Sanyo's new PLC-WK2500 brings together 2,500 rated lumens, a 6,000 hour lamp life (in eco-mode), and a 1,280x800 native resolution for under $800. This projector is somewhat portable thanks to a less than 7 pound weight, and it's quick to set up with Sanyo's one button Auto Setup Function. The PLC-WK2500 lacks a digital video input, but this is not a problem for the average conference or classroom where analog connections are most common. If you want a high quality image at a low price, you should take a close look at the PLC-WK2500.
The Sanyo PLC-WK2500 is a workhorse for the conference room or classroom. In addition to a 6,000 hour eco-mode lamp life, the projector only requires filter maintenance every 5,500 hours thanks to an oversized, three layer filter. 5,500 hours is over 2.5 years of using the projector 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
The projector is also light and small enough to be easily shared between conference rooms or moved between classrooms, but is a bit large to be considered truly portable. While it would not be my first choice as a dedicated traveling projector, the projector can easily fit in a laptop sized carrying case for the occasional business trip. The WXGA resolution provides 30% additional pixels as compared to a standard XGA projector. The extra pixels are appreciated when viewing HD video content, high resolution photos or detailed drawings.
Image Quality: Image quality both for static and video material is impressive. In Cinema or Normal image presets the projector displays an image that is true to the source with a pleasing color accuracy. The quality of video performance was better than expected, particularly with the auto iris engaged. The auto iris allows the projector to adapt to the average picture level which increases contrast and adds a sense of depth to the displayed image. The PLC-WK2500 has a 1.2x zoom lens with a throw ratio of 1.4 to 1.7. This allows for the projector to produce a 100" diagonal image from 10.1 to 12.1 feet.
Overall lens quality was satisfactory with good edge to edge brightness uniformity. I was able to dial in razor sharp pixels over the vast majority of the zoom range. When the zoom lens was set to the very maximum, I noticed a slight defocus at pixel edges due to reaching the physical limit on the focus dial. The minor amount of image softness was only noticeable when viewing close to the screen and could be completely eliminated by backing off on the zoom setting and refocusing.
Brightness: Peak brightness of our review sample measured 2329 lumens, or 93% of the 2500 lumen specification. This was obtained using normal lamp mode and the dynamic image preset. Switching to ECO mode drops light output to 1444 lumens or a 38% reduction from the peak level. Sanyo alters color balance in the Dynamic mode to increase the peak light output, causing the picture to have a bluish tint. This was not distracting when viewing static presentation material, but I preferred to view photos in either Cinema or the Normal presets.
The Cinema preset was the best compromise between light output and image performance. In Cinema mode, the PLC-WK2500 produced a very respectable 1,985 lumens or over 85% of the peak level with a more balanced color palette.
Cooling Fan Noise: PLC-WK2500 produces a low level of cooling fan noise in both normal and ECO lamp modes. ECO mode reduces the already quiet normal mode output to a very low level. I would use ECO mode in situations where background noise is a negative, but would prefer the extra light in normal mode for most situations.
Quick setup: The PLC-W2500 includes a 'One-touch' setup feature that makes setup a breeze for even a novice projector user. Once activated, the projector searches for the correct video input, sets keystone if the projector is placed on an incline and fine tunes the analog video settings.
Value: The projector has a street price under $800 and replacement lamps can be found for less than $200. The maintenance requirement for the PLC-WK2500 is minimal, considering the long anticipated bulb life of 6,000 hours in ECO mode and filter maintenance required only every 5,500 hours. Sanyo does not specify the lamp hours in Normal lamp mode.
Network Command/Control: The PLC-WK2500 features a RJ-45 network jack that allows for I.P. based remote control, monitoring lamp and filter hours and automated email alerts. Once the initial setup is completed using special Sanyo software and alert conditions are configured, the projector can be controlled from any web browser. Alert conditions can be configured to have the projector send out an email for excessive temperature or once a specified number of lamp or filter hours have been reached.
Presentation Timer: The remote control includes a dedicated button for a presentation timer. When the button is pressed a count-up timer appears on the lower, right corner of the screen and begins to advance. Subsequent key presses will stop and remove the timer. The built in timer is a nice feature that can help to keep presentations running on time.
Throw Angle: The upward throw angle is relatively modest, with the bottom edge of the projected image dropping 7% of image height below the center of the lens. For table top mounting, you may need to tilt the projector upward and correct the image with keystone adjustments in order to get the picture high enough on the wall.
Input Panel: As with many inexpensive business projectors, there is no digital input. This is likely not a significant issue for conference or classroom use as most rely on VGA cables between the projector and computer. It has a Composite video input, and it will take component or S-Video over the VGA port with the right adaptor or cable. Audio inputs are either stereo RCA or a 3.5 mm inputs. The projector also contains a 3.5 mm audio output.
Video Noise: Some image noise was present in test patterns after using the projector's Auto Setup function. It was also visible in presentation slides, but only on very bright areas. You can nearly eliminate noise with an adjustment to the gain and phase settings. This is a minor annoyance and I doubt that most users would find it objectionable. Audio Quality: While the PLC-WK2500 features a 10 watt speaker, you might prefer an external audio amplifier. Even at maximum levels, the audio output from the projector is quiet and difficult to hear with any amount of background noise. Aside from the low output level, audio quality is acceptable. Dialogue is clearly reproduced without any noticeable distortion.
Maximum Keystone Setting: Sanyo specifies the projector as capable of using keystone to square up the image up to a 30% incline. I found the keystone adjustment performed well up to the upper edge of this range. Text quality started to suffer at maximum keystone levels, with distortion the most noticeable at the top third of the projected image. Even at maximum levels, artifacts were noticeable, but normal 10-12 sized font was still readable. A 30% incline is substantial and would only be used in extreme situations. When the incline was kept in the 15-20% range, the keystone correction was not apparent and text was clear and readable.
The Sanyo PLC-WK2500 delivers a great picture with a quick setup, long lamp life and a low maintenance requirement. The combination of over 2,300 lumens and the auto iris give it the flexibility to project high quality data and video images in ambient light. As long as you don't need a digital input or a robust on-board speaker, the Sanyo PLC-WK2500 is a low-price projector that will be a great fit for the classroom or conference room.