Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Ultra Short Throw WXGA DLP Projector Review

Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Video Performance

For movie or video viewing, Theater mode gives you the best color balance, as well as noticeably improved contrast.  While video viewing is typically not a major component of a multimedia projector, the WD380U-EST is certainly equal to the task when required.  In particular, technical presentations in science and astronomy classrooms will benefit greatly from the WD380U-EST’s video capability.  While we did not have an appropriate 3D source or glasses, the WD380U-EST’s 3D video capabilities would likely be of value in such venues as well.

Using the DVD playback from my laptop computer connected via HDMI, in Theater mode, I reviewed scenes from a number of movies I’m quite familiar with.  As far as color rendition is concerned, skin tones were quite natural and, as was mentioned about photo presentations, the overall color balance was quite good.  Where the WD380U-EST was lacking compared to similarly priced home theater projector competition was in its absolute black levels and contrast ratio.  As the WD380U-EST is destined for the classroom or conference room, the tradeoff between black levels and brightness is appropriately weighted.  The 3000:1 contrast ratio is still much greater than some of the competition in this market.  There is some of the typical DLP “rainbow effect” during viewing, but no more than other DLP projectors in this price range.

For viewing in an average lit room, the high brightness of the WD380U-EST in Standard mode still provides for a highly watchable image, making it a good choice for video presentations in the classroom.  Also, the WD380U-EST’s built-in 10-watt speaker has enough power to create an acceptable volume level in most classrooms.

Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Projector - Performance

WD380U-EST Projector – Brightness

The WD380U-EST is rated at 2800 lumens.  As there is no zooming ability, all measurements were taken with the WD380U-EST displaying a 66” diagonal image, with the projector only 21” from the screen.  In Presentation mode (the brightest), we measured 2550 lumens, which corresponds well to its rated output.  Using Auto mode, which automatically sets an optimal color balance based on the input signal, the output dropped to 2158 lumens, which is still quite bright.  Standard mode came in at 1943 lumens.  Blackboard came in at 2429, Whiteboard at 1551 and User mode (which essentially uses Presentation mode as a starting point) was at 2550 lumens.  Theater mode, which provided the best overall color and contrast, had the biggest drop in lumens, coming in at only 917 lumens.  It’s likely that in most cases, unless maximum brightness is needed, Auto mode will be the preferred setting, as it puts out over 2000 lumens, while improving the color balance noticeably over Presentation mode.

Dropping the lamp into Eco brightness mode resulted in a drop of 23%, which still provided 1963 lumens in Presentation mode.  With some light control in the room, using Eco mode would be a viable option, allowing the presenter to save on power usage as well as take advantage of the projected 6000 hour lamp life.  It should be noted here that all of the measurements were made with Brilliant Color on its maximum setting of 10.  Turning off Brilliant Color (only available in User mode) down to 5 results in a 38% drop in output and turning it to 0 (off), results in a massive 75% drop.  However, there’s no logical reason to turn BC off, since the picture quality is better with it on.

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WD380U-EST Projector - Noise

The Mitsubishi WD380U-EST is a fairly quiet multimedia projector.  It’s rated at only 28 dB in Eco lamp mode, which is equal to many home theater projectors.  There is no rating for Normal lamp mode, but it’s quite a bit louder.  In any event, the noise level even in Normal mode shouldn’t pose a problem for a presenter that is speaking during the presentation, even without using a microphone.  Also, the WD380U-EST has the ability to combine sound from a video track with a presenter’s voice input via a microphone.  This is a nice feature that works quite well to easily overcome any projector noise.

WD380U-EST Projector - Networking

The Mitsubishi WD380U-EST has full network control, reporting and presentation capability.  While it only comes ready for wired network capability, wireless capability is available via the use of an optional adapter.  Through the use of the supplied software, a presenter can control the projector from a networked PC and project from up to four networked PCs.  All major functions of the projector can be controlled from the networked PC.  Also, like the recently reviewed Optoma ZX210ST, the WD380U-EST can control a networked computer by plugging a keyboard or mouse into its USB port.

The WD380U-EST also supports Crestron’s RoomView network service.  When used with Crestron Room View, integrated control including power on/off control, message display and confirmation of lamp service hours is possible.  Also, it’s equipped with AMX Device Discovery for simplified device management.

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