A portable, hi-res LCoS projector that's unusually bright and sharp

Have you ever found a product that’s nearly perfect—except for one glaring limitation? The critical question becomes: Is the limitation significant enough to overshadow everything else? That’s the situation with Canon’s new top-of-the-line projector, the Canon REALiS WUX10. This 10.8-pound WUXGA-resolution (1,920 x 1,200) projector is exceptionally bright and sharp. The LCoS display engine, 1.5x zoom lens, and color management system make it a good fit for many video applications, as well as for presentations where you need to display high-resolution documents or photographs with edge-to-edge clarity. So what’s the catch? The WUX10 lacks the contrast range we’ve become accustomed to with DLP-based projectors.
When I first saw the 1,000:1 contrast ratio specification for the WUX10, I thought this projector wouldn’t be a good choice for video. Who wants milky grays when you can have luscious blacks? But after using the WUX10 over a four-week period primarily for video, I’ve changed my mind. Unless the room is as dark as a movie theater, you’re not going to see the bottom portion of the contrast range anyway. The deepest black can’t be darker than the ambient light will allow. And just a moderate amount of ambient light can reduce a 50,000:1 contrast range to something much closer to 1,000:1. That’s when the WUX10’s 3,200 ANSI lumens start to shine. A 1,000 lumen projector can’t rise above the ambient light like a 3,200 lumen projector can.
Another advantage the WUX10 brings to video is its LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) display engine. LCoS projectors are immune from the rainbow effect associated with single-chip DLP projectors, where stray colors can become an annoyance for some viewers. In addition, LCoS doesn’t suffer from the screen door effect associated with LCD projectors, where the circuitry around the individual pixels can create a visual distraction. LCoS pixels have a higher fill ratio, so they appear less boxlike than LCD pixels. On screen, the WUX10 pixels blend smoothly without losing their sharpness or color fidelity.

I used an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player to test the WUX10 with a broad range of DVD and Blu-ray discs—both commercially pressed and custom-burned. The projected video was surprisingly film-like. Movement was even and consistent with minimal flicker. It handled 1080p/60fps video like a champ with no obvious flaws. The WUX10 isn’t compatible with 1080p/24fps video, so be prepared to convert your 24fps content before you display it.

The native WUXGA resolution is supported by the projector’s HDMI, DVI, and VGA inputs. If you feed it HD video, you’ll have the option to scale it up to WUXGA or project it at the true resolution. The WUX10 did an excellent job of scaling a 1080p signal with no digital blur or artifacts. The HDMI input supports the HDMI 1.3 deep color specifications—assuming you can find any 1.3-compatible content. The projector supports 10-bit analog color through the VGA connector (a component-video adapter is included). I found the WUX10’s color reproduction to be accurate without any tweaking, though you can easily change it via a six-axis (RGBCMY) color adjustment menu option.

Set up was relatively painless. Reflecting the modest size and weight for this model, Canon has thoughtfully included features that allow for a quick installation in a wide range of environments. The Auto Set-Up button, available on both the projector and the remote control, can automatically adjust the focus setting, video input, keystone angle, and screen color. The auto focus consistently matched the settings I had previously found through a careful manual focus. The auto keystone covers +/- 20 degrees and is supplemented by a motorized 1.5x zoom lens with 10:0 lens offset. The lens offset lets you move the projector straight back without having to adjust again for the keystone angle. It holds the lower edge of the projected image at a constant position, so the supporting table won’t enter the light path as the projector moves away from the screen. The auto screen color worked quite well when I needed to use an off-white wall as a makeshift screen. You can exclude screen color from the Auto Set-Up for those times where the projector will need to be adjusted with no change in the screen.

More Standout Features

Other valuable features include a Silent mode that reduces the fan noise from 36dB to 31dB. Though it reduces the light output as well, this projector is bright enough that a drop in output is a viable option if you need to keep the noise down. With the Silent mode selected, I couldn’t hear the fan in most environments, unless I was within about six feet of the projector. The WUX10 has an internal charging mechanism that continues to cool the projector after it’s unplugged. And you can perform network management functions through a built-in Ethernet port. On the downside, the integrated 1-watt audio system would be a better match for a $500 projector—not a model with a list price that’s approximately 26 times higher.

With its WUXGA resolution and 3,200 lumens, the 10.8-pound Canon REALiS WUX10 is a portable powerhouse. The Canon lens and LCoS engine combine to display video that’s consistently sharp and steady. Positioned nicely between the less-expensive 1080p projectors and considerably more-expensive 4K projectors, the WUX10 hits a sweet spot for the intersection of price, portability, brightness, and sharpness. If you absolutely need deeper blacks in a portable WUXGA projector, consider a DLP model. However, if you’re not sure the environment will be sufficiently dark enough, the WUX10 could be the better choice.