Education Projectors Considered: Standard Classroom Projectors 3

Here’s the third batch of typical install and portable projectors we call the “standard” class of education projectors. These are primarily installed in classrooms, although the last one is a Viewsonic pocket projector more suitable for portable use.

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report.


Viewsonic PJD5555W

The DLP based, 3300 lumen PJD5555W is one of Viewsonic’s value projectors.  It typically sells between $449 and $499, with a very respectable feature set for a widescreen projector at its price point.

From a placement flexibility standpoint there’s only a 1.1:1 zoom, but then there are competitors with no zoom lens at all.  That’s enough for fine tuning an installation or a quick setup.

The PJD5555W comes close to its 3300 lumen claim, with brightest mode just shy of 3100.  As is typical, modes with very good color (“best” modes) are somewhat less bright, but still clock in around 2300 lumens, more than enough for virtually any K-12 classroom.   Even at full power, this Viewsonic is reasonably quiet.  More impressive is efficiency.   This Viewsonic gets by with only a 190 watt lamp, and has excellent lamp life claiming 5000 hours at full power, 6000 in Eco, and in with power management claims up to 8000 hours (power consumption drops to 30% when the projector is on, but nothing going on).  That btw seems to be a DLP feature provided by TI, as we’re seeing similar power managed modes on almost all new DLP projectors.

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Sound isn’t a strength of this Viewsonic.  It’s only a 2 watt speaker although Viewsonic says its large chamber makes it do better. Still there are plenty of projectors with 5, 10 or higher watt systems, including the next Viewsonic on this page.

Again, it’s a value projector, so no built in networking.  The optional WPG-370 Presentation Gateway (plugs into HDMI or VGA) gives you some very capable wireless abilities, but is expensive ($229 list).  Beyond the basics, it supports PC free presenting of images, video and audio), mirroring, and Miracast, and allows streaming up to 1080p!

That said, if you need serious networking/wireless networking, you likely would do better with another projector, including the next Viewsonic we reviewed.

VIEWSONIC PJD6350

This PJD6350, compared to the PJD5555W is just loaded with features.   But first, the PJD6350 is an XGA resolution projector (there are widescreen models in the series).  It comes complete with Crestron RoomView compatibility for advanced networking.  Yep, a school district admin can keep track of/monitor/control up to 256 projectors.  Need wireless – that’s optional.   There are two HDMI ports, but one is hidden – it is MHL compatible for streaming sticks.  The great thing about that, is that in a classroom environment there’s no streaming stick, sticking out, where it just might disappear.

Placement flexibility is pretty good with a 1.3:1 zoom lens.  This projector has a typical throw distance – it is not short throw.

Despite the same 3300 lumen claim as the lower cost Viewsonic, this projector measures brighter – about 3450 maximum lumens, but respectable color comes in around 2700 and really good color (Viewmatch and movie mode) at 2600 lumens.  Folks that’s more than enough for any K-12 classroom or multi-purpose room, and enough for many larger university type classrooms.

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When it comes to sound, there’s a nice 10 watt speaker – that’s easily enough for the K-12 classroom.  If it’s not enough for larger spaces, there’s the audio out so a powered external speaker can be added.

As usual, Viewsonic provides one of the strongest warranties – 3 years parts and labor, first year express exchange (you can buy additional years).  Just don’t forget to register the projectors to be eligible for the Express program.  Street price for this well endowed projector – under $600.

Viewsonic PLED-W800

What, another Viewsonic projector?   Yes, but this PLED-W800 is a different creature an extremely portable “pocket” LED projector  – we’re talking under 2 pounds, under 2.5 with it’s power brick.  It claims a 30,000 hour light engine!  We looked at a number of these last year, in this report, and we continue to review such projectors.  While pocket projectors are getting bright enough for classroom – a few, consider this class of projector geared more for the mobile educator, that needs something lightweight, that can set up quickly and handle smaller screens and rooms.

That said, the PLED-W800 is one of the nicer small LED projectors around.  First of all it sports WXGA resolution, and claims 800 lumens.  But the real strength of this projector is it’s PC Free and related capabilities. It supports USB Display, PC free, via SD card, USB, or internal memory, and of course has Apps for iOS and Android.  The wireless capability comes from a very small, $129 list price, optional, dongle.

The solo HDMI port supports MHL, so you can also feed the W800 a streaming stick.  And if needed you can use the USB as a 5 volt charging port (your phone, or maybe 3D glasses).

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We only found mid 600 lumens (651) when testing this Viewsonic, but over claimed LED pocket projectors are the rule, not the exception.  More importantly the PLED-W800 puts up some impressive color and picture quality in lesser modes while still cranking out almost 500 lumens.    I’ll give you education road warriors some perspective, since “regular” projectors these days have typically at least 2000 lumens:  500 lumens is enough to fill a 110” diagonal screen at the same brightness levels as a typical movie theater.  Obviously you’ll have some, or a fair amount of ambient light present, but then for K-12 classroom use, screen sizes are typically 50” to 72” diagonal.  You’d get the same brightness on a 50” with only 125 lumens.   In other words, if the screen isn’t too large, and the lights low or off, 500 lumens with good color goes a long way.

Placement is set it down where you need to, to fill your screen area – there’s no zoom lens, as is typical of pocket projectors (and even if you find a couple with zoom, the range will be minimal – 1.1:1 or less).  This Viewsonic projector will fill a 50” diagonal screen from just a tad over 5 feet back.

Warranty is Viewsonic’s usual 3 year parts and labor, and 1 year of express replacement program (you need to register for that).

Perhaps the biggest surprise for a small projector is that it has a pair of 2 watt speakers.  That likely will be enough for the smaller room, smaller screen environments in education (and there is a choice of 3 equalized settings).  If you need more sound, there is an audio out.

Count the PLED-W800 as a reasonable ultra mobile solution, with a lot of capability and a reasonable – roughly $650 – street price!  Oh you get 3x-4x the lumens in a full sized projector, but for many mobile educators this Viewsonic offers a valid trade-off.

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