Although the NP-VE281 from NEC Display Solutions of America is a decidedly no-frills model, what this inexpensive portable data projector for use in business or school presentations lacks in bells and whistles it makes for in solid data and video image quality and an easily audible sound system.
The NP-VE281 is an off-white projector with rounded corners. It measures 3.2 by 10.9 by 9.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.1 pounds, so it’s lightweight and quite portable. It lacks a carrying case—a suitable one is available from NEC for $54 (direct).
This projector has a native SVGA (800 by 600) resolution, a 4:3 aspect ratio typical of traditional data projectors. It’s rated at a fairly bright 2,800 ANSI lumens.
The NP-VE281 has focus and zoom rings behind the lens. At maximum zoom (a mere 1.1:1), it projected an image that filled our test screen, about 50 inches diagonal, from nine feet away, a little farther than usual for a long-throw data projector.
This projector’s sparse selection of ports include VGA-in; HDMI; a video-in RCA jack; audio-in, and RS-232. The absence of a port to run presentations off a USB thumb drive means you’ll have to lug a computer or other data source with you when you take the NP-VE281 with you on the road.
Data Image Testing
In my testing using the DisplayMate suite, the NP-VE281′s image quality was very good for a budget DLP projector, and fine for typical business or classroom presentations. In our type tests, text was readable down to our smallest test sizes, though the small white-on-black type was a little bit blurred. Generally, color was good; some white areas against dark backgrounds showed mild yellow tinting; while yellow swatches appeared a bit mustardy.
The NP-VE281′s data images showed traces of the rainbow effect. In this phenomenon, which is exclusive to DLP-based projectors, light areas against dark backgrounds may break down into their component colors to form rainbow glints. People vary in their sensitivity to this effect (I seem to be of average sensitivity). The rainbow effect for this model was typical of today’s DLP projectors, and shouldn’t be an issue with data images for the vast majority of viewers.
Video quality was solid for a budget portable DLP projector. There was occasional posterization (abrupt shifts in color where they should be gradual), as well as faint hatching in some backgrounds. The rainbow effect was visible in some scenes that tend to draw it out. It could be a distraction to viewers who are particularly sensitive to it, but shouldn’t bother most users. Although I wouldn’t want to watch full-length movies with it, the video quality should be fine for short to mid-length clips to accompany a presentation.
To complement the solid video quality, audio from the NP-VE281′s 7-watt speaker proved a bright spot, loud enough to fill a small to mid-sized room, and of decent quality. Users shouldn’t miss the absence of an audio-out jack to connect to external speakers.
The NP-VE281 is a barebones data projector, with very good data image and solid video quality for an SVGA projector, and reasonably loud sound. It’s a good choice for a businessperson who needs to present on the road to small groups, or a teacher for the occasional classroom presentation. Although small and light enough to be portable, it lacks a carrying case, though one can be bought from NEC. It has a sparse set of connectivity ports, and lacks the ability to run presentations from a USB thumb drive.
The Editors’ Choice Epson PowerLite 93+ provides higher (XGA) native resolution at the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the NP-VE281. The 93+ costs and weighs a bit more than the NEC projector, but provides superb data and video image quality, and as an LCD projector it’s guaranteed to be free of rainbow artifacts. Its audio is even louder than that of the NP-VE281. The Epson PowerLite S11 Multimedia Projector is an LCD-based SVGA projector with a good feature set and solid data image quality, though it lacks an HDMI port.
Although the NEC NP-VE281 is low resolution and limited in features, this inexpensive data projector delivers where it counts, generating good data image quality, solid video, and fairly loud audio. For many educators and road warriors, that should be more than enough.
More Projector Reviews:
|Native Resolution||800 x 600|
|Video Inputs||Composite, HDMI|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||3000|
|Rated Brightness||2800 ANSI lumens|
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