Viewsonic Pro8200 Projector - Physical Tour
Physically (to the consumer) the Viewsonic Pro8200, is a major departure from the 3LCD Pro8100 it techically replaces. In reality the Pro8200 is a completely different projector, a single chip DLP, projector, with little, but the brand name and the 1080p resolution, in common with the older model. In fact, it's a cross-over projector - designed to do double duty as a home entertainment projector and a business projector.
Interestingly, when the older (Pro8100) projector first shipped it had a sticker price of almost $5000. It had been sold only through local dealers, but was generally way overpriced. More than a year later, Viewsonic changed strategy, and blew out the remaining projectors for under $1500, a rather good deal. Now we have the new Viewsonic Pro8200 projector with an MSRP of only $999, and an official street price of $949.
1/25/2011 - Art Feierman
Viewsonic Pro8200 Projector - Appearance
Although mostly a shiney black finish, most of the front half of the Viewsonic Pro8200 projector's top, is done in a medium dark gray, satiny finish, for a bit of styling. It actually does look a touch classier, than say, the similar sized and shaped HC4000. The lens is offset to the right (if looking from the front). The manual focus is accomplished by rotating the lens ring, while the zoom adjust (1.5:1 zoom ratio) is located on the top, recessed, behind the lens (which I must note, is not recessed, but it does have a massive, protective lens cap).
As is typical, there's a front infra-red sensor for the Pro8200 projector's remote control. The control panel (more below) is on the top, towards the back right (looking from the rear). Venting is out the side, while inputs and other connectors are in the back. There's also a security bar, and a Kensington lock slot.
Underneath, there is an adjustable, drop down, center front foot, and both rear feet are screw thread adjustable.
Size of the Viewsonic Pro8200 projector has to be considered small. True, there are other single chip DLP projectors for home that are smaller, but, most LCD and LCoS projectors are a size or two larger.
Unlike home theater projectors in general, the Pro8200, as mentioned above, is a cross-over projector. It is designed to do double duty, as a home theater projector. It claims 2000 lumens, which is a healthy amount of lumens for a sub-$1000 business projector (yes some are up to 3500 lumens, etc, but 2000 - 2500 lumens has been the standard for basic portable projectors for several years now.
And the Viewsonic Pro8200 has a speaker - considered a necessity for business and education projectors.
Pro8200 Control Panel
The Viewsonic Pro8200 projector's control panel is on the top, towards the rear (and the right side, if looking from the back). It's a pretty standard affair, with the power switch off to the top left. (once for on, twice for off).
There are indicator lamps for Temp and Lamp. The rest of the control panel consists of your normal four navigation arrows in a roundconfiguration,but with the center button doubling as both Menu, and (menu) Exit. The up and down arrows double as keystone correction controls (when not in the Menu mode). It should be noted, that the projector does offer an auto-keystone adjust as well.
There are two additional controls, large curved buttons outside of the right and down arrows. The one to the right is the Enter button, and the one on the bottom - is the Source select. (The Pro8200 also offers auto source selection - it will find the first available source, if you set it that way.)
All considered, the control panel works very nicely. In this case, I like the center Menu button, whereas most projectors have the menu button outside the navigation ring, and it could be almost anywhere.
Pro8200 Projector - Input/Output
Tak about well equipped, but you have to expect that when this is a cross-over projector as it needs the selection of inputs and connectors to survive in both the home entertainment world, and in a business or education environment as well.
Looking at the back of the Pro8200 by Viewsonic, and starting at the left, you'll find an RS-232 for command and control. Next to it, the computer inputs - 2 - standard "vga" HD15 connectors, labeled Computer 1, and 2. Also there is a Monitor Out, very handy when working with a desktop, or if you need a second display, in general.
Next comes a component video input (three color coded RCA jacks - Red, Green, and Blue). Right next store to those, are the composite video jack (yellow RCA) and a pair of audio inputs (left and right - white and red RCA jacks, plus an S-video connector.
Audio, not normally found on home projectors is a big thing for the Viewsonic Pro8200. Not only is there a rather decent sounding speaker, that can handle, say, a classroom, or provide decent sound to a movie in a pinch, but a lot of audio inputs and outputs. In addition to the two mentioned, there are two additional audio inputs (each a stereo mini-connector) and an audio out. Plus there's even a Mic input (more on that later), and a 12 volt trigger for controlling a properly equipped screen.
That leaves only a USB A, and of course, a pair of HDMI 1.3 inputs. That's a pretty complete and respectable set of inputs and outputs.
Now that we've gotton to the HDMI inputs, here's where we had big problems with the first, pre-production projector. It hated long cables, It refused to work with my PS3 or a Magnavox - with any of several hdmi cables in the 4 to 8 meter lengths. It fared only slightly better with the Magnavox, which at least was clean with a 2 meter cable. From the PS3 even that was problematic. End of conversation, between the hdmi, and the ghosts - static with the power off (the mic input), the first projector had issues.
The good news is that the newer one had virtually no trouble, where the first one was a complete disaster. There was still one longer HDMI cable that it wouldn't work with, that three other projectors had no trouble with, but overall, let's say there's no major hdmi issue, although the Pro8200 may be more finicky about cabling than some others.
The Pro8200 Menus are fairly typical. Size of type is on the small side, so hard to read menus from far back, but in reality, the size should be just fine for normal use.
Here you'll see a few menu screen shots. The menus themselves navigate pretty well, I really haven't come up with any unusually inconvenient placement of features... Pictures and descriptions coming.
Most of the features are pretty self-explanatory.
Viewsonic Pro8200 Remote Control
The remote is small, and black. The small rubbery (firm) black buttons are backlit around the edges with blue led light. Unfortunately, you can't read the button labels in the dark, even with the backlight on. That means you'll just memorize the usual buttons. Range of the remote is at least average.
Viewsonic Pro8200 Lens Throw
The 1.5:1 zoom will let you place the front of the projector as close as 10.3 feet from a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 screen. Or, the Pro8200 can be placed as far back as 15.6 feets from the same sized screen, and of course you can place the Pro8200 anywhere in between.
With a 100 inch, 16:9 diagonal screen, the center of the lens needs to be 16.8 inches above the top of the screen surface. (or an equal mount below the bottom of the screen's surface, if on a table). That's about as much offset as you will find built in, but it is very similar to many of the competition, including the Mitsubishi HC4000 which has virtually identical lens offset.
With that much lens offset, a number of folks will find they can't use this projector with larger screens (110" diagonal and larger) in rooms with 8 foot or lower ceilings, or at the least, it will be a close thing.
Consider, this common mounting situation: 8 foot ceiling, 120 inch diagonal screen: Assume the projector is mounted very close to the ceiling, with a drop of 10 inches from ceiling to center of lens. Then, for the 120" screen, the lens offset is just a fraction less than 20 inches. The screen height is about 59 inches. Bottom line: 96 inches (ceiling) - 10, -20, -59 = 7 inches - the bottom of the screen would be just over 7 inches off the floor. That much offset is handy for placing a projector on a table below screen height, but is a challenge in those lower height ceilings.
The Viewsonic Pro8200 offers full support for an anamorphic lens. Better still, the Pro8200 has support for both Anamorphic Lens Modes 1 and 2.
What is especially nice about the Pro8200, is that you can choose to go with an anamorphic lens, but not need the usual motorized sled to move it in front of the regular lens when you want 2.35:1, and out of the way, for everything else.
The first mode provides the usual required aspect ratio for working with an anamorphic lens for 2.35:1 viewing. The second mode, though, assumes that the anamorphic lens remains in front of the lens for 16:9 and 4:3 viewing, and this mode essentially provides the right adjustments to provide the right aspect ratios for those shapes.
For those sold on 2.35:1 without letterboxing, and expected to pay $3000 - $4000+ for an anamorphic lens and sled, this capability should save you about half of that!
Mind you, when viewing 16:9, you will no longer have 1:1 pixel mapping, which is preferred, but that should add only the slightest softness, and won't bother many. Anyone using an anamorphic lens has already given up 1:1 pixel mapping for those Cinemascope movies!