Canon Realis SX60 Projector – Overview

Click to enlarge. So close.

The Realis SX60 is certainly one versatile projector. In this summary, we’ll look at what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what applications the SX60 will perform exceptionally well at. It’s Home Cinema mode, will attract some home theater followers, but the mode really enhances the projector’s image performance when users can sacrifice brightness for high contrast image quality.

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The Realis SX60 projector picks up our Hot Product Award for its combination of smooth, sharp and accurate color imaging suitable for critical high resolution applications in photography, medical imaging, high resolution graphics, engineering and command and control applications requiring the ability to faithfully reproduce fine details and accurate colors without a visible pixel structure. Other Canon SXGA+ resoution projectors meet most of these requirements but not the color accuracy combined with high contrast and good black levels. Some DLP SXGA+ projectors, have the resolution but not the sharpness, or flexibility, and LCD projectors with SXGA+ resolution have far, far more visible pixels, and all have lower contrast ratios.

The most important capabilities of the SX60 are its combination of good brightness for commercial applications, along with an exceptionally sharp image, and tremendous color control of the image.

Resonably small and not overly heavy (10.1 lbs), it is definitely a portable projector, however many of the projectors it competes against are significantly heavier and larger.

The SX60 is straddled by competition, and perhaps its stiffest competition is Canon’s own, $1000 less expensive, SX50 that we previously reviewed.

The SX60 should be ideal for medical imaging, architecture, command and control rooms, scientific applications, and engineering. It should also be a top choice for commercial photographers and for anyone needing to display large quantities of finely detailed information, such as spreadsheets or highly detailed graphics.

Pros

  • Excellent optics for an extremely sharp image
  • Pixels invisible at any normal viewing distance (ideal for photo, scientific and video images)
  • Smooth images without jaggies ideal for high resolution images
  • Ample brightness for most displays of data and images
  • Zoom lens with wide range (1.7:1) for easy placement
  • High contrast with excellent blacks (in Home Cinema mode), where rich colors and very good black levels are more important than brightness
  • Overall, ideal for medical imaging, rendering, scientific, command and control and graphing applications requiring sharp images with critical details
  • Suitable as a home theater projector, with good performance in bright modes for dealing with ambient light
  • Excellent performance in Home Cinema mode in rooms with little or no lighting, for image quality critical applications, including home theater.
  • Well organized remote control
  • Easy to navigate menus
  • Exceptional control of colors for applications needing faithful color accuracy
  • Excellent warranty (3 years)
  • Digital and analog inputs
  • Optional networking adaptor
  • Instant power down (projector must not be placed in an enclosed area until fan stops running)

Cons

  • Cannot match the contrast and black levels of DLP projectors, when in brightest modes
  • More expensive than some new DLP based SXGA+ resolution projectors
  • The less expensive Canon SX50 projector may be more suitable if the best (high contrast Home Cinema) mode is not needed
  • Although good performance for home theater where brightness needed at times, 4:3 aspect ratio, and lower contrast/black level performance in best mode, make it less desireable than DLP home theater projectors, for normal dark room viewing, unless the bright modes are also needed
  • Using the DVI-I for digital, you have only the choice of one analog input for either data, or component. Having the ability to have 1 digital, 1 component and one analog would be more impressive in this price range.

Typical Performance

  • Documentation
  • Price Performance – not the least expensive projector, but performance exceeds less expensive SXGA+ projectors
  • Noise levels

I mentioned at the beginning of the review, that the less expensive SX50 has found a home theater following. The SX60 should replace the SX50 in that regard, thanks to it’s Home Cinema mode. To further improve the black levels and contrast, I would expect that some who select the SX60 for home theater, will include those that love to “tweak” their projectors. Some of those folks may put a neutral density filter on the lens to further improve contrast/black levels, at the expense of some brightness.

Note, please that in Home Cinema mode, the SX60 offers good contrast and blacks, but not up to some of the better home theater projectors, like the HD7100, which are designed for the job, and are designed to work only in fully darkened (or nearly so) rooms, and don’t have the muscle to deal with significant ambient light.

As a commercial projector, the combination of good brightness, no visibile pixels, razor sharp image, excellent color and jaggy free lines, make the SX60 about as good as it gets in an SXGA+ projector today. If however you don’t need the cinema mode or some of the more advanced color adjustments, you might want to consider saving a thousand dollars and choose the SX50 instead.

Canon also offers another SXGA+ projector that may be of interest, the SX6. This projector lacks the Home Cinema mode that works so well when image/photo reproduction is critical (commercial photographers, medical imaging, architecture, etc.), but instead offers an extra 1000 lumens (rated 3500), instead.

In summary, the SX60 is the “specialty” projector of Canon’s 3 SXGA+ models, the one capable of the most perfect image quality of the three.

The SX50 is an overall excellent projector with the same lumens as the SX60 in normal modes, but lacks the home cinema mode, but saves you money. The SX600, also lacking home cinema/higher contrast mode, offers you the extra 1000 lumens.

There are a couple of new, less expensive DLP powered SXGA+ projectors, but they are not up to matching the placement flexibility, the smoothness of image, or for that matter, even the color accuracy of the SX60. The SX60 seems very well priced if you need all the capabilities it offers.

I expect it will be one of the most successful SXGA+ projectors yet, even though some of it’s potential sales are likely to be cannablized by the other Canon units.

Canon now has the biggest line of affordable SXGA+ projectors out there (possibly the only line with more than one under $10,000 SXGA+ projector).

The SX60 is Canon’s most advanced 2nd generation SXGA+ projector, and is simply going to be the best choice overall, for those who need superior image quality and SXGA+ performance at a reasonable price.

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