Hitachi Performa CP-RS55
Hitachi positions its Performa CP-RS55 as a dual-use projector, best applied to business situations but quite handy in the living room, as well. We might go a step further: in view of its compact size (11.2 by 8.0 by 3.2 inches)--not much larger than a cigar box--this 4.8-pound model is also well suited for mobile applications. Add to that a record-low price tag that occasionally dips below $800, and we might just call the CP-RS55 a basic, one-size-fits-all business projector.
Inside the stylish but understated silver-gray case is an LCD imaging engine, part of the reason for the projector's low price. Hitachi has upgraded this venerable technology with what it calls Progressive Scan Technology, which promises reduced flicker. Nevertheless, CNET Labs' tests revealed the typical trademarks of LCD technology: superior color handling (particularly with blues, in this case), a significant screen-door-like grid effect on projected images, and a lower-than-average contrast ratio (only 192:1). Another traditional LCD drawback inherited by the Hitachi is the need for regular cleaning of the cooling fan's air filter. In other words, this model is better for tabletop use than for ceiling installations with limited access.
The CP-RS55 comes with a decent but spartan set of connectors and cables. The standard connectors (VGA, S-Video, composite video, and audio) are all present and accounted for, though the projector ships with only one VGA cable and an AC cable. The only surprise is an RS-232 port labeled Control, which, with an optional cable, enables you to control the projector either locally or via a network.