This group of projectors includes five larger venue projectors. The projectors are listed in alphabetical order. All can handle large university classrooms, with brightest doing 8000 lumens. Two are laser projectors, another one supports 4K content, one is DLP, and one is priced well below the others.
It's true that each year those projectors we refer to as "standard" rather than "larger venue" keep getting brighter. A decade ago a 3000 lumen projector would be considered large venue, today it's hard to even find a "standard" projector with less than 3000 lumens. Well, with that in mind:
Naturally larger venue projectors are also getting brighter, here are the four larger venue projectors we reviewed this year, suitable for the education market. Technically we could have added two more projectors, both $20,000+ projectors to this list, as there are some museum applications and large university auditoriums that could use them, but we're more focused on topping out with those 400 seat classrooms and medium and smaller auditoriums.
OK, let's meet our entries, with a short product capsule on each.
We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year's Best Classroom Projectors report.
Larger Venue Projectors Considered
To locate the short overviews, reviews and brochures of all larger venue classroom projectors considered in this report, click below!
A 3 to 4 year "shelf life" is common for projectors in this class. Prices typically fall significantly over that period.
The Canon WUX450ST is an LCoS projector (as opposed to DLP or 3LCD), with a list price of $7329. Canon offers educational programs, but I don't have access to any specific pricing.
What we have here is, as you could suspect from the model number - a WUXGA projector - that's 1920x1200, slightly higher than 1080p. Canon projectors have always been well known for extremely good color, as you would expect from a company best known for their dominance in professional digital SLRs. If you are into photography as your "bread and butter" you have to be into accurate color. The 450 in the model is an indicator of the 4500 lumens available (white and color).
The WUX450ST is a short throw projector. The wide angle lens is manual, no other lens options are available. What is interesting is that it is a fixed throw wide angle. It sits just less than 4 feet back from a 100" 16:10 inch screen. That's on the long side, but still possible to mount above the projection screen using a wall mount, which is a real plus in most installations.
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By any measure the Canon has a lot of vertical lens shift, and especially so, for a short throw projector. This makes it very practical in unusual setups. Short throw + lots of lens shift, for example is great for multi-projector edge blending applications such as those you would find in a museum.
A key uniqueness of this Canon is that it is surprisingly compact and for a high brightness 3 chip (panel) projector. it measures a relatively tiny 13x16 inches for its footprint, and under 14 pounds, not 24-40 pounds like the others in this section.
There are two versions, the other being a slightly more expensive one that offers DICOM Simulation - quality and contrast high enough to be certified for use teaching in medical schools, elsewhere, for showing/reading medical films such as MRIs, X-rays, Pet-scans, to students. The standard version Ron reviewed lacks the DICOM ability. BTW Canon is definitely one of the pioneers of DICOM projectors.
Yes, 450ST supports multi-projector usage, with edge blending an geometric correction, as you probably gathered, from earlier comments.
Photo/sRGB mode (one of 5 preset color modes) offers the best color, and looks really good. Naturally there are full color controls should you need to tweak, or calibrate the projector for dead on color. Ron also reports that this Canon projector is exceptionally sharp. That's not unexpected, as first of all, it's a fixed lens, not a zoom, which gives it a big advantage. Then, of course, it's a Canon, and no one is known for better quality lenses not in photography, and certainly not in projectors. As an LCoS projector, the pixel structure is essentially invisible.
Overall, the Canon, for a projector without multiple lenses, is very well endowed. An HDMI input and a DVI-I (the I version can support analog sources such as component video or analog computer) and there's a separate component video input as well. HDBaseT support for running cables long distances and affordably is also present, along with stereo audio inputs and output.
Warranty is a healthy 3 years parts and labor. The lamp is rated 3000 hours at full power, 4000 in eco, with replacements selling typically for under $400.
Obviously this is a projector to be reckoned with if you have a wide angle application, especially one that calls for multi-projector, sharpness and precision picture. It's certainly not the bargain of these large venue projectors, but should you need real wide angle, it probably won't cost more than any of the others that offer interchangeable lenses, after the cost of choosing a wide angle lens for one of those.
The WUX450ST is more of a specialty projector than the WUX6000 that won a top award in last year's education report.
Epson Powerlite Pro G6550WU / G6570WU
The Epson G6550 is a WUXGA (1920x1200) 3LCD projector I hoped to have reviewed in time for last year's Education report, but it didn't get done. My bad. I had been using the projector for months as a high power "bright room" projector in my living room (where I still use it), I just didn't get around to writing it up in time. Well, the G6550WU's time has finally come. Pricing is $4999 (with lens), $4699 without list, but Brighter Futures education pricing is only $3599 and $3449 respectively!
I've included the G6550 (along with the G6570) in this report, despite that the G6550 is apparently being phased out, but will still be around for a while. The brand new G6570 that replaces it is almost identical, with just a few minor changes. I've bent the rules a little bit, by dealing with these projectors (old and new), together, despite not reviewing the G6570. As a result, to be fair, they are not eligible for our Best In Classroom awards this year.
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Both Epson projectors claim a massive 5200 lumens - both color and white lumens. It was a bit surprising that the G6550 came up a couple hundred lumens short of claim when I measured it, but then it would still have far more color lumens than any single chip DLP projector that claims 5000 or 6000 white lumens. It is powerfully bright. Epson offers a full range of manual zoom lenses for this "G," which combines with lots of lens shift. This is a true master of placement flexibility.
As you would expect of any full featured, high brightness, install projectors, the number and type of inputs and connectors is huge. HDMI, Networking abilities include LAN input with support for Crestron RoomView, for advanced networking. There's also optional wireless networking (using Epson's usual $99 plug in module).
The G6550 and G6570 have a dynamic iris to help out with black level performance, and also has detail enhancement capabilities, smooth motion and a whole lot more in terms of image processing. Then there's split screen presenting over networks, and the screen sharing capabilities of projecting up to 4 teachers' or students' content in four quadrants of the image at once.
Epson considers the G series a mainstay of their Brighter Futures program for higher education (also for auditoriums in K-12). Oh you won't put one in a 4th grade classroom, but here's a projector that fits right in with a telephoto lens, 30 feet back, and 20 feet up from the screen in a 250 seat university classroom. The G6550/G6570 lack a number of advanced features found on our next contestant, Epson's G7905.
A first class three year parts and labor warranty with overnight replacement program is included. A spare lamp comes with the projector, and replacements are a truly "dirt cheap" (for a large venue projector lamp) of only $199. The projectors use long life filters.
Epson G7905U Projector
There are two versions of the 7000 lumen (white and color lumens) G7905: The G7905U and the G7905UNL. The difference is easy. The U comes with a standard motorized zoom lens, while the UNL ("No Lens") comes without the standard zoom lens.
If the standard zoom with its 1.6:1 zoom ratio doesn't do it for you there are eight more motorized lenses, but knowing that upfront, you would order the G7905WU and the lens you need Lens shift is also motorized, and the G7905 offers Lens Memory as well. Epson also has announced an ultra-short throw lens for the G7905.
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The 7000 white and color lumen WUXGA (1920x1200) resolution G7905U has a list price of $6499 while the no lens version is slightly less at $6199. Thanks to Epson's Bright Futures program, Education pricing is only $4539 and $4389 (for the UNL version) respectively.
The G7905 is the flagship of the new G7xxx series, which has a number of enhancements over the lower cost G6xxx series perhaps the most important being pixel shifting and the ability to run standard and copy protected true 4K content.
What's really special: The G7905 projectors, along with the less bright, but also WUXGA G7400 and G7500, is that these are pixel shifting projectors, ones that can accept 4K content, and use that pixel shifting to provide an image that appears sharper and with more detail than non pixel shifting WUXGA or 1080p projectors!
As we have pointed on on the home theater side where we've reviewed both 4K projectors and pixel shifting 1080p ones, there are two major benefits: On 1080p and WUXGA content, this Epson should appear about as sharp and detailed as a far, far, more expensive true 4K projector would produce. With true 4K content, the G7905 won't really match a true 4K competitor, but since that competitor is most likely to cost between 4 and 10 times the price, that makes the G7905 start looking like a real bargain. (Note: A number of features like edge blending will not operate when using pixel shifting - a reasonable trade-off.)
One of the few features missing from the G7905 projectors is that they lack a long life laser light engine, instead rely on traditional lamps (which still dominate the market). The lamp in the G7905 is rated 3000 hours at full power, 4000 in Eco. While the lamp life is, as expected, shorter than lower cost, less bright non "large venue" projectors, the good news is that through the education program, replacement lamps are only $199 (dirt cheap compared to the competition).
Note: The priority this May was getting the report published. As a brand new model, the G7905 is one of three of the projectors who's full review will publish within two weeks of the report going live, rather than before.
Just about everything the G7905 offers are the things you would expect to find in a flagship large venue projector in terms of features:
Full color control, advanced edge blending (even works on curved surfaces, and around corners), geometric correction (a single image across multiple projectors), HDBaseT, and split screen capabilities. With Epson's Moderator software, up to four separate sources on a network can be displayed in four quadrants. And it will work off axis including in portrait mode for a taller rather than wider image (off axis abilities are most often found on laser projectors.)
Warranty is three years parts and labor with a three year overnight replacement program. That's pretty close to unbeatable. Like all G Series projectors it ships with a ceiling mount and a spare lamp.
Pretty darn impressive for a projector that cost's schools barely than $4500!