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Video Review: Vivitek D5500

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Flexible features and sharp imagery make this affordable projector an attractive option.

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Vivitek D5500

Vivitek D5500

What are the choices an AV professional has to make when determining what projector to install in a given space? There are many, of course, but they certainly include sufficient brightness, as well as an understanding of the projector's target use. Business presentations and lecture notes favor higher color temperatures and sharper images, while motion video and photographic imagery value a more balanced color temperature and more accurate color. These days, low maintenance and low energy consumption might be important, and what if flexibility and future protection are high on the priority list?

Vivitek has introduced a new conference-level installation projector, the D5500, which may be a projection jack of all trades. The D5500 comes in a big, black, 57lb. chassis with a healthy array of inputs, including an RJ-45 connector for remote network administration. The default lens is a 1.2:1 powered zoom lens, although there are five interchangeable lens options that range from short throw to 8.3:1 long throw, and changing a lens is as easy as pushing a button and twisting the lens out of its socket. The D5500 has two lamps for either high brightness or low maintenance using an automatic lamp cycle. Most curiously, it includes a standard four-segment color wheel, but it also ships with a second, six-segment color wheel that can increase color performance dramatically.

All of the D5500's connections are on the side panel. There are computer inputs for DVI-D, 15-pin RGB (as well as a 15-pin monitor out), and a 5-BNC set for RGBHV. Naturally, those BNCs can also be configured in the menus to accept YCbCr component video. Additionally, there is a 3-RCA set for component video, as well as S-Video and composite. RS-232 is for external control, and the RJ-45 allows remote control, monitoring, and administration.

Vivitek has included several installation-oriented features, beginning with both vertical (up to 50 percent) and horizontal lens shift (10 percent). Powered zoom and focus afford convenience if the projector is mounted out of reach. There are also fine controls for image offsets and overscan, noise reduction, and keystone correction — also both vertical and horizontal. For security, Vivitek has included a PIN access-enabling feature that can be required for boot up, a lock-out feature that disables the unit's top controls, and a physical Kensington lock system.

There are six image and color-temperature presets in the onscreen menu for easy setup (High-bright, Presentation, Movie, Video, Graphics, and sRGB), but there's also individual white-balance correction for RGB and color corrections for RGBCMY. Vivitek has also leveraged Texas Instruments BrilliantColor features. Three gamma modes — Dynamic, Natural, and Black Detail — adjust the brightness ramp toward bright white. The Black Detail mode affords greater light versus dark contrast, but it loses detail in between. The Natural mode favors more realistic grays, and the Dynamic mode allows the unit to adjust gamma automatically. The BrilliantColor feature recalculates colors to use more of each of the color-wheel segments rather than pausing as the wheel moves from one color to the next.

The projector's dual lamps can either be used simultaneously for maximum brightness or in single-lamp mode to save power and prolong the lamp-replacement cycle. In single-lamp mode, you can either manually switch between the two lamps or select an interval — one week, four weeks, or 2,000 hours — for the D5500 to automatically switch to ensure even usage between the two. There is also an Eco mode that reduces brightness by about 15 percent but saves on power consumption when the added brightness is not needed. The onscreen menus keep track of individual lamp and filter usage, and they list hours used and remaining lamp life.

When it is time to replace the lamps, removing four screws from the unit's top panel gains access to both lamp compartments, and only two screws on each lamp release them for replacement. The same access panel also reveals the color wheel, which can be swapped out with the RGBCMY six-segment color wheel, having just four screws itself. Color-wheel replacement is just as simple as pulling out and popping in new lamps.

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