Posted on September 27, 2017 By Nikki Zelinger
NEC NP-PA653UL Projector Review – Special Features 2: PC-Free Presenting, Edge Blending and Projection Mapping, Virtual Remote
PC-Free Presenting is a feature I consider to be basic when it comes to business and education projectors, though some lower-priced models do not have the capability. It is no surprise to me that the PA653UL has this function. The optional (meaning, not included) MultiPresenter Stick allows up to 12 devices to simultaneously connect to the projector.
I did not have the dongle ($329), so I wasn’t able to test this function. The MultiPresenter Stick is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. That is extremely useful in today’s world, where you’ve got such a variety of operating systems being used to present content. And, with the ability to connect wirelessly to the projector, there’s no need for cables. This allows the presenter to roam freely if presenting from a mobile device. Microsoft Office is available on mobile devices, so a person can easily run a presentation directly from their PowerPoint app on their phone or tablet. Pretty cool.
Like most projectors, you can also plug in a USB drive to project presentations, images, videos, and audio. You can use this function to get your 4K images and videos to appear as 4K on the screen, rather than be limited by the resolution of your display. I spoke in detail on that in the 4K Capable section on the previous page.
Edge Blending is an awesome feature for multi-projector setups. Say you wanted to display a continuous image that spans over four screens. You would set up four projectors and position them so that the edges of those images were lined up. Before Edge Blending, it was very difficult to get a seamless image. Proper edge blending makes the image seamless – you can’t tell where one projector’s image ends, the next begins (or how much they overlap). We’re talking matching up not only the image itself, but its brightness and the colors as well.
Projectors with this feature do slightly overlap of the images of the multiple projectors yet you perceive it as one large seamless image from a single projector! Without matching everything, the human mind will spot the mismatched colors and pixels, the edge, or the overlap of images (creating a bright line in between the images), and thereby ruining the magic.
Besides specialty business/higher education uses for this function, there are a few more artistic applications for Edge Blending. Museums and galleries routinely use this for art installations. I’ve seen musical productions using projectors to create fantastically realistic set backdrops for the stage, thanks to Edge Blending. Entire scenes can be set, with only a few physical props, using this technology.
Another cool feature related to this concept is Projection Mapping. Projection Mapping is a technology that allows for an image to be “wrapped” around a 3D object. For example, you could project an image that would take the shape of a three-dimensional box. I saw this used in Disneyland’s California Adventure Park’s production of Frozen.
The stage had round edges, but it wasn’t as simple a shape as a circle. It had three circles, with the middle circle being the largest. That’s not exactly easy to map, but they did it. The front of the stage had water, gently washing up on a shore – and it looked great, too. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night production used Projection Mapping on their stage as well – that one won a Tony back in 2015. Since then, more and more projections are using this technology.
The application of Projection Mapping technology is already hugely popular in the theater industry, and I predict it will become more so. Technology is evolving so fast that I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the number-one way to “decorate” sets within the next couple of years.
Another quick anecdote about Projection Mapping – back in 2013, I had one of my experimental photographs exhibited on a skyscraper in Manhattan, New York. Several others presented their work in this exhibit as well, and all of our photography was projected onto the buildings using Projection Mapping. So, as you can see, there are a lot of unique applications for these two technologies, and a lot of industries that can benefit from it.
Virtual Remote is a smart feature – call it modern “command and control.” This projector has it. Virtual Remote is an app that allows the projector to be controlled from a mobile device, such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or other iOS device. I downloaded the app for $0.99, and it is simple in design. You can control quite a lot with it – definitely worth the dollar if you’re planning on using the projector often.
Virtual Remote allows you to turn the projector on or off, switch the input, access and navigate the menus (as well as exit them), and control various other functions. You can control the picture, aspect ratio, mute the A/V signal, freeze the frame, and put the projector in ECO mode. On the app, you can even control the volume and digital zoom.
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