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.
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
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