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Power Up Your PowerPoints

A lightweight portable projector will keep your presentations picture-perfect when you're on the go.
August 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/181702

Nothing says you mean business quite like an artfully done PowerPoint presentation. And when you're on the road, the best way to get your point across is with a portable projector. Whether you need to equip your sales staff, pitch your services to clients or present to investors, these slim projectors will fit right in with your laptop or PDA without weighing you down. Most of the projectors we reviewed use Digital Light Processing, or DLP, technology for crisp pictures and long life. Others use LCD technology, which can be quieter than similar DLP devices. In terms of price, the two technologies are very close.

The Planar PR6020 slims in at less than 3 pounds and features 2000 ANSI lumens of brightness and a 2000:1 contrast ratio. Higher brightness translates into good visibility in bright rooms, while a higher contrast ratio generally helps generate clearer, deeper-looking images. The $1,199 PR6020 features an uncluttered design with a simple setup. A menu function gives you easy access to color levels, brightness settings, keystone correction and various display modes. The laptop presentation we projected came across sharply with accurate color reproduction and plenty of brightness, even in a well-lit room. The PR6020 gets fairly hot, but that's not unusual for high-brightness portables.

One of the biggest expenses of owning a projector is replacing the lamp. To put that off a long as possible, the $1,149 Dell 3400MP features Eco-mode, which extends the typical lamp life from 3,000 hours to 4,000 hours and reduces the projector's noise level.

Wireless is a desirable extra. The Epson PowerLite 1715c works with 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi devices and displays full-screen MPEG video and audio wirelessly from a PC. Its $1,999 price tag also nets you 2700 lumens of brightness and a two-year warranty. This projector can handle demanding multimedia presentations.

The $1,099, 3.9-pound ViewSonic PJ358 can take on small spaces. Its short throw distance lets you show a 61-inch image from a distance of just 4.9 feet. It can also be assigned a PIN code for security. When size and weight top all other concerns, check out the $699 Toshiba TDP-FF1AU. Leave the battery behind, and the unit weighs just over a pound. However, it doesn't have the brightness and the extra features sported by its heavier cousins.


You can save big bucks by going with the slightly heftier BenQ MP510 for $599. It's a decently portable 5.7 pounds with a respectable 2000:1 contrast ratio and HDTV compatibility. Compare that with the InFocus Work Big IN24, which weighs about the same and comes with 1700 lumens of brightness and a 3,000-hour lamp life for $499. Either could serve double duty as a meeting-room projector that can also hit the road when needed.

Other leading projector manufacturers include Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, Optoma and Sharp. Look for models that offer a good balance between weight, price and features.

Shopping List
Compare these 7 projectors and highlight the features that best fit your needs.