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Video Review: NEC NP3151W

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Excellent image quality, color makes 3LCD widescreen projector a good value.


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Interestingly, NEC has also bestowed the NP3151W with a Silicon Optix HQV video-processing chipset. It's more common to think of HQV as a home-theater, image-quality enhancement, but it also does an excellent job scaling and resizing data images and text. And that's critical to a business-oriented widescreen projector, because while the trend toward native widescreen is clear, the reality is that the large majority of computers in the business world are still 4:3. Therefore, much of the content display on a business installation projector will come from such a source. Text and numbers are likely to be stretched and scaled, and if it's not done well, more than just a pretty picture can get lost.

On the other hand, the NP3151W does a fine job with motion video too, both with color and image sharpness, and that's not surprising given HQV's reputation. Admittedly, as a business-install projector, the NP3151W is likely to be display more data information than video, but the ability to do both well makes it an extremely versatile model.

In my tests, the NP3151W did a very good job scaling images and test patterns generated in a variety of native 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. Text patterns were crisp and legible from just about any input resolution, including video and HDTV resolutions. 1x1 pixel test patterns push image processing to the limit, and here I saw moiré patterns develop, but you'll often see that from mismatched resolutions on very high-end projectors as well. However, even on these merciless test patterns, the NP3151W's image never broke down into overt high-frequency noise — that's a testament to good scaling.

I was also very impressed with the NP3151W's color reproduction, with the mild exception of red leaning straight toward green. Even still, secondary colors cyan, magenta, and yellow were spot on in my tests, and blues and greens quite solid. Grayscale tracking was also very smooth throughout, with color temperature remaining near-rock solid throughout the curve from 7.5 IRE to 100 IRE.

NEC lists the contrast ratio as 500:1, and that's a more than honest assessment. Depending on the preset, I measure everything from 385:1 (sRGB mode) to 636:1 (high-bright mode), with presentation mode at 531:1. On the other hand, I did not really come anywhere close to NEC's boast of 4000 ANSI lumens. I was lucky to get above 3200 ANSI lumens, even in high-brightness mode, with presentation mode falling under 3000 lumens. Switching to Eco mode lowers brightness by roughly 16 percent to 20 percent, regardless of mode, while saving lamp life and power. I measured brightness uniformity at a very solid 87 percent.

The NP3151W has a list price of less than $5,000 and, at press time, it is still too new to have established a solid street price. However, expect to find one for less than $4,000 and perhaps much less. That's an extremely good value given the image quality, including color and sharpness. I'm a little surprised by my test unit's brightness, but the installation features — including remote desktop via either wired or wireless Ethernet — more than make up for it as long as your room isn't too large or too brightly lit.

Going wide is the trend in displays, and it's not just for Hollywood movies. From flatpanels at airports and sports arenas to notebook computers and wide desktop monitors, the extra horizontal space is becoming the norm. The NP3151W may be only NEC's second installation widescreen projector, but it's an indication of things to come — both in the market and probably in a boardroom, training room, or lecture hall near you.


PRODUCT SUMMARY

  • Company: NEC
  • Product: NP3151W
  • Pros: Native widescreen, excellent color reproduction, very good scaling on text, good contrast for 3LCD.
  • Cons: Brightness is well below specification.
  • Applications: Professional business AV installation market.
  • Price: $4,999

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Brightness: 4000 (3200 Eco mode) ANSI lumens
  • ontrast: 500:1 full on/off
  • Native resolution: 1280x800 (max 1600x1200) 16:10 aspect
  • Configuration: 3”x 0.74” LCD with micro-lens array
  • Light source: 330W AC lamp (2,000 hours; 3,000 hours Eco mode)
  • Lens ratio: Manual focus, F=1.7-2.2, f=24.4mm-32.5mm
  • Zoom: Manual 1.33:1 optical zoom
  • Projection distance: 2.5ft. to 68.5ft.
  • Screen size: 25in. to 500in. diagonal
  • Keystone: +/- 40% vertical+/- 35% horizontal
  • Loudspeakers: 5W stereo
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 15.7”x5.9”x14.1”
  • Weight: 16.1lbs.
  • Warranty: Two years parts and labor (One year or 500 hours lamp)



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