NEC NP100 Portable Projector
At a Glance
Road warriors who want a budget-oriented projector suitable for both business presentations and home theater will find the NEC NP100 a solid choice. At $499, it's one of the most inexpensive portable models on the market.
This 5.3-pound DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector features a native SVGA (800 by 600) resolution and a brightness rating of 2000 ANSI lumens (an industry standard for measuring brightness), which is sufficient for use in small to medium-size rooms with low ambient light. The production model I tested projected a bright, 64-inch-diagonal image at a distance of about 9 feet from the screen, fine for typical slide presentations.
In a variety of image-quality tests, the NP100 displayed generally good results--including sharp text and well-rendered color graphics--when hooked up to a notebook PC's VGA port, as well as when connected to a DVD player's composite-video port. The projector has a small (2-watt) speaker that was adequate for playing Windows prompts and PowerPoint sound effects, but not movie soundtracks.
The NP100's manual zoom lens and focus ring are easy to adjust, but the only way to access the projector's on-screen menus (for controlling brightness, contrast, and other display options) is to use its credit-card-size remote control. The projector has a handy storage slot for holding the remote when it's not in use. Among the remote's most practical features are controls for auto adjustment, digital zoom, and keystone correction, plus a picture-mode button that provides several presets for displaying an optimized image depending on the content (presentation, movie, game, and so forth).
However, to keep the product's cost low, NEC has omitted a few items. The svelte remote lacks the convenience of a built-in pointer (always a useful presentation tool) and it doesn't offer mouse support, which makes controlling a slide presentation from a podium harder. Instead of including a carrying case for toting the NP100 (and its cables) on the road, NEC offers a $50 soft case and a $150 leather case as separate accessories.
But even with its minor limitations, the NP100 is a good bargain for a projector capable of displaying bright and attractive images in both office and home environments.