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Bright Ideas

Portable projectors let you travel light while still packing quality into your business presentations.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then certainly a polished sales presentation--complete with digital slide show and video materials--will speak volumes about your company. But how do you take this message on the road? The CRN Test Center recently tested five ultraportable projectors, all weighing 6 pounds or less, from Hewlett-Packard, InFocus, Philips, Toshiba and ViewSonic. Most of these projectors include direct VGA, composite and S-Video inputs, remote controls and built-in mono speakers.

If you're in the market for a basic projector, the InFocus LP70 (www.infocus.com) and the Toshiba TDP-P5 (www.toshiba.com) are excellent choices. Each has a heft of just 2.4 pounds and provides excellent image quality. These two projectors are virtual clones of each other and are rated at 1,100 lumens, with native resolution of 1,024 x 768. However, both blow a lot of heat back at the user, so you (and that customer you're trying to impress) should sit on either side while they're operating.

Our engineers were pleased with the image produced by the Philips LC5241 (www.philipsusa.com) and its better-than-average contrast. The LC5241 weighs about 3.2 pounds, probably due to its rugged metal enclosure. The Philips projector has a native resolution of 1,024 x 768 and is rated at 1,000 lumens. One clever feature is its sliding lens cover, which prevents it from being misplaced. The lens features both a manual zoom and a manual focus as well as a digital zoom. The projector also comes with a digital freeze and keystone correction, which adjusts the presentation if the projector and screen are misaligned.

HP's MP3800 (www.hp.com) projector weighs around 3.5 pounds and is rated at 1,300 lumens. Its tower design makes for a small footprint and raises the lens off the table to help eliminate keystone effects. Its native resolution is XGA (1,024 x 768). Text appears sharp and easy-to-read, and the contrast is good. The unit lacks a motion-video input, but an optional iPaq HT150 Home Theater Kit is available.

On the heavier side, ViewSonic's PJ551 (www.viewsonic.com) weighs in at 5.4 pounds but packs a brilliant picture. With a high brightness of 1,500 lumens, the PJ551 projects a bright, vivid picture with good contrast. The unit's native resolution is 1,024 x 768, but it is compatible with lower resolutions and higher resolutions up to 1,280 x 1,024.

For the highest-quality projector at the lowest weight, the InFocus or Toshiba are excellent choices. But for something with more features, the heftier ViewSonic unit is a brilliant choice.


Marc Spiwak is a technical editor with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility of CRN, a high-tech newspaper for IT consultants and solution providers.

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This article was originally published in the June 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bright Ideas.

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