The ViewSonic PJD7383i DLP projector is suited for schools and businesses, combining networking with an ultra-short lens that creates a huge picture in a tiny place.
The PJD7383i looks like a home-cinema projector, with its bulbous black plastic casing and sharply-curved lens compartment. The PJD7383i is not a small projector, and its 8 pounds is comparatively hefty, so you won’t want to carry it for long distances. Like most projectors, though, it’s still portable enough to be carried from one room to another, so it would prove useful in a school, for example, where it wouldn’t necessarily be left in the same place.
The PJD7383i produces a giant picture, thanks to its ultra-short throw lens. Indeed, even in a relatively modestly sized 15-foot room, the projector was able to produce an image that covered the entire ceiling. So 6 feet will be enough to produce a good-sized 75- to 80-inch picture, and that’s worth bearing in mind before you install the projector. If you have existing mountings, they may well be too far away from the wall to produce an image that’s sufficiently small. The amount of heat generated by the projector means you will want to be extra careful about where you position it. Nonetheless, it’s good to have the ability to project a huge image in a relatively small space.
The range of ports and connectors is fairly standard, from S-video and USB to a number of RGB ports. The latter can be converted for use with component video. No proper digital input such as HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort is offered. A security bar for theft prevention cables is available at the back.
Noise levels are not untypical, with the specs listing a drop from 32 dB to 27 dB when in eco mode. Certainly, the projector was no noisier than is typical for these models.
The PJD7383i’s networking facilities could prove invaluable, if you have more than one PJD7383i. The strong web-based Crestron RoomView software allows you to monitor the projector and manage it from a single location, while a video stream can be sent to multiple projectors using Network Display.
The range of menu options is good, and includes a versatile Digital Keystone function, alongside the usual setup facilities (of picture quality, such as Tint and Sharpness), and even a High Altitude mode.
The remote control is intuitive and effective. If you use the PJD7383i with a Windows PC, you can use a PointBlank interactive pen. Looking more like an electric toothbrush, this needs a USB connection to the PC to work, but allows you to move the pointer around like a mouse, clicking on windows and dragging them around, or firing up new programs with a quick hand movement. Rather more useful than the typical mouse control you get with projectors, this will be useful for anyone who uses their projector for presentations or school lessons, and in the case of the latter could even cut down on the cost of an interactive whiteboard. The PJD7383i worked quite well when connected to a computer, with a bright image that showed up a reasonable amount of detail, and the native XGA resolution should be enough for most presentation tasks. The 3000 ANSI lumens brightness rating is quite high, although we did find this projector still needed a darkened room in order to produce a good image.
Where the PJD7383i did fall down is with displaying video, and despite having DLP technology (which generally provides good depth of colour), we found the palette lacked intensity when it was projecting dark images—a regular occurrence when showing a film, for example. That’s a bit of a shame, as the ultra-short throw lens might otherwise have made it a tempting choice for basic home cinema, particularly with its 3D support for the future.
Macworld’s buying advice
The image quality of the ViewSonic PJD7383i isn’t necessarily top notch, but the features are generally good, although we would have preferred to see regular digital inputs on a projector at this price. The short-throw lens, interesting control pen-like device and versatile network management make this a sensible, if expensive, choice for schools and businesses.