Maxell MP-WU5603 WUXGA 3LCD Laser Projector
$5,999 MSRP Discontinued

Maxell MP-WU5603
3LCD Laser Projector Review

Lumens: 6,000     Resolution: 1920 x 1200

Price: $6,239 ($3,999 Street)


What the Maxell MP-WU5603 is designed for:

It is ideal for:

  • Large classrooms, conference rooms, boardrooms
  • Small auditoriums
  • Houses of worship

It is also good for:

  • Digital Signage in retail and museums
  • Exhibits and displays in museums
  • Medical presentations and education

What the Maxell MP-WU5603 gives you . . .

  • 1.7x zoom lens, 1.4 - 2.4:1 throw ratio
  • 1920 x 1200 native resolution
  • 6,000 ANSI lumen rating
  • Laser-phosphor light source
  • Up to 50,000 hour laser life in Long Life 2 mode
  • Virtually maintenance free; filter rated at up to 20,000 hours
  • 1,500,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio High Dynamic Contrast Range (HDCR2) setting: improves shadow detail and enhances color saturation to keep images from being washed out in bright ambient light
  • Accentualizer video processing enhances sharpness, gloss, and shade
  • 3LCD design guarantees no rainbow artifacts as well as equal color and white brightness
  • Vertical lens shift, offset of 0 to 56.5%
  • Horizontal lens shift, +/- 4.6%
  • Geometric correction: Horizontal and vertical keystone, +/- 30 degrees; 4-corner correction; horizontal and vertical pincushion and barrel distortion correction
  • 360 degree installation in any axis
  • Dicom Sim mode for medical education and presentations
  • Picture-by-picture and picture-in-picture
  • Light weight, at 18.7 pounds
  • Connects to PCs and to Android and iOS mobile devices over a wired LAN or optional wireless dongle for presentations; can also control the projector using the mobile apps
  • Supports Crestron Roomview, AMX, Extron
  • Option for automatic turn on upon detecting input
  • Cloning function (with free app) copies most settings easily from one WU5603 to another in multi-projector installations
  • 5-year/20,000-hour limited warranty


    Connection Panel Inputs

    • (1) HDBaseT
    • (2) HDMI 1.4b (HDCP 1.4)
    • (2) VGA/component, 1 switchable to monitor out
    • (1) Composite video
    • (1) LAN (presentations and control)
    • (2) 3.5mm stereo audio in
    • (1) RCA l/r stereo audio in
    • (1) 3.5mm stereo audio out
    • (1) USB Type A (for power or optional wireless adaptor)
    • (1) RS-232 (control)

    Physical Attributes. With the projector on a table, all connectors are on the rear panel. The data and control ports are all near the top; the power connector is near the bottom, just right of center as viewed from behind; and the Kensington lock and security bar are near the bottom on the left side. Intake vents are near the rear of the left side panel as seen from behind, as well as on the back panel and on the bottom of the projector. The exhaust vents cover most of the right side panel.

    Maxell MP-WU5603 Performance

    Brightness. The WU5603 test unit came in at a solid 94% of its 6,000 ANSI lumen rating. The measurements in each color mode with Normal, Long Life 1, Long Life 2, and Whisper mode (HDMI input, lens set to its widest angle position) are as follows. Long Life 2 and Whisper mode share the same readings.

    Maxell MP-WU5603 ANSI Lumens

    MODE Normal Long Life 1 Long Life 2/Whisper
    Dynamic 5686 4501 2966
    Whiteboard 2832 2242 1477
    Dicom Sim 5203 4119 2714
    Standard 4603 3644 2401
    Natural 2402 1901 1253
    Cinema 4127 3267 2153

    Note that the difference between Long Life 2 and Whisper mode is that Whisper mode lowers noise level by reducing fan speed.

    Low Brightness Mode. Compared with Normal mode, Long Life 1 reduced brightness in my tests by 21%. Long Life 2 reduced brightness by 48%. In addition, you can set the power level in Normal mode from 100 (full power) to 50 in increments of 1. At 75 the brightness was essentially the same as with Long Life 1. At 50 it was the same as with Whisper and Long Life 2.

    The power modes also affect the light-source life. Maxell rates Normal at 20,000 hours, Long Life 1 at 30,000 hours, and Long Life 2 at a jaw-dropping 50,000 hours. Whisper mode, with the same brightness as Long Life 2, but a slower fan speed and decreased cooling, has the same 20,000-hour rating as Normal.

    Zoom Lens Brightness Reduction. The WU5603's 1.7x zoom lens setting has almost no effect on brightness. At full telephoto it reduced the measured brightness by only 4% compared with the full wide angle setting. The difference is both far less than typical for the level of zoom and little enough that you can ignore it when deciding where to place the projector.

    Presentation Optimized Lumens. For most presentations that don't include photorealistic images, the color mode of choice is Dynamic. Pale colors were a little less saturated than in other modes, but colors in general were bright, vibrant, and eye-catching. Dynamic mode is also slightly green-shifted, but only enough to be obvious on one test photo I use precisely because the skin tones in that photo show a green shift easily. It handled most photos well enough for presentations and maintained subtle shading in midtones nicely.

    If your presentations are packed with photos or video clips, you may prefer Cinema mode. Even with default settings, it offered close to neutral color, and it did the best job of all the color modes of maintaining subtle shading in photorealistic images.

    At 5,686 ANSI lumens, Dynamic mode is bright enough to light up a larger 1.0-gain screen in a dark room than the 300-inch maximum that Maxell rates the projector for. In a room with moderately bright ambient light, it's still bright enough to fill a 190-inch 1.0-gain screen, or a 250-inch 1.3-gain screen. Cinema mode's 4,127 lumens is bright enough for a 280-inch 1.0 gain screen in a dark room or a 185-inch 1.3-gain screen in moderately bright ambient light.

    If you don't need Cinema mode's more neutral color or Dynamic mode's full brightness, you can either lower the power setting with Dynamic mode or switch to the Standard color mode, which delivered similar color and level of shading in midtones. Natural mode offered more saturated color, but also had lower contrast and lost more shadow detail. Whiteboard mode had a lower contrast than Standard mode and loss of shadow detail as well, but to a lesser extent than Natural mode.

    Video Optimized Lumens. Cinema mode is the obvious choice for video, thanks to its neutral color even with default settings.

    Contrast, Black Level, and Three-Dimensionality. As is typical for high brightness business projectors meant primarily for use in ambient light, the WU5603 isn't in the same league as—and isn't designed to compete with—even an inexpensive home theater projector for black level, contrast, or sense of three dimensionality, and even with Dynamic Black turned on. That said, the WU5603 is good enough on all three scores to make video or a movie highly watchable. Just don't expect impressively dark black levels or any real sense of three dimensionality.

    Maxell's High Dynamic Contrast Range (HDCR2) helps counter the tendency of ambient light to wash out color by boosting color saturation and does the same for shadow detail by making dark areas of an image lighter. The best setting varies depending on the image you're using, so you'll want to experiment to see which setting you like best. Essentially the same comment applies to the Accentualizer video processing, which is meant to enhance sharpness, gloss, and shading.


    Brightness Uniformity. The WU5603's brightness uniformity at the full wide angle setting was 88%, which is too little variation for the human eye to see. At the full telephoto setting, it was 77%, which is still better than most inexpensive home theater projectors can manage.

    Input Lag. The measured input lag of 53 to 57 ms, depending on the color mode, is a little slow for applications like flight simulators that require quick reaction time. However, it's fast enough for most-education related games or simulations.

    On-Board Audio. The built in audio delivered good sound quality for a projector, but with a low volume for a 16-watt mono speaker. If you need audio for the size room the brightness is designed for, you'll want an external audio system.

    Fan Noise. Maxell rates the WU5603 at 36 dB in Normal mode, but only 27 dB in Whisper mode. As is typical for projectors at this level of brightness, the sound in Normal mode was noticeable from almost anywhere in a quiet mid-size room. In Whisper mode, the level was low enough to fade into the background, even from just a few feet away, particularly in a room with ambient noise.

    Maxell recommends using High Altitude mode at 5,300 feet and above. Turn it on, and fan noise in Normal power mode can be intrusive within about 20 feet of the projector even in a room with ambient noise, but Whisper mode is still quieter than Normal mode with High Altitude mode off.

    Setting up the Maxell MP-WU5603

    Throw Distance. The WU5603's 1.7x zoom lens offers substantial flexibility for placement. The range for a 200-inch diagonal image at 16:10 aspect ratio is roughly 19.75 to 34 feet. You can check the Maxell MP-WU5603 Projection Calculator to determine the range of throw distance for your desired image size.

    Mounting and Lens Shift. At 18.7 pounds, the WU5603 is among the lighter laser projectors in its brightness class, making it easier to handle during setup than some of the competition. Its vertical lens shift lets you position it without needing keystone adjustment on either a flat surface at or below the screen or in a ceiling mount that puts the projector at or above the screen.

    Maxell's data sheet gives the shift as 0 to 56.5 percent of the image height. With the projector sitting on a table, that translates to the bottom of the image being anywhere from even with the centerline of the lens to 56.5% of the image height above it. The horizontal shift is given as +/- 4.6%. Both specs are close matches to my measurements. And note that unlike most projectors with lens shift, which limit the shift in one direction as you approach the extreme setting in the other, the WU5603 will let you set both vertical and horizontal shifts to their most extreme settings at the same time.

    If you need to tilt or swivel the projector to aim at the screen even after taking advantage of the lens shift, the WU5603 also offers both horizontal and vertical keystone correction of up to +/- 30 degrees. And for more creative installations that you might need for a retail display or museum exhibit, for example, you can position the projector in any orientation over 360 degrees in any axis, and can correct for geometric distortion on curved surfaces with four-corner correction and vertical and horizontal correction for both pincushioning and barrel distortion.


    Our Take On The Maxell MP-WU5603

    The Maxell MP-WU5603 is a capable projector that does what it promises. It delivers a bright image—at very nearly its rated 6,000 ANSI lumens for the test unit—and at 1920 x 1200 resolution. The combination makes it an excellent fit for what it's primarily designed for, namely, projecting big pictures in classrooms, large conference rooms and boardrooms, small auditoriums, and houses of worship.

    With its presentation optimized settings, the WU5603 is bright enough, at 5,686 lumens, to light up a 250-inch 1.3-gain 16:10 screen in moderately bright ambient light. And along with its high brightness and resolution, it delivers vibrant color for presentations, and contrast good enough for casual viewing in a classroom or museum exhibit. The Dicom Sim mode makes the WU5603 suitable for medical presentations and education as well.

    The laser-phosphor light source, with up to 50,000-hour lifetime, combined with a 20,000-hour life for the filter, make the WU5603 virtually maintenance free. Add in its ability to mount in any orientation in any axis, plus its geometric correction features, and it's a strong candidate for applications like digital signage and museum exhibits—particularly those that require more creative setup for projector positioning. With a $6,239 MSRP but attractive $3,999 street price, the MP-WU5603 is a solid choice for any of these applications and more. And its equally solid performance earns it our Road Test Certified award.

    For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Maxell MP-WU5603 projector page.


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