If you need an XGA (1,024-by-768) projector that can throw a large image in a tight space, the LCD-based Boxlight Boston X28NST is of obvious interest. In addition to the short-throw lens, which lets it project big images from close to the screen, it delivers a high-quality data image, watchable video (which is more than some data projectors can manage), and the promise of a long lamp life. The combination makes it a strong contender as a short-throw XGA projector for a small to mid-size conference room or classroom.
Short-throw projectors like the X28NST or the Editors’ Choice NEC Display Solutions NP-M300WS are more expensive than equivalent models with a standard throw, because their lenses cost more. What justifies the price is the short throw. With the X28NST in particular, I measured a 78-inch wide (98-inch diagonal) image with the projector just 48 inches from the screen. That’s less than half the distance a projector with a standard-throw lens would need.
There’s little reason to spend extra money for a short-throw projector unless you actually need the short throw. But if you’re looking to project a large image in a small room, or have a potential issue with shadows from anything that might get between a standard-throw projector and the screen, a short-throw projector can easily be worth the extra cost.
Basics and Setup
With its nine-pound weight, the X28NST is just heavy enough to make it most appropriate for permanent installation or mounting on a cart for moving it from room to room.
Setup is standard for a short-throw projector, with a manual focus and no zoom. Image inputs on the back panel include the usual VGA, HDMI, and composite video ports as well as an S-Video port, a USB A port for reading files directly from a USB memory key, and a mini-USB B port for direct USB display.
In addition, the projector offers a 1.5GB internal memory to let you show images without needing an external image source, and there’s a LAN port you can use both to control the projector and to send images and audio over a network. Finally, Boxlight also sells an optional Wi-Fi dongle ($99 list) that will let you send images from PCs, Macs, and iOS and Android phones and tablets. In each case, there are apps available for the most recent versions of OSs.
Brightness and Image Quality
The X28NST’s 2,800-lumen brightness rating is a touch lower than the more typical 3,000 lumens or so for recent models aimed at small to medium-size conference rooms and classrooms. However, that’s not a big difference. As a point of reference, using SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) recommendations, 3,000 lumens is bright enough in theater-dark lighting with a 1.0 gain screen for a 202- to 273-inch image measured diagonally. At 2,800 lumens, the recommended size drops to an overlapping 195 to 264 inches.
Because the X28NST is an LCD-based projector, it has the same color brightness as white brightness, which isn’t necessarily true for DLP projectors. That means it maintains brightness for color images better than projectors with a lower color brightness than white brightness. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What It Is, and Why You Should Care.)
Data image quality is a strong point, with the X28NST scoring well on our standard suite of DisplayMate tests. Colors were fully saturated and vibrant in all modes and color balance was good, with acceptably neutral grays at all levels from black to white.
More important for most data images is that the image maintained fine detail across the entire screen, with both black text on white and white text on black crisp and highly readable at sizes as small at 6.8 points. The screen was also rock solid with an analog (VGA) connection, even with images that tend to cause pixel jitter or dynamic moire patterns. I didn’t see any noticeably improvement when I switched to a digital (HDMI) connection.
As expected for a data projector, the X28NST didn’t do as well with video as with data images. It handled shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas) better than most data projectors, but I saw some posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually) and moderately obvious noise in solid areas, like an expanse of sky or a blank wall. Colors also had a washed out look that indicates a low contrast ratio.
That said, the video was good enough to watch a full-length movie comfortably, which makes the X28NST better for watching video than many data projectors. It also helps that as an LCD projector, it’s guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts—in the form of flashes of red, green, and blue—that DLP projectors often show. On the other hand, because it’s an LCD projector, it doesn’t offer 3D support, which is all but standard in DLP projectors today.
One other plus that demands mention is the projector’s long lamp life, with a rated 4,000 hours in Normal mode or 6,000 hours in Eco mode. Also note that Boxlight offers a Lamps for Life option ($299) that provides replacement lamps for the life of the projector. The only additional cost is for shipping, including for sending the old lamp back to Boxlight. Alternatively, you can buy replacement lamps as needed ($349 list).
A final minor issue is that despite a 10-watt mono speaker the audio system is barely loud enough to fill a small conference room. If you need higher volume or stereo, plan on plugging an external sound system into the projector’s stereo audio output.
There’s no reason to spend extra on a short throw projector unless you really need the short throw. If you need it, however, the Boxlight Boston X28NST offers a lot to like, including the excellent data image quality, acceptable video quality, and a long lamp life. If XGA is the resolution you need for a small to mid-size conference room or classroom, the Boxlight Boston X28NST can be a great fit.
|Native Resolution||1024 x 768|
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA, HDMI, USB|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||3000|
|Rated Brightness||2800 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc