Projector Reviews

NEC NP-PA521U Projector Review

The NEC  NP-PA521U is a commercial/professional installation projector that is aimed for the corporate and higher-end education markets.  It is rated for a high 5200 lumens brightness, offers extensive wired and optional wireless networking, flexible mounting options, interchangeable lenses and support for multi-projector commercial applications.

This NEC projector, with a list price of $5799, offers interchangeable lenses. which are sold separately.   A 2X medium throw zoom lens, model NP-13ZL with a MSRP of $749, was supplied with the review unit and the spec. sheet below reflects the characteristics of that specific lens.

NEC NP-PA521U Overview

NEC manufacturers as wide range of business projectors.  The NP-PA521U, reviewed here, is marketed as a multimedia/installation projector that is positioned as a higher-end business/corporate model.  If offers high lumens output, interchangeable lenses, extensive networking support and support for multi-projector installations with seamless edge blending of adjoining images. NEC says it is also suitable or higher-end education applications.  The NP-PA521U is smaller, lighter and less expensive than some “heavy metal” commercial “installation” projectors, including a number of models from NEC.   So I would consider it to be a mid-range installation model.  The NP-PA521U received our Special Interest Award for offering much of the performance and features of the ‘heavy metal” installation projectors, but in a smaller, lighter and more affordable package.

NEC offers a brighter model (i.e., spec’ed at 1000 more lumens) in this series with their NP-PA622U, which offers 6200 lumens for $5999 (i.e., $200 more) but otherwise is similar to the model reviewed here.  Note that with a quick web search I found that street prices are much less than the NEC published list prices for these models.  NEC also offers lower resolution, less expensive, models in this series of multimedia projectors.

The NP-PA521UI that I reviewed came with a NP13ZL zoom lens ($749 list price) offering a 2.01:1 zoom ratio.  NEC offers five other lenses, compatible with this projector, that range from short-throw to long-throw models.  This, along with fairly wide range vertical and horizontal lens shift adjustments, available with several of these lenses, results in great mounting flexibility for this projector.  For my evaluation I used the projector table mounted, but ceiling mounting will more typically be used for business applications (i.e., in a conference room or board room).  In fact, this model can be mounted at virtually any angle which makes is flexible for multi-projector installations or for other special purpose applications.  It has a MSRP of $5799, (and a lower on-line street price) which makes it competitive with other commercial installation multimedia projectors with similar light output and features.

This projector review is included in our 2015-2016 Best Classroom Projectors Report, which is sponsored by Epson America.


  • High light output – rated at 5200 lumens
  • Several lens options, ranging from short throw to long-throw models, provides support for most any throw distance requirements
  • Very flexible mounting options and positions along with wide range vertical and horizontal lens shift provide excellent mounting flexibility
  • Wired and optional wireless networking support extensive software support available for control and management of multiple projector  installations
  • Integrated software applications such as Crestron Roomview, AMX Beacon and PJ Link allow for complete interactivity and control
  • Very sharp images with 1920 x 1200 resolution and with a high quality lens
  • Multiple picture modes with good color accuracy
  • Extensive color and grey scale adjustments offered for professional calibration
  • Supports multi-projector display setups with image edge blending
  • 3D support (Blu-ray 3D compatible), requires optional 3D emitter and active 3D glasses (not provided with the review unit)
  • 3 year limited warranty