Hitachi CP-X5021N LCD Multimedia Projector Review

Appearance

The Hitachi CP-X5021N has a nice, functional appearance.  Starting with the front panel, the lens is recessed right in the center of the front face, which keeps it out of harm’s way even without its lens cap.  Just behind the lens, in a covered recess in the top of the projector, are zoom and focus adjustment rings, as well as screw adjustments and lock for vertical and horizontal lens shift.  There is a large IR receiving eye just to the right of the lens. To the left of the lens is an air intake vent.  There are two front height adjustment feet (one in each front corner) that have the usual push-button release.  Fine height adjustments can also be made by screwing each foot in or out.  Unfortunately, there no adjustment feet in the rear, so table mounting should be on a fairly level surface.

Moving to the top of the projector, facing it from the front, there is a cover in the left rear for accessing the lamp.  This makes for easy lamp replacement if the projector is ceiling mounted, as you wouldn’t have to unmount the projector to replace the lamp.  In the center, towards the rear of the projector, is a small control panel with only the most basic functions.  These include indicators for power on, lamp status, security password lock and for warning of projector overheating.  To the left of the indicator lights are buttons for Power, Inputs selection and a 5-function circular button to bring up and select from the on-screen menu, as well as menu navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right).  On the bottom of the projector, toward the rear, is a removable cover for replacing the internal clock battery.
On the right side (again facing the front of the projector), toward the front, are the AC power cord connector (a rather odd location) and the screw for removing the lamp cover toward the rear.  On the left side, toward the front, is an air intake vent with a removable cover for accessing the dust filter.  Continuing toward the rear on the right side is one of the two built-in speakers.
Moving to the rear panel, we find a nice array of connectors.  Starting at the left, the second built-in speaker is followed by a USB Type A input and LAN jack.  Just right of that is an HDMI input, USB Type B input, emergency shut down switch, standard VGA PC input and 5 BNC jacks for computer video input.  Moving to the bottom of the panel, starting again at the left side, is a security bar and a Kensington lock, followed by two 1/8” stereo audio input jacks and one set of RCA stereo inputs.  They are followed by a microphone jack, a set of RCA stereo output jacks, S-video, composite and component video inputs.  A VGA monitor output, RS-232 control and IR control jacks round out one of the most complete rear panels found on a multimedia projector.  Finally, the right quarter of the rear panel is reserved for the hot air outlet.

Hitachi CP-X5021N Remote Control

Click to Enlarge. So close.

The CP-X5021N’s remote control is a small, black remote with gray buttons (except for the Power button which is red) and white lettering.  As most of the buttons are also the same size, this makes them difficult to find in a darkened room.  On the plus side, the buttons are appropriately grouped and cover the usual most-used functions.  In addition to menu access and navigation, there are button to select between video and computer sources, zoom, image blanking and freezing, audio volume and mute, aspect ratio, page up and down (when using the remote as a PC mouse) and keystone correction.  Of particular note are two buttons labeled “My Button”, which can each be programmed with a custom function selected from a list in the menu.

As is usually the case with multimedia projectors, the buttons are not backlit or even glow-in-the-dark, as backlighting can often be distracting in a darkened room.

Click Image to Enlarge

Hitachi CP-X5021N Setup & Menus

Setup of the CP-X5021N can be very quick and is expedited by the vertical and horizontal lens shift.  Unlike many projectors in the CP-X5021N’s class, zoom range is quite good, so placement of the projector relative to the screen is not a big issue.  Although the lack of rear height adjustment feet necessitates are fairly level surface (when table mounting), having two front feet with fine adjustment capability helps to level the projector.  While you can use the CP-X5021N’s auto-keystoning to square the image to the screen, we typically recommend that you should keep any keystone correction to a minimum to avoid unwanted picture distortion.  Fortunately, the CP-X5021N also has an advanced form of keystone correction called “Perfect Fit” that gives the user more precise control to square the image by affecting smaller areas of the image.  Trying the “Perfect Fit” adjustment with a purposely uneven surface, we found that it had much less of an effect on overall picture quality than standard keystone adjustment.

Bringing up the menu, the CP-X5021N starts out in an “Easy Menu”, from which the user can choose the desired Picture mode, as well as perform other setup functions.  From there, the user can go to an “Advanced Menu”, where all the substantive picture adjustments reside.  Here you’ll find all of the usual picture adjustments (contrast, brightness, color, tint and sharpness).  However, here is where the CP-X5021N departs from the norm by adding a range of adjustments seldom seen on home theater projectors, much less multimedia projectors.  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 (which offers different balances of the levels of red, green and blue in all shades of gray), each with its own custom RGB gain and contrast adjustments.  While many users may not have the expertise or equipment to properly use the custom adjustments, just having a number of gamma and color temperature settings can come in handy to optimize images with dark scenes (where the gamma control can improve shadow detail) or with whites that look too red, blue or green (color temp).  Another nice feature is that with the Custom 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 an impressive and welcome feature of the CP-X5021N.

For those presenting in a classroom or similar venue, the CP-X5021N also has settings for the standard board surfaces.  In addition to the usual Blackboard setting, there are also color profiles for Whiteboards and Greenboards.  There is also a microphone input to allow a presenter to take advantage of the CP-X5021N’s 16-watt built-in speakers.

Advanced Menu

Easy Menu

Gamma Custom

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