Tiny projector packs a punch

Box Score

The IBM M400 projector looks big here, but it's only 7.2 by 6.4 by 1.9 inches.

J. Adam Fenster

The more power a digital light projector has, the larger and bulkier it seems to be.

That equation has changed with the IBM M400 digital light projector, which is as powerful as projectors twice its size.

It's almost as small as its own remote control. At just 7.2 by 6.4 by 1.9 inches and a featherweight 2.4 pounds, the M400 is ideal for travel use.

The single-chip design projects a native resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. In ideal circumstances, the M400 can output 1,100 lumens.

The GCN Lab measured an average 480 lumens at the center of a white screen from 10 feet away in complete darkness, and 450 lumens at the corners. Dropoff was minimal and not noticeable to the naked eye.

There's no button clutter'only five buttons operate the device. Most of the advanced features work through the remote control.

The only design flaw we found was that two buttons were marked Menu. One of them should be renamed or removed.

To conserve space, the DLP has only a digital video-out port and no analog counterpart. An included cable can convert the signals, but a separate port would be better.

After the unit had been running for more than an hour, its quiet fan and efficient cooling system took only three minutes to cool things down and turn off. Other DLPs we've tested at the GCN Lab got twice as hot and took twice as long to cool.

Although IBM Corp. took a minimalist design approach to the M400, it put 20 buttons on the 4-inch remote control. It handles speaker volume and lets you freeze a frame in the midst of a presentation. The remote can even serve as a computer mouse.

We would have liked the option of an S-Video port. The M400, however, does have an RCA video connection, a USB port and a 3.5-millimeter audio port.

The $349 bulb nominally lasts 2000 hours, enough for a couple of years of heavy use. Contrast ratio is good at 1,800:1. But perhaps the best thing is the M400's $1,737 price tag.

The M400 comes in a well-designed travel bag that stores every cord in its own pocket. Altogether, it should take up less room and weigh less than your notebook PC on your next business trip.

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