Projector Review: NEC NP-M282X XGA DLP Classroom Projector
Wed 16, July 2014 Projectors
Source: Projector Central
Review by: Bill Livolsi, July 14, 2014
The NEC NP-M282X is a new XGA projector with some interesting features that make it perfect for education. The M282X is easy to set up in just about any classroom thanks to its high light output, long zoom range, and its ability to display photos, videos, and office documents from an attached USB thumb drive -- without the aid of a computer. A 20-watt speaker packs enough punch that everyone can hear what's happening, even in the back of the room. A long-life lamp, rated at up to 10,000 hours of operation, cuts down on maintenance costs. To top it all off, the projector has a built-in light sensor and will automatically adjust lamp power to keep image brightness consistent, even as the lamp ages. The M282X has an MSRP of $999 but is currently selling for only $629, so it's affordable even on a tight budget.
The Viewing Experience
The M282X produces a bright picture that's easy to see, and its various image modes adjust that image for the type of content you need to use. The image in the projector's High-Bright mode is greenish, but perfect for ambient light when you need maximum brightness. Color is under-saturated in this mode, so using it for photographs or other color-intensive material can make it seem a little lackluster.
The M282X's other image modes are less green and offer better color performance but less light output. Presentation is the projector's default mode the first time you start it up. Presentation is tinted towards blue, but offers better color and contrast than High-Bright mode. It's more appropriate for film, video, and photographic use than High-Bright mode, but the best color performance is gained by using the M282X's Movie or sRGB modes. Both Movie and sRGB provide natural, life-like color for your data images, movies, and photographs.
The image is plenty sharp when using source material in the projector's native XGA. When you're using higher-resolution input signals, you will lose some detail due to compression, but the M282X does a fine job of maintaining detail in high-res content. The loss of detail is more visible in text documents and spreadsheets than it is in graphics and video, so for best results try to scale text-based material to native resolution before sending it to the projector.
Setup and Configuration
The M282X has a long 1.7:1 zoom range and can project a 100" diagonal image from as close as 10' and as far as 16' 8". This range gives you the leeway needed to mount the projector in most classrooms using a standard ceiling mount. However, the M282X is also well suited to use on a rolling cart, where its USB projection ability comes in handy; the projector can display content without connecting to a computer, a feature that won't get a lot of use if the projector is ceiling mounted.
The M282X has a mild 13% throw offset, so the bottom edge of the image will be 13% of the image's height above the centerline of the lens. This mild angle is ideal for use on a cart, but it is also suitable for ceiling mounting.
The M282X's high brightness make it ideal for use in ambient light, a situation that describes most classrooms. And thanks to the long zoom lens, adjusting the image size is easy if the projector starts to look washed out or dull due to lack of brightness. Just remember that using the telephoto end of the zoom lens will result in a 20% loss of light output.
High brightness. If your classroom has ambient light problems, the M282X's 2800 lumen output should help you solve them. The projector delivers a bright, compelling image that's easy to see even when the sun is shining in through the windows (though it still helps to pull the shades, of course).
Low maintenance. The M282X is built to last. The projector's lamp lasts for 4,500 hours at full power and up to 10,000 hours in Eco mode. That's a long, long time by conventional lamp standards. Working six hours per day and assuming a 180-day school year, 10,000 hours is over nine years. Kids in first grade when you start using a new lamp could be in high school by the time it flames out. The M282X does not have a dust filter, either, so lamp changes are the only thing you'll have to remember.
Lamps lose light output as they age, which can result in images that appear dull or dim. The M282X has a feature called Constant Brightness that gradually increases light output as the lamp ages. This keeps the projected image at approximately the same brightness over the entirety of the lamp's lifetime. Constant Brightness is available in both Normal and Eco lamp modes, but not in Eco Off mode (because the lamp can't get any brighter).
USB Projection. Hook up a USB thumb drive and the M282X can display text, photos, video, and presentation documents directly, without the need for a computer. This can be helpful for student presentations in a classroom setting, especially if the projector is on a rolling cart.
20W speaker. Classrooms can be rather large, and the M282X's 20W mono speaker helps your students hear what's going on no matter where they sit. It's not a replacement for a real speaker system, of course, but it is quite good for an onboard speaker.
Auto A/V mute. The M282X has an integrated sliding lens cap. Sliding it closed will automatically activate the projector's A/V Mute function but still allows for a quick return to projection. And since the lens cap is integrated, of course, it can't get lost or stolen.
Blackboard mode. Don't have a dedicated screen? No problem. The M282X includes a "Wall Color" option that adjusts the picture for display on blackboard (green or gray) and whiteboard, as well as light yellow, light blue, or light rose walls.
Light output. The M282X's brightest operating mode is High-Bright, which measured 2185 lumens on our test unit. High-Bright mode has a slight greenish cast and poor color performance, so it is best reserved for those times when color is not important and you need maximum light output at the expense of all else.
Presentation mode, the projector's default, measured 1877 lumens. Presentation has better color and contrast than High-Bright mode, and is a good all-around setting for Powerpoint presentations, data graphics, and general classroom use.
Movie mode, at 1261 lumens, has a deeper black level, better color, and a more natural image than either High-Bright or Presentation. It is a good choice for content in which color is critical. Its color performance is not quite as strong as sRGB mode, at 704 lumens, but it is almost twice as bright.
The M282X has a long 1.7:1 zoom range, but it only loses 20% of its light output when using the telephoto end of the lens (the smallest image at a given throw distance). Light output decreases linearly with zoom, so using the middle of the zoom range would result in a 10% drop, and so on.
Most projectors have an Eco mode, but the M282X has several. Full power is actually called Eco Off; this is the setting used to obtain the lumen measurements listed above. There is also Auto Eco, a setting that increases or decreases light output based on the content being displayed. This works similarly to the dynamic lamp modes found in some home theater projectors. Next is Normal, which cuts light output by 25% but opens up the use of Constant Brightness if desired. The final option is Eco mode, which reduces output by 49%. These options can extend lamp life and reduce brightness in smaller classrooms where the projector's full output is not needed.
Contrast. The M282X's gamma control provides three presets: Dynamic boosts contrast by adjusting gamma on the fly, Natural is a low gamma setting for presentation and document display, and Black Detail is intended for film and video use. Depending on the room environment and the type of content you need to show, one of these modes should fit the bill. Black level is not the M282X's strong suit, but black is deep enough that the occasional video is at least watchable.
Sharpness. Native-resolution XGA content appears tack-sharp on the M282X, with crisp detail and excellent definition. The projector also does a fine job of downscaling higher-resolution material, especially photography and video -- though this is partially because these types of content hide the loss of detail well. Downscaling a 1080p HD signal to XGA gives you about a quarter of the original pixels, so some detail loss is inevitable.
You can also expect some visible loss of resolution when downscaling text documents or spreadsheets. Whenever possible, use the source to down-convert these items to XGA before sending them to the projector.
XGA. The M282X's native resolution is 1024x768, or XGA. While there is nothing inherently wrong with XGA, and the lower resolution reduces the cost of the projector, most computers these days are capable of outputting much higher resolution signals, and most computer users are accustomed to working at those higher resolutions. It's also 4:3, so widescreen signals will appear letterboxed, which further reduces usable resolution. If you plan to watch a lot of movies or video, consider stepping up to one of NEC's widescreen models.
Color brightness. The M282X's brightest modes have low color brightness compared to the brightness of white. As such, when you display an image with both highlights and areas of saturated color, the picture can look out-of-balance. Colors look dull and under-driven. The image as a whole appears muddy.
If you can spare the light output, use either Movie or sRGB when color is important. Movie mode measured 75% color brightness and sRGB mode measured 100%. In comparison, High-Bright measured 42% and Presentation measured 51%.
The NEC NP-M282X is an inexpensive, bright XGA projector with a slew of features that make it perfect for classroom use. Its long-life lamp gives it uncommon staying power, while the Constant Brightness function keeps your image looking the same, day in and day out. Using USB projection, you can display slideshows, photos, video, and common office documents without a computer. A long zoom range makes for easy installation. While it's not perfect, the M282X provides a good compromise between useful features and an affordable price, and is a great addition to any classroom.
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