NEC – NP215 review

budget DLP projector with built-in LAN port
Photo of NEC – NP215
£399

When it comes to budget projectors for the corporate market, the sheer portability offered by the current crop of miniature LED models is obviously a big draw; recently-reviewed examples include the LG HS200 and Benq GP1. However, the use of LEDs also means brightness takes a considerable hit, and most require reasonably dark rooms in order to produce large projections.

The alternative is a low-cost projector that’s driven by a traditional bulb, such as this NP215 from NEC. Sure, they’re much bigger, but you won’t have to pull the blinds whenever you want to give a presentation.

Measuring 310 x 247 x 95mm, it’s typically bulky, while its weight of 2.5kg also puts it way above that of most LED models (the majority of which are well under 1kg).

The rear is home to inputs for VGA (there’s also a VGA-out port, which is useful if you want to continue to feed to a separate monitor), composite video and S-video. A separate 3.5mm audio-in socket is also provided and will put the built-in 7W speaker to use.

NEC has also fitted a LAN port to the NP215. This allows the projector to be controlled via any PC on the network using the included PC Control Utility Pro 4 software. Sadly, unlike with some of NEC’s more expensive offerings, it’s not possible to stream content from a PC on the network to the projector. Instead, you only get limited functions such as changing the input source, freezing the picture and determining a schedule for when the projector should switch on and off.

A remote control is included with the projector. If you temporarily mislay it, the range of buttons on the projector itself provides access to the on-screen menu. It’s not the easiest menu system to navigate, but it does have plenty of options including choosing the wall colour (the NP215 will then attempt to compensate for this) and sharpness level.

A small pop-out stand at the front of the chassis allows you to position the projection. There’s no lens-shift control, which isn’t a huge surprise given the price of the projector, but the image can be manipulated using software-based vertical keystone correction.

With its brightness rated at 2,500 ANSI lumens, the NP215 has no problems creating projections in rooms with plenty of ambient light. The resolution of 1,024 x 768 means video lacks high definition, but the bright, vivid colours make it perfect for presentations. The NP215 is, after all, primarily aimed at the corporate market.

Being a DLP projector, it was no surprise to see a rainbow effect when viewing projections with high contrast scenes. This effect is caused by the spinning colour wheel and is very hard to control, especially on budget projectors such as this. It’s no worse than we’ve seen on similarly-priced DLP models, though, and if you want to eliminate it altogether you’ll need to opt for an LCD projector.

During use, the projector’s fan created a fair amount of noise and emitted plenty of heat via the vent at the front; the latter actually became too hot to touch after extended testing. Switch the Eco mode on, which drops brightness to 90 percent, and it gets much quieter. Should you be interested, the NP215 can also tell you exactly how much carbon you’ve saved as a result of using this Eco mode.

Company: NEC

Contact: 020 8993 8111


Verdict
The NP215 is a budget projector in terms of both price and performance, and anyone looking for something that will handle both PowerPoint presentations and movies will need to opt for a more expensive model. That said, it's perfectly capable of creating bright projections with decent colour, and at under £400 it's also very reasonably priced. Given NEC has taken the time to fit it with a LAN port, though, it's a pity it hasn't furnished it with a few more network-related features.