High Wire Act
If you’re interested in projecting material directly from a tablet without any wires, take a look at Mitsubishi’s WD390U-EST. The short-throw projector can create a large image just inches from the screen and acts like a wireless thin client, although its set-up can be a bit daunting.
Basically, an updated version of the company’s WD380U-EST, the WD390U-EST puts out more light and can be linked with a classroom computer and a tablet or smartphone wirelessly so that teachers to go PC-free, sort of. The set-up is a bit involved, the first few times using it can be an anxiety ridden experience but it all works together well.
To get it all going, you’ll need to load Mitsubishi’s LAN Display server software on the classroom’s computer as well as Awind’s SidePad Receiver on an iPad, iPhone or Android device. Next, with the projector set to LAN Display and the apps running on the PC and iPad, you’re ready to get started. What’s on the PC’s screen is now on the slate and the projected image.
You can not only teach to a class with this set up while moving around the classroom, but control the host computer with your finger on the iPad’s screen. It all works surprisingly well and linked up on the first try with 10 minutes of set-up work. The system worked with video, Office files, .PDFs as well as Windows 8. Using an iPad Mini, the slate’s response was instantaneous with hardly any lag.
Think of the iPad as an elaborate remote control for the host PC and you get an idea of the potential of the set up. Because all the display computing takes place on the host computer, it can run flash animation and Web sites, something iPads can’t do.
The good news is that if you use the same projector and server combo day in and day out, there’s a simple reconnect icon that gets the gear set up quickly. All in all, the WD390U-EST presents a great way to teach while roaming around the classroom. As long as you have a link to the host PC, the iPad controls the show. It had a range of 75-feet, plenty for an auditorium, large classroom or lecture hall.
The projector itself is a winner in the classroom with Texas Instruments’ 0.65-inch DLP imaging engine that projects a 1,280 by 800 resolution stream and can work with 3-D imaging. Like other short-throw projectors, it lacks an optical zoom lens but the WD390U-EST can put a 52-inch image on-screen from only a foot and a half away and tops out at a 15-foot image.
As a bonus to those who don’t want to teach from either a notebook or tablet, the projector can work with items on a network or memory key, cutting the host PC out of the equation. The material needs to be converted to PowerPoint slide shows or .jpg image files, however, but these additions make the WD390U-EST one of the most flexible projectors on the market.
There’s a pair of adjustable legs up front as well as three mounting screws underneath for securely putting it on a ceiling or wall and Mitsubishi sells an innovative $119 mounting arm. The projector works with Crestron’s RoomView and comes with a small infrared remote control that has keys for muting and blanking the screen, picking the source and adjusting the 10-watt speaker’s volume. If remotes disappear at your school, the WD390U-EST can link with PXE DCM+ wall mounted controls.
It has inputs for HDMI, S- and Composite video as well as a pair of VGA ports. The projector can stream video to a second display with a VGA-out connection and it has a wired LAN connection. It lacks built-in WiFi, but Mitsubishi sells a $49 WiFi adapter
The projector took 41 seconds to get started and put an image on the screen. Rated at 3,000 lumens, it delivered a little over 3,100 lumens in Presentation mode. The projector also has modes for Standard Black Board, White Board, Theater and a user defined mode that allows most items – including Brightness, Gain and Contrast – to be adjusted. On the downside, the W390U-EST’s colors were slightly subdued and flat, with muddy yellows and light greens.
The projector uses 303 watts at full power and 1 watt while in standby mode. Along with the WD390U-EST’s $199 lamp, which is rated to last 3,000 hours (6,000 hours in Eco mode), the projector has estimated annual expenses of about $171 if it’s used for 8 hours a day during the school year. Its exhaust is on the warm side at 133-degrees Fahrenheit.
Like its predecessor, the WD390U-EST includes a 3-year warranty with the lamp covered for 1 year or 500 hours of use. With the power to turn an iPad into a teaching tool that the whole class can see, Mitsubishi’s WD390U-EST can change the teaching dynamic in schools.
+ Thin client connection
+ Ability to work with iPad or Android slate wirelessly
+ Good brightness
+ Wall control module
+ Brighter than predecessor
- Complicated set up