Optoma EW330 Ultraportable Projector
At a Glance
The compact, 2.4-pound Optoma EW330 ($899 as of 8/7/09) is a lamp-based ultraportable projector that features 1280 by 800 (WXGA) resolution and enough illumination power--a considerable 2200 lumens--for use in a large conference room. It's a good choice for a classroom or lecture hall, too, since it can tolerate a reasonable amount of ambient light without washing out the image. In our tests, for instance, the EW330 successfully displayed a 10-foot-diagonal image at 15 feet away from a clear white wall, in a room with a fair amount of ambient daylight.
Like the InFocus IN1102, the EW330 has a native wide aspect ratio (16:10) that makes it a perfect delivery system for a presentation from a widescreen laptop. It's also a good match for projecting widescreen DVDs and HDTV, and it includes an HDMI port (HDCP compliant) for displaying digital content from a computer, a TV tuner, or another video source that shares an HDMI connection. You'll need to use a separate device for sound, though, since this model lacks a built-in speaker.
In our tests of seven models (four lamp-based and three LED-based) for our recent ultraportable projectors review, the EW330 came in third for its overall image quality, finishing close behind the top two performers. It tied with the top-rated InFocus IN1102 for first place on text rendering, and it shared second place with the Acer P3250 on its graphics display. It earned its best text scores for displaying crisp lettering in a Web page and in a multiple-fonts page, and it won its best graphics marks for rendering warm color shades and good detail in a series of photos depicting the four seasons. In motion and video tests, the EW330 came in third. It was at its best in projecting a furiously paced car chase in the Quantum of Solace widescreen DVD, displaying excellent contrast and fine details in dark areas. A minor distraction was some pixelation in light areas (such as sky and clouds) during a few Windows Media Video clips; but by changing the default preset display mode (from "Presentation" to "Movie"), we were able to decrease those artifacts significantly.
The experience of setting up and using the lightweight EW330 is a mixed bag. It has a smooth zoom lever and focus ring, plus three tilt-adjustment feet for raising the beam of light. Like all portable projectors, the EW300 has a keystone control (to adjust image distortion caused by tilting), but the amount of correction is a modest 18 degrees, while most of the others in this group can achieve as much as 30 to 40 degrees of correction. In addition to its HDMI connection, this model provides inputs for VGA, composite video, S-Video, and mini-USB (cable included), the last of which adds mouse and page up/down control to the remote.
The EW330's circular control panel puts some of the buttons so close together that it's easy to push the wrong one from time to time, and the small remote control isn't much easier to use. The menu button and selection keys are buried among all of the other tiny buttons, and you get no handy hot-button for changing the preset display mode. The remote's laser pointer is a welcome plus, however. The EW330's on-screen display is easy enough to navigate, and its extensive options include more color controls than most other models have.
If you want the best bargain on a projector with a wide aspect ratio, the EW330 is about $200 less than the InFocus IN1102, and the two models share many features, including the same WXGA resolution and high brightness rating. However, although both come with a two-year warranty, the EW330's 90-day lamp warranty is shorter than the IN1102's six-month lamp warranty, and the cost of its 3000-hour replacement lamp ($399) is about $75 higher than that of the one the IN1102 uses ($325). Nevertheless, given the substantial difference in the initial purchase price, anyone on a budget should take a close look at what the Optoma EW330 has to offer.
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