Projector Reviews

Projectors Considered: Larger Venue Projectors 2

This is the second batch of larger venue projectors.  The projectors are listed in alphabetical order.

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

Panasonic PT-RZ670

This Panasonic RZ670 is the priciest projector covered in this report, and likely selected only for very specialized appleications.  It has a laser light engine, and claims 6500 lumens, which makes it the brightest single chip commercial DLP projector with a solid state light engine, that I’m aware of at this time.  And it does crank out the lumens, unlike Panasonic’s first laser projector which produced something like 3500 lumens on a gray scale image but barely 2000 lumens with color.

Ron did some color lumen measurements because we know that most single chip DLP’s are thin on color lumens, and therefor wash out colors more easily since they can’t match the whites in brightness.  Well, this projector has an RGB + Yellow color wheel, so based on Ron’s calculations, there were well over 4200 color lumens (without yellow).   In other words, this Panasonic has good color and it’s really bright, able to at least do battle, with good color, those 3LCD and LCoS designs in the 5000 – 7000 lumen range.  Panasonic uses a liquid cooling system to keep this baby from overheating.

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Panasonic says under normal conditions the light engine is good for 20,000 hours.  One of the most interesting options is an ultra-short throw lens, one of eight lenses.   That might only be needed in a few specialty higher ed applications, but it is a solution most competitors lack.  The lenses for the PT-RZ670B (black) or W (white) are motorized zoom and focus (except the fixed lens, of course).   Lens shift is also motorized.

This is a large projector, and it weighs in at just over 50 lbs. Thanks to the solid state light engine, it can be mounted at any angle, a plus for specialty installations but unlikely in a classroom.  Vertical, off axis, whatever you need.

When it comes to networking, the RZ670 is Crestron Connected – works with their software, but I’m unsure if it offers the full RoomView features.  It supports AMX Discovery as well.  Their PJ-Link is a variation of HDMI link for controlling other devices with the remote (or vice versa) while their Digital Link is their expanded HDBaseT feature set.  HDTBaseT allows long runs up to 328 feet, from source to projector over inexpensive CAT5e / CAT6 cabling, a feature found in several projectors in this report.    There’s also SDI for running HD video directly to the projector over long distances.  That makes this a serious projector for advanced demonstration rooms, perhaps for medical, for scientific renderings or other specialties.

All considered, this is one pretty awesome projector, very capable, but can your school afford it – it’s MSRP is just shy of $25,000.  It should be noted, that there are lower resololution and lower cost RW630 with the same brightness but merely WXGA at a lower cost!

Sony VPL-CH375 3LCD Projector

This Sony is a 5000 lumen 3LCD projector – Thanks to the hight color lumens that 3LCD projectors sport, it will do a better job on presenting color in rooms with ambient light, than similarly bright DLP projectors with the same white lumen count, but much lower color lumens.  The VPL-CH375 is hi-res – WUXGA (1920×1200) as high as any projector in this report.

While this Sony would be fine for almost any K-12 classroom, it is much brighter, and better endowed than most require  (it’s also more costly) and is likely most suited for  university classrooms, or maybe small auditoriums.  There’s a fair amount of zoom, and and a very small amount of lens shift for good placement flexibility.  It offers HD-BaseT allowing football field long runs for wiring up this projector using low cost CAT-5 cable – nice.

This Sony projector also supports USB Display, and of course HDMI, and analog computer.

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The internal 12 watt speaker cranks out some respectable volume, although it probably needs help in a higher ed classroom filled with 200 students.  There’s an audio out.

The CH375 is smart, too.  It offers Crestron RoomView compatibility for advanced networking with all the usual bells and whistles that make RoomView the effective standard.  (The CH375 also supports PJLink and AMX.)  Eight users can connect at once, and up to four show their screens in one of four projected quadrants.

Wireless networking (optional small dongle) supports up to seven users, and there are, of course iOS and Android Apps, as well as Projector Remote software, allowing computer based control.

There’s HDBase-T ideal for connecting this Sony projector over long distances (football field lengths), using low cost CAT5 / CAT6 cabling.

If you need full HD resolution, plus just about all the major bells and whistles, this is one serious projector that sells for between $2500 and $3000.