The Ricoh WUL6690 is an excellent business and professional projector. The unit offers very competitive features and performance that is on par with other units in its class. Ricoh's $8,500 MSRP is very competitive for a native WUXGA (1920 x 1200p) Laser DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector of this class.
One of the projector's biggest benefits is its ability to exceed the manufacturer-rated 9,600 lumens of brightness, allowing the WUL6690 to be used in some of the most difficult venues regarding uncontrolled light sources. The projector's 9,600 ANSI lumens enable users to overcome some of the worst lighting situations and display a viewable image in most venues, even larger ones.
The out-of-the-box color performance of the WUL6690 is great for presentation and graphics content but could be better for content like movies and television shows. Fortunately, the projector has various preset picture modes and a very advanced CMS (color management system). The WUL6690 even includes adjusting the projector's color space to compensate for wall colors, gamma, and black level adjustments.
The projector's out-of-the-box preset modes are warmer than you typically get from a high-brightness professional projector. Colors are more neutral without the typical oversaturated look of laser DLP projectors. The colors were more muted even in the projector's VIVID picture mode. In the pictures above from Guardians of the Galaxy, you can see that Gamora’s green skin looks pale even in VIVID mode. Fortunately, the projector can display more saturated colors with a few simple adjustments, which is valuable if you show content other than presentation style in bright t environments.
The Ricoh WUL6690 has black-level adjustments that work well with presentation-style content but don’t make a significant difference with more entertainment content. Users can improve the projector's gray blacks to something darker by manually adjusting the light output and brightness and contrast adjustments. While these adjustments can deepen the displayed black levels, this does come at the expense of dark area details.
The lens on the WUL6690 is excellent, offering a 1.6x motorized optical zoom with a throw ratio of 1.25-2.0. Ricoh’s can display a 300-inch diagonal image in a 16:10 aspect ratio.
The lens looks great, with no visible distortion or aberrations and excellent corner-to-corner focus.
The Ricoh WUL6690’s high-brightness laser-light source offers up to 20,000 hours of light-source life in NORMAL operations mode. Ricoh also provides Constant Power and Constant Brightness to help the projector maintain consistent brightness as the light source dims with age.
The Ricoh WUL6690 supports HDBaseT connectivity and RS-232 protocols, AMX, Crestron RoomView, and Extron IPLink, allowing users to manage and operate multiple projectors remotely.
Panasonic PT-MZ880 ($7,999 MSRP)
The Panasonic PT-MZ880 3LCD SOLID SHINE Laser Projector is an 8,000-lumens projector with a laser light engine that can natively display WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution.
Ricoh and Panasonic’s projectors offer a similar set of features and performance. The PT-MZ880 provides features like Dynamic Contrast and Panasonic's Daylight View Basic, designed to deliver sharp, clear images by enhancing detail, particularly in dark areas of the image that would typically be difficult to see in brightly lit rooms. The Ricoh WUL6690 offers a manufacturer-rated 9,600 lumens of brightness.
The PT-MZ880 is an incredibly flexible projector designed to be easily installed in virtually any business environment. Providing a wide range of optional interchangeable lenses, including an exciting ultra-short-throw lens, guarantees you can install this projector in almost any installation environment. The PT-MZ880 has all the connections you would expect on a higher-end business/education class projector, including three HDMI inputs that support up to 4K@60 fps and a DIGITAL LINK/HDBaseT port.
Priced at an astonishingly aggressive $7,999.00 MSRP, Panasonic describes this projector as well-balanced, flexible, and reliable. These characteristics make it perfect for classrooms, boardrooms, and large venues such as lecture halls, auditoriums, and even houses of worship.
These two projectors feature a very similar performance and feature set. Still, the higher brightness of the Ricoh WUL6690 seems like a feature worth the $500 difference in price compared to the Panasonic.