Posted on September 27, 2017
The NEC NP-PA653UL is a 6,500 lumen, large venue laser projector using 3LCD technology for advanced business and education applications. This beast of a projector is feature-laden, from its numerous inputs and connectors to the motorized lens options and 4K abilities. Though its native resolution is WUXGA (1920 x 1200), the NP-PA653UL can accept both 4K UHD and true 4K content. I’ve rather enjoyed this projector while testing 4K content, and can tell you right of the bat that the NP-PA653UL is a serious projector that performs quite well, and I was very impressed.
With a significant, but reasonable list price of $7,779, this commercial-grade install projector will find its home in the higher education and corporate markets, likely in a high-end lecture hall, executive boardroom, church, or other large venue. NEC outdid themselves with an impressive feature set geared toward these types of applications, of which I will go into in further detail on the Special Features Pages. The NP-PA653UL has a normal throw distance, and has excellent placement flexibility thanks to a healthy amount of vertical and horizontal lens shift and Keystone Correction. Now, without further adieu, let’s dive into our review of the NEC NP-PA653UL business and education projector.
I received an email from Art Feierman whilst he was attending Infocomm 2017 in Orlando, Florida. He was eager to tell me of the new 4K capable business and education projectors being shown at the convention. I believe I sent him back a message saying, “I want.” We’ve talked at length about 4K, and he knew of my thirst to get my hands on one for review.
This is not the first 4K capable projector I’ve gotten to work with, as I get to “play” with each projector that we do videos of, and in doing so, I capture real time footage. I’ve seen true 4K projectors, 4K UHD, and also 1080p pixel shifters, including this PA653UL, in action while filming these videos, (as well as lower resolution projectors, of course, and appreciate the varying quality of each projector’s image performance and the color capabilities).
That said, I was sufficiently impressed with the picture quality, color, features, and overall performance of this laser projector. I mentioned that the cost is $7,779 – I’ve been unable to find a lower street price as of yet, as very few commercial-grade projectors are sold online. Most projectors in this class are sold by AV integrators/dealers, who install them in university classrooms, auditoriums, museums, houses of worship, entertainment venues, command and control facilities, etc.
With the motorized, interchangeable lens and features like Edge Blending, Projection Mapping, integrated software applications like Crestron Roomview and DisplayNote (and others), and, of course, 4K content compatibility, there’s a lot of capability on board for virtually all commercial business and education applications. If this NEC can’t do the job for you, it’s probably because you need a much brighter projector for a really huge display area.
Now, understand that you’re paying a certain premium for that laser light engine. Lamp-based projectors are generally more cost-effective up front, but the trade-off is often seen in maintenance costs (replacing or cleaning air filters), the cost of replacement lamps, etc., and in getting someone in to perform that routine maintenance. Laser light engines have a longer life-span – up to 20,000 hours on the NEC NP-PA653UL.
Let’s get some perspective here. Most lamp-based projectors of today claim between 3,000 and 8,000 hours running at full power. That said, lamp based projectors at this brightness level or brighter rarely quote even 4,000 hours at full power. Lamp projectors running in their less-bright ECO modes are now beginning to see 5,000 to 8,000 hours, but that’s still a far cry from a laser projector like this one that claims a light engine life 20,000 hours at full power.
Again, the NEC NP-PA653UL is a commercial projector, which is to say, it is loaded with advanced features. There are more affordable laser projectors for business and education out there, to be sure, but those have more limited capabilities. You don’t need this NEC for the typical 30-student classroom, but it may be your best choice for a 200-seat lecture hall, or a mega-church, and any situation requiring multiple projectors at once, or special lenses.
Projectors like the NEC NP-PA653UL are large venue commercial projectors, so they have those extra features for advanced setups, making them really flexible – starting with that interchangeable lens option, but also Edge Blending (multiple projectors each handling a single image, but appearing seamless – in both brightness and color), and Projection Mapping capabilities. If you really don’t need all of that for your business and education purposes – Sony and Epson are bringing in $3,000-and-below models that are more for your typical business (large portable) projectors that are ceiling mounted 10 or 12 feet from a smaller screen.
In other words, pixel shifting projectors will prove extremely popular for providing value, saving true 4K projectors for the most critical applications, such as a wall display in a museum 10 feet high and 40 feet wide (Edge Blending), where the visitors are viewing the projected image from as close as a few feet away! You’d want an incredibly sharp image for an application such as that.
You are also paying for brightness. That 6,500 lumens is positively wall-melting, at least in a typical conference or board room, even with a lot amount of ambient light present – such as having all the fluorescent lights on. We’ve watched a number of 4K films at night in my house – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Fifth Element among them – and I can say with confidence that I am glad this is not a projector geared for a dedicated home theater. It is simply too bright for a fully darkened room, unless of course, you have something like a 20-foot screen.
While reviewing during the day, I did not need not even shut my blackout drapes, even slightly, nor did I need to worry about the blinds leaking plenty of light. With a full blast of sunlight coming in to the room, this laser projector can combat all that ambient light for a bright image with only a slight bit of color wash out. This makes the projector suitable for rooms and lecture halls with a lot of ambient light. Since it is a large venue projector, it may be used on some rather large screens (this model can produce an image from 50” to 500” diagonally), so that high brightness rating is going to come in handy. Remember – the bigger the screen, the more lumens you need.
That concludes our little overview and perspective to get you started. Next is a summary of the NP-PA653UL’s highlights. From there, you can move on to our Special Features pages, Hardware Tour pages, discussions of Picture and Sound Quality, then Performance. Finally, we’ll sum it all up for you, including a list of pros and cons so you can determine whether the NEC NP-PA653UL business and education install projector is the right one for your organizations specific needs.
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