Projectors Considered: Ultra Short-Throw Projectors 2

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


NEC UM330W

The UM330W is a very interesting projector.   First of all, it’s an ultra short throw projector, that uses LCD technology. It produces a reasonably sharp image across the screen, a challenge for many ultra short throw projectors.  But the UM330W is more than just another pretty ultra-short throw WXGA resolution projector.  It has an optional interactive module.  The projector itself should have a street price of $1299, no surprise as ultra-short throw projectors are more expensive than others.   The optional interactive module is $489 more.  Combined that puts the pricing similar to some other very good interactive projectors, but this way a school has the option of going with the projectors and deciding later which, and how many they want to upgrade to interactive capabilities.

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Warranty is respectable.  2 years parts and labor, with a first year replacement program.  Respectable, but it definitely isn’t a match for some competitors.

The projector can be placed table top, inches from the screen, or wall mounted directly above, for relatively affordable installation.  Sound is powerful with a 16 watt system, and NEC offers a 30 watt optional additional speaker that directly interfaces.

Lamp life is very good – 3000 hours at full power, 6000 in eco-mode.

And the NEC met its brightness claims when measured, with the two brightest modes just slightly beating the 3300 lumen claim.  Even the least bright Video mode managed more than 2500 lumens, which is very impressive.  It is not 3D capable (typical of LCD type projectors).

The interactive module is based on eBeam technology, which has been around for years, and comes with various software features and a single pen for this NEC.  Like many interactive designs, the pen is pressure sensitive so it should be used with a white board, not a screen.

The NEC can do PC free presentations from its USB input, and comes standard with wired networking, including remote diagnostics and optional wireless networking.  You can present wireless from iPads, etc.  Need XGA instead?  There’s a UM330X version.

Nice interactive abilities, sharp image, very good brightness, and the non-blinding advantage of teaching with an ultra-short throw projector.  The UM330W is priced just about right.

Ricoh PJ-WX4130N

Ricoh is a relatively new player in projector space.  That said, they managed to come up with a relatively unique projector design that’s rather impressive.  First of all, this is a very small, very light, projector for an ultra-short throw, weighing in at 6.6 lbs, about half of that of the competition.  It’s size and weight make it the only really portable ultra-short throw we’ve ever reviewed.  The WX4310N will produce an 80” diagonal image from just under 10 inches back from the screen or wall!

Resolution is WXGA with support of up to UXGA and 1080p.  The technologies are mirror based ulta-short throw, and DLP chip.

Intriguing is the optional floor stand for the projector, which is definitely cool, as it allows you to roll the projector around, making it easy to move from room to room, and easy to set up.

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This Ricoh PJ-WX4130N comes with both wired, and wireless networking!   A non-networking version for less money, shares the model number, but without the “N”.

Up to four projectors can project the same image, ideal for a room with multiple projectors, or presenting to multiple rooms (N – networking version only).

The Ricoh can do network based presenting, has closed captioning.  You can present from iPads, etc.   Overall, extremely capable projector, this Ricoh claims 2500 lumens.  When tested the Ricoh in Bright mode without color correction (native), measured 2574 lumens, just beating claim.  Even with color correction it still did an impressive 2376 lumens.   There are colored wall and blackboard modes that measure from about 1600 to 2300 lumens.  Not bad!

That’s plenty of brightness for the typical K-12 classroom.   Where the Ricoh comes up short, is sound, with a 2 watt system.  That’s on the thin side, and Ricoh does not have an audio out, which is the easiest way to tack on additional sound.  But then, this is a more portable projector, as noted, than any other ultra short throw.  And that means not being blinded while presenting/teaching!  Warranty is a very good 3 years, but no replacement program is offered.

The projector has remote mousing and is 3D capable.  Street prices seem to vary from a low of about $1200, but authorized dealers (ie. Not ebay), tend to be around $1500.  There’s a more expensive version, the PJ WX4130Ni, with interactive functions, but we did not get to review.

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