Planar Can Do It All


Vibrant colors, configuration options suit needs of any presentation


Lately, a great deal of attention in the projector market has been placed on mobile, or portable, models. But some advancement is being made in their larger brethren, too, and Planar Systems Inc.'s new PR9030 WXGA LCD is one example of the technological leaps happening in this arena.

Based in Beaverton, Ore., Planar has been manufacturing multiple lines of desktop monitors, touch-screen monitors and projectors for 25 years. Its channel program offers various resources to partners, depending on the partner's level, which is determined by annual sales. The company's products are distributed through Electrograph Systems Inc., Hauppauge, N.Y., Ingram Micro Inc., Santa Ana, Calif., Stampede Global, Depew, N.Y., Synnex Corp., Fremont, Calif. and Tech Data Corp., Clearwater, Fla.

Planar's new PR9030 is a massive 16.46 x 12.56 x 5.47-inch unit, designed to be ceiling mounted but with adjustable front legs that allow it to be used on a desk or conference table as well. In addition, the manufacturer has included a large fold-out handle on the left side of the unit to haul around the 15.8-pound device.

From the moment we turned on the projector, it was clear that this device can do it all. In less than a minute, the 4,000-lumens lamp was at full brightness and ready for action. Focusing the large, all-glass lens is simple via the opening on top of the unit where the zoom control is also housed. A hidden compartment directly behind this opening offers access to dials for adjusting the lens left and right, as well as up and down.

High-definition applications are supported with a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 and a true 16:9 native aspect ratio. Other supported aspect ratios include 4:3 and 16:10.

When measured with 17 test patterns in the DisplayMate calibration suite, the PR9030 breezed through all of them with ease. Like most projectors, the black level was a bit low but, in contrast, the colors were some of the most vivid we've seen. In addition, there are seven presentation modes, which allow the user to compensate for different types of images or projection surfaces. This was exceptionally useful in keeping color reproduction— including white—remarkably accurate.

The vast array of connectors on the rear of the unit are a testament to its support of nearly every input method currently available, including HDMI with HDCP decryption. There are also four 4-watt speakers built in to make it a complete presentation solution.

Despite being rated with a power consumption of 450 watts, our testing never drew more than 356. While the audible noise level is specified at 30dBA in whisper mode (which is below the threshold of our meter), we measured about 62dBA when used in normal mode. Even at this elevated level, the sound was negligible to the ambient sound in our lab.

Heat dissipation is kept to a minimum, with most of the unit averaging 86 degrees Fahrenheit. As expected, the hottest point on the projector was the forward-facing exhaust vent at 120 degrees. We also observed that the carrying handle, located directly next to the vent, measured 105 degrees. Even though this made the handle distinctly warm to the touch, it was not too hot to hold. Furthermore, after closely examining the device, we couldn't find a more favorable place to locate it.

Built-in network capability offers administrators the option to configure and adjust every possible setting via a browser-based control panel. The projector can also be scheduled to power on or off automatically via the browser.

With exceptionally vibrant colors and a large assortment of input and configuration options, the PR9030 would be an asset to any location where a variety of presentation types are expected. With an MSRP of $4,499, this projector should be on the short list of companies looking for a flexible and relatively affordable solution.