Most projectors sold for business these days are high-lumen, low-contrast, low-resolution products. Most projectors sold for home theater are low-lumen, high-contrast, high-resolution products. Mitsubishi's new FD630U is a new breed of projector: a 1080p projector tailored for business use. It has the high lumens and relatively low contrast of a business projector, and is indeed tailored to the presentation market. But it has a native 1920x1080 pixel matrix and high-quality 1.5:1 lens, which are features typically found on home theater projectors. The FD630U combines the best features of both home theater and business projectors in a product that brings 1080p projection in the workplace to an affordable level.
High lumen output. Built for business environments, the FD630U's high lumen output projects a compelling image in less-than-ideal conditions. Our test sample measured 3763 lumens in Presentation mode, the brightest available. This was measured using the high lamp setting and the widest zoom. Presentation mode emphasizes highlights, pushing for a bright picture rather than a high-contrast or color-balanced one. If you need to impart text-based information to a large number of people, Presentation is the mode to use.
Standard mode, the next brightest, measured 2371 lumens. This mode has less extreme highlights, but it compensates with better shadow detail, deeper black levels, and improved color saturation. It is a good halfway point between Presentation and Theater, combining high brightness and solid image quality. For data graphics and Powerpoint presentation, this mode is a good option.
The final mode is Theater, which places all the emphasis on contrast and color. In this mode, the projector's BrilliantColor circuit is disabled, which cuts brightness rather drastically but makes the picture appear more natural and balanced. For the display of film and video, this is the ideal mode. Theater measured 1110 ANSI lumens, which is still very bright in a light-controlled environment.
A couple of other factors can affect light output as well. The first is Low lamp mode, which decreases brightness by 20% but increases the already impressive 3,000 hour lamp life to 5,000 hours. This will be a popular option for those trying to save money on maintenance and lamp costs. The other is the 1.5:1 zoom lens, which causes up to a 21% reduction in maximum light output when using the maximum telephoto setting.
High contrast. The FD630U's 2000:1 contrast is perfect for the display of data graphics, Powerpoint presentations, and other such documents. It is sufficient, though not ideal, for video and photography use as well. The "Theater" preset in particular emphasizes color fidelity and contrast over lumens, making it a good choice for photograph and video display.
Vibrant color. In Standard and Theater modes, the FD630U has very good color for a presentation projector. Saturation is strong and accuracy is decent, even straight out of the box. Even better, the projector has a full set of RGB Gain/Bias adjustments for color temperature, so you can calibrate the projector to your own exacting specifications without too much hassle.
Picture quality. The FD630U is a 1080p projector, and the most obvious source of 1080p content is high-definition video. Black level is impressive compared to many data projectors, especially considering the FD630U's high brightness. Its black levels do not match those on the much dimmer home theater projectors, but nobody should expect them to. Nevertheless, blacks show sufficient depth to give graphics and photographs good snap, and to avoid appearing muddy. The high resolution image is razor sharp from top to bottom and side to side. The "Theater" preset in particular emphasizes dynamic range and color fidelity, making it the best operating mode for photos and video.
User Interface. The FD630U has two menu systems. When you first open the menu, you are greeted with the "Quick" menu, which is used to make common adjustments such as image mode preset, brightness, contrast, color temperature, and lamp setting. More in-depth adjustments, such as color temperature adjustments, are accessed from the full menu (called "Detail Menu" on the FD630U). Once you've accessed the full menu, the projector will remember your preference and bring you back there each time. This is a big improvement over other "Quick Menu" implementations we have seen, as they would default to the shorter list of options each time.
Connectivity. The FD630U has connections to spare. As far as video is concerned, the available options include HDMI, two VGA input ports and a monitor passthrough, s-video, and composite video. For audio, there are two 1/8" audio inputs, a set of L/R RCA stereo inputs, and a 1/8" audio output -- and, lest we forget, audio can be carried over HDMI as well. For data, there are a 9-pin serial port and an RJ-45 LAN port for connection to an existing wired network.
Placement flexibility. The FD630U has a 1.5:1 zoom lens, able to project a 120" diagonal 16:9 image from 12' 1" to 18' 1". This is much more flexibility than typically seen on presentation projectors; in fact, a 1.5:1 zoom is still somewhat rare on DLP home theater products. This will allow you a great deal of flexibility when deciding where to mount your projector.
10W speaker. The projector includes a ten-watt mono speaker. This is a cut above most other presentation projectors' speakers, which are typically in the one- to five-watt range. The speaker has plenty of power behind it, and could be useful even with moderately large audiences up to 20 people. While it's no substitute for a real sound system, it's certainly better than most of the other on-board offerings.
Warranty. The FD630U carries one of the industry's best warranties. The projector is warrantied for a full three years from date of purchase, including Express Replacement Assistance coverage. This means, should your projector cease functioning within the warranty period, Mitsubishi will get you a replacement as soon as possible. The warranty also includes one year or 500 hours of lamp usage, whichever is reached first. Seeing a manufacturer stand behind their product is always refreshing.
Remote control. While the menu system is excellent, the remote control is less so. The buttons to access critical features, like the menu system, are small and lack tactile response. There is no backlight, nor is there much coherency to the layout itself. The remote is clearly a multi-function job, meant to work with several projector models in an effort to save costs, so you'll see buttons like "Viewer," "Wireless," and "DVI" that don't do anything. Once you grow accustomed to it, it's not a huge problem, but the acclimation period can be frustrating.
2x speed color wheel. The FD630U has a 2x-speed, six-segment color wheel, with RGBGYW segments. While this is typical for business and presentation projectors, it is also the configuration most likely to cause the appearance of rainbow effects. Since this projector is 1080p, one could reasonably assume that someone will attempt to watch high-definition video on it sooner or later. In this instance, a 2x-speed wheel is a limitation for some viewers. That being said, most people will never notice a rainbow effect, and even those that typically see them will not experience them nearly as often when viewing still content like photos or spreadsheets. Typically, it is only with full motion video that rainbow artifacts can be a distraction.
Fixed throw angle. The FD630U has a fixed throw angle, which is 33% of the image's height. This aggressive angle is a good choice for low table or ceiling mounting, but it makes rear shelf placement more problematic. Given the relatively long throw distance of the FD630U, lens shift would make it much easier to install at the back of a room, and would be a welcome addition to the feature set.
The Mitsubishi FD630U is a presentation projector with some serious power under the hood. Its very bright 1080p picture is vibrant, dynamic, and effective when displaying just about any type of content, but it especially shines with text and data graphics. It can be set up to emphasize brightness in a well-lit room, or bring forward the shadow detail of a film in a light-controlled environment. Its long-life lamp and filter-free design lower the cost of lifetime ownership, which will be a comfort to both business and individuals alike.
The options for 1080p presentation in the workplace thus far have been few and far between. The FD630U provides bright, high-resolution data display in a package that is feature-rich and well-constructed. With a street price around $3500, the FD630U is not the most affordable option on the block, but it is a solid projector with an excellent service/support program backing it up.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Mitsubishi FD630U projector page.