Portables handle the spotlight
The GCN Lab's latest look at lightweight projectors
Budget presentations, training videos, even messages from the agency's new CIO all look better on a big screen. But if you want more than a handful of people in a room to get the picture, you need a display bigger than almost any monitor can offer. The obvious choice is a digital projector.
'Well,' you might think, 'we've got a conference room and it's got a darn good projector hanging from the ceiling already.' To which we say, 'How about your other conference rooms? How about the conference rooms in your other offices, or at your partner agencies, or at your mobile command post?'
These days, as technology gets better and prices drop, it makes sense for agencies to offer mobile workers a pool of portable projectors for a variety of presentation needs.
The GCN Lab took a look at six of the latest portable projectors from Dell, Hitachi, InFocus, Lenovo, Mitsubishi and ViewSonic. Each uses digital light processing, which has become the most prevalent projector technology.
DLP employs tiny mirrors on a semiconductor chip to generate images, while helping keep the size of the unit manageable.
We did invite a pair of vendors'Epson and Sony'to submit LCD projectors, but they haven't refreshed their lines recently and couldn't get us new units in time, an indication that most new development is taking place in the DLP space.What we found
Because many users still think of stationary, conference room-style projectors when they think of projectors at all, we decided this year to bring one into the lab and compare it to the portable projectors we tested. The control we picked was the Panasonic PT-DW5000U.
As you might expect, a stationary projector has a slew of features (including a digital visual-interface port, something we wish five of the six portables had included).
But you might be surprised to learn that in terms of sheer brightness'a critical projector characteristic'most of the portable systems we tested were better than the Panasonic.
The Dell 1800MP, InFocus Work Big IN26 and Lenovo M500 weren't just a little brighter than the Panasonic. They were a lot brighter. And the Lenovo included the digital input we craved (though it didn't include any other inputs).
In the end, we ranked a pair of projectors above the others. The Lenovo is our top choice for agencies that want an ultraportable (2.5-pound) projector and don't mind spending a little extra money for it.
The budget conscious would do well with the Dell 1800MP, which displays accurate colors and comes with a potent built-in speaker.