ViewSonic – PJ513D review

budget DLP digital projector
Photo of ViewSonic – PJ513D

The price of digital projectors continues to drop, but a device using a Digital Light Processor (DLP) chip for under £300 is still something of a breakthrough. ViewSonic’s PJ513D/DB uses the well-known Texas Instruments chip, which employs millions of micro mirrors to ensure a bright, stable picture.

The small, light, ice-white case looks smart and purposeful, and setup could hardly be simpler. Sockets on the back provide for PC, composite and S-video input and a single, kettle-style mains cable is the only other connection needed.

Silver push-button controls on the top panel, combined with an easy-to-use on-screen menu system provide for all the standard adjustments, including keystone and digital zoom, and a remote control is supplied too. Focus is handled manually and the focus ring feels rather light and plastic, but this is one of the few concessions to the unit’s price.

The projector needs a fairly long throw distance to get a decent size of screen and we had to position it nearly 3 metres back to get an image of 1.40 x 1.05m in size. A button at the front releases a single foot for adjusting the vertical angle and clamps in any position when it’s released.

The native resolution of the PJ513D/DB its 800 x 600 pixels (SVGA), which means you can display a reasonable Windows or OSX screen, if you want to browse the Web from your armchair or perhaps display some slides. Games look a bit chunky, but the screen updates quickly enough to avoid most ghosting.

In business terms, the projector would be adequate for PowerPoint presentations and educational videos and is bright enough to use without having to darken the room. It should be fine for school or community hall use, too, where it will mostly display still images, though here its maximum size of display may be a limitation.

Given that the projector is sold as signal compatible with 720p and 1080i HD (highly debatable, given its native resolution), and that it includes ‘Cinema’ among its display modes, you might expect it to cope with TV and DVD output, in non-HD modes, well. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Although the picture is bright enough, thanks to the unit’s 2,200 lumens lamp, there a lot of noise in the background of some outputs.

DVDs generally look passable, but some DVB-T programming (Freeview) can be less than great; it depends on source. This projector isn’t a cheap way of getting into home cinema, though it’s adequate for the occasional big-screen display of a sporting event or a film night with a few friends.

Company: ViewSonic

Contact: 020 7921 2200

ViewSonic's PJ513D/DB is a very fair projector for the price. For presentations, big-screen computing and game playing it's good value for money. It gives a bright picture and has most of the sockets and controls its target customers will need. It can also be bent into service for DVD and digital TV playback, though here its native resolution of 800 x 600 pixels is a restriction and you may want to dig a bit deeper for a true HD projector.