The Sanyo PLC-XU87 promises just about everything you could possibly need from a portable projector, including a high lumens rating, Wi-Fi, and a remote. Unfortunately, these features are drastically overshadowed by poor execution, confusing setup, and lack of support documentation.
This 5.7-pound projector boasts a 2,500 ANSI lumens, which should be more than enough for almost any typical conference room. Carrying on Sanyo's traditional emphasis on networking, this model is also one of the few projectors that includes both wired and wireless LAN connectivity. The remote control is full featured and includes a laser pointer along with buttons for navigating PowerPoint slideshows. The lens has impressive specs, featuring a high optical zoom ratio of 1.57X. And for easy stow-and-go capability, you can disconnect the AC immediately after powering the projector down.
On our tests, the PLC-UX87 did quite well, scoring 2,363 lumens of brightness-five percent below its advertised value. Its tested relatively low contrast ratio of 176:1 is still good enough for most business applications and about what we expected from this model's LCD imaging engine. That same engine requires users to periodically clean an air filter but also endows the PLC-UX87 with excellent color rendition. In general, images are quite sharp, and resolution was good with both very dark and very light images, but we did notice significant flickering in some dithered grays.
Thanks to the amazingly high 1.57X optical zoom ratio, the projected image was the largest we've seen, measuring almost 52 inches in diagonal with the projector only 60 inches from the screen. One audible downside: At full power, the cooling fan is quite noisy. Fortunately, the low-power mode drops the brightness by 30 percent and decreases the fan noise considerably.
Despite getting off to a good start, the PLC-UX87 has a few weaknesses. First, one of the most frequently used buttons on a remote control-the laser pointer-is located in an awkward place. Second, not all of the buttons seemed to register when we pressed them. Complementing the poorly designed remote is the projector's awkwardly designed onscreen menu, which has submenus for its submenus, an abundance of incoherent icons, and way too little text. And sometimes the Up arrow button actually takes you to the left menu.
The biggest rough patch, however, was the lack of support for the projector's networking features. Although we could connect via a wired network easily, connecting via Wi-Fi was cumbersome. At first, we thought it just didn't work, and then after much more tinkering, we figured out that you have to set up an Ad Hoc wireless connection first, and then use the Sanyo NetworkModule software. The connection is pretty good, but since it was so tricky to configure, we wouldn't trust it in a presentation environment where users may not be familiar with the setup.
At a street price of $1,595 with a generous three-year quick-replace warranty, the Sanyo PLC-UX is very reasonably priced, especially considering its abundant power and features. But its lack of some important user-friendly accommodations limits its appeal.
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