Sanyo PLC-XL50, XGA Ultra-Short Throw Business Projector Review: Overview
6/29/2008 -Art Feierman
Sanyo PLC-XL50 Projector: Highlights
- Positions only a couple of inches in front of the screen (3 inches for 80" diagonal image)
- Can be used for incredible assortment of special environments:
- Presenters can stand in front of the screen without being blinded!
- Can be set up to project down to a table top screen, or mounted below a horizontal surface, projecting upward to horizontal surface, as well as normal projecting onto a vertical screen. Projector can be set on the floor, and project an image on the floor, as well
- Respectable brightness (2000 lumens), and, recently announced PLC-XL51 is almost identical but offers 2700 lumens, if you need more horsepower
- Good selection of inputs, but no digital (HDMI or DVI) input
- Close placement can result in drastic reduction in installation costs
- Should work extremely well with electronic whiteboards
- Pricey per lumen, but advantages outweigh higher price point
- Requires far less room in rear projection environments than traditional projectors
I just got back from Infocomm, and one of the "hot" categories was definitely short throw business projectors. While there were a great many on display, virtually all are traditional looking projectors sporting wider angle than normal lenses, to allow the projectors to be placed fairly close to the screen. None however, are anywhere close to the Sanyo PLC-XL50 and the recently announced PLC-XL51, in terms of being ultra-short throw. Most still need to be several feet away to fill typical 60 inch to 100 inch diagonal screens. These Sanyo ultra-short throw projectors, however, need only a few inches (although the projectors themselves, are rather large). Even the furthest back part of the XL50 or XL51 is only about 2 feet away - closer to the screen than even the front of any of the other short throw projectors.
These two Sanyo projectors, therefore, are virtually in a class by themselves. NEC has been making a lensless projector for several years, but it has been at least a couple of years since I've seen one. Their latest version is the DLP, NEC WT610E. It is the only other such projector that is placed literally inches from the screen.
The Sanyo will fill an 80" diagonal screen from just over 3 inches away (8.1 centimeters). Even an extra couple of inches further back produces a dramatically larger image.
The Sanyo projector may be most unusual in its ultra-short throw ability, but forgetting that, it's still a classic 3LCD projector with excellent color.
What is special about the XL50, is all the new places, and new applications where this projector can be used. Certainly classrooms, retail displays, boardrooms, digital signage, and command and control centers are just the beginning of a very, very, long list.
I grabbed these images from Sanyo's brochure. It gives you a taste for some applications, and below each photo is a diagram showing how the projector is positioned (sorry, the type is rather small).
PLC-XL50 Projector: Basic Specifications
Click here for full specs, and access to a pdf of the projector's brochure.
Native Resolution: XGA 1024x768
Brightness: 2000 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: Digital zoom only, for larger or smaller image, move the projector further, or closer to the screen, or use the digital zoom
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: Sanyo does not provide lamp life estimates for their projectors - we therefore assume industry average - about 2000 hours in bright lamp mode, and 3000 in eco-mode
Weight: 16.8 lbs. (7.5 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Years Parts and Labor
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PLC-XL50 Projector: Physical Tour
What a strange looking projector. I'm not sure what, exactly it looks like, but it sure is different. I normally like to say - starting from the front, and expect to start talking about the lens. In this case, the lens is not in the front, in fact, nothing is in the front - as the front is almost against the wall the screen is on.
So, let's start with an image of the projector:
Looking from the back (also blank), the controls are on the left side, while the control panel is on the top of the area that extends out to the right of the projector.
Light comes out of the window of the back part of the projector, on the "front" side of that section, where the case of the projector forms a V (from front to back).
The Sanyo PLC-XL50 does not have a zoom lens, but does have the ability to use a modest amount of digital zoom to change the size of the image. Primarily though, moving the projector a couple of inches one way or another is the preferred method of adjusting to different sized screens/image size. The lens is described by Sanyo as a "large diameter aspheric (non-spherical) lens" working in conjunction with an aspheric mirror and and a new optical engine. Bottom line - it works as advertised!
The projector does not offer lens shift, but does have keystone correction if needed.
Let's start with the control panel. Interestingly the control panel is laid out, and labeled, to be read easily when standing along side the projector to its right (the right, if looking from the back).
At the top of the control panel is the power button, and next to it, the Keystone correction button. On the next row are the Input select, and the Menu button. Below that, is a disc pad with four arrow keys, and finally, below that, the Select (enter) button. The arrow keys double as digital zoom in/out (up and down arrows), and the left and right arrows control speaker volume. On the main body of the projector, just "above" the control panel, are four indicator lights: Alarm, Power, Warning, and Lamp.
On the side opposite, are the input controls. From the top left, to top right:
RS-232 for command and control, Computer 1 input, Computer 2 input (can be changed to a monitor out, via menu control), and component video input (three color coded RCA jacks). The computer 1 input can, instead of supporting a traditional analog computer input, also work with a SCART or RGB (component) source.
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On the second row, there are four buttons for the built in alarm system (more on that later), the obilgatory S-Video and composite video inputs, Stereo audio input (stereo mini-jack) for a computer source, a pair of RCA jacks for audio input from a video source, and an Audio output to drive powered speakers, or audio switching. The power receptacle is located below the other inputs, toward the right.
Just to the right of the inputs is a small, recessed slide for image focus.
On the top of the projector about 3 inches forward of the back, is a small "bump" which is the infra-red sensor for the remote control.
That, folks, is all there is to the XL50, except to say that there are different ways to mount. The image shows the attachable feet that would be used for normal tabletop setup, although the projector can be mounted upside down, or vertically, as needed.
The next question becomes - how is the overall image quality, considering the unique design of the Sanyo PLC-XL50. We discuss many aspects of image quality, in the next section - General Performance.