Hitachi CP-A100 Ultra Short Throw Projector Review

Hitachi CP-A100: Image Quality

First impressions of the CP-A100 were very favorable. Like most 3-LCD projectors, it features accurate, well-saturated colors. Displaying at the CP-A100’s native resolution of 1024×768 resulted in fairly sharp text of varying sizes and color/background combinations. Very small (8 pt.) text was easily readable on a 60” diagonal projected image, though not as sharp as other projectors that project directly from the lens to the screen. This was true of white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well. Basically you’ve got a trade-off between ultra short throw and a high degree of sharpness. The mirror that enables the throw to be as short as it is also affects sharpness to some degree. This is especially true at the top corners of the image (if the projector is below the screen).

Using a Nokia monitor test pattern that projects very small text (about 6 pt.) into the corners, some blurring of the text was very noticeable. It should be noted that with any normal-sized text that would be typically be used in a presentation (like 14-pt. or higher), the CP-A100 provides a very clear, readable image across the entire screen.

If you’re not using the CP-A100 in a permanently mounted installation, you may be tempted to use keystoning to save time setting up the projector. This is not a good idea as it tends to emphasize the minor sharpness issues mentioned above to a wider area. If you must use keystoning with any projector, it’s always best to keep it to a minimum, but this is especially true of the CP-A100.

We then switched to WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution to test the CP-A100’s video processing. This results in the CP-A100 using the same horizontal resolution, but dropping the vertical resolution to match the 1.6:1 ratio, resulting in an image that’s 1024×640 with the top 128 lines unused (again, that assumes the projector is below the screen). The CP-A100 definitely struggled to provide sharp text with this resolution, but anything 14 pt. or higher was very readable, if not as sharp as it was at the native resolution. Additionally, the CP-A100 struggled with convergence at the higher resolution, resulting in visible color fringing on the text edges. This is clearly a projector that should be used at its native XGA resolution whenever possible.

Due to its well saturated colors, viewing photographic images and video with the CP-A100 was an enjoyable experience. While it will never be mistaken for a home theater projector, the CP-A100 does a decent job with DVD playback, restricted mainly by its low contrast ratio, which results in a great loss of detail in shadows. However, its video playback is more than adequate for its intended use in classrooms and boardrooms.

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