Projector Reviews

NEC NP-PA521U Projector Review – Performance

NEC NP-PA521U PROJECTOR:  Brightness, Noise, Audio Performance, Networking

Brightness

The NEC NP-PA521U is specified by NEC to have 5200 lumens at it brightest setting.  When set to “High-Bright” picture mode and with all of the other picture settings at the factory default, I confirmed the accuracy of the published specification.  More specific, I measured just over 5400 lumens at mid-zoom position.   For the measurements in the following table the projector was placed about 160 inches from the screen and the zoom was set to its mid-point which produced an image about 82 inches wide with a 16 x 10 aspect ratio.

Picture Mode       Lumens

High-Bright               5427

Presentation             4239

Video                          3726

Movie                         4131

Graphic                      3726

sRGB                          4185

DICOM SIM               3699

The above measurements were taken with the projector’s lamp in normal (i.e., high) mode.  Eco mode reduced the light output by 33%.

Going from mid-zoom to maximum zoom increased the light output by about 8% while going from mid-zoom to minimum zoom decreased the light output by about 28%.

Brightness uniformity was reasonably good with a maximum 21% drop in brightness between the center of the projected image and the dimmest corner of the image.

In the Video Picture Quality section of this review I described my effort to perform a quick calibration of the NP-PA521U’s Movie preset picture mode.  The changes to the projectors settings to produce a more accurate image decreased the projectors light output to 2428 lumens, at mid-zoom.

Noise

The NEC NP-PA521U is specified to produce a noise level of 39 dB in normal lamp mode and 33 dB in Eco mode.  These values are a few dB higher than the typical 3000 to 3500 lumen business class projector, but the higher brightness of this model (spec’ed at 5200 lumens) requires a higher wattage lamp that produces more heat that must be dealt with.  While the noise level, especially with the lamp operating in normal (high) mode, is certainly very audible, but should not be so loud as to prove distracting when this projector is being used in the intended business or installation environment.  Changing to the “Eco” mode resulted in a noticeable decrease in noise level and to a level only a little louder than a typical home theater projector, when such a projector is operating in its normal/high lamp mode.

Audio Performance

The NEC NP-PA521U has a single, 10-watt built-in speaker that can play loud enough for use in a small to moderate size conference room but the sound quality is rather ‘thin’ due to the lack of any bass and the sound become distorted when you turn the volume too high.  It’s OK for voice narrations, but less than ideal for playback of video tracks that include music.   This is no worse than what many other business and education projectors offer in the way of performance from build-in speaker(s).  However it’s not up to the performance of the best business/education models, including some far less expensive than this NEC model.  This NEC projector provides an audio output port that can be used to connect to an external audio system for installations where higher quality audio is needed.

Networkng

The NEC NP-PA521U has a port on it rear panel for connection to a wired network and NEC also offers an optional wireless adapter (not provided with the unit used for this review).  NEC provides 4 different software tools with the projector and compatible 3rd party network software is also available.  The provided software includes:

Visual Remote Tool – control the projector via the network

Image Express Utility Lite 1.0 –  send images from a computer to the projector via the network, control basic projector functions for power and source, and correct image geometry

Desktop Control Utility Pro 4– allow you to remotely operate your computer, that located at a distance from the projector, over the network

PC Control Utility – operate the projector from a computer via the network or serial cable

The NP-PA521U has integrated software applications including Crestron Roomview, AMX Beacon and PJ Link for compete interactive and control.

The bottom line is the NEC NP-PA521U has very extensive support for networking with very good support for presentation and control applications/services.