Posted on June 28, 2019 By Nikki Zelinger
NEC NP-MC382W Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise
The NEC NP-MC382W claims a bright 3,800 lumens, which is plenty for environments that have uncontrollable light conditions, such as many K-12 classrooms, and business environments like conference rooms and boardrooms. This projector beat its claim, and at at mid-zoom! I was particularly impressed by this, as most projectors will fall up to 25% below their claim. High-bright, when measured at mid-zoom, came in at 4,050 lumens. The same mode, when measured at full wide angle, came in at 4,902 lumens.
Now, you already know from the previous page that High-Bright is a mode only to be used in the most dire of ambient light circumstances due to its strong green-yellow tinge. Presentation is the next brightest mode, and has significantly improved color over High-Bright. This mode measured at 3,314 lumens at mid-zoom.
The reason we have provided the measurements at mid-zoom is because this is how a typical installation would need to position the projector – at a point where the lens is zoomed in a bit. The more you zoom in, the less lumens are put out. Even still, 3,314 lumens should be enough to combat the kind of ambient light seen in most classrooms, conference rooms, and boardrooms.
The NEC NP-MC382W projecting in a room with a lot of ambient light.
The NEC NP-MC382W projecting in a fully darkened room.
The photos in the slider above were taken in Graphic mode, the “best” mode for presentations, where the projector was fighting against a lot of ambient light, versus what the image looks like in a fully darkened room. The MC382W’s Graphic mode performed admirably – and it’s the least bright mode of the lot, measuring in at 2,492 lumens. DICOM SIM. measured the same. If your environment calls for more brightness, but still with rather excellent color, you’re in luck, with three really great modes to choose from.
Video, the “best” mode for video (that would also work well for presentations), measured at 2,606 lumens. sRGB measured the same. Movie is the brightest of the modes with great color, coming in at 2,747, and would be usable for presentations that don’t require totally accurate color. I say this because, of the three modes just mentioned, Movie is by far the warmest, with a distinct orange hue. While this looks great on most skin tones, it may mess up little Susie’s presentation on color theory.
The NEC NP-MC382W has a contrast claim of 16,000:1. When reviewing a projector, we don’t have a way to measure this claim. Instead, we analyze the projector in terms of black level performance. Black levels is a term that refers to how dark the blacks are when reproduced by the projector, as compared to pure black. It’s uncommon for any projector to have pure black when it comes to black levels, save for, perhaps, a few of Sony’s or JVC’s home theater projectors, and even more uncommon for a business or education projector to have.
Business and education projectors’ black levels tend to hover around medium-grey to dark grey, across all manufacturers and price points, with higher-end models and commercial projectors being the exception. For us, it’s more of a question of, “are the blacks recognizable as black?” when reviewing a business or education projector, rather than if the projector can reproduce true black. Like I said, that’s a standard we reserve for home theater projectors.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in color for comparison purposes.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in monochrome for comparison purposes.
The MC382W’s black levels are entry level, which is to be expected. The projector itself is entry level – and has entry level pricing at $549 (street) – making it an affordable and capable option for K-12 schools (especially with NEC’s Star Student education pricing) and business environments. I would call the NEC NP-MC382W’s black levels a medium-dark grey. Blacks are recognizable as blacks, and that’s good enough for me!
In the slider above, I have two images of the Bigelow Rendering from Journey to Space. The first is in color, and the second, in monochrome. The images are overexposed so as to demonstrate what the projected image looked like in person. Space looks like space, in both images. These photos were taken in Video mode.
The NEC NP-MC382W has an audible noise rating of 37db at full power. Standing next to the projector while taking my presentation photos, I could hear the fan. The projector was sitting on a shelf, just a couple of feet away from me. When I switched to taking photos of the Netflix show “Explained” and the documentary “Journey to Space,” I had the volume up so I could form my opinions about the quality of the speaker. At half volume, I could not hear the fan.
In Normal ECO mode, the fan noise rating dips down to 34db – which is just above some home theater projectors’ audible noise claims – and 29db in ECO mode. This projector will likely be ceiling mounted, probably at least six feet or more above the heads of anyone under it, and isn’t likely to cause any distraction during presentations. Should the projector be mounted on a table top, you may hear the fan, but it won’t be any more distracting than your typical air conditioning.
That does it for our review of the NEC NP-MC382W! On the next page, I summarize everything you learned in the review, provide some insight as to the competition, and pros and cons to the MC382W. See you on the last page!
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