Hitachi CP-AW250N Ultra Short Throw LCD Multimedia Projector Review
Hitachi CP-AW250N Setup & Menus
As is typically the case with any short throw projector, placement and setup is critical in achieving a properly projected, sharp image. This is even more critical with an ultra short throw projector like the CP-AW250N, where even the slightest movement of the projector can result in a radically distorted image. So, if the projector is not permanently mounted and just placed on a table or movable cart, the presenter should allow plenty of time for setup. First, there is no zooming ability other than digital zoom (which just reduces the display size in steps from full to 80%), so the projector must be placed at the precise distance from the screen to achieve the proper image size. Second, the projector must be at the proper height to match the screen. Lacking lens shift, height adjustment is achieved via the two adjustable feet. While it’s typical for projectors in this class to only have one or two adjustable feet, a projector this dependent on setup should have adjustable feet at all four corners. In addition to the height adjustment, the projector must also be oriented square with the screen to provide a proper rectangular image.
As the setup procedure can be time consuming, Hitachi has equipped the CP-AW250N with an advanced form of keystone correction called “Perfect Fit”. Instead of the usual horizontal and vertical adjustment, “Perfect Fit” breaks the image down into separate corners and sides that can be independently adjusted. In theory, affecting smaller areas of the image should result in less of a negative effect on the overall image. In practice, this system worked quite well. After roughly trying to square the image, we touched up a few corners and sides with the “Perfect Fit” adjustments and found that it had much less of an effect on overall picture quality than standard keystone adjustment.
Bringing up the menu, the CP-AW250N starts out in an “Easy Menu”, from which the user can choose one of seven Picture modes, as well as perform other setup functions (like the aforementioned “Perfect Fit”). Then, by selecting the “Advanced Menu”, the user can fine tune the picture to their liking. Here there are all of the usual picture adjustments (contrast, brightness, color, tint and sharpness), as well as a number of advanced adjustments seldom seen in this class of projector. There are six preset gamma settings (which provide different levels of the brightness of blacks and grays) and each can have its own custom setting with eight steps of adjustment. This is matched by six color temperature settings (each offering different balances of the levels of red, green and blue in all shades of gray) and six custom color temperature settings (each using one of the presets as a starting point for individual RGB gain and contrast adjustments). While proper adjustment of the custom gamma and color temperature settings require professional calibration, just having a number of gamma and color temperature settings can come in handy to optimize the display. This is particularly helpful for images with dark scenes (where the gamma control can improve shadow detail) or with whites and grays that look too red, blue or green (RGB gain and contrast). In addition, with both the custom color temp or gamma settings, you can display a nine or fifteen-step gray ramp that allow you to adequately “eyeball” a decent series of grays. As you can mix and match each Picture mode with these gamma and color temp settings, this allows the presenter to select modes that fit best with his or her particular presentation. This level of control is rare even in home theater projectors and is a welcome feature of the CP-AW250N.
For classroom presentations, three of the CP-AW250N’s picture modes are color profiles for the standard board surfaces, including black, white and green. For mid-sized to larger rooms, the presenter can plug a microphone into the CP-AW250N’s microphone input to take advantage of the 10-watt built-in speaker.
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