The Zenith PRO 880, 881, 900 and 900x were the replacement projectors for the
very popular Zenith PRO 851. They were in production from about 1993 to 1996 or
so. The PRO 880 and 881 were video and S-video only units, the PRO 900 and 900x
are data grade sets that accepted video, S-video and RGB signals to 50 Khz or
about 720p. 800 lumens out of 7" Zenith tubes. Digital convergence, on screen
menus, and a well written manual to help set the unit up. Very quiet and
A little known fact is that these sets were not actually made by Zenith.
Another smaller company was subcontracted to produce these sets, and Zenith
simply put their name on it. Zenith also produced these sets for a couple of
companies that put their own name on it, namely Runco and Knoll. Knoll to my
understanding did nothing but change the name on the sets, but Runco built an
internal line doubler for the PRO 900 and 900x and added some aspect memory
control into the EPROM and memory chips. The internal line doubler worked well
and scaled all video and S-video signals to 480p. The internal line doubler
could not be bypassed via the internal menus, however the RGB inputs did bypass
Overall the Zenith PRO 88X and 900 series seem not quite as reliable as the
older 851’s. The 851’s were tanks that lasted forever, however they are limited
to video use and are more or less clunky looking. The 88X and 900 units look a
lot sleeker, and even with three internal fans, the sets are very quiet.
The one unique feature of the Zenith PRO line is that they have a shorted
throw distance than any other CRT projector. The throw distance for these sets
is typically 1.2 X the width of the screen instead of 1.4 to 1.5 X the width of
the screen as found on most other CRT projectors. This is due to the lenses that Zenith used in their sets. The lenses
lack corner focusing adjustments: Zenith instead used lens spacers. This limited
the amount of adjustments that the user/installer had over the corner focusing,
but allowed Zenith to use inexpensive lenses as compared to other video
projectors, keeping the price down.
On the plus side, the Zenith tubes used in this set are liquid coupled and
are dirt cheap to rebuild/replace and are rated at 800 lumens. These tubes are
very reliable and last a long time if the projector is properly set up using the
maximum phosphor area possible.
The digital convergence also works well, but it tough to get a handle on
without reading the instruction manual. Zenith could have done a better job
writing simplified software, but oh well…. The user and installation manuals are
well written though, and the set has some consumer features such as an internal
clock that ‘pro industrial’ sets don’t typically have.
To see how these projectors rank in relation to other projectors for use in a
home theater environment see the Projector Rankings
For full specifications on these and other projectors, see the
For an overview and history of Zenith see the CRT
See the Advanced Procedures
page for various DIY instructions on maintaining and improving CRT projectors.
Need a remote for your Zenith 880/881/900 projector? Check out
this page at
www.remotes.com. They tell me they still have LOTS of stock.
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