Conference Room Projector Shootout:
Four WUXGA (1920x1200), 7000 Lumen Projectors
Epson Pro Z8455
WUXGA projectors offer native 1920x1200 resolution, which is slightly higher vertical resolution than the full HD 1920x1080 format of consumer video projectors and televisions. The WUXGA aspect ratio of 16:10 makes these projectors exceptionally versatile -- it is a convenient format for data and graphics presentation, and it accommodates native resolution full HD video as well.
While all WUXGA projectors excel at high-res imaging, they differ widely in their other capabilities. To compare and illustrate the array of differences, we've rounded up four popular WUXGA models in the 6,500-7,500 lumen range:
|Epson PowerLite Pro Z8455WU NL ($19,999)|
Mitsubishi UD8350U ($11,995)
NEC PX750U ($17,999)
Panasonic PT-DZ770UK ($17,999)
The four models in this WUXGA shootout share these features in common:
WUXGA resolution. WUXGA is about the highest resolution available in a reasonably priced projector. 1920x1200 resolution is essentially a 16:10 version of HD 1080p, adding 120 more rows of pixels to create a computer-friendly, video-friendly, high-resolution format. Since the 16:10 aspect ratio matches that found on most laptops, scaling of lower-resolution data becomes a simple matter. Indeed, most WUXGA projectors excel at up-scaling lower resolution content.
Light output. All four of the projectors in this shootout are rated between 6,500 and 7,500 lumens. This is not an insignificant amount of light by any means. These projectors are meant for large conference rooms and applications where ambient light is high or the screen is large. These projectors have a correspondingly large footprint, with the smallest weighing over 35 pounds.
Dual lamps. Using two lamps instead of one allows for a certain degree of redundancy, as a single lamp failure will not put the projector out of commission.
Interchangeable lenses with powered adjustments. The four projectors in this shootout all have interchangeable lenses, allowing customization to fit a variety of installation conditions. Likewise, all projectors feature powered zoom and focus adjustments. This is a necessity on projectors that are often ceiling mounted, making manual adjustment impossible.
Lens shift. Powered lens shift makes these projectors easier to mount. Often, a feature of the room will prevent the mounting of the projector in the ideal location, so lens shift can help to get the desired image on-screen without any fuss.
Price range. None of these projectors lacks for features, but quality doesn't come cheap. The least expensive of the four models costs $11,995 with the lens included while the most expensive sit at $19,999 without the lens.
Special Note: We wish to extend our thanks to ELITE SCREENS for donating the screens we used for the side-by-side comparison evaluations in this shootout, and for the assistance in setting them up. Their contribution to this project was much appreciated.
What follows is data obtained from a week-long shootout, during which we put each projector through a series of tests and side-by-side evaluations. The following overviews, in alphabetical order, summarize the relative strengths and weaknesses of each projector.
Epson PowerLite Pro Z8455WU NL. The Epson Pro Z8455WU ($19,999, lens not included, 3LCD) was the most expensive of the four models in this evaluation, but its wide array of features and often superior performance justified the premium price. The projector is well-designed; everything from the menu systems to the lamp covers have been engineered for maximum ease of use and simplicity. Installers will enjoy the projector's use of captive thumbscrews and tethers for all user-serviceable parts, meaning that it's almost impossible to drop something off of the ladder while replacing a filter or lamp. End users will enjoy the projector's sparkling, high-contrast image and excellent color. In every image mode, color performance beat out the competition. Video features like an auto iris and frame interpolation combined with the lack of a color wheel (and thus the absence of rainbow effect) makes the Epson Pro Z8455WU our top choice for all applications involving film, video, and photography.
On the limitations side, the Pro Z8455WU has lower lumen output than its competitors in comparable image modes. The difference is most noteworthy in applications where text documents, financial spreadsheets, or any other content lacking color is the primary subject matter being presented. For video, photography, color graphics and other high color subject matter, the maximum lumen output numbers are less relevant due to the Pro Z8455WU's high color light output. Unlike its competition, this projector does not have a way to run only one lamp instead of both, which eliminates one option for reducing light output should that ever be desired. Also, it is somewhat larger and heavier than its competition, weighing almost 50 pounds compared to about 35 lbs for the lightest of the units in the group.
All in all, what you get with the Epson PowerLite Pro Z8455WUNL is a premium projector that is especially strong for video-heavy applications. It is overall the most capable projector of the four in our evaluation group, and its color performance is second to none. See Epson Pro Z8455WUNL review
Mitsubishi UD8350U. The budget king of the shootout, the UD8350U ($11,995, DLP) is the least costly projector in the shootout. The UD8350U is smaller and lighter than its competitors, and it includes a lens in the purchase price. Moreover, it includes a number of features tailored to a 24/7 duty cycle, such as lamps that automatically turn themselves off for brief cool down periods to increase their lifespan. The UD8350U also includes Lamp Relay mode, which switches between the projector's two lamps at regular intervals such that they decrease in brightness together, minimizing inconsistencies over the projector's life and maximizing runtime. The projector's air filter is self-cleaning and permanent, so while it will need to be emptied once in a while it will never need to be replaced. Since the projector's lamps have an estimated lifespan of 4,000 hours in Eco-mode, you end up with a potential 8,000 hours of continuous operation before maintenance is necessary. That's something no other projector in the shootout can match.
On the downside, the default color wheel (RGBWY, 2x speed) is more prone to color separation artifacts than the other DLP projectors in the group, and the color wheel's large white segment causes color to appear weak or washed out in the projector's brightest modes. But that does not take away from the UD8350U's capabilities as an excellent projector for data. With its low price tag and eco-friendly, maintenance-friendly features, the UD8350U is a solid option for businesses without dedicated support staff or large equipment budgets. It performs well beyond its price and can hold its own among the more expensive competition. See Mitsubishi UD8350U review
NEC PX750U. Interchangeable color wheels give the PX750U ($17,999, DLP) an interesting edge over its competition. If high brightness is what you require, the brightness-optimized color wheel will pump out more light than any other projector in the shootout. On the other hand, if optimum color accuracy and saturation is desired over maximum brightness, the color-optimized wheel brings the projector in line with established color standards at the cost of a few lumens. By including both wheels, the PX750U can be different things for different people. Using either wheel, we saw few rainbows on the PX750U, which is beneficial when projecting for large audiences. A Lamp Select feature allows the projector to run one lamp in either normal or Eco mode instead of both, which is helpful when replacement lamps cost over $750.
The projector has two weaknesses: its menu system could charitably be called Byzantine and its remote reception is abysmal. These are the only real flaws in a product that is otherwise a powerful performer capable of putting out a high-brightness color-balanced image at a price somewhat lower than the Epson Pro Z8455WU. Video performance rivals that of the more expensive projector, although it does not have a frame interpolation system. See NEC PX750U review
Panasonic PT-DZ770UK. The DZ770UK ($17,999, DLP) has a lot going for it. It produces a very bright image in its brightest mode, second only to the NEC which exceeds it by only about 250 lumens. But among the four models in our group it tops the brightness rankings in its Cinema mode, even after calibration to 6500K. If you need particularly bright, well-calibrated video to be displayed in low to moderate ambient light, this is where the DZ770UK shines. It shows fewer rainbows than the Mitsubishi UD8350U, and its color after calibration is almost on par with the NEC PX750U using its color-optimized wheel.
In addition, the DZ770UK is smaller and quieter than most of its competitors thanks in part to an internal liquid cooling system. And it produces somewhat less heat due to its lower-wattage 300W lamps. This may allow it to be used more comfortably than its competition in smaller rooms where heat and noise from a projector are important issues to consider in selecting the right model.
But while the DZ770UK has a manual contrast-increasing filter, it still can't match the contrast of the Epson Pro Z. In ambient light this is of little consequence, but in a dark room the Pro Z's contrast advantage shines through. The DZ770UK also can't quite match the brightness of the NEC PX750U for data and graphics at 6530 lumens to the PX750's 6770 lumens. And at $19,999, it is just as expensive as the Epson Pro Z, but cannot match that projector's array of features or usability.
Nevertheless, the DZ770UK produces a compelling image for either data or video, and it may have particular competitive strength in smaller venues in which the display of video in low to moderate ambient light is desired. See Panasonic DZ770UK review