Projector Reviews

Projectors Considered: Higher Education Projectors (Continued)

Epson PowerLite L610W

Epson L610W

The Epson PowerLite L610W is a 3LCD laser projector with WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution, claiming 6000 lumens. It came up 53 lumens shy – less than 1%. Close enough! It is part of Epson’s extensive L series, but it has two immediate siblings: the L610U (WUXGA) and the L610 (XGA). Like almost all Epson projectors, the L610W accepts their $99 wireless module for those requiring wireless capabilities, in addition to the built-in wired networking.

As you may have noticed, we also reviewed the L400U (and with a different reviewer). I went this route because of the different value propositions. Pricing is very similar – the list price of the L610W is $2,599, before Epson’s education discount, which brings it down to $2,199! That’s truly an excellent price for such a high-power projector, even considering its resolution being “only” WXGA, not WUXGA. (The L400U offers higher resolution – WUXGA for a similar price, but with “only” 4,500 lumens.) This pretty much shows a near straight trade-off between resolution and brightness. Virtually everyone choosing between them will find one projector to be a good bit better fit than the other projector, for their specific needs.

Back to the L610W. This laser projector is loaded with features, including advanced networking with support for Crestron and Control4. There’s a pair of HDMIs, two USBs (one is a service port), a couple of analog VGA Computer inputs, multiple stereo Audio In ports, an Audio Out port, and both a wired network port (RJ45) and an HDBaseT network port for running long distances on low cost CAT6 cable (impressive). There is plenty of placement flexibility with a zoom range of 1.60:1. That’s about as good as you get for placement flexibility in education projectors, without buying more expensive projectors that have interchangeable lenses available. The L610W received our Hot Product Award during the review process!

Epson PowerLite 5520W

Powerlite 5520W

The Epson PowerLite 5520W was featured in the Projectors Considered: K-12 Classroom Projectors page. Refer to that for a deeper look into this projector, but here are the basics: 3LCD, WXGA, 5,500 lumens, 1.85:1 zoom lens, wireless capabilities, advanced networking, and stellar color.

Maxell MP-WU5503

Maxell Group name
This is the first Maxell projector we've reviewed since the recent brand name change from Hitachi to Maxell.

Officially, as of April 1, 2019, Hitachi-branded projectors are now Maxell brand. They are the same projectors as the ones bought a few weeks or months ago under the Hitachi name. Maxell itself was part of Hitachi, but was spun off a few years back. Therefore, from a practical standpoint, nothing has changed now but the name. Same support, distribution, and more. Hitatchi’s focus, for years, has been the education market. They do have education pricing, but do not publish those numbers online.

That said, the MPWU5503 (and its sibling, the WU5603), are the first new two projectors launched with the new name. The Maxell MPWU5503 is a “portable” 3LCD laser projector claiming 5,000 lumens (the WU5603 offers 6,000 lumens). This is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution projector, which makes it suitable not only for regular college and university classrooms (and some auditoriums/museums/lecture halls), but for those university classrooms where resolution is paramount – that is, science and engineering classrooms where renderings are commonplace.

It has a 1.70:1 manual zoom lens, and HDBaseT for exellent placement flexibility. As for its inputs – this thing is loaded. Two HDMIs, a VGA In and VGA Out, plenty of audio inputs – two Audio Ins, one Audio Out, Component Video ports, a RJ-45 LAN connector, a USB Type A input, and an RS232 connector. The MP-WU5503 has a 5 year warranty! Impressive. It has a 16-watt mono speaker, which should prove to be loud enough for most large classrooms. As far as features go, the projector has optional Wireless Capabilities and the ability to connect iOS and Android devices, command and control, and Moderator Control Mode. This Maxell is in the process of being reviewed, and will publish within two weeks of this report going live!


NEC P525UL laser projector

A couple of years ago, we gave the NEC NP-P502WL a Special Interest Award for being a very good medium venue installation laser projector for someone looking at entry-level units suitable for large conference room and classroom applications. The NEC P525UL offers some major enhancements over the P502WL, which make it truly superior projector.

The NEC P525UL is a 5,200 lumen installation WUXGA projector with a laser/phosphor light source which is rated slightly brighter than the P502WL. Like the older P502WL, the P525UL uses a laser/phosphor wheel light engine rated for 20,000 of maintenance-free operation. There is also a Constant Brightness mode to ensure that the P525UL delivers consistent looking imagery over the life of the projector.

The P525UL utilizes a 3LCD imager (3 LCD panels) of instead of the single DLP chip found in the P502WL series, which improves color reproduction. That also makes for a much quieter projector. To ensure consistent color, the P525UL has Self Color Correction that automatically compensates based on usage hours for the natural color shift that usually occurs as a projector age. I’m sure the switching from DLP to LCD is also a factor in the projector’s increased contrast ratio. The P525UL is rated at 500,000:1 (with Light Adjust) compared to the P502UL 20,000:1 (with Dynamic Contrast).

While the P525UL is a WUXGA projector, it can accept 4K@30P content via HDMI1, HDMI2 or HDBaseT for increased clarity and detail. Like other NEC P Series projectors, the P525UL has manual horizontal and vertical lens shift, 1.60:1 zoom lens, dual HDMI inputs and a HDBaseT input. It also features USB 2.0A support to power third-party devices and a LAN port for network control and asset management.  The optional Wireless Module (NP05LM1) with MultiPresenter allows for up to 16 simultaneous connections.

What really makes this NEC projector unique is how incredibly quiet it is for such a bright installation projector. The NEC P525UL produces only 22db in Eco Mode and less than 26db at full power! The P525UL was so quiet in ECO mode that I had to be less than 2 feet away to even hear it. More to the point, even at full power this NEC projector is a lot quieter than most home theater projectors! That pretty much says it all.

Sealed optics and laser light source ensure years of maintenance free operation. Registered NEC P525UL owners receive a 5-year or 20,000 hours parts and labor warranty including InstaCare which is next business day exchange.

The NEC P525UL offer high brightness, connectivity and the longevity of a laser light source in a ultra-quiet compact package. While the P525UL is missing some features found on more expensive installation class projectors including interchangeable motorized lenses, edge blending and projection mapping, at a retail price of just $3099, the NEC P525UL is still a great value.

Upgrades from P502WL:

  • NEC projector in the 5,000 lumens class to support 4K at 30 Hz signal input (Supports: HDMI1, HDMI2 and HDBaseT)
  • 3LCD vs DLP (single DMD chip)
  • 500,000:1 (w light adjust) vs 20,000:1 (w dynamic contrast)
  • Quieter
    • ECO On (22db vs 31db)
    • ECO Off (24db vs 39db)
  • 4K@30Hz input (300Mhz) with advanced Accublend image processing (no pixel shifting)
  • Heavier (9.7kg vs 8.7kg)
  • Filter Free
  • Self Color Correction!

Optoma EH330UST

Optoma EH330UST Front Left

The Optoma EH330UST was featured in the Projectors Considered: K-12 Classroom Projectors page. Refer to that for a deeper look into this projector, but here are the basics: DLP, 1080p, 3,600 lumens, ultra short throw, wireless capabilities, advanced networking, and is compatible with Microsoft Office.

ViewSonic LS620X

ViewSonic LS620X Short Throw Laser Projector

The ViewSonic LS620X is a projector without a family. It is built for low cost installations where a laser projector is called for, but with a minimal budget. We’re talking $1,216 list price! The 3,200 lumen LS620X is an XGA projector with a very short throw – the type that is normally mounted to a telescoping arm on the wall above the screen. I am surprised that there isn’t also a widescreen version. The ViewSonic doesn’t have a lot of frills, but it has most things that most people need. It is built for value pricing, which makes the big question: Does it have those things you really need it to have to work best for you?

Don’t panic, but, the lens does not zoom, which means screen size is determined strictly by distance. That’s just fine, however, for a very short throw projector that will end up being wall mounted. It has a three year warranty. There’s networking – with Crestron support! Inputs include two HDMIs and a pair of USBs (but there is no media player on this projector), even legacy composite and S-video inputs to round out the video side. There’s also two pair of stereo audio inputs (plus the HDMIs have their own), and an audio out and 12 volt trigger. That’s awfully impressive for “dirt cheap.” The only other laser projectors around the price are Casio’s models which are LED/Laser hybrid, and cost even less. The projector performed very well in testing. It only slightly beat its claim (still it beat it).

The great news is that the fancy five color segment color wheel works exceptionally well. Color is very good, especially in all but the brightest mode, with over 2,900 good looking lumens in Standard mode, which measured more than 90% as bright as the brightest mode. That’s a ton of horsepower for most K-12 classrooms, and even many smaller university classrooms. One downside – volume was basically very soft or loud to very loud. Note that is likely something ViewSonic has fixed by now. The L620X already earned one of my Special Interest Awards as a bit of a niche projector, being both very short throw and XGA.