Projector Reviews

Higher Education Projectors Considered: Large Venue Projectors

This group of projectors includes five “larger venue” projectors that should be able to handle most medium and large university classrooms, with the brightest claiming 6,500 lumens. Of these five, three, this year, have solid state light engines, two with traditional laser phosphor solutions, and the Casio with a hybrid LED/Laser engine. The projectors are listed in alphabetical order.

It’s true that each year those projectors we refer to as “standard” rather than “larger venue” keep getting brighter. A decade ago, a 3,000 lumen projector would certainly be considered large venue, today it’s hard to even find a “standard” K-12 projector claiming much less than 3,000 lumens. Well, with that in mind, we also included the best performance projector from the Standard projectors as an entry in this class. That would be the 3,800 lumen Epson PowerLite 990U.

It took an award in the Standard Class, so I made it ineligible in this Higher Ed/Larger Venue Class for an additional award, making it so the other four projectors are slugging it out for two Best In Classroom Awards – Best Value, and Best Performance.

Counting that one, this year’s five higher education/large venue projectors come from four major manufacturers in the projector industry: Casio, Epson, Optoma, and NEC.

Okay, let’s meet our entries, with a product summary of each.

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

Large Venue Projectors Considered

Projector Model

Overview

Review

Specs

Casio XJ-L8300HN

Casio XJ-L8300HN Front Angled

DLP, Hybrid LED/Laser light engine, 4K UHD resolution, Networking

Epson PowerLite 990U

Epson PowerLite 990U

3LCD, Lamp, WUXGA, Networking

NEC NP-PA653UL

NEC NP-PA653UL

3LCD, Laser, WUXGA, Networking, Interchangeable Lenses

NEC NP-P474U

NEC NP-PA653UL

3LCD, Laser, WUXGA, Networking

Optoma UHZ65

Epson PowerLite 990U

DLP, Laser, 4K UHD, Networking

Casio XJ-L8300HN

Casio XJ-L8300HN Front Angled

An impressive projector – the Casio XJ-8300HN is one of two that sport the highest resolution – 4K UHD, using TI’s 2716×1528 x 2 (Pixel Shifting) chip. The other is the Optoma UHZ65. It also is the second brightest of these five projectors, with almost the full claimed 5,000 lumens at maximum, and just a hair less than 3,000 lumens with really good color handling!

As one would expect, the Casio has advanced networking – Crestron RoomView support, etc. In addition to the usual RJ45, there’s also an HDBaseT jack to run HDMI, and command and control, over football field distances with inexpensive CAT6 cabling.

Placement flexibility is very good. Although only one projector in this class, this year, is offering interchangeable lenses, the Casio’s 1.5:1 is the second greatest zoom range of the rest. And, definitely worthy of note, if you really want to maintain that extremely sharp image, this Casio offers lens shift, far better than relying on sharpness softening keystone correction!

Warranty is very good to great – 3 years on the projector itself, but 5 years or 10,000 hours on the 20,000 hour (rated at full power) solid state light engine.

On the downside, this Casio seems to be rather expensive compared to other projectors lacking interchangeable lenses, selling apparently, for a good deal more than the Dell S718QL – another 4K UHD projector with 5,000 lumens – although the Dell is an ultra-short throw design (but one with a list price barely half of the Casio’s).  The lowest price I could find online for the Casio was just over $6,000, slightly higher than the list price of the Dell. Casio has an education program for its best prices, but it isn’t published, so I would expect educational discounts are provided to bidding dealers, in order to lower their competitive bids.

Epson PowerLite 990U

InFocus IN2128HDx

The PowerLite 990U is the only projector we put into two categories. While it is top of the line as a smaller room projector – such as the usual K-12 classrooms, conference rooms and even multi-purpose rooms, it may come up a bit short on the larger lecture halls, but I’m sure there are plenty of small to fairly large rooms on the university campus that it can handle.

Of course, it’s got networking, lots of zoom lens (but no lens shift), and a full feature set.

In addition, the usual 2 year warranty is very good, especially because it comes with a 2 year rapid replacement program as well.

But, like all Epson projectors, it gets a third year of warranty, and a third year of replacement program when purchased as an education projector through the company’s Brighter Futures program. As stated elsewhere, I wasn’t going to let it compete for honors in two categories. So, it did not compete in this one. I will say, though, it would have been an interesting challenge for the Best Value, vs the NEC P474U. At the same time, though, the NEC is the brighter of the two, which gives it a real advantage in this “class” of projectors.

NEC NP-PA653UL

NEC NP-PA653UL

NEC’s NP-PA653UL is the most “high end” of the projectors considered here. It’s the only one with interchangeable lenses, edge blending, and projection mapping, and of course, almost all of the usual features.

With 6,500 claimed lumens, it’s the brightest claim of any of the projectors we viewed for this report. Better still, it produced over 6,150 lumens with very good color, because this NEC doesn’t even have a single mode that doesn’t have at least reasonably good color!

But there are other reasons for it picking up the top award in this year’s “shootout” of larger venue projectors.

I’ll save additional commentary on the NP-PA652UL for the write-up on the Awards page for this Class.

NEC NP-P474U

NEC NP-P474U Front Angled

NEC’s NP-P474U combines a full feature set (excluding the high end interchangeable lenses, edge blending, projection mapping and the like), a healthy amount of lumens – 4,700 claimed but, every mode but the brightest, has very good to excellent color, with the NEC delivering over 3,000 lumens with really good color.

There’s networking, with Crestron RoomView support, optional wireless, a comprehensive feature set, and more, but I’ll touch on more in the winner’s circle, since the P474U picks up a Best Value award!

Optoma UHZ65

Optoma-UHZ65

The Optoma UHZ65 is a 4K UHD (3840×2160) projector with a laser light engine. Its high brightness claim of 3,000 makes it suitable for higher education, capable of producing a larger diagonal image than most other UST projectors! It can reach up to 140″ diagonal as opposed to the traditional 120″ that is characteristic of ultra-short throws, and still produce and incredibly sharp image. The list price on the Optoma is $4499.

Ron reviewed this projector and was pleased with the color. The brightest mode, Bright, measured close to claim at 2809 lumens and had reasonably good color for a brightest mode. Ron mentions some yellow tint, but that it is not as bad as many of the other brightest modes he’s seen. The two best modes, Cinema and Game, measured 2,222 and 2054 lumens respectively, which perhaps makes this projector better suited for a large university classroom over one of those larger lecture halls if color is of some importance.

The UHZ65 has wired networking via the standard RJ-45 connector, and old school command and control with the RS232 input. It is compatible with control systems from Crestron, Extron, AMX and computer based management using PJLink software. It can also be controlled from a web browser based interface. All this adds up to a very capable projector when it comes to installation in a multi-projector fleet.

Previous Winners in the Large Venue Projector Class

Best Value Large Venue:
Epson PowerLite 2265U

Epson Powerlite 2265U glamor pic

Projector Type

Best Value Large Venue:
Epson G7905

epson-g7905-1

Projector Type

Best Value Large Venue:
NEC P502WL

NEC_P502WL-Glamor-Shot

Projector Type

Best Performance Large Venue:
Sony VPL-PHZ10

VPL-PHZ10 laser projector

Projector Type

Best Performance Large Venue:
Panasonic PT-RZ670U

Panasonic-PT-RZ670U

Projector Type