This LCD projector is available from Viewsonic as the PJ358 and also as the Hitachi CP-X1, although you pay nearly £100 extra for the Hitachi logo. Oh, except that the Hitachi is silver and the Viewsonic is black. Other than that they’re identical so what you’ve got here is effectively two reviews in one.
The PJ358 has an XGA resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and a brightness rating of 2,000 lumens. However, the contrast ratio is relatively low at 500:1 which is par for the course with LCD technology, as the light source is never fully shut down and as a result you never get a true black.
Dimensions are 274 x 205 x 59mm and the weight is a very portable 1.8kg. The styling of the chassis comes very close to being a dull slab, but the rounded edges and matt finish transform it into a sophisticated and understated unit that is very easy on the eye.
There are two flush buttons on the top for Power and Select plus a four-way navigation pad, and there’s a window in the top of the chassis for focus and zoom adjustment so there’s no need for sticky-uppy adjustment levers.
This understated appearance is significant because the Viewsonic is a short-throw projector that can display a 60-inch/1.5m image at a range of only 1.5m so it is likely to be positioned close to the screen where it is in view at all times.
The options for connection are a mixed bunch, as there are dual VGA inputs but no DVI. You also get S-video and Composite connections plus a USB port so you can plug in a memory key to view MPEG-4 movies and JPEG photos without any need for a laptop. We’re not at all sure how useful that last feature will be in practice as it seems like a bit of a gimmick.
Although this projector is rated at 36dB in Normal mode and 30dB in Eco mode we found that it was very quiet in regular use and switching to Eco didn’t seem to make the dramatic difference that the 6dB step would suggest. Judging by the evidence of our ears that 36dB figure is overstated.
The image displayed on the screen was very pleasant with lovely warm colours. You can happily use the Viewsonic either for watching a movie or giving a presentation and the only obvious downside is the lack of a digital connection.
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