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Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector - Review Summary

Posted on December 24, 2010 by Art Feierman

Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector - Review Summary

A summary of the Hitachi CP-X5021N projector's pros, cons, and typical capabilities.

12-24-10 -Mike Rollett

Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector: Bottom Line

Despite the somewhat disappointing brightness measurements of the CP-X5021N, the overall package is well thought out, and very functional. The projector meets its intended goal of being optimized for large and larger classroom, training, and meeting room environments. It's bright, has the "big sound", plenty of advanced networking features, and even a microphone input. The price point considering the feature set, is very good.

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Update, 2/16/11: As updated in other parts of this review, well after publishing, we found a significant number of the missing lumens. It is explained in the performance page, but ultimately it only requires a major Brightness setting adjustment from the default. The end result: we could measure over 4350 lumens maximum, and over 4050 with a very good looking image. To come in 15-20% below claim is not uncommon. That we originally found it to be down almost 30% was disturbing. -art

That there are very few projectors that can give the CP-X5021N and its siblings serious competition when used for their intended purposes, is all the justification we need to give the CP-X5021N our Special Interest Hot Product Award. These Hitachi Collegiate projectors will be included in the 2011 K12 Education Report as well (click for last year's report).

The Hitachi CP-X5021N provides a lot of features and very good performance for its slightly over $2000 street price.  While it did not come close to its 5000 rated lumens - we did ask for a second projector. The second CP-X5021N measured only a few dozen lumens more than the first one, so we have to assume that this is a 3500 lumen projector. That's still a lot of muscle! And, the Hitachi projectors both l provided that level of brightness with very good sharpness and color fidelity.  Even with that lower-than-rated output, it still compares favorably with other projectors we’ve tested in its price range, like the Sharp PG-D3510X.  Compared to the Sharp, which has a similar price and brightness, the Hitachi offers much more in the way of installation flexibility, inputs and presentation sources and sound.  Its ability to project from virtually any source, combined with its high-powered built-in speakers and (don't forget) the microphone jack, make it an attractive choice for the large classroom or lecture hall (which is its market, being billed as a “Collegiate series” projector).  It should be just as at home in a business setting.

While the Hitachi CP-X5021N has an excellent rated lamp life (5000 hours) in Eco mode, many may want every last lumen, in which case its lamp life (at full power) is rated 2500 lumens, still better than average.

Its scaling/resizing of higher resolutions is solid, but still gives away a bit of sharpness compared to the DLP competition (single chip DLP projectors typically look sharper than LCD or LCoS because they are single panel, and don't have 3 panels that have to be aligned for max sharpness.

Setup is quite simple and the welcome inclusion of both vertical and horizontal lens shift put it a step ahead of most of the competition.  There are also more picture adjustments available to the user than are seen with many home theater projectors.  Lamp replacement should be easy with any mounting and the hybrid filter has a 5000-hour maintenance schedule.

The Hitachi CP-X5021N is one of three similar projectors in Hitachi’s “Collegiate Series”.  The other two are the CP-WX4021N, which is a WXGA projector rated at 4000 lumens and the CP-X4021N, which is an XGA projector like the X5021N, but is rated at 4000 lumens. We do wonder if the X4021N, is appropriately less bright, since the X5021N missed its target. Most likely I'd expect the 4000 lumen rated X40121N to come in over 3000 lumens, but we're not likely to get the chance to find out.

The Hitachi CP-X5021N certainly fits its billing as a projector that can be used in a collegiate setting (meaning a large classroom or lecture hall).  Its ability to project from a variety of sources, from multiple computers on a network, to a slideshow on a USB thumb drive, combined with its portability, make it a solid choice for any sized school.

Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector: Pros

  • Very good color rendition and good readability with native resolution or higher
  • Horizontal and vertical lens shift, wide range zoom, provide for quick, fllexible placement and setup
  • Ability to project from virtually any type of source
  • Reasonably lightweight – 10.4 lbs.
  • Full complement of inputs and outputs, including HDMI
  • Ability to display from up to four networked computers at the same time
  • Audio is well done - 16 watt speaker out provide more sound than the competition, and the built in Mic jack lets the presenter amplify his voice, a real plus
  • 3500+ lumens - it may not be as much as Hitachi claims, but this is a bright projector for larger rooms

Hitachi CP-X5021N Projector: Cons

  • Did not come close to its rated lumen output (ok, it got closer than we first thought)
  • A bit higher priced than some of the competition
  • Just about average lamp life in Normal mode (not exactly a Con)

Editor's note: It should be mentioned that Hitachi has, more than any other projector maufacturer, focused on the education market. That's not to say companies like Epson and Mitsubishi, Optoma and Sony, don't also - with models specifically designed for education), but for Hitachi, it is by far, their number one market and focus. According to them, they are the largest seller of projectors to the school markets. In other words, while Epson, say, claims to sell the most projectors, Hitachi says they sell more projectors to education, than Epson does. Years back, when I owned a large online dealer, I couldn't convince Hitachi to sign me as a projector dealer- primarily because they were looking for education focused dealers, and we were too general.

It seems that Hitachi's education focus is as apparent when I look at their new products and when I talk with their people today, as it was back almost a decade ago. -art

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