Video Review: Canon Realis SX80
Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer
Higher brightness and contrast highlight new improvements to projector line
The new Realis SX80, introduced at InfoComm 08 this past June, is the successor to Canon's older SX60 and the SX50 before that. On the surface, there's not much that's different. There's a new chassis design, but the 3000 lumens only move brightness up by an expected amount, and the native 1400×1050 resolution remains the same as previous models — as do most of the connection ports. Yet there's no question that Canon has improved on the previous models where it counts in image quality.
At less than $4,000, the price of the Realis SX80 has come down from previous models, but only in response to industry prices across the board. The SX80 is still a premium product, leveraging a higher than average native resolution and clear imagery from the LCoS imaging engine. What's less obvious from the specs, however, is that Canon has addressed the concerns of previous models — such as scaling and analog-to-digital processing — and delivered on the promise of “premium.” There are even a couple of hints that Canon's projector business is finally starting to join, albeit barely, the rest of Canon's repertoire.
Canon's new chassis design features a curved, off-white cover and elegant controls. A new 10:0 lens offset means that the bottom of the image on the screen (or the top, if ceiling-mounted) is at the same height as the lens itself. Automatic keystone correction can adjust the image with the push of a single button if you need to aim the image higher or lower. In fact, the auto-adjust function automatically focuses the image as well, leveraging the same auto-focus technology in today's digital cameras — an industry in which Canon is a leader.
The connection panel is on the side of the unit, and the SX80 retains the minimalist approach to connectivity of previous models — although there are a couple of interesting additions. Standard fare includes DVI-I, analog RGB/component video, a monitor out, S-Video, composite, plus a single audio mini input. Canon's continued inclusion of a very poor 1W monaural loudspeaker supports the expectation that very few users will actually rely on the projector's audio — and that's probably a reasonable assumption for a fixed-installation product. RS-232 remains, but Canon has added a new RJ-45 Ethernet connector for external control and remote administration.
Canon does boast two other new connection options, both of which finally acknowledge Canon's other corporate strengths. First, there's a USB port — which, in the business sector, affords PC-free presentations from a USB flash (or thumb) drive, and there's a slide viewer installed to accommodate that. However, digital cameras can also connect via USB, and Canon — a digital-camera powerhouse — has included support for PictBridge-compatible digital cameras that allows you to scroll through digital photos with the handheld remote just as you would with presentation slides. Yet there's also a file-browser function that displays thumbnails of all the images on a USB drive or camera for quick locating.
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