Posted on September 27, 2017 By Nikki Zelinger
NEC NP-PA653UL Projector Review – Hardware 1: Overview, Inputs and Connectors, Interchangeable Lens Options
The NEC NP-PA653UL is a large venue commercial projector, measuring 22.8 inches wide, 19.4 inches deep, and 8.2 inches tall and weighing 40.1 pounds. It can be mounted on a table top, front or rear, and ceiling mounted – also front or rear. For this review, I did not ceiling mount it. As such, I will be describing the projector as it appears when looking at it on a table top.
The front of the projector has the lens, of course, which is interchangeable. You must mount the lens yourself – the PA653UL doesn’t come with a lens – but it’s easy enough. It fits into the cavity and secures easily, much like mounting a lens to a DSLR (only much bigger and heavier). Also on the front are the indicator lights for Power, Status, Light, and Temp., located to the right of the lens.
There is an air-intake vent on the front of the projector, to the left of the lens. The other, larger air-intake vent is located on the right side of the PA653UL. The hot exhaust fans are on the left side of the projector. The inputs and connectors panel is on the back, and has a healthy amount, too – everything you’ll need for your business or education applications. We’ll go into more detail on what’s back there in the following section.
The PA653UL has good connectivity. I’m going to discuss the inputs and connectors panel in sections, of which there are two – a string of five inputs next to a square-shaped arrangement of connectors. The first section, starting at the left, has an HDBaseT In/Ethernet port. This supports HDMI signals from a transmission device, via a LAN cable. It also supports control signals from external devices (serial, LAN), and remote control signals.
Next to that HDBaseT In are three inputs – a DisplayPort In and two HDMI ports. Use a DisplayPort cable to hook the projector up to a computer that also has a DisplayPort. The HDMI inputs can also be used to connect to a computer, and, of course, for connecting players that support BluRay, 4K UHD, or streaming content. To the right of those three inputs is the HDBaseT/Ethernet Out port.
The square section has an “old school” VGA Computer In connector (HD15) in the upper right hand corner. Directly below that is the PC Control port, and below that, we have a 3D Sync input. Next to that is an Audio Out port. This projector does not have speakers, so you’ll be needing this. Above that is a Remote input for wired remote control of the projector, and above that is an Audio In port.
The final set of inputs and connectors is located at the top right corner of the panel and includes a USB port on top of a LAN (RJ-45) connector. This is a configuration we are beginning to see more often on business and education projectors, and expect it to become commonplace before long. That does it for the inputs and connectors – on to the interchangeable lens options!
The NEC NP-PA653UL does not come with a standard lens. There are three lens options total, all of them “optional.” Of course, they aren’t truly optional – you will need a lens to operate the projector, so you’ve got to choose at least one: the NP40ZL, NP41ZL, and the NP43ZL. We’ll get into the pricing and differences between each in the paragraphs below.
Let’s start with the NP40ZL. The NP40ZL is a $2,985 lens. This is the most expensive lens NEC has to offer for the PA653UL. Now, the higher price doesn’t mean that this lens is the best one for your applications. It has a 0.78 to 1.14 zoom. That’s a good amount, but not a lot, so depending on where you are planning on mounting the projector, you may or may not want a lens with more zoom.
The NP41ZL is the lens NEC sent me to use with the PA653UL. It costs $1,394, and has a healthy amount of zoom – 1.30 to 3.08. In my living room, I have the projector sitting about ten feet back from my 92” screen, and I used that zoom to get the projected image to fit perfectly within the screen (with the help of Lens Shift – a feature I do so love). This may be the most versatile lens of the three.
The last option for lenses is the NP43ZL, a 2.88 to 5.93 telephoto selling for $1,905. All three lenses are motorized and are bayonet-mount (bayonet-mount refers to the way the lens fits into the projector). For 80% of setups, this means nothing – it saves a couple of minutes.
There is, however, one large market where having a quick release bayonet mount makes all the difference: rental and staging. Every time a corporation goes to hotel, music festival, expo, etc. where people are doing presentations, A/V companies come in to set up and run the projector. The same projector often needs a different lens for each time it’s put to use in different locations. The quick release bayonet-mount saves them time when switching out the lens.
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