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NEC LT380 Multi-Purpose Projector

Review Contents
Best Home Theater Projector
Performance
5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
NEC LT380 Projector NEC LT380
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600:1 Contrast Ratio
3000 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

General Impressions / Feature Set

The LT380's connection panel takes up most of the projector's rear side. Included are connectors for nearly every conceivable input source, ranging from composite video and component video to DVI. With this many options available for connecting sources to the projector, it becomes simple to connect multiple sources rather than switching out connections in mid-presentation.

In addition to the standard methods of connection, the LT380 also comes complete with both wired and wireless networking options. With standard wired RJ45 networking, the projector can not only be remotely controlled, but it can use a networked computer as a source with the use of included software. When using wireless networking, you must connect an optional 802.11g wireless card to the projector's PC card slot. Then, if you have a wireless network (or even just a wireless-enabled computer), the projector can accomplish all of the same tasks as it can when connected to a wired network, without any of the hassle.

With several preset picture modes, the LT380 is easy to adjust, since the preset modes give you a good starting point from which to further improve the projected image. High Brightness and Presentation modes are excellent for the display of text and data. High Brightness features higher lumen output, while Presentation mode delivers better color accuracy. Video and Movie mode are great for video signals, with Movie geared more towards actual film. In sRGB mode, color accuracy is at its best, but white balance still needs a bit of adjustment to reach 6500K. In any case, the various precalibrated profiles will suit a wide variety of video and data presentation needs.

Keystone correction is available on both horizontal and vertical axes. On any projector, keystone adjustment will usually cause a loss of detail. However, on the LT380 the loss is minor. Text documents show the occasional doubled pixels, which gives text a slightly bolded effect. However, with graphics and photography, it is hard to see any change in resolution or clarity. The keystone adjustment range is an impressive =/- 40 degrees on either axis, although you cannot set both horizontal and vertical to their maximum range at the same time. Adjusting one will limit the range of the other. And as always, it is best to simply mount the projector in such a way as to eliminate the need for keystone adjustment altogether. There is also an option to enable auto-keystone, which detects the degree to which the projector is tilted and compensates automatically.

The menu system of the LT380 is laid out in such a way as to minimize screen clutter. Rather than displaying in the center of the screen, the main menu is laid out in a strip along the bottom edge of the screen. Selecting any of the main categories causes the menu to expand, which takes up more screen space - however, pressing "enter" on any adjustment causes it to reappear in a small window on the bottom of the screen. This allows you to change settings and view the results of your adjustments in real-time.

The remote control is vaguely reminiscent of a Star Trek phaser - ergonomically pleasing, with a slight bend in the middle. The laser pointer built-in to the remote complements this comparison, and proves to be a useful tool for highlighting information in presentations. Buttons are laid out in a logical fashion and are easy to find after the first few uses.

Performance

The LT380 has power to spare when it comes to lighting up a screen. In presentation mode with the lamp on high brightness, it pumps out 1980 ANSI lumens. With the lamp in eco mode, light output drops to 1460 ANSI lumens, about a 25% decrease. Even when optimized for video use, which entails more emphasis on color balance and less on lumens, the LT380 still produces 1003 ANSI lumens. Furthermore, brightness uniformity was measured at 91%, which is excellent. This makes the LT380 particularly well suited to very large 4:3 display, at diagonal sizes reaching 120" and above.

On the LT380, color is excellent. In sRGB mode, a little adjustment was all it took to get the LT380 to reach near-perfect 6500K. While this is not terribly important for textual data or simple graphics, it is necessary for the accurate display of photography and video. Grayscale tracking is impressive, at a level usually seen only on videophile projectors. We measured from 0 IRE up to 100 IRE all within 300 degrees Kelvin of 6500K, with 20-80 IRE within ten degrees of 6500K and some larger deviations in the 0, 10, 90, and 100 IRE sections. This is top shelf performance for any projector.

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Video Performance and Conclusion
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