Projector Reviews

Projectors Considered: High End and Specialty Projectors for Higher Education (Continued)

Optoma ProScene ZU660

Optoma-ZU660_Front-Left

The Optoma ProScene ZU660 is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200), DLP projector priced at $9,999 – but its street price hovers around $6,000. This projector has a laser light engine with a 20,000 hour claim and 6,500 lumens. When measured at mid-zoom (our typical way of measuring), the projector came in at 4,806 lumens. Figure another couple hundred at full wide angle, and, of course, the lens you choose will have some affect on lumens.

This one was a 1.60:1 zoom lens. That it has interchangeable lens options gives you greater placement flexibility, especially when combined with the HDBaseT input for running A/V signals across long distances. Speaking of inputs, this guy is loaded. There’s a port for the standard RJ-45 wired LAN connection, that HDBaseT input we talked about, two HDMIs, a DVI-D port, a VGA In connector that doubles for YPbPR, a port for wired remote control, 3D Sync In and Out connectors, the obligatory RS232 connector and a VGA Out. This projector doesn’t have any USB ports.

As for special features, the ZU660 has several of note. The first is having a motorized lens (score!) with powered zoom and focus, as well as motorized lens shift. That lens shift gives a lot more placement flexibility, with a generous +50% vertical lens shift. This Optoma has a feature called Image Stacking, which allows two projectors to be placed one on top of the other to create a doubly bright image. For the ZU660 – keeping in mind that it measured 4,806 at mid-zoom – that would up the brightness to 9,612 lumens, for a fraction of the cost of a 10,000 lumen laser projector. This is super useful in environments where there is less control over ambient light, such as in museums that are linked to higher education.

That Image Stacking, combined with the lens shift capabilities and another feature called Color Matching (HSG adjustment), make this projector one to consider if you’re looking to double the brightness of your ZU660 setup or in multi-projector setups for other uses. The projector also has Dynamic Black, which deals with the contrast, and gives more depth to the image. The Optoma ProScene ZU660 is 3D compatible, and has advanced networking features such as that HDBaseT and compatibility with Crestron RoomView.

Panasonic PT-MZ670U

Panasonic PT-MZ670U Projector Front Angle Product Shot

The Panasonic PT-MZ670U is a 6,500 lumen laser projector with WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution. This projector has an MSRP of $11,999, but its street price is comparable to the Optoma ProScene ZU660’s, making it quite competitive with the other sub-$10K projectors in this class. The Panasonic is a bright projector that actually beat its claim! 6,529 in its brightest mode. Just by a smidge, but still – this projector is excellent for environments where there is not a lot of control over ambient light. Add to that its 3LCD technology, and you’ve got 6,529 white and color lumens. That’s in Whiteboard Mode, which has some respectable color, but you’ll still get over 4,000 lumens with really excellent color. Awesome!

Another projector with interchangeable lens options, the MZ670U has excellent placement flexibility. There are plenty of choices to make sure you pick the lens that is right for your environment and applications. It has a motorized lens for powered zoom and focus, as well as +35% horizontal and +67% vertical lens shift. It also has HDBaseT, which ups the placement flexibility even further. As for the other inputs, this projector has plenty. It has a pair of USBs, a RJ-45 wired LAN port, that HDBaseT input, two HDMIs, Component Video, Audio Outs, more. Check out the full review to see the hardware of this projector.

The Panasonic has a unique special feature called LinkRay that allows people to view content related to what they’re looking at via their smart phone by allowing these phones to read IDs sent from an LED transmitter. Basically, your phone scans a code transmitted via light to bring up specific content on your screen so that you can learn more information about a variety of things. This would be particularly useful in museum settings for enhancing exhibitions by providing more information about the content people are seeing, and provide it in multiple languages. It also has PC-Free Presenting – a major plus for higher education applications – via a built-in media viewer, and wireless capabilities. The MZ670U has advanced networking features and is compatible with Crestron RoomView, AMX Beacon, Extron XTP, PJ link, and Panasonic’s own proprietary Multi Monitoring and Control Software.

Sony VPL-FHZ61

Sony VPL-FHZ61 Front

The Sony VPL-FHZ61 is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) laser projector with 5,100 lumens. This one did not meet claim – 4,325 lumens in its brightest mode – but is plenty bright for some pretty serious ambient light conditions. When I reviewed this projector, I opened my wide window and blasted the screen with some high-noon light, and it performed admirably. That was in Presentation Mode, too, which is not its brightest mode.

I found this projector to have plenty of power – that it is a 3LCD projector means it has as many color lumens as it does white ones, which helps in the face of ambient light, and, in general, laser projectors seem brighter than their lamp-based counterparts. That laser light engine has a 20,000 hour lifespan, too, so count that as a major plus for this Sony.

This projector has some of the best color and black levels I’ve ever seen on an education projector. This is due to the fact that Sony included several features usually reserved for their home theater models. This is one of the reasons that the Sony VPL-FHZ61 won an award in this class! I’ll leave the rest of the information about this projector to its blurb in the winners’ page of this class.