By combining the latest advances in laser illumination with excellent optics from a money-saving affixed lens, Ricoh returns to the mid-sized installation projector trade with its PJ WUL6600 series. The projector is bright, surprisingly inexpensive and should do well for a museum, lecture hall or small auditorium.
- Bright image that stands up to sunlight
- Wide zoom and image shift range
- Stereo speakers
- Inexpensive 2-year warranty extension for 5-years total
- Lacks built-in Wi-Fi or as option
With its re-entry to the North American market after several years, Ricoh has introduced the PJ WUL6690, a mid-sized installation projector with the potential to fill screens in a large lecture hall, conference room or small auditorium. Laser powered with sealed optics, the DLP-based projector should last for years and years of heavy use.
The PJ WUL6690 fits between convenient projector categories with an output that comes close to 10,000 lumens, though in a nod to cost efficiency, it does without the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. Still, with its wide range of lens shift and 1.6X zoom optics, the PJ WUL6690 should function well in a variety of rooms. While its measured 8,970 ANSI lumens just missed its 9,600 ANSI lumen rating, it should be more than bright enough for most uses and for rooms with relatively high ambient light.
Economy is the name of the game for Ricoh's PJ WUL6690 with a list price of $8,500, although it can be had for closer to $6,800 if you shop around. This slightly undercuts the Optoma ZU920T's $7,300, another high-output model with an attached lens that also puts out roughly 9,000 lumens of light. Whether it's for a lesson, group think presentation at work or a church service, the PJ WUL6690 can cost-effectively light up a room.
At its heart, the PJ WUL6690 is a mid-sized projector for a large conference room, small auditorium or house of worship that attempts to provide more lumens-per-dollar than competitors and provides several amenities from the class above. It straddles two established projector classes in offering nearly 10,000 ANSI lumens, while lacking the flexibility to use interchangeable lenses—a feature which is pretty standard at this and higher brightness levels, though usually at additional cost. It is offered alongside similarly-featured siblings at lower brightness and cost. The PJ WUL6690 is at the top of the line with its list price of $8,500 and street price of $6,900, 1.6X zoom lens 9,600 ANSI lumens. The PJ WUL6680, at $6,875 list/$5,700 street, has 8,500 ANSI lumens on tap and a similar 1.6X zoom lens. The entry model for the series is the PJ WUL6670, which has a 1.25X zoom lens and 7,200 ANSI lumen output. It goes for $4,975 list, and can be found online for $4,200.
At 19.1 x 5.9 x 14.8 inches (WHD) and 30 pounds, the PJ WUL6690 is on a par with the newer compact-chassis installation projectors within its brightness class. It can be aimed in any direction with its 360-degree orientation, or engaged for Portrait display. The projector has four attachment points underneath for ceiling mounting as well as four adjustable feet for setting the projector up on a table, niche or projection booth; the feet add 2.1-inches to its height. The PJ WUL6690 requires 40 inches of clearance to provide enough cooling air.
Its light path uses a single blue-laser, a phosphor wheel to create yellow and green streams, followed by a color wheel to sequentially send colored light to the projector's 0.67-inch Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging chip. It delivers a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution image that's sent to the screen via the PJ WUL6690's output lens. It can work with signal inputs up to 3840 x 2160 UHD resolution.
As close to maintenance-free as a projector gets these days, the PJ WUL6690 has sealed optics and an IP5X rating against dust intrusion. As a result, it doesn't need a dust filter. The illumination components are rated to last 20,000 hours or more than a decade of typical use.
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In addition, along with motorized zoom and focus, all the PJ WUL6600-model projectors have the ability to shift the image 25 percent right or left as well as 55 percent up or down, and offer horizontal and vertical keystone correction of up to 30 degrees. Any of them can correct for projecting onto a curved surface and stream two video signals with a picture-in-picture or a picture-by-picture format. The PJ WUL6690 also has the ability to process HDR-encoded programs (on its HDMI 1 input, only).
Upfront, the PJ WUL6690 has three LED lights to show what's going on inside. The lights can show if the projector has power, if both of its fans are whirling and if it is overheating. During two weeks of daily use, the projector hit a very reasonable peak of 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
The control panel is in the back and is pleasantly backlit in blue. In addition to the projector's On/Off key, the panel has a Menu button and the standard four-way control and actuation key. It's easy to zoom, focus and shift the image while setting it up.
Also on the rear panel is a good assortment of connection possibilities, starting with HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 input ports as well as an HDMI output for sending the video stream to a secondary display in an overflow room or on a podium—something not frequently seen. A mix of old and new, the PJ WUL6690 has a VGA port for a connection to legacy computers or video sources as well as an RJ-45 HDBaseT connection for grabbing uncompressed video and control commands from a network. Jacks are also provided for 3D Sync in and out.
Unlike many in its class, the PJ WUL6690 has a pair of 10-watt speakers that should do fine for smaller conference rooms, but if you need an external sound system, the projector has 3.5-millimeter stereo audio input and output jacks. There's also a Type-A USB port for powering an external streaming device as well as an RS-232 serial connection.
While there's no onboard Wi-Fi for wirelessly connecting to the building's network, and no option to add this with an optional dongle, the PJ WUL6690 does have a dedicated RJ-45 wired network port (in addition to the HDBaseT port) that allowed me to put the projector on my office's network. Getting connected was a little frustrating as I needed to manually enable the projector's internal Web server in the Menu and dig the MAC address out of the Network Settings section because the MAC address is used as the default password; hint: don't type the colons. Happily, the projector is security minded with its requirement to change the password on first use.
It's worth the effort because the projector's built-in browser interface has a lot of monitoring and control potential within the main Operations & Settings window. In addition to the ability to see the projector's status, the interface can power up the projector or turn it off and show which input is active.
The Display Status page takes this to another level by describing the laser lighting mode as well as anything from the networking details to the number of hours the projector has been used. The system can show which third party control software is being used; it's compatible with PJ Link, AMX and Crestron. Finally, it was easy to check on the projector's firmware, but I needed to go to the Upgrade page to update it.
It all comes together for a large institution with Ricoh's new Projector Management Utility. It runs on Windows systems and gives the administrator the ability to remotely keep an eye on up to 100 networked Ricoh projectors that don't need to be in the same building or country. There's the ability to use up to five separate profiles for different setups and all the projectors can be turned off at night.
The projector's remote control is the easiest way to get the most out of the PJ WUL6690. It can not only turn the projector on and off, but fine tune the image's position, zoom level and picture mode. The device has 15 built in projection patterns for getting the image just right, including grids, color bars and full field images.
The Ricoh PJ WUL6690 has a three-year warranty. That's on par with the mid-range Barco units, but falls short of the five years of coverage that Sony provides. However, Ricoh offers an inexpensive $379 two-year upgrade to bring the coverage to five years.
Color Modes. The PJ WUL6690 has a mix of picture modes to suit different types of material. They range from Bright and Standard to Vivid, Natural and a Dicom Sim setting for viewing medical scans. There's also an edge blending setup for creating a long projection mural with two Ricoh projectors.
The differences between the Bright, Standard, Vivid and Natural modes are subtle but they are aimed at different uses. The PJ WUL6690 does without a Rec. 709 or sRGB mode, but the latter is similar in appearance to the projector's Natural setting.
Overlayed on this is an Eco power mode that reduced the projector's power drain and noise at the expense of its brightness. It lowered power use by 50 percent but at the expense of 51 percent lower brightness; it will also extend laser life. Additionally, you can adjust laser power in Normal (full power) mode between 100% and 30%, and there is a Constant Luminance mode that will maintain brightness as the projector ages.
To give the PJ WUL6690 a good workout, I used a UHD computer source that was downscaled to WUXGA resolution at 60Hz. I watched a variety of material, including presentations, Web browsing, nature movies, instructional videos and inspirational programming. Overall, the PJ WUL6690 delivered smooth video with bright and rich colors.
Presentation Viewing. The Bright mode was the PJ WUL6690's strongest as far as all-out brightness goes. It delivered an impressive 8,970 ANSI lumens when measured, about 6% under its claimed 9,600 ANSI lumen spec but well within the 20% tolerance of the essentially same ISO21118 standard. On the downside, Bright mode was cold looking, with a lot of blue and green in the image. It might be OK for casual movie or Web video watching but is more suited to showing spreadsheets and presentations.
By contrast, the Standard mode was more neutral, although still quite cool looking. It put out 7,248 ANSI lumens and could be used for more general uses, such as video conferences and movie viewing.
The Dicom Sim mode is for showing medical scans, making the projector an appropriate choice for use in a hospital's conference room or a nursing program's small auditorium. It yielded 6,322 ANSI lumens.
Video Viewing. While not aimed at theatrical uses, the PJ WUL6690 did a credible job with traditional video programs. Its output was always smooth without any glitches or freeze-ups. There's no dedicated movie or cinema mode, but the Vivid mode provided images that were saturated with rich coloration, particularly for pinks and purples. It might prove to be too much for some, but it delivered 4,432 ANSI lumens, about half the projector's peak output.
The winner for the best balance of brightness and color balance was the PJ WUL6690's Natural mode. It delivered 5,850 ANSI lumens and had a look similar to an sRGB setting. Its overall look was neutral.
While viewing Crimes of the Future in the Natural mode, the PJ WUL6690 showed a lot of detail in realistic color. For instance, during the opening scene with the boy sitting on the beach, the ocean's waves glimmered and his skin tones were natural while the sand and stones around him showed a lot of texture.
Switching to the BBC's A Perfect Planet UHD Blu-ray, the colors really popped from the screen in HDR mode. There were lots of extra highlights as well as vivid reds and oranges for volcano scenes, vibrant greens for forests and saturated sky blues.
With DLP imaging, an attached lens with wide 1.6X zoom abilities and enough brightness to fill a large screen, the Ricoh PJ WUL6690 has a new recipe for success in the mid-sized installation projector market. Able to work in a variety of lecture halls, small auditoriums and large classrooms, the projector is built around laser illumination and excellent optics. On the downside, it does without Wi-Fi and you do give up the ultimate flexibility of interchangeable lenses.
At 8,970 ANSI lumens, the PJ WUL6690 came in slightly below its 9,600 ANSI brightness rating but should be more than enough for most uses. On the other hand, price is the object here, with the PJ WUL6690 selling for a street price of about $6,800, allowing it to provide more lumens per dollar than just about any projector in its class.
Brightness. Using the projector's Bright mode, the PJ WUL6690 delivered 8,970 ANSI lumens, about 6.5% below its 9,600 ANSI lumen rating. Its tone was overwhelmingly blue and green and suitable only for tabular material like spreadsheets or some classroom lessons.
The Standard mode improved things greatly but was still cold and put out 7,248 ANSI lumens, while the Vivid mode saturated the colors at the expense of lowering the brightness to 4,432 ANSI lumens. That said, the Natural setting has the neutral, well-balanced look of an sRGB mode. There is a Dicom Sim setting for medical scans that yielded 6,322 ANSI lumens.
The projector has an Eco setting that reduced the light output in any given mode by 51 percent, while lowering the power draw by 50 percent.
Ricoh PJ WUL6690 ANSI lumens
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 24.2%
Brightness Uniformity: 88.1%
Fan Noise. Despite having two fans, the PJ WUL6690 was quiet, hitting a maximum noise level of 42.4dBA in a room that measured a background sound level of 38.5dBA. This dropped to 39.3dBA in Eco mode. Ricoh rates the projector in a soundproof room at 32dB in normal mode and 27dB using the Eco setting, measuring according to the industry standard six-position average. The projector never got over 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
Power. The PJ WUL6690 used a maximum of 489 watts of power when using the Bright mode. This dropped to 449 and 353 watts in Standard and Vivid modes, while the Natural mode consumed 377 watts. The Dicom Sim setting used 425 watts of power, while the Eco mode reduced this by 51 percent across the board.
If the projector is used for eight hours a day for 200 days out of the year and your organization pays the national average of 14 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, it should cost about $110 to power the PJ WUL6690 for a year.
Input Lag. Using a Bodnar Video Signal Input Lag Tester, the PJ WUL6690 had an input delay of 61.6 milliseconds with a 1080p/60 signal. That's on a par with other mid-sized installation projectors, but rules out any serious gaming or simulation applications.
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP support
- HDMI 1.4 with HDCP support
- HDMI out
- VGA in (15 pin D-Sub)
- BNC 3-D sync in and out
- Audio in (3.5mm headphone jack)
- Audio out (3.5mm headphone jack)
- Remote control (3.5mm headphone jack)
- USB Type-A
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- RS-232C Serial Port (9 pin DB)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Ricoh PJ WUL6690 projector page.