Up Close and Bright
By combining high-quality color reproduction and bright output, Optoma’s TW610ST short throw projector is one of the best values available to schools. It does an excellent job of putting a lesson on the screen at a hard to beat price.
At 4.2- by 11.8- by 9.1-inches and 7.2 pounds, the TW610ST is small and light enough to take from room to room on a cart, but it lacks a handle to make carrying it easy. Its protruding short-throw lens is protected by a tethered cap and it has mounting points underneath for attaching to a ceiling as well as a sturdy lock-up bar to make sure it stays put.
The projector has the expected automatic keystone correction and a logically laid out control panel but like many other short throw projectors, the TW610ST lacks a zoom lens. This means that you need to move the projector towards and away from the screen until its image is frames on the screen.
Inside the black case is a 0.65-inch Texas Instruments Digital Light Processing engine that puts out 1,280 by 800 resolution wide-screen images. It easily handles 720p high definition programming and works well with a variety of computers, including an iPad.
Along the back is one of the best assortments of connection ports, including VGA (two inputs and one output), HDMI, Composite video with audio inputs, S-video, USB, an RS-232 port and 12-volt connector for controlling a powered screen. There are even jacks for audio out to drive a set of speakers and an Ethernet connector for wired data. It comes with a traditional VGA cable.
The projector has a pair of 5-watt speakers and there’s a place to plug in a microphone for a student or teacher to voice-over the material but it sounds a bit tinny. While the TW610ST comes with a simple remote control, it does without a laser pointer. The projector can display 3-D programming and integrate with Crestron’s RoomView control systems.
Its short-throw abilities are impressive, creating a 45-inch diagonal image at just 20-inches from the screen or 7.5-feet at just 36-inches. The projector tops out with nearly a 19-foot image at less than 9-feet from the screen. Along the way, it has excellent color and grayscale reproduction so that reds look red, blues look blue and whites are very bright. Video is displayed smoothly with excellent sound synchronization.
The TW610ST starts up slowly in 1 minute and 1 second and can completely shut itself down in a quick 12 seconds, although there’s an annoying blast of air when you turn it off. It can pump out a lot of light and compete with the sun with the classroom’s lights on and blinds pulled up on the brightest day.
In standard mode, the projector puts out 2,470 lumens. Need more? The projector can put 3,106 lumens on screen in Bright mode, slightly above its 3,100 lumen spec. On the other hand, there’s a significant hot spot in the upper right corner.
While it’s operating, the TW610ST uses 270 watts of power. That drops to as low as 1 watt in standby when using the projector’s Eco mode. Its $210 lamp is rated for 3,000 hours in normal operations. This adds up to a reasonable annual cost of operations of about $133 if it’s used for six hours a day during the school year.
Optoma’s TW610ST lists for $999, but if you shop around you’ll see it for about $900 at a variety of stores, which is not just a good value but in light of its 3-year warranty, it is a bargain. Top-notch color and bright output rarely go hand in hand with short-throw projectors, but Optoma’s TW610ST puts an excellent and bright image on screen and does it at a great price.
List price/Actual price: $999/$900
+ Excellent color and grayscale reproduction
+ Microphone jack
+ Sturdy lock-up bar
+ 3-year warranty
- Lacks zoom lens
- Power use