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Setting-up the Pro8520HD isn't as easy as it could be, but despite the lack of manual lens shift levers we managed to get the 1.5x zoom lens to create a 80-inch image from three metres, which is about the maximum size we'd recommend if you want to retain all the glory of a Full HD image (though the Pro8520HD's extreme brightness means that it can project images as big as 300-inches from as far as 10 meters from the screen, and from as close as 90cm). Using the Pro8520HD in daylight is absolutely no problem at all, which will be a real boon for some.
However, the downside is noise. With the Philips lamp running super-hot while on a picture mode simply called Brightest, the fan's whirring creates a clean but persistent noise that in our tests hovered around 79 decibels. That's really loud, which suggests that the Pro8520HD probably belongs in bigger environments and won't suit small classrooms (or any kind of home cinema function). Eco-mode dims the brightness a lot, but the noise remains.
That point about films is worth underlining because as well as noise, the onscreen image lacks the fluidity needed for Blu-ray discs. In our test there was a lot of motion blur (despite the 10-built video processor) as well as noticeable 'rainbow effect'. Whether you're susceptible to that depends on your own eyes' sensitivity, but sufferers will find it all too easily. It's a by-product of the Pro8520HD using a six-segment DLP colour wheel. Sadly, even when using other picture modes, such as standard (the best all-rounder), Theater and Dark Room (the most Blu-ray-friendly and colour-accurate), those video nasties largely remain.
However, despite all that it's worth remembering that the Pro8520HD is all about data, not video, and we're pleased to say that PDFs, spreadsheets and documents are presented cleanly, crisply with the requisite bright, white purity. Thanks to BrilliantColor tech the hues are vibrant and for the most part well saturated, though reds in particular are routinely over-cooked and harsh (particularly on the Theater preset).
Ending on a high, we love the Pro8520HD's stereo speakers, which deliver punchy, surprisingly bassy audio up to a reasonably high level of volume, and without distortion.
Extreme 5,000 lumens brightness makes the Pro8520HD a worry-free installation in venues flooded by sunlight, which is a rare skill indeed. Despite that we also love the Pro8520HD's blue LED-backlit remote control as well as its plethora of ins and outs – and USB Display in particular. Meanwhile, its built-in stereo speakers are easily the equal of most flatscreen TVs.
The biggest problem on the Pro8520HD is fan noise, which is on the high side – an expected but unwelcome side-effect of the extreme brightness this DLP projector is capable of. However, there are more serious issues with the images for anyone hoping to play a lot of video; motion blur is the biggest issue, though those with eyes that can't fail to notice 'rainbow effect' from DLP projections will have plenty more to distract them when watching the Pro8520HD's images. The lack of wide media file support via USB is disappointing, as is the lack of lens shift levers to enable easy off-centre imaging. It's unfortunate that the Pro8520HD has no built-in WiFi, too, which precludes Wireless Display features for laptops.
Eye-searing brightness and sharp, crisp data projections in daylight are what the Pro8520HD is all about, and it does it all in relative style. Add some excellent built-in stereo speakers and here's a great all-rounder that even boasts Full HD detail, too. Video, however, isn't handled well; despite the vibrant colours and decent contrast there's significant motion blur and, for sufferers, noticeable rainbow effect when scanning the image.
If you forget video, the Pro8520HD will do a fine job in all kinds of light conditions in classrooms, lecture halls and conference rooms. Largely because of its high detail and brightness – but it doesn't half make some noise.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),