"Good things come in small packages". We've all heard that saying, and there's a recent XGA projector offering from ViewSonic that confirms the adage. The PJD6221 is a 5.8 lb. portable projector with a bright 2,700 lumen rating that is appropriate for classrooms and conference rooms alike. Educators get a real break on price . . . they can buy this DLP-based projector for just a shade over $600, but even the list price of $999 is not unreasonable for this class of product. Nothing is perfect and there are a couple of limitations you need to be aware of, but all in all, ViewSonic's PJD6221 is a lot of projector for a modest cost.
Brightness: Connected to a computer in its Daylight mode with the White Intensity control set to its maximum, the PJD6221 puts out 2,420 ANSI lumens, a bit shy of its published spec of 2,700 lumens. Changing to other operating modes produces different levels of brightness depending on the source. With a 100 IRE data source, PC mode checks in with 2,420 lumens and sRGB with 1,070. With a video source, Movie mode brightness is a healthy 1,295 lumens. This is usually a little bright for best movie viewing, but lowering the White Intensity setting will reduce brightness and may make the images more pleasing to your eye.
Switching the lamp to Eco mode reduces the image brightness by only 14%, and for that small sacrifice, lamp life is extended from 3,500 to 5,000 hours. If your presentation environment permits, this mode is a good choice for reducing power consumption and fan noise, too.
Uniformity: It's not unusual for low-cost projectors to exhibit brightness uniformity in the 60-70% range, but the PJD6221 delivers a noteworthy 78% figure. The result is that you won't notice any brighter or darker portions in images on your screen, even with the largely white content of text documents and spreadsheets.
Image Sharpness: The first thing that jumps out at you when you set up the PJD6221 is its excellent sharpness from edge to edge. At optimum focus in the center of the screen, fine lines and small type are very clear in the corners of the image. The zoom lens meets its 1.2x specification, and ANSI brightness reduction is minimal at the full telephoto setting, as is typical for short zoom lenses.
Menu: The on-screen menu is easy to navigate, and in addition to the usual complement of controls and adjustments, the menu offers some fine tuning for color saturation, hue, and gain in the User menu. Automatic scaling for 1080i video and SXGA is smooth, and the image aspect ratio can be set to 4:3 or 16:9. The PJD6221 offers a BrilliantColor setting and is also 3-D ready with support for up to 120Hz frame rates.
Connections: Like most projectors designed for the classroom market, the PJD6221 has no digital input, but it does accept computer data and component video via either of its two VGA input connectors. It also has S-video and composite video inputs. Mini jacks handle audio input and output, and remote sensing (RS-232) and Internet (RJ-45) connections are provided along with a VGA output for monitor loop-through. There is also a Kensington lock and an additional security bar to thwart thieves. However, it may be wise to keep an eye on the credit card-size remote control because it is small enough to get lost or carried off in someone's pocket.
Preset modes: ViewSonic provides eight preset modes for the PJD6221, and they are divided into two groups: one for content and room lighting conditions (PC, Movie, sRGB, User, and Daylight) and the other for non-standard projection surface colors (White Board, Black Board, and Green Board). Several modes have a slight tint, but none are particularly distracting.
Image quality: PC images such as spreadsheet data look clean and crisp, and, while not home theater quality, embedded video in a PowerPoint presentation is neither flat nor muddy. Photographs look sharp and natural with saturated and well-balanced colors. Keystone correction up to 40° has little effect on the readability of even 8-pt. type.
Video images in Movie mode tend to be slightly red, and the dynamic range is somewhat limited. In scenes with bright clouds and deep shadows, some detail in both areas is lost. The lower brightness of Cinema mode may also require some room darkening to keep the image from washing out a bit, but if ambient light control is difficult, switching to User mode may solve the problem. The best video images can be obtained in Movie mode by lowering the contrast and brightness settings and by reducing red level slightly in the color temperature menu.
Maintenance: The PJD6221's lamp is accessible through the top of the projector, so even if it is ceiling-mounted, lamp replacement is relatively easy. ViewSonic also recommends vacuuming the air intake area on the left side of the projector every 100 hours of operation to keep any accumulated dust from blocking airflow to the interior of the projector.
User Settings: If you are looking for the best possible screen image, you may want to try the User mode. This will give you access to settings that aren't available in the preset modes such as white intensity and color temperature color levels. You can also make fine adjustments to all six colors produced by the light engine (red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, and white). Casual users may shy away from such detail, but if you want to take the time to get the best image possible, then the User mode offers you the tools to do it.
Lamp Life & Warranty: The 180-watt lamp costs about $280 to replace, but its longer-than-average life will delay that expense a bit longer than usual. The expected lamp life is 3,500 hours, but in Eco mode it stretches to 5,000 hours. Both of these figures are better than those of most projectors in this class. While you can find a three-year parts and labor projector warranty from other manufacturers, it's rare to find a lamp warranty like ViewSonic's at one year or 1,000 hours of usage, whichever comes first.
Source Search: On many inexpensive projectors, you have to search for sources manually, but the PJD6221 looks for them automatically. On power up, it searches all four inputs and selects the first active connection it finds. When the Source key is pushed on the remote, it begins searching and selects the next connection it detects. This is convenient when you have multiple sources connected but cannot recall which inputs are active . . . the PJD6221 will find them for you.
Education Discount: Reduced prices for classroom applications are not unusual, but the discount depth and eligibility requirements of ViewSonic's education programs are notable. One program allows the purchase of up to two projectors per year per teacher and staff member at any K-12 or higher educational institution, and a second program offers the same deal to college students. In both cases, the purchase price is just over $600 each . . . a hefty discount from the $999 list price. Ask authorized dealers for details, or visit ViewSonic's website.
Fan Noise: While overall fan noise is not particularly bothersome, there is a high-frequency component present that might be an issue for young ears that can still hear sounds in the 3-4KHz range. If your presentation includes audio content or you are talking throughout, this is probably a non-issue, but if your audience is just looking at images then it might be a bit distracting.
Speakers: Many projectors in this class have 5 to 10 watt speakers, but that's not the case with the PJD6221. Except in the quietest of circumstances, the audio output from its 2-watt speaker may not be sufficient. External audio amplification is no problem as there is a 3.5mm stereo mini jack output available.
Remote Control: The credit card-size remote has only a few basic controls available at the touch of a key although the on-screen menu is quite complete. Since it is small, there is no backlighting, and it's a little inconvenient to handle with large hands. Also, there's a tendency to slip the remote into a pocket when not in use, so it may inadvertently be taken from the room after a presentation and not be available for the next user.
If you're looking for an excellent data projector, and you're willing to adjust video settings a bit, the PJD6221 is a solid candidate. It's relatively inexpensive, and a real bargain if you are intending to use it as a classroom projector. Fan noise may be a factor in very quiet rooms, but in most circumstances no one will notice. It is easy to use and puts up bright, clear images that will add to the impact of your presentation.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our ViewSonic PJD6221 projector page.