2017-2018 Award Winners: Standard Classroom Projectors

Standard projectors is the largest category of projectors suitable for school use.  This year we only have six of these “standard” projectors – those suited for K-12 classrooms, and similar spaces – of very differing abilities  Please note:  Their families of projectors – similar models with different resolutions, and slightly varying feature sets, of these six projectors, likely number close to fifty total models.  We try to mix up XGA, WXGA and even WUXGA projectors in this group, when choosing projectors to review.

While the industry trend has been a shift to widescreen – WXGA, 1080p, or WUXGA, there are two  key reasons XGA models still have large market share:

One:  XGA projectors cost slightly less than WXGA.

But, more importantly:  Because many are bought as replacement for older VGA, SVGA, and XGA projectors.  That means a new XGA projector can utilize the same screen, and typically the same mount.  Bottom line:  sticking to XGA may mean significant savings when replacing outdated projectors.  If doing mass replacements across a school or school district, the savings can be dramatic.

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report.



Standard Classroom: Best Value Proposition - NEC NP-ME331W

2016-2017 Best in Classroom: Best Value Standard Projector Award
2016-2017 Best in Classroom: Best Value Standard Projector Award

The ME331W is a great small install projector, loaded with features.  NEC offers their Star Student program which extends the warranty to 5 years, with a rapid replacement program for part of it.

 

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The picture quality is especially good.  I like LCD in business and education projectors.  No rainbow effect for some of us to deal with.  Also it has very balanced  color, that for normal classroom type use, tends to make the content really look right.  The image is also sharp, with the limitation being the WXGA resolution.

We definitely preferred this ME331W over NEC’s less expensive V332 DLP projector from their value series, (also in this report).  We felt the ME331W a better value despite being over $100 more (street price).  It is also more featured than the slightly less expensive Sony DW240.

There’s plenty of brightness, wired networking, with Crestron RoomView support, optional wireless networking. I could repeat all the features from the overview on other pages.  Suffice to say, though that in terms of feature set and overall value it fits between last year’s Best Value, and Best Performance projectors, both of which remain current model projectors.  The long life lamp is spec’d at 9000 hours in Eco and should be more than half of that at full power. Lots of zoom lens, and so much more.  This is a not too expensive, (also not dirt cheap), projector suitable for single or district wide purchases.

Street price is under $700 with the lowest prices below $650, but that’s before NEC’s Star Student program discounts, and expanded warranty (to five years).

Bottom line:  A bargain in a highly capable networking projector with a very good picture and good sound.  In performance and overall, I’d say it is direct competition to last year’s performance winner in the category, the Epson 955WH.

Standard Classroom: K-12 Best Performance - Casio XJ-F210WN

2016-2017 Best in Classroom: Best Performance Standard Projector Award
2016-2017 Best in Classroom: Best Performance Standard Projector Award

The feature set of the XJ-F210WN isn’t that different from the NEC ME331W, with the big exception of the Casio having a long life, hybrid LED/Laser light engine good for 20,000 hours claimed life. And it means more consistent color and picture quality synonymous with solid state light engines.

Click Image to Enlarge

And if you compare this Casio with the other winner, the NEC ME311W, the feature sets (other than light engine) are pretty similar, including more than average zoom range on their lenses.  The cost differential, most likely between $300 and $400, which is more than fair as it means no replacement lamps to buy, and no support folks time, to change them out.

The Casio is larger, but is about the same price as the BenQ in this report, and is much better endowed with features, and is about twice as bright.

Bottom line:  The advantage of a solid state light engine yet only a modest extra in terms price is the basis for this award.  Of course it’s also because this is a fully equipped small projector with a lot of bells and whistles.   Other nice touches include very fast start up and power down.

If a no lamp solution makes sense to you, and your budget allows for the price difference up front (you’ll save a lot on the back end),  this XJ-F210WN should go right to the top of your short list.

Previous Winners - Still Current Projectors Available For Volume Purchase Through 9/2017

Check out these previous winners, that are still current models, available in quantity.  They should be fully competitive with this year’s winners, and worthy of a close look.

You might want to simply click on the Overview link which will take you to what we said and liked about these projectors last year.  There’s also the commentary on last year’s awards page (like this one). But of course the maximum information is on the full online review.  You’ve got a link to that on this chart as well!

Standard Classroom Projectors: Still-Current Previous Winners
Projector Model Image Overview Review Specs Type
Epson W29  epson-w29 Overview Review Specs  3LCD, wireless option
Epson Powerlite 955WH epson-955wh Overview Review Specs WXGA resolution, wireless option
ViewSonic PJD-6350 view-pjd6350 Overview Review Specs DLP technology, Wired networking

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