AAXA LED Showtime 3D review

The AAXA LED Showtime 3D LED-based mini-projector can project both data and multimedia content and is 3D-capable.
Photo of AAXA LED Showtime 3D

The AAXA LED Showtime 3D is a versatile and highly portable mini-projector, able to display a range of content. At heart it’s a multimedia projector, though it does a decent job with data images as well. It is a DLP-based projector with an LED light source, rated at 450 lumens of brightness, and has native WXGA (1,280 by 800) resolution.

The Showtime is a small projector that can fit (barely) in an outstretched hand. It measures 1.4 by 5.9 by 5.4 inches. I weighed it on our postal scale at 1.1 pounds for the projector alone, and 1.7 pounds with the power adaptor. Behind the lens is a focus ring; I found it a bit tricky to bring it to a good focus. In back are the ports: VGA; HDMI; USB type A for running content from a USB thumb drive; composite audio/video in (for which a cord is included); and audio-out.

You control the projector with the small IR remote that’s provided. From a main menu you can run music, video, images, and text from a USB thumb drive, switch between connections (VGA, composite video, HDMI, and 3D (HDMI), and change settings.

Although 3D is part of the projector’s name, it isn’t central to the projector. 3D-ready DLP projectors are commonplace, but they still require active-shutter 3D glasses (which aren’t included with the Showtime) and a quad-buffered 3D graphics card. But it’s a nice feature to have available, particularly in such a small and lower-brightness projector.

Performance
I tested the Showtime in our studio, doing the official tests in theater-dark conditions but also viewing images and video in varying conditions of ambient light. It does well for its low rated brightness; the image was able to stand up to a fair amount of ambient light without it looking degraded. The image filled our test screen (about 60 inches diagonal) from about 8 feet away.

I did our data image testing (using the DisplayMate suite of projector tests) over a VGA connection to a computer, and then repeated the tests over an HDMI connection. With VGA, the image was suitable for typical business presentations, at least in a small room with low or no lighting. Text was reasonably good, with text readable down to the smallest size (though a bit fuzzy at the two smallest sizes). Colors looked reasonably bright considering the projector’s relatively low brightness. White areas showed a trace of a greenish tint. There was a trace of rainbow artifacts (little red-green-blue flashes) in images that tend to bring them out.

Even though I set my laptop to the projector’s native resolution, I saw traces of what seemed to be scaling artifacts (indicating a resolution mismatch between projector and image source). We’ve noticed the same phenomenon in many lower-brightness LED-based WXGA projectors we’ve tested, including the Editors’ Choice 3M Mobile Projector MP410 ($599 direct). If it has an effect on normal data images, it’s usually in the form of blurred type, which doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Showtime, at least over VGA.

When I switched the connection to HDMI, though, the artifacts were worse; This was true both at 720p, the resolution to which it automatically rescaled the images to when I switched the connection to HDMI, and when I went in and reset my computer to 1,280 by 800. Data image quality was somewhat degraded over HDMI, so I’d suggest you stick to VGA for data presentations.

Video Quality
Video image quality was suitable for short to mid-length clips as part of a presentation. The rainbow effect, which we frequently see in DLP projectors, was more apparent in video than in data images. It could be enough of a distraction to people who are sensitive to it that I’d hesitate to use this projector for full-length movies, though you could use it for such in a pinch.

Colors were bright and well-saturated, at times to the point of punchiness. Reds in particular seemed exaggerated. Some people prefer their colors on the garish side, but at times I found it a bit distracting. This effect persisted even when I adjusted the color setting from Normal to Cool.

The audio from the Showtime’s pair of two-watt speakers is of decent quality and is reasonably loud.

The AAXA LED Showtime 3D is a versatile projector, able to display data presentations and play movies, games, audio files, and other content. It is 3D capable, though it requires a quad-buffered 3D graphics card and active-shutter 3D glasses. As an LED projector, it should have long (20,000 hour) lamp life.

It’s brighter than the Editors’ Choice 3M Mobile Projector MP410 a 300-lumen LED-based model. The MP410 is slightly lighter, can also display a range of multimedia content (though it’s primarily a data projector), and has a bit better image quality for both data and video.

The BenQ Joybee GP2 is also dimmer than the Showtime at 200 rated lumens. But it has a wide range of connectivity options, adding a USB type B port for connecting to a computer via cable; an SD card slot; and a dock that fits an iPhone or iPod touch and lets you play content from these devices.

The AAXA LED Showtime 3D is fairly bright for its size and has usable image quality for both data and video. It can display a variety of content and is 3D capable. It’s worth considering if you’re looking for a multimedia projector with some data presentation chops.

Specifications
Native Resolution 1280 x 800
Video Inputs Composite, HDMI, S-Video
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA
Wireless Connectivity No
Weight 1.7 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 2000
Engine Type DLP
Type Business, Consumer
Aspect Ratio 16

Verdict
The AAXA LED Showtime 3D is small LED-based projector that can project both data and multimedia content and is 3D-capable.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc