So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Good detailed images, Wireless connectivity, Bright
- Some colour issues, Contrast not great
For those who need a wireless business projector and the PLC-XU86 is a great choice
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
Sanyo's PLC-XU86 is a competent entry into the portable business projector market. This triple LCD projector offers most of the features we look for in such a product, including solid image quality, multiple computer ports and a bright bulb, and combines this with wireless connectivity, making it a good choice for professionals who regularly display data from multiple machines.
The PLC-XU86's bulb is rated at 2,500 ANSI lumens, which is brighter than most models in this category. During our testing, even under bright fluorescent lights, the picture remained clear and well defined. It will be more than powerful enough for average boardroom use, with lights either on or off.
Unfortunately the 500:1 reported contrast ratio was not as good, and was one of the big weaknesses of this model. Differentiation between dark colours suffered, and we lost clarity in some dim areas of footage. This isn't particularly important for average business use, but is a major weakness for film or DVD presentation. The projector also struggled to produce rich blacks which often appeared as very dark greys. All LCDs struggle with this to some degree, but the PLC-XU86 didn't handle it as well as some others.
Despite these issues, it's peformance in most of our other image quality tests was quite strong. At the native resolution of 1024x768 we found regular text was displayed crisply and clearly with no noticeable aliasing. The picture was sharp and the dot pitch was small by projector standards, meaning fly screen was not really a problem. We discovered a small amount of pixelisation on our curved line tests, but it was nothing to be concerned about. Our straight line charts were reproduced perfectly.
It did however display some issues in our colour tests. While it managed to accurately display yellows and greens, reds and blues suffered. Our red step chart lost a lot of definition between darker blocks and the overall transition from different shades was poorly executed. Blue and magenta suffered similar problems, but not to the same degree.
We were pleasantly surprised by the low amounts of image noise that the PLC-XU86 exhibited. There was a very small amount of pixel activity on some of our still moire tests, but it was minimal and our block colour checks were smooth and consistent. There was a little bit of motion jitter and flickering on fast moving images, which, combined with the contrast and colour issues, makes this projector less than suitable for intensive, home theatre video playback, but as it is a business model, this was to be expected. It is more than adequate for video playback in small doses, such as embedded video within a powerpoint presentation.
Performance and Features
With a 35 second power-up time it won't get off the ground instantly, but it doesn't have a cool down cycle, like most projectors, so you'll be able to pack away the unit fairly quickly after use. While it wasn't completely silent, we found it to be quiet enough to avoid becoming an annoyance. There is a single heating grate on the side to provide ventilation, which is more than adequate for a portable model.
The big selling point of this model is the wireless connectivity. With both an Ethernet port for wired connections and an external, USB key sized 802.11 b/g wireless receiver, the PLC-XU86 is capable of connecting to most standard networks. In fact you can connect up to five projectors up to the same computer and display the same data on each.
By using the packaged software you can manage the projector as an external network device and display images from either the connected PC or another on the network. This is particularly useful for large presentations, allowing you to display images across the office on multiple projectors at once. The setup process was fairly complicated, but nothing to phase a tech savvy user. Someone with a basic understanding of networking should have no trouble.
There are a few other nifty networking functions, such as the ability to log onto an FTP to fetch pictures and the software's built in email alerts. If you so desire, you can configure the software to email you updates on the projector's status, containing information like the surrounding temperature, the temperature of the unit itself and whether it is on or off.
The PLC-XU86 also has the ability to display pictures directly from a USB stick, which furthers its usefulness as a portable model. The only downside to this is you must remove the wireless USB receiver, which means you cannot do both simultaneously.
One other worthy feature of this package is the remote, which comes with a built in laser pointer. Quite practical for presentations, we discovered it had quite an impressive range too, with the glowing red dot clearly visible from one side of the office to the other. The remote also has mouse functionality, which complements the wireless connectivity, allowing you to do completely PC free presentations.
Measuring 23cm x 6cm x 17cm, there are smaller portable projectors on the the market than the PLC-XU86, but not many. Nevertheless the unit includes a carry bag and weighs only 2.6kg. Lamp life is rated at 2000 hours.
The PLC-XU86 is a solid business projector. In terms of image quality it more than holds its own, and the wireless connectivity is a big selling point. Our only real complaint is that it could be a little smaller, but size aside it is a fine choice.
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