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Lighten the Load

We've got the skinny on the newest lightweight projectors for entrepreneurs on the go.

If you've ever been on the road with a projector, then you know the burden of a few extra pounds. Nobody wants to break their back hauling all their presentation supplies around. Fortunately for all you road warriors out there, projector manufacturers have felt your pain and released a slew of portable projectors that won't make your arms fall off or require a dolly and a couple of musclemen to move around. We looked at projectors ranging from about 2 to 4 pounds and found there's one to fit every set of budget constraints.

The InFocus LP120 is a slim 1.98-pound marvel with a rectangle shape. It's small enough to fit inside a roomy laptop bag along with your computer, and setup is quick and painless. With 1,000 ANSI lumens and an optical zoom lens, the image is bright and crisp. At $2,399 (all prices street), it's not a super budget device. But portability is where this thoughtfully designed projector excels. The auto image button is a nice touch.

Similar in weight to the InFocus, the $1,999 Toshiba 2.4-pound TDP-P5-US projector has a more traditional, squared-off shape. It's also quick to get going. Like most projectors, it runs warm--so watch your fingers. The images are clean, and color reproduction is good. The fans on both projectors won't drown you out even in small spaces.

You might want to put some red yarn on the carrying case that comes with the NEC LT10 so you won't mistake it for your toiletry bag. The LT10 weighs in at a mere 2.1 pounds and has a handy front height adjuster that pops down with the push of a button. The LT10 projects a crisp image with 16.7 million colors at a native resolution of 1,024 x 768 and claims a lamp life of 2,000 hours. This puppy--with 1,100 ANSI lumens--gets a little hot, but in return, it produces an image that's easily visible, even in a well-lit room.

Matching the LT10 at 2.1 pounds is ViewSonic's PJ255D. In addition to the weight, the PJ255D also duplicates the resolution, lumens and lamp life of the NEC LT10, but boasts a slightly wider-ranging image size. Both projectors reach a distance of 33 feet.

While the models above battle it out for the title of smallest projector, Epson's PowerLite 735c and BenQ's PB2120 occupy the next highest weight class. The 802.11b-compatible PowerLite 735c is heavier, at 4.4 pounds, but it projects an incredibly bright 2,000-lumen image. Expect a lamp that bright to start fizzling out at 1,500 hours, though. For those who aren't yet wireless, the PowerLite also includes standard wired networking capabilities. These top-end features add up to a price tag of nearly $3,000, but the wireless capability is especially desirable for mobile warriors.

The budget-minded may prefer the BenQ PB2120; it costs a low $999 but still packs 1,200 ANSI lumens into a less-than-4-pound package. The quick-start guide gets you up and running in no time, and your reward is a clean and manageable image. The 800 x 600 resolution isn't as fine as some projectors, but if you're on a budget, it probably won't matter. The three-year warranty is a nice plus.

Downsizing your projector can have consequences when it comes to price and brightness, but all the models we looked at will handle most presentations well. If you know you're going to be in some unusual places, like very large rooms or rooms with very bright lighting, shop carefully for a projector that can take it.

Shopping List
Need us to shed some light on choosing the right projector? Start by comparing image resolution weight--and, of course, price.

MANUFACTURER/
MODEL
CONTACTRESOLUTIONFEATURESSTREET
PRICE
BenQ
PB2120
(866) 700-2376
www.benq.com
SVGA 800 x 600Digital Light Processing (DLP), 3.8 pounds, 1,200 ANSI lumens, three-year limited warranty$999
Epson
PowerLight 735c
(800) 922-8911
www.epson.com
XGA 1,024 x 768LCD, 4.4 pounds, 2,000 ANSI lumens, two-year limited warranty, 802.11b-compatible$2,999
InFocus
LP120
(800) 660-0024
www.infocus.com
XGA 1,024 x 768DLP, 1.98 pounds, 1,000 ANSI lumens, two-year limited warranty$2,399
NEC
LT10
(800) NEC-INFO
www.necvisualsystems.com
XGA 1,024 x 768DLP, 2.1 pounds, 1,100 ANSI lumens, two-year limited warranty$2,195
Toshiba
TDP-P5-US
(800) 316-0920
www.toshiba.com
XGA 1,024 x 768DLP, 2.4 pounds, 1,100 ANSI lumens, two-year limited warranty$1,999
ViewSonic
PJ255D
(800) 688-6688
www.viewsonic.com
XGA 1,024 x 768DLP, 2.1 pounds, 1,100 ANSI lumens, three-year parts and labor, 1-year warranty on lamp$1,999

Research editor Steve Cooper contributed to this article.

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This article was originally published in the May 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lighten the Load.

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