If NEC is not the first name that comes to mind when you are looking for a 1080p ultra short-throw projector, the NEC U321H could change that. With a native resolution of 1920x1080 and plenty of brightness (rated at 3200 ANSI lumens), the 10.4 pound U321H puts up a big, bright image from as close as 9 inches from the screen for an attractive street price of $2,199.
The U321's short-throw performance is very good in both video and data modes. As you would expect it eliminates the possibility of casting shadows on the image as a presenter walks around the room, but its competitive edge really shows up when you crank up a 1080p DVD or bring up video content embedded in a presentation. Right out of the box, you will see an excellent video image that is color-balanced, vivid, and with flesh tones that are right on the mark. Like many short-throw projectors, the brightness uniformity is around 65%, but you will probably not notice it when projecting video. Data projections look solid also, but the U321H's video performance is what sets it apart.
In addition to its general purpose uses, the U321H also offers an interactive group viewing option using DisplayNote software. Two fast-charging pens are included along with a projector-mounted camera and a DisplayNote user license for an additional $582. If you work in classrooms or conference rooms and need an interactive collaboration with multiple viewers, this Model NP04WI kit is an available option.
The first thing that strikes you on setting up the U321H is the video projection quality. With no adjustments to factory settings, video material looked outstanding with good black levels and detailed highlights thanks to the U321H's contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Flesh tones were on target and natural, and the color spectrum was well balanced. Movie viewing was a pleasure.
Data quality was good, but as with many short-throw projectors, getting the entire image into sharp focus was very difficult. With the center of the image in sharp focus, the extremes of the image had a soft look although not to the point of making text fuzzy. However, you would do well to keep font sizes at 10pt. or above to ensure readability.
Because of the U321H's high incidence angle from the lens to the center of the image (about 60°), the projection distances where focus can be controlled properly is with the lens from 19 to 22 inches from the screen. This provides image diagonals from 82 to 104 inches, respectively. If the projector cannot be placed within the above limits, focusing the image becomes an increasing problem.