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Classroom Projector Report 2013: Large Venue Projector Award Winners

Posted on May 25, 2013 by Art Feierman

Best In Classroom Awards: Larger Venue

This is a new category for us this year.  Note that in the past we considered this report to focus on projectors primarily for K-12, and primarily for use in classrooms.  Feedback, however asked us to include more powerful projectors that might be used in the often drastically larger classrooms found in higher education.  We're talking about classrooms that can hold 50 to 400 students, so typical of todays state universities.

With that in mind we looked at three very bright, and very flexible projectors that would suit such environments.  Those same projectors are also viable handling the auditoriums and large multi-purpose rooms of today's K-12 classrooms.  We expect to look at more than 3 for next year's report.

Best In Classroom:  Larger Venue Projectors:  Mitsubishi WL7200U

The Mitsubishi WL7200U is a very flexible, high brightness projector using an LCD engine. Sporting bayonet mount interchangeable lenses, it is ideal for positioning in large rooms where it can do rear screen, be placed close to the screen, middle of the room mounted or even the back of most rooms.  The WL7200U projector is loaded in inputs, and for neatness when mounting, it comes with a cable cover.


Mitsubishi WL7200 - Since this report Mitsubishi has exited the projector business

What makes the WL7200U an award winner is the value.  This is a capable commercial projector laden with features, for an impressively low price, in a relatively small small case for a higher powered projector.  We're talking about a projector that produced over 5300 lumens when measured that sells for less than $3000.  Tony found it to offer a feature set that's extremely tough to duplicate for the price.  Consider, the WL7200U has power lens focus, lens zoom, and lens shift.  It also has corner correction (digital).  Considering the multiple lenses this is an exceptionally fine projector when it comes to placement, especially for the price.  Note, that this is a rather compact projector for one with interchangeable lenses. The projector even will compensate for projecting onto curved surfaces.  I'm not sure how much need there is for that in most educational environments, but we sure can't complain that it offers this feature.

Color is overall extremely good.  This 3LCD projector does a very respectable job with color even in its brightest modes (typical of LCD projectors), and only gets better from there, as you move to the "best" modes.  This Mitsubishi has a dynamic image/detail sharpening feature called Super-Resolution.   LCD projectors do have filters, but fortunately, this Mitsubishi relies on a long life filter cartridge.


As you would expect from a projector of this class, it comes with a full set of networking capabilities, including AMX, and Crestron RoomView compatibility. If wireless networking is something needed, no problem, wireless networking is optional.  Even noise levels are better than most.  37 db at full power isn't bad, and 30 db in eco mode makes it quieter than a number of home theater projectors running at full power!


Mitsubishi WL7200 in Theater mode

And don't forget the excellent warranty:  3 years parts and labor, and a 3 year replacement program!

The WL7200U is a powerful, serious larger venue projector, one with plenty of capabilities, but at a surprisingly affordable price.  Impressive!

Best In Classroom - Runner-Up:  Panasonic PT-DZ770U

You definitely won't expect to find a Panasonic PT-DZ770U projector in a K-12 classroom, and I'll bet you won't find one in a K-12 school auditorium either.   Where you just might find one of these projectors in a university classroom, probably a science classroom, or engineering, architecture, or perhaps the visual arts.  Definitely medical schools.   Why?


Dual lamp Panasonic DZ770UL shown in black case (white is also available)

The PT-DZ770U is a 1920x1200 resolution projector, that's slightly higher than 1080p!  And, It claims an auditorium capable 7000 lumens!  This projector is a dual lamp design, which is just what you need for continuous operation, perhaps driving a permanent large scale museum exhibit. Museums, by the way, have to be included within the world of education.  For the combination of high resolution, dual lamp, and all those lumens, you end up with a price tag high enough to pay for equipping every classroom in a typical K-12 school, with a low cost value projector.  The PT-DZ770U has a list price of $17099, but the good news is that the street price, at least without lens, is likely to be around or below $10,000.

This Panasonic projector is obviously another very serious larger venue projector.  This is a compact projector a little smaller than 20" x 20"  7 inches. There are six lens options available.  I mention that because different lenses will result in different brightness measurements.  The "standard" lens has a lot of zoom range, so likely isn't the brightest of the lenses, but this Panasonic projector still measured almost 5800 lumens.  That's still dazzling.  It was the only lens sent so we didn't have a chance to measure the projector with other lenses that might be brighter.

I mentioned museum use.  The PT-DZ770U has both edge blending, and color matching between projectors for using more than one together to create perhaps an image 10 feet high and 60 feet long.  You get the idea.

Want to be truly impressed?  This projector stays cool, thanks to a liquid cooling system. It stays clean with a motorized filter system that lasts far longer than even the lamp, the filter is good for 12,000 hours.  This is a small, fully featured tank of a projector, with just about every input you can think of, and even a remote control that claims a 100 foot range (we didn't try that).


This Panasonic series is still far from the brightest projectors out  there (there are over 100 pound projectors with 25,000 lumens, but it sure isn't far off in terms of feature set, even compared to those far more expensive.


PT-DZ770U standard mode test pattern

The Panasonic PT-DZ770U is a state of the art, high resolution commercial projector. There are so many features we haven't mentioned.  But I do want to note that this projector is DICOM capable.  Simply stated, it has the dynamic range, and capability to do a good job reproducing medical films such as X-Rays, MRI's CAT-scans, PETs etc.  DICOM assures at least good enough reproduction of such films for use at medical and scientific conferences and in the classroom.

No question, this projector is a step, or two, or three up from the Mitsubishi WL7200U.  They are certainly not competitors considering this Panasonic is something in the order of three to six times the price depending on lenses, etc. The final decision to give this Panasonic PT-DZ770U the runner-up award and the Mitsubishi the top honor, was about the the practical side of things.  While there certainly will be some facilities where this projector is ideal, projectors with price and performance on the order of the Mitsubishi are far more viable in less demanding educational environments, both K-12 and higher education.

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