At a Glance
Typically, portable projectors that weigh less than 5 pounds deliver only enough brightness for small-group presentations, but the potent NEC LT35 ($2195, as of January 18, 2006) is an exception. This 4.4-pound DLP model is rated at a whopping 3000 lumens, and it's powerful enough to use in larger conference rooms, even in the presence of a fair amount of ambient light.
Like most DLP business models, the LT35 uses a four-segment color wheel in tandem with default display settings optimized to produce bright, high-contrast presentations. NEC further tweaks the LT35's display with its proprietary image processing firmware (called Vortex Technology Plus), designed to improve an image's color accuracy and dynamic range.
In our tests of the LT35 at its standard (presentation mode) settings, the projector earned the highest ranking among our current test group (February 2006) for overall image quality. Text displays were sharp and easily readable, and graphics images looked pleasingly colorful with fine details in both light and dark areas of our test pictures. We also liked the unit's video quality, especially when we switched to alternate picture modes (such as movie or graphic mode), which automatically adjust the default gamma, color temperature, and white-level settings, depending on the task. For example, the movie mode displays warmer color and shows more details in dark areas, improving the image quality during display of a DVD movie.
Setup was easy, thanks to the LT35's automated features. This model has an automatic focus lens--the only one of its kind among the models we tested for our April issue roundup--and a distance sensor (located in the front of the projector). With these two features in its arsenal, it proved adept at instantly displaying a sharp image. The LT35 also has automatic keystone correction, which adjusts a distorted image (from a trapezoid shape to rectangular) when the projector is set up at an offset angle to the screen; and it features automatic start-up and shut down, so you can safely turn the projector on and off using a light switch or power strip connection.
The LT35's panel buttons and remote control are a breeze to use, thanks to a set of well-designed options. Among the image-adjustment options are numerous preset color temperatures and optimized picture modes for viewing different source material, plus the usual brightness, contrast, and sharpness choices. The remote has a handy focus adjustment and a lamp mode button (for switching between standard and economy mode), but no pointer or mouse control buttons. You can use the remote as a wireless mouse, however, with NEC's optional ($75 extra) remote mouse receiver.
To connect the LT35 to other audio-video equipment, you must obtain the necessary cables: Only a computer (VGA) cable and power cord are included in the box. You'll also want to use a stronger sound system for viewing movies and TV, since the projector's built-in (1-watt) speaker is suitable for nothing more than adding simple sound effects or low-key music to presentations.
With its superior brightness, excellent image quality, and easy automated features, the NEC LT35 is a first-class projector for business and home use.