Portable projectors that carry the load

The GCN Lab tested seven portable projectors for brightness, color accuracy, features and portability.

Something magical happens when the lights go down and a projector fires up, whether you’re settling in at your local theater for the latest Hollywood blockbuster or learning about your department’s new budget. OK, sometimes it’s less than magical. Nevertheless, there are few ways to communicate with a group of people more quickly and effectively than shining images on a large screen.

Road warriors have known this for years, so they often tuck a projector into their travel bags. Luckily for them, most projectors these days are extremely portable. But having a portable device is not enough if it projects images that are dim, inaccurate or hard to see. Traveling employees can’t always control the environment in which they will be making their presentations. Windows sometimes can’t be shuttered, lights can’t be dimmed, the walls in a conference room might be green or yellow, and a projector might need to be set up too close or too far from a screen, assuming there even is a screen. To a presenter on the road, time is a precious commodity, and the less of it they spend wrestling with their projector, the more of it they can spend presenting.

So we put out a call for portable projectors that were real road warriors — light and easy to carry, simple to set up, accurate in color display, and bright enough to tackle almost any lighting condition. It’s a tall order, but seven companies rose to the challenge.

We measured projectors for the brightness in lumens 10 feet from the lens — a real-world measurement, we think. The projectors were set at their native resolutions, and the window each projected was as small as possible at 10 feet. We took measurements in the middle of the screen and in the corners to test for uniformity. Anything greater than a 100-lumen drop from the middle, where most projectors produce their brightest images, to the corners of a screen might be noticeable to the naked eye.

For color accuracy, we compared screen colors to their real-world physical counterparts. We also used test images that had light or faint grids and samples with blocks of text at various point sizes and in various fonts. In addition to the internal GCN Lab benchmarks, we also used DisplayMate Technologies’ DisplayMate Professional benchmarking suite, which includes excellent color stepping and color registration tests, to help fine-tune the projectors and conduct some of the tests. For more information, visit www.displaymate.com.

The ideal projector for our review would be light, highly accurate, bright and easy to use. Several products met those challenging criteria.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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