NEC NP-M271X review

The NEC NP-M271X stands out for its 1.7x zoom and its claimed lamp life, at 5,000 to 10,000 hours.

The LCD-based NEC NP-M271X is a fairly typical XGA (1,024-by-768) projector in some ways but decidedly atypical in others. Rated at 2,700 lumens, and light enough to carry as a regular traveling companion, it’s generally in the same category as the LCD-based Editors’ Choice Epson PowerLite 93+, or the DLP-based Dell 1430X. However, the NP-M271X offers its own distinct balance of features.

Both the Epson and Dell models offer a 1.2x zoom lens, which is fairly typical for the price range. The NP-M271X dwarfs that, with a 1.7x zoom, giving you far more flexibility in how far you can put the projector from the screen for a given size image. This is particularly useful for a portable projector that you need to set up repeatedly in different locations, and is one of the NP-M271X’s greatest strengths.

The NP-M271X also dwarfs the Epson 93+, Dell 1430X, and most other comparable projectors in rated lamp life, at 5,000 hours in Standard mode and 10,000 hours in Eco mode. The replacement cost for the lamp is fairly typical, at $299 (direct), but the long lamp life helps ensure a relatively low total cost of ownership.

More Basics
As a three-chip LCD projector, the NP-M271X offers two important advantages over DLP projectors like the Dell 1430X. First, it’s guaranteed not to show rainbow artifacts, which can be an issue for single-chip DLP projectors because of the way they create colors. Second, three-chip LCD projectors offer the same rating for color brightness as white brightness, which can affect both brightness and color quality.

The NP-M271X is light enough, at 6 pounds 6 ounces, and also small enough, at 3.9 by 13.4 by 10.1 inches (HWD), to carry easily. NEC even ships it with a soft carrying case, so you don’t have to buy one separately.

Setup is absolutely standard. Plug in the appropriate cables, adjust the 1.7x zoom, and focus the image. Connectors for image sources include the usual choices, with VGA, HDMI, S-Video, and Composite video, as well as a USB A port for reading files directly from a USB key and a LAN port for sending images, but not audio, over a network as well as for controlling the projector over a network. NEC also sells a Wi-Fi option ($80 street) and an optional dongle ($45 street) for mouse pointer control from the projector’s remote.

Image Quality and Other Issues
Both data and video image quality for the projector are more than acceptable, but short of excellent. On our standard suite of DisplayMate tests the NP-M271X delivered vibrant, well-saturated colors in all preset modes and excellent color balance, with suitably neutral shades of gray, in most modes. The two brightest modes showed a slight yellowish tinge in the brightest shades. However, that’s not unusual, considering that most projectors have a problem with color balance in their brightest modes.

More of a potential issue for data screens was some minor streaking in images designed to cause that problem, with a faint ghost image of horizontal bars extending well past the actual bars. The streaking was faint enough so few, if any, should find it bothersome, but it’s notable because few projectors today show this problem at all.

I also saw some minor pixel jitter and dynamic moiré in some images. Here again, however, it’s not much of an issue, since it only shows in images with large areas of closely spaced lines or dots. If you run into the problem, you can eliminate it, and get a rock solid image, by using a digital connection.

Very much on the plus side, the projector does an excellent job with fine detail. Both black text on white and white text on black were crisp and easily readable in my tests at sizes as small as 6.8 points.

Video quality is obviously limited by the projector’s native 1,024-by-768 resolution, which means you can’t show HD video without scaling the image. However the quality is good enough for watching a full-length movie, which is more than most data projectors can manage. In my tests, the NP-M271X did a good job with shadow detail (details in dark areas) and skin tones, and I didn’t see any issues worth mention.

Another plus is the built-in 10-watt mono speaker, which, unlike the audio systems in most data projectors in this weight class, delivers both acceptable quality and enough volume for a large conference room or classroom.

All told, the NEC NP-M271X offers a potentially attractive balance of portability, data image quality, video image quality, audio quality, and price. Its brightness is a touch lower than typical today, but it’s bright enough for an appropriate size image in a small to medium size conference room or classroom. Although most projectors at this price offer higher brightness, few offer the convenience of a 1.7x zoom or a 10,000-hour maximum lamp life— two features that make the NEC NP-M271X stand out from the crowd and also help make it a potentially attractive choice.

Specifications
Native Resolution 1024 x 768
Video Inputs Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA, HDMI
Wireless Connectivity No
Weight 6.4 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 3000
Engine Type LCD
Type Business
Aspect Ratio 4
Rated Brightness 2700 ANSI lumens

Verdict
The NEC NP-M271X delivers slightly lower brightness than typical for its price, but it also offers a 1.7x zoom and an unusually long lamp life, at up to 10,000 hours.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc