Posted on April 17, 2020 By Scott Wilkinson
Projectors are a huge boon for educators at all levels. They allow teachers to share large, engaging images with the students in their classroom to enhance the learning experience.
ViewSonic has long been a leader in the educational-projector market. Among the company’s latest offerings is the LS625W, which offers a lot of capability for not a lot of cash. It shares some attributes with the LS620X (reviewed here) and the newer LS625X (which replaces the LS620X; review in progress), but it exceeds those models’ specs in some respects.
The LS625W measures 15.1″ x 5.8″ x 11.5″ (WxHxD) and weighs in at 13.7 pounds, which is fairly svelte. The lens is recessed, giving it some protection against accidental bumps.
Like the LS620X and LS625X, the LS625W is a short-throw projector, which means it can be placed relatively close to the screen—in this case, 2.6 to 3.7 feet. Thanks to its zoom lens, it can fill a screen measuring 70 to 100 inches diagonally.
One advantage of short-throw projectors is that they can be used with a telescoping wall mount placed just above the screen. This simplifies and lowers the cost of installation and wiring.
The LS625W has a native resolution of WXGA (1280×800), which beats the XGA (1024×768) resolution of the LS620X and LS625X. As a result, it looks better on larger screens. Its internal video processor can scale video from PCs and Macintosh computers at resolutions from 640×480 to 1920×1200, giving you the flexibility to display a wide variety of content.
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The LS625W, LS625X, and LS620X are based on DLP (Digital Light Processing) imaging technology with laser/phosphor illumination. In this type of system, some of the light from an array of blue lasers excites a yellow phosphor wheel, whose yellow light combines with the rest of the blue lasers’ light to produce white light.
The resulting white light then passes through a color-filter wheel with segments of different colors. Each color is directed to the DLP imaging chip in turn, which forms the image for that color and reflects it through the main lens and onto the screen. The images for each color alternate so quickly that the human eye blends them into a full-color image.
The LS625W, LS625X, and LS620X employ ViewSonic’s SuperColor technology. According to the promotional literature, this includes an exclusive color-filter wheel with five, six, or seven segments, though the company would not reveal which one is used in the LS625W. (Interestingly, the LS620X review identifies its color-filter wheel as a 6-segment RYGCBW design, but when I pointed this out to the company rep, they still refused to reveal any specifics about the color-filter wheel in the LS625W.)
Thanks to its laser/phosphor light engine, the LS625W achieves a peak brightness of 3200 ANSI lumens, which is plenty bright enough to stand up to classroom lights. ViewSonic claims a staggering dynamic contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1, which is achieved by dynamically modulating the laser power. This is another part of SuperColor, along with advanced digital image processing. I strongly suspect that the actual measured contrast ratio is far less than 3,000,000:1, but dynamically modulating the laser should provide an impressive dynamic range in any case.
The laser/phosphor light engine is sealed to prevent dust and moisture from interfering with the lesson. Also, it’s rated to last up to 20,000 hours, so there’s no need to change lamps every year or so. All in all, the LS625W is virtually maintenance-free.
While it doesn’t offer lens shift, the LS625W does provide horizontal and vertical keystone correction to square up the image on the screen if the projector can’t be placed in an ideal location. This is super handy if needed, but engaging keystone correction also degrades the detail in the image, so I don’t recommend using it unless there’s no way to position the projector without needing it.
For classrooms without a separate sound system, the LS625W includes two built-in speakers, each powered by a 10W amp. That’s pretty hefty for onboard speakers, which should be plenty audible to all the students in a typical primary or secondary classroom, but it’s likely not enough to fill a university lecture hall without help.
Speaking of classrooms, ViewSonic offers special programs for educational institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and even museums.
Another classroom-specific feature is the projector’s compatibility with ViewSonic’s PJ-VTOUCH-10S interactive whiteboard module! This module turns the screen into an electronic whiteboard with a camera attached to the projector and a laser sensor that detects movement near the screen. The bundled annotation software enables up to 10 users to write and draw on projected images, including office files and web pages, using their fingers or included infrared styluses. Teachers can also record their annotation steps, then save and share them with students.
If the projector is mounted on the ceiling, it’s probably not easy to reach. Fortunately, the LS625W is compatible with AMX and Crestron control systems, making it easy to control remotely over your local network.
The LS625W offers a plethora of connections. Video inputs include two HDMI 1.4 with HDCP 1.4 copy protection, one S-video, and one composite video. In addition, it provides two VGA inputs and one VGA output along with one 3.5mm stereo-audio input. A USB 2.0 Type A port provides power (5V/1.5A) for a streaming stick connected to one of the HDMI ports, and a Mini USB port supports firmware updates and other service needs. In addition, an Ethernet port lets you connect it to your local network. Finally, an RS232 port provides another means of control, and a 3.5mm 12V trigger output can automatically close the shades or perform other automated tasks.
The illuminated remote offers a lot of control in a small package. The two HDMI inputs and composite input have their own dedicated buttons and the menu cursor cluster doubles as a direct keystone control. The numeric keypad doubles as a set of controls for various functions, such as volume up/down/mute, and zoom in/out.
With its bright laser/phosphor light source that lasts up to 20,000 hours, short throw distance, and network-management capability, the LS625W seems ideally suited to an educational environment. Even better, it’s compatible with ViewSonic’s digital, interactive whiteboard system, allowing teachers and students to interact with the projected images just like they would on a real whiteboard.
The projector’s WXGA resolution provides a widescreen 16:10 aspect ratio, which is sure to make it very popular for new installations. However, if a school needs to replace an older, mounted 4:3 projector, it might be better to go with something like the LS620X or the newer LS625X (which we are in the process of reviewing). Both are short-throw models with XGA resolution (1024×768) and a 4:3 aspect ratio, so they can probably use the existing screen and mount (unless they are going from a standard-throw to a short-throw setup).
Replacing a 4:3 projector with an LS625W would require a new screen and possibly a new mount, increasing the cost as much as 50% or more. For schools on a tight budget, that could mean upgrading only two-thirds of its classrooms compared with the cost of using 4:3 models.
On the other hand, new installations would certainly benefit from the LS625W’s widescreen aspect ratio. After all, teachers often show movies to their classes, which will look far better on such a screen. And the list price isn’t that much more: $1300 (street price) versus $1200 for the LS625X. If you’re shopping for a new projector to install in a classroom, the LS625W is worth a close look.
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