NEC LT170 – Overview

Changing color modes:

On the LT170’s main menu, you can switch from presentation mode, to video mode – and voila – the reds are red, the yellows are yellow, everything is GREAT.   EXCEPT:  The projector is definitely less bright!   I normally don’t bother measuring how many lumens a projector produces for the following reasons:

  • They vary by unit to unit of the same model, because of the lamp, if nothing else
  • Because a 10% variation of brightness really is barely detectable.
  • Some brands are more conservative than others, but compared to other differences in projectors why quibble over a 100 lumens?

OK.  This time I measured to see how much brightness was lost.  Using a Minolta light meter, when measuring the whites (which is how you measure brightness), I found that brightness in video mode was only 47% of presentation mode, effectively reducing a 1500 lumen projector to just over 700 lumens. 

Below, you can see two images – on the left, Presentation mode, on the right, Video mode, it is immediately obvious how much darker the whites and grays are in video mode.

It’s more like whites and other colors have been brought down so that the reds and yellows now appear correct.  Please, again, this exercise isn’t just about the NEC LT170, but most small DLP projectors!

AGAIN, I must point out that this color handling is not uncommon for small DLP projectors, as the manufacturers are focused on the holy grail of maximum lumens, and they rate projectors in their brightest (in this case Presentation) mode!

The word to the wise, then, is if you need really bright, and great color on your presentation, you should probably be looking at LCD projectors, not DLP.  But remember, as of today, there isn’t even a single XGA resolution LCD projector shipping that is as small as the  LT170, and no XGA resolution LCD projector is as light! So when push comes to shove, this NEC is a 1500 lumen business projector with (typically DLP) weak color, or a noticeably LESS bright projector with very good color!

Image Quality

This NEC projector does a very acceptable job on video, with quality more than good enough for normal business applications.  There is a choice between video mode and also Movie mode.  If you want to watch a DVD, I’m not sure which is better, (ideal seems to be in between the two settings).  The video mode has a higher Kelvin temperature (about 8000), vs. 5650 in movie mode.  I did find the movie mode to have a slightly pale feel to it, and it appeared a bit low on the blues.

NEC’s LT170 supports component video, as well as S-video and composite.

It’s more than adequate to set up in your house and run DVD’s TV or HDTV, although its definitely not a home theater projector.  If home usage is very important to you, there are other small projectors you might prefer, but if everything else about the LT170 makes it desirable, and home theater is just a fringe benefit, then this is the right projector for you

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