Projector Reviews

2020-2021 Classroom Projector Report Projectors Considered: Higher Education (Part 1)

The Higher Education Projectors category includes projectors well suited for university classrooms, lecture halls, auditoriums as well as large K-12 multi-purpose rooms and auditoriums (Larger venue), many with multiple lens options.

Higher Education Projectors Considered

Optoma ZU506-T

Optoma-ZU506-T

Projector Overview
Projector Review
Projector Specs [COMING SOON]

Casio XJ-S400UN

Casio projectors - laser + LED = Bargain

Projector Specs

Specification Description
Price $1949
Resolution WUXGA (1920×1200)
Technology DLP
Claimed Lumens 4,000 Lumens
Brightest Mode Measured 3,525 Lumens
Light Engine Laser/LED
Light Engine Lifespan 20,000 Hours
Longevity Approx. 20 Hrs/Wk in 180 Day School Year = 27.77 Years
Ease of Use Rating Easy
Suitable for Bright Room Environments Yes
Warranty 3 Years Parts and Labor

Award Winner

2020-2021-Best-in-Classroom-Education-Projectors-Report_Higher-Edu-Value

The Casio XJ-S400UN won our Best in Classroom Value Award.

Casio XJ-S400UN projecting a scene from Journey to Space.

Applications for This Model

Applications Description
K-12 Classrooms Yes
Large University Classrooms Yes
Lecture Halls No
Auditoriums No
Museums No
Conference Room Yes
Meeting Room Yes

Projector Overview

This year we have six projectors (and their dozens of siblings) in this class. This is the first year we have not had a lamp based projector in the group. There are still plenty out there, especially if a bright projector is needed with interchangeable lenses, on a budget.

For higher education, though, solid state is the standard now.  Of our six, five are pure laser projectors. This projector, our Value winner this year in the Larger Venue/Higher Education “Class” is the only solid state projector that is a hybrid. Like all Casio projectors (for more than 10 years), it is a Laser/LED combination. Their system works! (Casio claims more solid-state projectors sold than anyone.)

The XJ-S400UN is a DLP projector with WUXGA resolution (1920×1200). It launched with a list price $550 below any of the lasers in our group with an MSRP $1949. Now in fairness, it is a 4,000 lumen projector most of the others in this comparison are 5,000 lumens. The good news – Casio now has the price down to $1,799 on their site for a single piece. And that’s without the help of their education program.

The S400UN has a healthy amount of zoom lens with a 1.7:1 ratio, but lacks lens shift, so relies on keystone correction. Audio is handled by a 16-watt speaker system. That probably won’t get the job done in a large lecture hall, but then those rooms are properly equipped.

Speaking of classrooms, I see the XJ-S400 as being placed in larger K-12, and small and medium higher-ed classrooms and labs. As is typical these days, this Casio has wired networking built in

And wireless is added via a dongle. This Casio can function quite well in a new installation or serve as a replacement for an older projector – thanks to rather extensive inputs and outputs:

Casio-XJ-S400UN_Inputs-and-Connectors

As you can see, the selection is impressive. And note, that this Casio has a mic input as well, as extensive audio inputs (in addition to audio over HDMI). The pair of old DB15 VGA inputs on the left just yell “replace your really old projector with this far brighter, better… just plug and play… As is typical of all but high end commercial DLP projectors, this Casio has no filters to change, and with its 20K LED/Laser light engine, that means no maintenance at all!

Overall the Casio XJ-S400UN is truly pleasing on the educator’s budget, yet is very capable. Casio has long been a serious player in the classroom. Their Moderator Function for projecting students work on the projector from over a network has been in use a long time and well tested. Casio also has an app to control the projector from a mobile device.

The Bottom Line: Casio is serving up their Superior Series XJ-S400UN as a quality WUXGA projector that sells for about the price – or even less than most competitor’s (slightly brighter) WXGA projectors! If you don’t need the extra horsepower, this projector likely makes sense in all but the smallest, and largest classroom/halls. That covers a whole lot of classrooms.

Christie LWU-530

Christie-LWU-530

Projector Specs

Specification Description
Price $2,499
Resolution WUXGA (1920×1200)
Technology 3LCD
Claimed Lumens 5,000 Lumens
Brightest Mode Measured 4,708 Lumens
Light Engine Laser
Light Engine Lifespan 20,000 Hours
Longevity Approx. 20 Hrs/Wk in 180 Day School Year = 27.77 Years
Ease of Use Rating Intermediate
Suitable for Bright Room Environments Yes
Warranty Five Years or 10,000 Hours on the Projector (Whichever Occurs First)

Did Not Win Award

The Christie LWU-530 did not win an award in this category, but it did win the Best in Classroom Performance Award in the K-12 Classroom Projector category.

Christie-LWU530-PQ-32

Applications for This Model

Applications Description
K-12 Classrooms Yes
Large University Classrooms Yes
Lecture Halls Yes
Auditoriums Yes
Museums Yes
Conference Room Yes
Meeting Room Yes

Projector Overview

The Christie LWU530-APS is a 5,000 ANSI lumen business class laser projector with WUXGA resolution that can accept a full range of content up to 4K. It is designed for classrooms, board rooms, and small-sized auditoriums.

Christie is known for producing high quality projectors that usually command a premium price. The goal of Christie’s APS series is to provide reliability, flexibility, and good performance at a value. The APS Series projectors are the most affordable projectors in Christies current projector lineup.

The Christie LWU-530 is a super affordable laser projector at just $2,499. It has good color performance, is exceptionally bright, and has outstanding placement flexibility thanks to a 1.70:1 zoom lens and lens shift. That’s hard to find among affordable lasers. This is a high performance, high school level projector – or an auditorium/multipurpose room projector for the lower grade schools. It’s overkill in the typical small classroom, unless there’s a huge skylight.

Maxell MP-TW4011

Maxell-MP-TW4011_Front

Projector Specs

Specification Description
Price $4,239
Resolution WXGA (1280×1920)
Technology 3LCD
Claimed Lumens 4,200 Lumens
Brightest Mode Measured 2,300 Lumens
Light Engine Laser
Light Engine Lifespan 50,000 Hours
Longevity Approx. 30 Hrs/Wk in 180 Day School Year = 69.4 Years
Ease of Use Rating Advanced
Suitable for Bright Room Environments Yes
Warranty 5 Years Parts and Labor, Up to 20,000 Hours on Light Source

Award Winner

2019-2020-Best-in-Classroom-Education-Projectors-Report-K-12-Value

The Maxell TW-4011 won a Special Award – Interactive.

Maxell-MP-TW4011 has great color in Natural Mode.

Applications for This Model

Applications Description
K-12 Classrooms Yes
Large University Classrooms Yes
Lecture Halls No
Auditoriums No
Museums Yes
Conference Room Yes
Meeting Room Yes

Projector Overview

There are years when we have reviewed 3-5 interactive projectors and given out specific award based on competitiveness. But, this year, only this Maxell has been reviewed. Since there was no direct competition this year, we are awarding The TW4011 a Special Award, as an excellent example of what an interactive projector should be. It is definitely one of the best out there.

Maxell, a part of Hitachi, took over the projector division two years ago. Prior to that, Hitachi was well recognized as one of the main players in the education projector market (the largest slice of the projector industry). As it turns out, and it is no surprise, Maxell remains a dominant player in education (after all, this was mostly a name change – i.e. our contacts didn’t change).

In reading the PMA Projector Industry update (they have long tracked US projector sales), I noted immediately that in January 2020 tracking: Two companies – Maxell and Epson –  between them claimed all top five best-selling interactive projectors (Epson had 3, Maxell two, but, to be fair, Epson also has a much larger lineup of interactive projectors).

This image pulled from the TW4011 user manual – it not only shows the inputs and outputs, but a guide to what can be hooked up to each, including tablets/smartphones, video-type players and of course, computers!
This image pulled from the TW4011 user manual – it not only shows the inputs and outputs, but a guide to what can be hooked up to each, including tablets/smartphones, video-type players and of course, computers!

The TW4011 is definitely fully featured, it is plenty bright, uses 3LCD technology, its laser light engine should be pumping out a claimed 4,200 lumens (but it proved much brighter still) – it crushed its claim by putting out over 5,000 lumens max, and producing 4,000 lumens with some very good color and overall picture.  

Editor’s Note: Now, I want to note that measuring UST projectors is a tricky thing, but this TW4011 is very bright.

With a direct connect between two TW4011s, this allows a double wide surface, without needing sophisticated networking software, and more. Excellent!
With a direct connect between two TW4011s, this allows a double wide surface, without needing sophisticated networking software, and more. Excellent!

Starboard Interactive software (for education) is included (and with no annual subscription charges). Hitachi/Maxell have been developing Starboard for almost 25 years. I recall that with my last company selling projectors (and whiteboards) from ’95 to 2005, when we were in our first real offices, Hitachi at the time came in and demoed their smart board and the Starboard software. I do believe that was 1996 – 1997 at the latest. As I said, Hitachi – now Maxell – has long been a major player in education, not just projectors but smart white boards too.

The Maxell supports both pens and finger touch (up to six pens or fingers at once! Touch is optional with the FT02 Finger Touch Unit. At the time of testing, there was one related limitation – it only would support one finger at a time on Macs, but apparently six pens at once (I would hope that the Mac limitation has been fixed by now!).

The TW4011’s native resolution is WXGA (1280×720). That should be fine for almost all K-12 (except specialty courses like perhaps computer graphics). In higher education there will be more classrooms that will want higher resolution, but WXGA should still be fine for most implementations.

Hitachi offers its own wall mount which will support screen sizes up to 100” diagonal. The projector itself claims up to 110” which is a plus for lecture hall sized rooms. If you need to go a bit larger, say 120”, I believe you will be able to find several 3rd party wall mounts that can accommodate larger sized screens/whiteboards. And we suspect that the Maxell will still be able to maintain a pretty sharp focus at that size.

The TW4011 has multiple power and economy sensing and modes. With all of that, the TW4011 claims up to 50,000 hours (that’s the longest claim I’ve seen) but part of that may be calculating in for times when the projector is on, but no active source, so the projector cuts back power usage dramatically. Certainly, expect a minimum of 20,000 hours, all considered.

There’s a host of other goodies, I’ll just mention a few. The TW4011 is well endowed:

  • MHL to mirror phones and tablets
  • Perfect Fit 2 (their name for their quick alignment of a UST projector)
  • Digital zoom (they call it Aspect zoom) and focus, can be controlled from the remote
  • An “HDR” type mode to pump up the dynamics, by affecting the contrast, tone, and also adds color enhancement, for when dealing with significant ambient light
  • As an interactive projector it has the usual full complement of drawing tools, paint tools, controls for the individual interactive pens and much more.
  • Here’s a tremendous built-in feature for higher education (and command and control and some other applications) – “Multi-Screen Sync”
  • The documentation really does go through an extensive list of capabilities covering the interactive abilities of this MP-TW4011

Bottom Line on the TW4011: Yes, there are WUXGA and 1080p interactive projectors with their higher resolution, so if you must have native higher resolution. You’ll have to look at alternatives (such as the even more expensive Epson PowerLite Pro 1485ui which we are reviewing and will publish in May 2020).

You will be very hard pressed to find another WXGA projector that can match this laser projectors’ feature set and brightness! I certainly would have expected the Maxell TW4011 to have picked up a major award for performance or price performance if we had multiple interactive projectors this year.  It’s ideal for K-12, (budgets notwithstanding) and in the university lecture hall – especially so there, when using them in pairs…

Optoma EH330UST

Optoma EH330UST short throw projector

Projector Specs

Specification Description
Price $1599
Resolution 1080p (1920×1080)
Technology DLP
Claimed Lumens 3,600 Lumens
Brightest Mode Measured 2,770 Lumens
Light Engine Lamp
Light Engine Lifespan 4,000 Hours
Longevity Approx. 20 Hrs/Wk in 180 Day School Year = 5.55 Years
Ease of Use Rating Easy
Suitable for Bright Room Environments Yes
Warranty 3 Years Parts and Labor

Did Not Win Award

The Optoma EH330UST did not win an award in this year’s report.

Optoma EH330UST Video Image Quality

Applications for This Model

Applications Description
K-12 Classrooms Yes
Large University Classrooms Yes
Lecture Halls No
Auditoriums No
Museums No
Conference Room Yes
Meeting Room Yes

Projector Overview

The Optoma EH330UST is a 3,600 lumen projector with DLP technology for business and education applications. This ultra short throw projector can project a beautiful 100” image from just inches away! I like UST projectors for presenting, as their close proximity to the screen eliminates the worst of the shadows of the person presenting – if the presenter isn’t pointing on the screen itself, then you’re unlike to get any shadows at all. The EH330UST has a native resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080), and a maximum resolution of WUXGA (1920 x 1200).

The Optoma EH330UST has an ultra short throw design, which is highly desirable for classroom environments where wall-mounted installation is prominent. The projector has HDCast Pro for screen mirroring Android, Windows, Mac, and both Android and iOS Mobile Devices, as well as PC-Free presenting of photos and documents.