Hitachi CP-TW2503 - Ultra Short Throw
There are multiple advantages (and a couple of disadvantages) to ultra short throw projector designs.
The key “feature” of ultra short throw is that it places right above, or right below the projection surface. The benefit of that is it keeps the bright output of the projector out of the presenter/teacher/student’s eyes. With a traditional, non-interactive projector that may not be a big deal, as the person speaking may not need to be near the screen, but for fast interactivity, being “right there” is critical.
Mounting right above the projection surface provides security (compared to table top), but it also typically means a simpler, less expensive installation than is typical of longer throw projectors. Being an ultra short throw projector (as compared to a Very short throw projector, means the projector is mounted only 5 inches from the wall for a 60 inch diagonal screen/whiteboard. Very short throw projectors are typically 30 – 48 inches from the wall, which means a lot harder for the presenter to dodge the projector’s bright light.
While many ultra short throw projectors have a manual focus lens, the Hitachi CP-TW2503 has power focus. This would not be of any real advantage for a projector mounted to wall (or table), since the focus would only need to be adjusted during the initial installation. However, if the projector were to be placed on a table or stand and frequently moved, then a power focus could come in handy (i.e., not a big advantage, just a handy feature).
Hitachi CP-TW2503 - Wired and Wireless Networking
The Hitachi CP-TW2503 has an Ethernet connector on the rear panel for wired network connections. An optional wireless (Wi-Fi) adapter is available at extra cost. The wireless adapter was not provided with the review unit. By connecting the projector and an administrator's computer via the network, remote control and status monitoring of the projector can be performed by a Web browser. Two types of interface, ”Projector Web Control” and “Crestron e-Control”, are available for the CP-TW2503.
The projector can display or play back the computer screen images and audio data that are transmitted through the network. To use Network Presentation, an exclusive Hitachi application, "LiveViewer" is required. MS Windows and Apple MacOSX versions are available as is an iOS version for use with iPads and iPhones.
The CP-TW2503 is equipped with the Network Bridge function to perform mutual conversion of a network protocol and a serial interface. By making use of the Network Bridge function, a computer connected to the projector via wireless or wired LAN is able to control an external device that is connected to the projector via RS-232C by using the projector as a network terminal.
This enables an administrator to not only control the projector’s settings but also monitor the health/status of the projector for scheduling/initiating projector maintenance and generating reports.
Overall, the Hitachi CP-TW2503 offers a nice set of networking features. This capability is becoming a essential feature for large networking installations, such as a corporation with these projectors in several conference rooms, or perhaps a school with projectors in multiple classrooms and/or multiple buildings. Thanks to supporting advanced networking , a network administrator, can receive emails or alerts should any of these projectors have a problem. This allows for scheduling of events, centralized reporting, image transfers, and email alerts for reactive or routine maintenance.
Presentations can be delivered via the network as well notifications, such as might be used for an emergency. A network administrator could turn on every one of these projectors in their system, in an emergency situation, and have all of the projectors display pushed messages such as: Hurricane threatening, all schools will close at 1pm today. In a corporate world, a network administrator can keep an eye on a fleet of projectors.
"LiverViewer" software is supplied with the projector. The LiveViewer software can transfer images and audio from a computer to the projector or the switcher connected to projector via wireless LAN or wired LAN. This software has a variety of features that helps facilitate setting up presentations and making easy connections.
You’ll be able to find images of the networking menus, in the Menus section of our CP-TW2503 Hardware Tour pages.
Hitachi CP-TW2503 - Interactivity
The Hitachi CP-TW2503 has on-board software in the projector which allows for all the core interactive functions, to control color, line thickness, highlights, etc. You can use either the supplied interactive pens or the projector's remote control as a simple mouse.
The Hitachi user manual also mentions an optional "Finger Touch Unit" (model FT-01) that can be used with the CP-TW2503, but this optional unit was not supplied with the projector used for this review.
Overall, the CP-TW2503 has a good collection of interactive tools built into the projector, even when the projector is not connected to a computer. When connected to a computer, the interactive functions can be used to control the basic functions of the connected PC.
Hitachi CP-TW2503 - Presentations without a Computer
The CP-TW2503 allows individual images and slide shows to be displayed from a connected USB flash memory drive. Images (JPEG, bmp, png or gif format) can be displayed in thumbnail, full screen or slideshow format. This allows for simple presentations without the need to connect the projector to a computer. The projector also supports playing videos (avi or mov format) stored on an attached USB flash drive as well as audio files, in wav format. Basic interactive features, described above, can be used along with presentations stored on an attached USB flash drive.
Hitachi CP-TW2503 - DICOM Simulation
In addition to the usual Picture modes, Hitachi has included DICOM Simulation mode intended to display images approximating the DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) Part 14 Grayscale Standard Display Function used with B/W medical imaging (such as X-rays). This mode optimizes black/gray/white detail with a custom gamma curve. Hitachi notes that "this projector is not a medical device and is not compliant to the DICOM standard, and neither the projector nor the DICOM SIM. mode should be used for medical diagnosis." Even so, the DICOM SIM. mode on the CP-TW2503 may be useful in a medical teaching application.
Hitachi CP-TW2503 - Extensive Image Options and Adjustments
The CP-TW2503 offers an unusually wide range of picture modes, settings and adjustments to customize the image. After selecting a picture mode there are quite a number of adjustments available beyond the typical contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc. controls. These additional available adjustments include:
A color temperature setting offering "High", "Mid", "Low" plus 4 different levels of "Hi-Bright" and for each of these the user can use either the default value or create their own custom settings for R-G-B gain and offset. This lets the user adjust the color temperature and the grey scale, if they have the knowledge and equipment to do this.
A gamma setting is provided offering several presets, and the option to create a custom gamma curve.
A color space (gamut) can be selected that corresponds to any one of 4 different standards as well as "auto".
While the above level of image adjustments would not be consider unusual for some types of projectors (e.g., home theater) it is somewhat out of the ordinary to find this level of image customization available on this class of education/business projector.
The CP-TW2503 also has two unique features. The first is labeled "HDCR" which Hitachi describes as "a function to show a clear picture in a bright room" and using the left and right arrow button on the remote "adjusts the contrast". The second feature is labeled "Accentualizer" which Hitachi describes as "a function to improve the legibility" and using the left and right arrow buttons on the remote "adjust the sharpness" from weak to strong.
While I suspect the vast majority of users of these projectors will leave most or all of the image settings at their default values, the level of customization possible with the CP-TW2502 may be welcome to the users/organizations that have the knowledge of how to use them to tailor the projected image to their specific application/environment.
While most projectors, including this one, offer digital keystone adjustments, the CP-TW2503 takes digital image geometry correction up another notch with what they call "Perfect Fit 2" which Hitachi describes as:
Enables the user to adjust individual corners and sides independent of one another. Perfect Fit 2 provides vertical and horizontal digital correction of either barrel or pin cushion distortions. This feature helps correct geometric and complicated distortions. Perfect Fit 2 allows the projected image to fit correctly to the screen quickly and easily