Posted on April 28, 2016
The NEC P502WL is a laser light engine installation class DLP projector having WXGA, 1280 x 800, resolution and a bright 5000 lumens rated light output. It offers a lot of features for its $3499 list price. This is a commercial/installation class projector that falls toward the lower end, in terms of size, weight and price, of the installation class of projectors rated at, or near, 5000 lumens, especially those using a laser light source.
The P502WL uses a laser/phosphor wheel light engine rated at 20,000 hours of life, which is unusual to find in an installation projector at this price point. While this is an installation class projector, it is also suitable for use in a conference room or classroom.
For education use it would probably be of most interest to colleges/universities looking for a low maintenance projector with networking capabilities and perhaps the ability to simultaneously display content from multiple sources, including mobile devices. NEC also offers some less expensive, bulb based, entry level installation class projectors in their P4xx series starting with their model P401W that has a list price of $1399 and a rated light output of 4000 lumens.
The P502WL received our Special Interest award as being a versatile projector capable of being a very good larger venue ‘entry-level” installation projector as well of suitable for use in certain conference room and classroom applications. Entry level, only in that it lacks interchangeable and motorized lens options found on more expensive “larger venue” projectors.
NEC manufacturers as wide range of business, classroom and installation projectors. In Feb. 2015 we reviewed the NEC NP-PA521U (HERE), which is a lamp-based installation class projector rated at 5200 lumens light output and with interchangeable lens.
The P502WL we are now reviewing is spec’ed for similar brightness, omits the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and certain other features while replacing the lamp with a laser/phosphor wheel for the light source. The P502WL has a lower 1200 x 800 resolution while the PA521U had higher 1920x 1200 resolution. However, that previously reviewed model carried a list price of $6548 (with lens) while the P502WL is priced much lower at $3499.
The NEC P502WL is marketed as a multimedia/installation projector that is priced at he lower end of NEC range of such projectors. It would also be appropriate to consider this model for certain business and education applications. It offers high lumens output in its brightest modes, a reasonably wide range 1.7:1 zoom lens, and networking support.
This NEC lacks built-in support for multi-projector installations with edge blending and geometry corrections of adjoining images, as found on many more expensive installation class projectors. Also missing are user adjustments for grey scale calibration and there is no color management system (CMS). The P502WL is smaller, lighter and less expensive than the “heavy metal” class of commercial installation projectors, including a number of models from NEC. So I would consider the P502WL to be a more entry-level installation model.
For those users requiring a higher resolution projector, NEC offers the otherwise similar model P502HL, which provides HD, 1920 x 1080, resolution at a list price of $4599. One of the features that one must give up with either the NEC P502WL or the P502HL, as compared to most more expensive installation class projectors, is the lack of interchangeable lenses. However, if your requirements are satisfied with this projector’s 1.7:1 zoom lens supporting a throw ratio range of 1.3 to 2.2, then the P502WL (or its higher resolution sibling) could be an economical alternative to those more expensive installation models.
We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report, in which this projector is considered.
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