Hitachi CP-A100 Projector - Physical Tour
3-31-09 -Mike Rollett
At first glance, unlike most projectors, the CP-A100 provides no clue as to how it is to be placed to project onto a screen. The projection mirror is hidden under a door on the top of the projector, which opens up and rotates into position when the projector is turned on. As a result, the following description will reference the end of the projector that’s closest to the screen as the front of the projector. The top of the CP-A100 slopes downward from front to back providing a sleek look from the rear. In addition to the door for the projection mirror, the top of the CP-A100 sports controls for powering up the projector, switching inputs, accessing the menu and focusing.
Just to the left of these controls is a door for accessing the lamp. Also on top at the rear edge is a large IR receiving window, which is also repeated on the rear face of the projector, just below the top.
The left side of the CP-A100 has an exhaust vent for cooling. The front has an air intake port and a cover for the dust filter, which is easily removed from the top of the projector. All of the CP-A100’s connections are on the right side of the projector, near the front.
With the exception of not having a digital video input, the CP-A100 has just about as complete a collection of inputs and outputs as anyone would need. Starting on the top row, from left to right, there is an RGB output connector and two RGB inputs. These are followed by an RJ-45 jack for a network connection.
The next row down consists of an RS-232 jack for serial control, a USB jack for a USB mouse and a group of RCA jacks for component video, composite video and stereo audio connections. To the right of those is an S-video jack and a Kensington key slot, followed by two 1/8” audio inputs and one 7W output (there is no internal speaker). The 7 watt amplifier is ideal for powering a speaker system, and capable of filling morst rooms where a projector like this would be used. Rounding this out on the bottom row are the AC power connector and power on/off switch. All of these connections can be covered up by an included cable cover that covers the entire right side of the projector for a clean appearance.
Height adjustment is obtained via screw adjustable feet in all four corners of the bottom of the CP-A100.
Due to the CP-A100’s use of a reflecting surface to achieve its ultra short throw ability, its placement and setup is critical in achieving a properly projected, sharp image. As there is no zooming ability other than digital zoom (which just reduces the display size in steps from full to 80%), the projector must be placed at the precise distance from the screen to achieve the proper image size. Then, it must be oriented square with the screen to provide a proper rectangular image. Finally, as there is no lens shift, the height must be adjusted via the adjustable feet to properly fit the screen. While this is not a problem for a mounted solution, it requires some advance planning if the projector is to be used in a tabletop position or on a movable cart.
The CP-A100 makes up for any difficulty in setup by offering a number of options for mounting. Because of its short throw, the CP-A100 can utilize an optional wall-mounted arm that can be placed just above the screen, thus eliminating the need for a ceiling mount (which would be problematic in a room with a high ceiling). This is an excellent solution of classrooms where the teacher can move freely across the screen without disrupting the image, as well as keeping all wiring well out of the way. With both the lamp door and dust filter accessible from the top (facing down in this application), maintenance is easy with this type of installation. The arm can be purchased by itself or in a package with a 63”, 77” or 88” diagonal screen to match (see below).
As the CP-A100 can be used in a vertical position, another option is to place the projector vertically on its front face on a table, so it projects down onto the table. This can be useful in displaying to a small group on a conference room tabletop.
As the CP-A100 is not intended for use as a portable projector, I don’t find its initial difficulty in setup to be an issue.
The CP-A100’s menu system consists of two parts: an “Easy” menu, which allows for selection of various picture modes, as well as the standard adjustments for contrast, brightness, color and tint. Each picture mode is a combination of a specific color temperature and gamma settings, both of which can be accessed in the advanced menu. There are also adjustments for keystone, digital zoom, sharpness, lamp mode, mirror (which addresses the mounting position) and a reset. Switching to the advanced menu, the picture modes are replaced by access to the individual color temperatures and gamma modes, which can be mixed and matched as desired.
Oddly enough, though not intended for home theater applications, the CP-A100 has some advanced adjustments usually only found on higher end home theater projectors such as color space, RGB gain and offset grayscale and custom gamma adjustment. This is all part of the advanced menu as well.
Image position, video format, networking setup and the creation of a custom splash screen (with a company or school logo) are other functions found in the advanced menu.
Hitachi CP-A100 Remote Control
The CP-A100 comes with a rather basic remote, sporting grey buttons on a grey and black background. There is no backlighting, but then the business or education projector with a backlit remote control is a rare thing, indeed.
The layout is fairly good, with the buttons for navigating the menu, using the remote as a mouse with a connected PC and controlling volume up/down at the bottom of the remote where they’re easily found. However, all of the other buttons are just laid out in rows and most are the same size, making it difficult to locate them in the dark.
On the plus side, the remote works well from almost any angle and easily doubles (or more) its stated range of 10’.