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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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The trend toward native widescreen projectors is now in full swing in the consumer home-theater market. Additionally, several high-end, high-brightness staging and rental models have led the shift toward native widescreen in the business market, along with a smattering of smaller, portable models. NEC's new NP3151W finds a similarly wide, if less well-represented space that fits right in between: the professional business AV installation market — targeting lecture halls, training centers, large boardrooms, and mid-sized auditoriums.

NEC's existing NP line of installation projectors (as opposed to the smaller, portable NPs with two or three digits in the model name) include eight models ranging in brightness from 3500 ANSI lumens to 5200 ANSI lumens. However, the new NP3151W and NP4001 are the only two so far with a native wide-aspect ratio. The DLP-based NP4001 is slightly brighter, at 4500 lumens compared to 4000 lumens, while the 3LCD-based NP3151W is $1,000 less expensive. However, the new NP3151 weighs in at a little more than 16lbs., compared to the 34lb. chassis of the somewhat older NP4001.

Still, both NEC models join the clear trend toward widescreen viewing that is evident not only in other wide projectors, but also in our culture, as widescreen flatpanels and rear-projection TVs continue to grow and as native wide-HDTV content becomes commonplace. And while, admittedly, much of that trend stems from the consumer market and entertainment content, the trend exists too in the business world, where 16:9 notebooks are becoming more popular. Ironically, the transition to wide is actually an easier one for business because arbitrarily stretching presentation slides bears far less consequence than stretching video images of faces and bodies.

UNDER THE HOOD

The NP3151W's 1280×800 isn't a native HDTV aspect ratio, and it's an indication that this is clearly a business projector. It has three RGB inputs — a 15-pin (in and out), a 5-BNC RGBHV set, and a DVI-D with HDCP — that should fit comfortably into any existing cable structure. There are also inputs for motion video, including analog component. The NP3151W supports HD up to 1080i.

But those basic connections are only part of the story. A built-in RJ-45 Ethernet port offers remote administration and diagnostics of the projector, and a Windows Vista's remote-desktop function displays the image on a connected computer via Ethernet. A wireless option affords the same Windows remote-desktop feature, although NEC also uses its own proprietary image compression software to work with non-Vista computers.

NEC has given the NP3151W several helpful installation features that will afford placement in a variety of non-standard settings. Vertical and horizontal lens shift and 40-percent vertical and 35 percent horizontal keystone correction and bayonet lens options are expected installation features, and NEC offers these with the NP3151W. 3D reform is less typical and it allows for digital image correction in the case of off-axis installation. 3D reform is not a new technology from NEC, but it is one of NEC's differentiating features. Admittedly, it takes a little work going back and forth between the horizontal and vertical sliders to realign an off-axis image, but it sure is easier than moving a wall.



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