Posted on September 14, 2018 By Nikki and Chris Kahl
Optoma ProScene ZU660 Projector Review – Special Features: Motorized Lens, Image Stacking, Color Matching and Dynamic Black, 3D Capable, Quick Resume, Advanced Networking
The Optoma ProScene ZU660 has motorized lens functions. Powered zoom and focus, as well as motorized lens shift. Motorized lenses are hugely convenient, especially in the applications the projector is intended for, as the ZU660 will likely be ceiling mounted and well out of reach without a ladder. Most projectors fall out of focus from time to time, so being to adjust via the remote control is a definite plus. I’d like to mention that the motorized functions are super smooth, and I was truly impressed with them. That vertical lens shift is +50%, which is generous and allows for great placement flexibility, especially when combined with the interchangeable lens options offered. More on that in the Hardware Tour of this review.
Image Stacking allows two projectors to be placed, one on top of (or below) the other, to create a tall image. In the case of the ProScene ZU660, that image would be 1920 pixels wide by 2400 pixels tall. Some really awesome things could be done with such a feature, particularly in museums, houses of worship, and entertainment venues. Essentially, 1920×2400 video is rendered as two 1920×1200 videos, essentially cut in half horizontally, with the top projector projecting the top half of the video and the bottom projecting the bottom half of the video. The projected image would be seamless because the original video was edited to be the size of that full 1920×2400 image being projected. Pretty cool stuff.
Another use for Image Stacking has to do with doubling the image brightness. Two projectors – stacked one on top of the other – can project the same image, one on top of the other, to create a projected image with around 12,000 lumens of brightness. This is useful in situations where extra brightness is needed and simply buying a new 12,000 lumen projector is out of the question due to time contraints, budget, or needs. This is a relatively simple installation to accomplish, thanks to that generous lens shift we talked about.
The ZU660 has color matching with HSG adjustment, allowing you to adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Gain of the projector’s color. This is particularly useful in a multi-projector setup, such as what is used with the Image Stacking feature discussed above. You’ll want to make sure all of the projectors’ color matches to create a single, seamless image, and the HSG parameters are a way to do that.
The projector also has a feature called Dynamic Black which deals with the contrast of the ZU660. It gives more depth to the image, making bright scenes vibrant and clear, and giving dark scenes better black levels while maintaining a good amount of dark shadow detail. Dynamic Black affects the overall contrast of the image by adjusting the light engine output on each type of scene, much like a dynamic iris, but done digitally rather than physically.
The Optoma ZU660 is 3D capable, accepting 3D content from multiple source types. There is, of course, compatibility with 3D Blu-ray Disc™ players, as well as 3D broadcasting and the latest-generation game consoles. Though many will have no use for projecting 3D video games, I can think of at least one instance when such a thing may be of use – in higher education game design courses. My college had a Game Design major, and I’m sure those classes would benefit from being able to project 3D games – especially since game design is such a fast-growing industry.
The projector supports a 144Hz rapid-refresh rate, making the 3D images smooth and flicker-free. This 3D feature does require the use of 3D glasses. Optoma’s ZD302 3D glasses, which are rechargeable with up to 40 hours of battery life and use DLP Link active shutter technology. They automatically sync with the image and have the added bonus of fitting over most prescription glasses. Those go for about $50 each. Good news is, though, you can really just buy any active shutter 3D glasses with DLP Link and they’ll work, which can really save on costs when buying for an entire classroom, museum exhibit, or small auditorium.
Quick Resume is Optoma’s word for Quick On/Off. Most projectors have what is called a “cool down” period where, after turning the projector off, you have to wait a few minutes before powering on again. In the case of the ZU660, the projector can be powered on again after 100 seconds (just under two minutes). This comes in handy when you accidentally turn the projector off before you’re ready – trust me, it happens more often than you think.
The Optoma ProScene ZU660 has advanced networking features. The first of these features is HDBaseT, which allows for simplified installations using a single CAT6 cable for running audio, video, and control signals over long distances via an Ethernet port on the back of the projector. In the case of the ZU660, you can use a cable up to 328 feet long. This aids in placement flexibility, as the audio/video source does not need to be nearby the projector, which will likely be ceiling mounted and difficult to access directly. That audio/video source can be safely tucked in a control room, over 300 feet away from the projector itself. Cool.
The ZU660, as mentioned on the previous page, is Crestron RoomView ready. For those of you unfamiliar, Crestron RoomView is an AV asset management software for keeping track of all the projectors in your network. When connected to each projector, you will be able to see the power status, light engine life, alerts and other statistics. This is a command and control software that’s been around for quite some time.
Next up is our discussion of the Optoma ProScene ZU660’s hardware, written by Chris Kahl. After those next two pages, we will go into the projector’s picture quality for video and presentations. Then, we’ll talk about how the projector performed and sum it all up for you on the last page. See you at the Hardware Tour!
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