Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 02/16/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Hitachi CP X445 Projector

Lots of features, exceedingly bright By Charlie White

Hitachi has introduced a new 3-LCD projector that's exceedingly bright and full of features that will make both corporate and home users happy. The CP-X445 ($3000 street) features a quoted 3200 ANSI lumens, network control, and an onboard sound system. We set up this projector and tested it with all types of inputs, including component HDTV signals along with progressive scan DVD, and of course, we tested its native XGA capabilities with a computer image. We found the unit to be highly capable, but not without a few flaws.

The X-445 includes a high-quality remote that gives you a variety of advantages. First of all, its IR signal is strong and clear, and you don't necessarily have to point the remote directly at the projector for it to communicate. You can tell it's partly aimed at corporate presentation users, because it includes an integrated laser pointer, a new feature that we've seen only rarely on projectors. It also offers you the ability to plug in a USB cable from your computer which gives you cursor control on-screen. As we've seen in other cases, it's not easy to control a cursor via a joystick on a remote, but in a pinch it could be a valuable feature. I also liked the menu structure where navigation was made easy by a unique spring-loaded up-and-down toggle switch on the remote used to navigate up and down the menus, while left and right navigation was done with the usual arrow buttons. To me, this seemed easier than using the standard directional buttons for menu navigation.

Taking the projector of the box, its heft was quite a contrast to some of the tiny portable projectors we've been testing lately here at the Midwest Test Facility, but at 8.59 lb., it's not exactly as heavy as an anvil, either. After placing it on our test cart, I pointed the projector at our test screen and when leveling its feet, I was impressed with how easy it was to operate the leveling mechanisms where you push a button and the feet move up and down until you let go. Sure, these are commonplace, but rarely are they is easy to operate as this. After positioning the projector as perpendicularly as possible, I moved the cart so that the projector's image measured at a diagonal size of 60 inches -- our standard size that we use to test all projectors here. After plugging in DVI, VGA and component cables and a mini phone plug from a high quality audio source, we were ready to go. 

Taking our customary measurements with our precision light metering equipment, the first thing we noticed was the 3200 ANSI lumens spec from Hitachi is wildly optimistic. When we divided the screen up into nine equal sections, the brightest part of the screen -- which occupied the middle bottom sector -- measured just 2170 ANSI lumens. That's a far cry from that 3200 number quoted by Hitachi in its marketing materials. Even so, we found the screen to be exceedingly bright, one of the brightest we've tested. The screen was also relatively evenly illuminated, more so than most of the projectors we've seen. We've noticed in our extensive testing of various projectors that an unevenness of illumination of 20% or less is nearly imperceptible, even to trained eyes. That said, the X445, with its lowest light reading of 1592 ANSI lumens in the top right segment of the screen, was hardly discernible from the brightest segment of the screen that measured at 2170 ANSI lumens.

Now that we've done the scientific measurements, let's sit back and take a look at various sources and determine this unit's quality of video reproduction. First up was a DVI signal, and we were perplexed to see that when we fed the XGA (1024x768 pixels) signal from a test bed computer into the projector, it resulted in a picture on the screen that only occupied the top left two-thirds. Thinking that perhaps we are using the wrong type of cable, we confirmed that we were using a DVI-D cable and that everything was plugged in appropriately. Unable to make that work properly, we turned to the VGA cable where the video signal played back full screen in all its XGA glory. Now you're talking! Its sharpness and contrast were impeccable. The only weakness in this video was its black levels, which were more of a dusty gray than true black.

Here's the back of the X445, where you can see we've plugged in VGA and component cables as well as an audio cable. Notice on the top left of the back of the projector there's a network (LAN) port as well as a place to plug in a USB cable from your computer for cursor control.

 

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Related Keywords:Hitachi, 3-LCD projector, corporate, home users, CP-X445, inputs, component, HDTV signals, DVD, native XGA, review, Charlie White, presentation, home theater

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