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Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Ultra Short-Throw Projector Review

There are dozens of portable, ultra-short throw projectors available these days. Yet, there was a time when finding an ultra-short throw projector that was also portable was near impossible. The Mitsubishi WD380U-EST was one of the first available with an ultra-short throw, that was packaged in a lightweight body. It quickly became a popular, modestly priced projector for business and classroom audiences.

Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Projector
Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Projector

The interest in the projector made sense too. It had an ultra-short throw. The projector is capable of displaying a 100-inch image from just 30 inches away. Plus, the projector had a feature-set that was rare for budget-friendly projectors. The Mitsubishi WD380U-EST was equipped with robust wireless connectivity, an HDMI port, a USB-A port, a capable 10-watt speaker, and PC 3D compatibility. And at 9 pounds, it was a projector you could take anywhere.

Today, not only is the WD380U out of production, Mitsubishi itself exited the projector market in 2013. Even so, the WD380U – and also the WD390U, which was released two years later – remains a highly capable ultra-short throw projector. Image quality, portability, and throw-range are ideal for uses, and the feature sets compares to what you’ll find in similarly priced UST projectors today. Through third-party resellers, the WD380U can be hard to find, but the replacement WD390U, which shares a majority of features with the earlier model, is still available. If you need a portable, UST projector, the WD-380U or WD390U should garner your attention.

Mitsubishi WD380U-EST: Features and Specifications

Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Projector - Rear Inputs
Mitsubishi WD380U-EST Projector – Rear Inputs

Aside from portability and throw ratio, the WD380U was backed up with a load of premium features. It remains competitive with similar priced projectors that have been released more recently. Some of these features include:

  • Brightness and Contrast: The WD380U’s lamp delivered up to 2,800 lumens of brightness with a 3,000:1 contrast ratio. Plus, the brightness was adaptable. In the Whiteboard mode, the projector adjusted output to match a makeshift screen like a whiteboard or blackboard. Even in these applications, brightness remained at about 1,500 lumens. Plus, in Presentation mode, which was designed to project black-and-white images, images were crisp, clear and easy to read. The WD390U received a slight boost in output: an even 3,000 lumens of brightness.
  • Long Lamp Life: The WD-380 is equipped with a 230-watt lamp that has been optimized for maximum life. In standard operating mode, the lamp has a life of 3,000 hours – about average for similar DLP-based projectors – and it boosts up to 6,000 hours in economy mode. Fortunately, a replacement lamp for the Mitsubishi WD380U remains affordable. The replacement part (No. VLT-XD560LP) starts just north of $200.
  • Easy Setup, User Friendly Controls: One reason the WD380U is so portable is that it remains super easy to install. Essentially, it’s a plug-and-play projector. That makes this projector useful as a cart installed projector. Plus, it requires little-to-no calibration before installation, and the controls are easy enough that anyone can use them.
  • Built-In Audio: The 380U’s built-in 10-watt speaker provides decent output for classroom and business environments. Yet, even more useful is the projector’s audio mixing capabilities. The projector enables users to mix audio from two different sources. So for instance, a presenter could show a video, while using a wireless microphone to provide commentary. Even today, that remains a fairly unique option for budget- and mid-range projectors.

  • A Range of Connections: The WD380U is equipped with a variety of ports, including an HDMI link, S-Video, two VGA connections, and both a USB-A and B port. The USB A connection makes it possible to display content directly from a USB drive. Plus, the projector has great wireless networking options, including the ability to pull content from a remotely-connected desktop computer.

So what’s the bottom line? Even though Mitsubishi no longer makes projectors, the WD380U remains an intriguing option for smaller spaces. Plus, the features are extremely useful. If you can find the WD380U as a refurbished or new option from a third-party reseller, this will provide a ton of functionality at a fairly economical price.

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