4" x 13.6" x 12.0" it's small and light enough to easily move from room to room, whether on a cart or by hand. It's even light enough to carry with you on the go, although you probably wouldn't want to lug it through an airport on a regular basis. Having to calibrate the pen each time you set up is a minor chore, but with only nine calibration points, the key word is minor.

Ultra short throw. Of course, one of the most important features for any ultra short throw projector is its ability to throw a big image from a short distance.We measured a 92-inch diagonal image at the native 1280x800 resolution with the front of the projector about 14" from the screen and an actual throw distance, from the mirror at the back of the projector, of roughly 25". The full range of image sizes, according to Hitachi, is 60" to 100" with the front of the projector 4.7" to 16.8" from the screen.

It's interactive. Interactivity is the main reason for getting any interactive projector. It increases the price by at least a third compared to comparable non-interactive models, so the only good reason to pay for it is because you really need the feature.

As is standard, the projector comes with one interactive pen and a driver that will let you use the pen both as a mouse and as a drawing tool with virtually any annotation program. If you don't already have a preferred program, however, Hitachi supplies its own StarBoard software.

Reasonably fast reaction time. For interactive projectors, the time lag between moving the pen and seeing the result on screen ranges from instantaneous to slow enough that it takes practice to get used to. The iPJ-AW250N falls between these extremes. Despite a slight lag, the reaction time is fast enough so that using the pen felt natural from the first time I picked it up.

Small, easy to handle, interactive pen. The iPJ-AW250N uses a combination of infrared and ultrasonic signals to track the position of the pen, a choice that allows the pen to be much thinner, smaller, and easier to handle than the pens that come with most DLP interactive projectors. Anyone may find the smaller size welcome, but this is particularly relevant for classrooms, where children with small hands may find large size pens awkward to use.

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