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NEC NP-U310W Widescreen Ultra Short Throw Projector Review

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Highly Recommended Projector
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NEC U310W Projector NEC U310W
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Street Price: n/a
3D: PC 3D Ready
Weight: 14.3 lbs
Aspect Ratio:16:10
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:2,500 Hrs
3,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$309.00
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In (x2), HDMI, Network, USB, RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i

Most of the news in ultra short throw projectors today focuses on built-in interactivity. But if you already have an interactive whiteboard or just need the short throw projector to produce a large image in a tight space, there's no point in paying extra for built-in interactivity that you won't use. If that's your situation, the NEC NP-U310W is designed for you. It gives you the ultra short throw without the extra cost of interactivity and it delivers a bright 3100 lumen picture at 1280x800 resolution for a more than reasonable $1299.


Ultra short throw. As with any ultra short throw projector, the NP-U310W's key advantage is its short throw. For the NP-U310W, that translated in our tests to a 76" diagonal (64" wide) image with the front of projector 5.5" from the screen.

As with most ultra short throw projectors, the actual projection distance is greater than the distance from the front of the projector, because the image is projected from near the back, with the lens facing away from the screen and bouncing the image off a mirror. The actual throw distance, measured from the mirror, was about 19" in our tests. That also happens to be roughly the minimum distance in NEC's stated range of 1.6 to 2.1 feet (19.5" to 27.7") for an image size of 77" to 100" diagonally.

Bright enough for well lit rooms. We measured the NP-U310W at 2910 lumens in its brightest mode ("High-Bright"). That's just a touch below its 3100 lumen rating, and easily bright enough to stand up to typical office or classroom lighting with the 76" diagonal image we used. Eco mode drops the brightness by about 20%, to 2332 lumens in high brightness mode and raises the rated lifetime for the lamp by 20%, bumping it up from 2500 hours to 3000.

Note too that we measured the Presentation preset, which is the factory default setting, at 1748 lumens. Various other presets -- from a low of 662 lumens to a high of 1812 lumens by our measurements -- offer a wide range of brightness suitable for different levels of ambient light.

Good data image quality. Because the High-Bright mode is so much brighter than the Presentation mode -- enough to see a significant difference when you switch between the two -- we ran the data image quality tests primarily in the High Bright mode. Given that the brightest mode for projectors often has problems with color-balance and other color-related tests, our intention was to drop back to Presentation mode if we ran into a problem, so we could see if image quality improved. As it turned out, that wasn't necessary.

Image quality for data images is just short of excellent even in High-Bright mode, making it more than good enough for any business or classroom use. Some colors, particularly red, were a little dark (in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model), but were suitably saturated and eye catching.

A quick comparison between the two modes showed that colors in general and reds in particular were brighter and more vibrant in Presentation mode, but the difference is between good and better, not bad and good. Neither mode had any issues with color balance, which is generally far more important to data image quality. If you need the color to be as vibrant and eye catching as possible, Presentation mode is the preferred choice, but in most cases the High-Bright mode will serve just as well.

The NP-U310W did particularly well with text, with both black on white and white on black text crisp and highly readable down to the smallest sizes we test with, which is smaller than you're likely to use. The auto-sync feature also did a particularly good job, giving us a notably stable image with an analog connection, with virtually no pixel jitter even on screens that tend to bring out the problem, and no manual adjustments needed.

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Comments (2) Post a Comment
Brandon Posted Nov 27, 2011 9:56 PM PST
Audio out from HDMI is not supported. So you can hear it from the built in speaker, but not from attached speakers... Buyer beware.
Bun707 Posted Jun 1, 2012 3:33 PM PST
This is a great substitute projector for SMART Boards and the like. The mounting system is very fast to dial in, actually much faster than SMART's system.

The comment above about audio out via HDMI was correct for the first couple batches but since serial number 15xx in mid-2011, NEC corrected this problem in firmware. Now, audio from HDMI is routed to the audio out jack so you can hook up a larger amp or powered speakers in your room.

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