Hitachi's CP-X4020 is an LCD XGA projector that's perfect for fixed installation in medium-sized conference rooms and even large classrooms. Its 4,000 lumen output and loud 16W speaker ensure that your presentation material can be seen - and heard - by everyone in the room, regardless of seating. It has very good color reproduction for this class of projector, making it a good choice for the display of photography or other graphics material. With a low overall cost of operation and solid security features, the CP-X4020 is a good choice for educators and businesspeople alike.
Brightness. The Hitachi CP-X4020 is at the upper end of the brightness range for single-lamp portable projectors, and it achieves this while delivering a sharp, clear and uniform image. The menu offers seven picture modes with various combinations of gamma and color temperature presets. The brightest of these is Daytime mode, which uses the "Hi-Bright" color temperature setting. In this mode with the lamp set to Normal we found that the projector exceeds specs, with a 4,110 lumen screen average measured in our tests. Brightness uniformity was a respectable 75%. With the lamp mode set to "Eco", brightness still holds up nicely at a very useful 3,140 lumens. Back in Normal lamp mode, the reduction in brightness for other picture modes was not as dramatic as we have seen in other projectors we have tested. Normal picture mode (which calls up the "Mid" color temperature preset) yielded 4,060 lumens. Brightness was 3,790 lumens in Dynamic mode, and 2,890 lumens in Cinema mode.
Color. This projector does an excellent job of displaying photographic images. Looking at outdoor scenes and portraits, we found the colors to be very realistic and pleasing to the eye. LCD panels are often said to have pixel lines that are more visible than DLP projectors due to the wider mask between pixels, but we can't say that about this projector. Close up to the screen there was a slight softness to the pixel squares that in no way diminished resolution, but seemed to smooth out the image when seen from normal viewing distance. The color rendition of computer applications was also quite true to what would be expected on a monitor, although the gridlines of a spreadsheet did look a bit softer next to the same image seen on a comparable DLP projector.
Security. Hitachi has incorporated a number of features into the projector and its menus that corporate and educational users may find useful. For security, the built-in Transition Detector can be set to require a password if the projector is picked up and moved. There is also a slot which accepts a Kensington® lock, plus a hardened bar at the back of the case through which a security cable can be passed.
Maintenance Cost. The CP-X4020 has an estimated 4,000 hour lamp life, and replacement lamps cost roughly $350. In eco-mode, this works out to a very low cost of operation - only eight cents per hour. Since it is an LCD projector, it has a dust filter which needs to be replaced periodically, as well. The filter lasts 4,000 hours - the same as the projector's estimated lamp life in Eco mode - and a new filter comes with each replacement lamp, which ought to simplify purchasing. Conveniently, the lamp access cover is on the top of the projector case, so it does not have to be moved on the table or removed from a ceiling mount in order to change the lamp and filter.
Connectivity. In addition to S-video, RCA component and composite inputs, there are two VGA inputs and menu-assignable audio inputs. Pass-through audio output to a pair of RCA jacks is also menu-assignable. The projector has a standard DB-9 serial port rather than the ubiquitous mini-DIN connector, with its adapter that often gets lost. The only back panel shortcoming is the lack of a digital input such as DVI or HDMI. We found it a minor annoyance that the AC power cord inserts at the right side of the projector rather than on the rear panel. For ceiling mounting, this will make for messy cable dressing.
Audio. The CP-X2010N's onboard speaker is powered at 16 watts, which is more than most other projectors in this price range. While the sound has that tinny character you often get with small speakers, it is also impressively loud. There is also a useful feature in the audio menu that allows the various audio inputs to be assigned to different video inputs, allowing you to mix-and-match inputs to your liking.
Image Offset. The fixed image offset relative to lens position in this projector puts 10% of the image below the lens centerline and 90% above, and there is no lens shift. This favors inverted ceiling mounting; on a table top it is necessary to elevate the projector in order to keep it level and avoid the use of digital keystone adjustment, which always sacrifices resolution. We did like the flip-door that covers the focus and zoom adjustments and keeps them from being moved inadvertently.
Fan noise. Hitachi's specifications state a noise level of "35 dB (29 dB in Eco mode)" but as is often the case, they have not identified the measurement distance or weighting used. We did our own test and recorded fan noise levels at 4 feet distant of 41.4 dB A-weighted (Eco off), which was disturbing when placed on a conference table. In a small meeting room, we would prefer to accept the 25% light reduction in Eco mode in order to bring noise down to the more comfortable 30 dbA we measured.
For commercial and educational applications, the Hitachi CP-X4020 is a strong player among the field of bright XGA projectors. The fan noise and lens offset issues argue against tabletop use. But if higher native resolution is not needed, its features, image quality and configuration make it an excellent choice for installed projection in medium to large conference rooms.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Hitachi CP-X4020 projector page.