The projector segment of the IT industry may well be finding itself at a crossroads -- there are signs of a technology that is just dying to become more complex and fit into a broad array of uses from handheld mobile solutions to widescreen, digital signage.
And all of this is coming at a time when the world economy continues to be hamstrung and when analysts from firms including IDC, Framingham, Mass., and DisplaySearch, Austin, Texas, have presented their own research and evidence that there could be noteworthy slowing in the number of projectors sold worldwide. During times of tumult in any industry, it's often helpful to look at how the leaders are reacting, what they are bringing to market, and how it may fit in with the overall market's condition.
NEC Display Solutions of America, Itasca, Ill., opened the year with a heavy number of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and it appears to be following through on delivering top-notch technology in this space. To see where NEC is taking its commercial IT strategy, the CRN Test Center decided to take a look at one projector it has recently brought to market -- the NP 905.
The NP 905 comes in at a list price of $1,699 -- certainly not at the highest end of the scale for a projector in its class (which NEC refers to as a "professional integration" projector). Yet the company has included critical elements that many are looking for in corporate environments: Wi-Fi, remote desktop connection, lamp-saver technology and RVA, S-Video and HDMI capabilities.
Testing out the performance of the projector, we used DisplayMate's calibration software to give it a look out of the box. In testing for 17 different measurements of performance, including calibration patterns that examined its grayscale, color, noise and more, the NP 905 was perfect on each measurement. In particular, the NP 905 projected crisp, sharp detail, looking at PowerPoint slides and video -- meaning it has the essentials down pat.
The device itself weighs in at about 8 pounds, 2 ounces, measures 12 by 11 by roughly 5 inches, and comes in white and gray. Most of the unit was surprisingly cool throughout its testing -- rarely moving above 80 degrees Fahrenheit except for a swath of the bottom of the unit, which did reach about 147 F. Even upon cooling once it was shut off, the unit barely even reached the ambient noise level of the lab.
Because it's got both wired and wireless networking capability, as well as on-board audio, we found the NP 905 to nicely measure up as an "integration" class device. Networking is intuitive, and audio quality is workmanlike. Think: Smaller workgroup conferencing solution.
The back of the console demonstrates just how flexible of a device it can be. The projector provides a USB 2.0 slot, an HDMI slot, Ethernet port, wireless card, audio in and audio out and input from two PCs. All work well. NEC sells the NP 905 either through its standard channel program or direct online.
NEC has undergone a significant transformation as a U.S.-based company over the past three years in both corporate organization and management. However, its aggressive pace of product introductions -- and introduction of newer, integrated features -- in its projector lineup has kept it in a very competitive position in an aggressive, crowded space.
The bottom line: In a tough economic environment, where peripherals like projectors may well be on the back burner even as PC sales are expected to slide throughout 2009, NEC does make a strong argument that its NP 905 provides value -- as well as the flexibility needed for companies that may be altering networking configurations, conference room configurations, or more, during buildouts, moves or consolidations. The CRN Test Center can recommend NEC Display's NP 905 projector with 5 stars on technical merit and four stars for its channel program.