GCN Lab Reviewer's Choice: Lenovo M500
The M500 is a tiny projector with a lot of raw power. It was able to produce an image so much brighter than our conference room unit that we knew it was blowing it away before we even pulled out our Lutron LX-100 light meter.
At the center of the test image, a constant 1,080 lumens flowed from the M500 to the screen. The drop in power at the edges of the screen was over 100, which meant the difference was technically visible to the naked eye, but very slightly. At the corners of our test image, the light measured 910 lumens, which was still stronger than most projectors' brightness measure in the center of the screen.
Given that at 2.5 pounds the M500 was the lightest unit we looked at, its performance was that much more impressive. It was brighter than our conference room unit by over 300 lumens at both the center and the corners. With that much power, any image could be seen easily, even if you end up in a room with office lighting and can't draw the blinds.
Of course, all that power would be worthless if fine details and color quality were lost. With the M500, they're not. Reds, which tend to get lost on brighter projectors, were rich and deep, without any trace of the tomato soup color that plagued others in our testing. And although green was a touch off in the color wheel, the M500 was the best at displaying fine details. Tiny, single-pixel dots displayed properly on-screen without bleeding over into blank space.
The M500 has a lot of little extras that make up for the fact it has only a single digital input. Strange, we spend our whole review lamenting the lack of DVI ports on projectors, and the only system to sport one doesn't come with any other ports. So keep that in mind.
There is automatic gamma correction for PC or Mac displays, as well as for video feeds. The fan can also be set to one of two speeds. Under low speeds, the unit whispers quietly, while the default higher speed protects the bulb better and extends lamp life, though at the cost of generating more noise.
When you first power up the system, the splash screen tells you the combination of buttons to press on a notebook PC to send the projector a signal. Granted, it told us to hit F3 because it was referring to a Lenovo notebook, but it also refers to a standard projection symbol, which on our notebook was found on the F7 key. More than once, we've seen a conference speaker stumble trying to get his notebook to dump a presentation to a projector, so it's nice that the M500 tries to help.
The M500 was accurate and brighter than our conference room control unit. It displays good color quality and is extremely light and portable. And with a sticker price of $1,503, it won't exactly break the bank, either. For quality presentations on the go, it's worth every penny.
Lenovo Group Ltd., Purchase, N.Y., (866) 968-4465, www.lenovo.com