Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer
Projector shines with light-output features.
Ever since DLP projectors started using extra white or clear color-wheel segments to enhance brightness and contrast specifications, buyers have been forced to choose between high brightness with washed-out color or an accurate picture. Mitsubishi's new XD470U follows a similar model that yields high brightness in an elegantly small package, but it also offers more fine-tuning capabilities to get both brightness and color right.
The XD470U has a MAP of $1,795, but I found the XD470U online on several reputable sites for between $1,500 and $1,800, and even lower. Those prices put Mitsubishi in the leading dollars/lumen range that it often has occupied over the years. Yet, while brightness is a big story with the XD470U, it's not the only story. At least, it's not limited to just blinding you with lumens, and it can show a pretty picture.
Admittedly, 6.2lbs. is not a travel projector weight any more, but looking at the XD470U and its diminutive (10"×10"×4"), boxy, white chassis, it's easy to reminisce about the days not long ago when this would have been a road warrior's dream — given the size. Today, amazingly (particularly from a historical perspective), this compact chassis delivers nearly 3000 lumens of brightness, and it is clearly destined to light up smaller conference rooms, classrooms, smaller houses of worship, and other such spaces where groups of people need to view information. The XD470U is small enough to be moved from room to room conveniently, even if it's not meant for a traveling briefcase.
Of course, small size can raise security concerns in large buildings or on a campus, so Mitsubishi has included a hardware security loop/hook on the rear of the chassis to allow the unit to be physically locked with a security cable. There's also a customizable splash screen and a password-protected lockout function to help identify the rightful owner and thus discourage theft.
Other than the compact size, there's nothing particularly fancy about the XD470U's chassis. The projector's connectivity clearly targets business and training use with its two 15-pin data ports in and one out for a local monitor, and just S-Video and composite video inputs. (Component video input requires a conversation cable into one of the 15-pin ports.) There is an RS-232 port for control connectivity and a stereo mini-audio port, but this projector is mostly going to be used for displaying business, training, or class material to a group. Manual vertical keystone correction will assist with tabletop setup or mounted installation.
XD470U's primary drawing card is its high light output. Although, the XD470U isn't necessarily a blinded-by-the-light projector, it does use a four-segment color wheel with RGB and a white section to increase light output as much as possible when needed. However, Mitsubishi's White Enhance menu setting also lets you adjust how much of that white segment actually gets used.
The White Enhance setting uses a 0-10 scale (also called an auto setting), with 0 effectively eliminating the use of white and 10 driving brightness as much as possible. The visible difference is quite striking. Mitsubishi puts the brightness specification for the XD470U at 3000 lumens, and with the White Enhance function set to 10, I came very close to measuring that number. (My actual measurement was 2958 lumens.) However, that was a center spot or peak brightness rather than an ANSI-lumen specification of the average brightness across the entire image. I measured that overall brightness at 2358 ANSI lumens, with a brightness uniformity of 71 percent.
That uniformity number isn't at all surprising given the small size of the XD470U and a design that is intended to generate as much light as possible when needed. There are going to be plenty of times, on bright sunny days with plenty of ambient light flooding a room for example, when that high brightness is going to be very important. The caveat is that all that extra light, actually all that extra use of the white segment, washes out secondary and pastel colors and slides the grayscale curve far to the right on a 0-100 IRE scale. Yellow and cyan move far toward green, and anything below 35-40 IRE has little discernible difference from black.
Fortunately, the XD470U also offers the ability to reduce the use of the white segment in conditions where all that brightness isn't as necessary. With the White Enhance feature set to 0, secondary colors fall much closer to where they should be — although they still push toward green. Even better, the grayscale curve starts upward far to the left, down around 15-20 IRE, and yields much greater detail in dark grays and shadows. Of course, brightness plummets to less than 800 ANSI lumens. Yet that's where many other projectors stop: either high brightness or accurate color.
The XD470U allows you to better match differing ambient-light situations. By allowing you to set White Enhance anywhere on the scale from 0 to 10, you can crank up the brightness only as much as you need for good visibility. Admittedly, color purists might not think that you should have to make such a trade-off, and they're right. Trouble is the projector that's going to do it is going to cost a lot more than the XD470U.
And it's that versatility, without a burdensome price, where the XD470U hits its stride. It's a business and training projector that — most of the time — is going to be used for presentation slides, spreadsheets, and other documents where subtle inconsistencies in color often aren't going to matter as much as seeing the information clearly. On the other hand, if part of those business documents includes color web pages, photographs, or detailed graphics, the XD470U can display those as well with greater refinement.
Pros: Small size, high brightness, versatility to display accurate color.
Cons: Limited feature set, ultimately still a trade-off between high brightness and good color.
Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens
Contrast: 2000:1 full on/off
Native resolution: 1024×768
Configuration: 1×0.55in. DLP DMD4-segment (RGBW) color wheel
Light source: 280W lamp
Lens ratio: Manual focus, 1.57-1.87
Zoom: Manual 1.2:1 optical zoom
Projection distance: 4.2ft. to 31.5ft.
Screen size: 40in. to 300in. diagonally
Off-set axis: 7.9:-1
Loudspeakers: 2W monoaural
Dimensions (WxHxD): 10.3"×3.4"×10.4"
Warranty: Three years parts and labor
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