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10/31/2005
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Review: Three Ultra-Portable DLP Projectors

Can these two-pound projectors from NEC, Optoma, and Dell handle both high quality PowerPoint and HD images?

The dream goes something like this. You’re pitching a major client on a mucho-dollar deal at their offices. The client tells you he’s booked conference room #1 for the meeting, which has a humongous CRT you can plug your laptop and PowerPoint presentation into. Unfortunately, when you arrive, the CEO has commandeered the conference room, bumping you to conference room #3, which is sans display.


In This Roundup

Introduction

NEC LT20

Optoma EP729

Dell 3400MP

Conclusions and Specs

No worries. In two minutes flat, you set up your portable DLP projector and focus the image on the ubiquitous white board in generic conference room #3. Your clients are stunned by your adaptability and by the astonishingly high-quality image your tiny portable creates. In an instant, a pitch, a sale, and a superstar are made.

Oh, and by the way, when you get home, you and your family can use the same projector to watch DVDs and 1080i/HD programming at sizes over 15 diagonal feet.

Hello, DLP!
DLP stands for Digital Light Processing. Developed by Texas Instruments, DLP images are created by a series of hundreds of thousands of microscopic mirrors laid out on a semiconductor chip known as a Digital Micromirror Device, or DMD. With its high image quality and entirely digital nature -- which results in increased compatibility with PCs and other digital devices -- DLP has rapidly curried favor with home theater gamers as well as IT types.

With this in mind, Desktop Pipeline rounded up three ultra-portable DLP projectors from three well-known manufacturers. We were curious: Would these two-pound XGA projectors meet our primary need of projecting big-screen, high quality images at high resolutions? And could these same projectors also function effectively as home theater projectors?

How We Tested
To find out, we put each projector through a series of tests. First, we calibrated the projectors using Displaymate’s calibration utility. Next, we clinically evaluated each using Displaymate’s diagnostic utility. Finally, we analyzed each in a series of four real-world tests: a 24-slide PowerPoint presentation with widely varying graphics and fonts, two movies (Kingdom of Heaven and Star Wars Episode IV), and Discovery Channel’s HD signal. To simulate common corporate environments, we tested the projectors in an environment lit by low levels of moderate, indirect sunlight.

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