NEC NP-M311X XGA LCD Multimedia Projector Review

Appearance

The M311X comes in an attractive white plastic case.  The lens is recessed in the front panel just to the right of center and is protected by a sliding cover that also doubles as a video and audio mute.  To the right of the lens is an IR receiving eye and to the left (on the front, left corner) is an air exhaust vent.  There is one adjustable foot in the center to adjust the front height and a single one in the left rear corner to assist in leveling the projector.

On top of the projector, right behind the lens, are recessed rings for zoom and focus.  In the middle, toward the rear, is a control panel with the most of the important controls.  There are indicators for Power, Lamp replacement and a warning light for other projector problems (typically overheating).  There are buttons for Power, Eco mode, Source, Menu, Navigation, Auto Adjustment, Enter and Exit.  The left and right menu navigation buttons double as adjustment buttons for the volume of the built-in speaker.  The up and down menu navigation buttons double as keystone correction adjustment.  To the left of the control panel is the cover for access to the lamp.  Having the cover on top of the M311X allows for easy access even if the projector is ceiling mounted.  The screw to release the cover is on the top left side of the projector.  Moving to the right (facing the front) side of the projector, there is an air intake port that is also the cover to the air filter.  Right behind that is an access cover for installing the optional wireless LAN module.  There is nothing on the left side of the projector except the screw for removing the lamp cover.

Moving to the rear panel, there is a nice assortment of connections for video and audio.  Starting from the left side, there is the built-in 10-watt speaker, a Kensington lock port and the power cord connector on the bottom.  Moving across the top from left to right, there is a Type A USB jack for projecting from a USB thumb drive, an RJ-45 LAN port, a Type B USB port for projecting from a PC and an HDMI input.  Next up are two VGA computer inputs, each with its own adjacent audio input.   There are S-video and composite video inputs with stereo audio inputs, as well as an audio output jack, a monitor output and an RS-232 control port.

NEC M311X Setup and Menu

The NEC M311X was easy to setup and start using.  It features nearly instant on (and off), so you quickly have an image to adjust to your screen.  Automatic keystone adjustment is enabled by default, but you’ll likely want to turn it off so you can optimize the image before applying any correction (if needed).  The M311X has just two height adjustment feet (one in the front center and the other in the left rear) that help to level the projector if table-mounted.  We would prefer two rear adjustable feet, but the two feet provided are still better than the usual single center foot.  The 1.7X zoom also helps to properly position the projector.  Once you get the positioning close, you can use the automatic keystone correction (or adjust it manually) to square the image on your screen.  While we usually don’t recommend using any keystone correction due to image distortion, small to moderate amounts of correction have no visible effect on the M311X.

Once setup is complete, the user brings up the menu, where the desired image mode can be selected.  There are seven main preprogrammed modes (High-Bright, Presentation, Video, Movie, Graphic, sRGB and DICOM SIM).  There is also a Wall Color Correction setting that can be set to one of nine colors.  With any mode, you can make the usual adjustments for Contrast, Brightness and Sharpness.  Adjustments to Color and Tint are not available with an HDMI or USB input.  The M311X also includes a range of selectable gamma and color temperatures, as well as RGB grayscale adjustment capability.

Picture Menu

Gamma Menu

White Balance Menu

NEC M311X Remote Control

The M311X’s remote control is a small, nicely laid-out remote with mostly gray buttons.  The Power button has a green icon on it and there are separate green buttons for putting the lamp into Eco mode and for AV mute.  Menu, Exit and navigation buttons are blue.  This makes it easy to access these often used buttons in minimal lighting without resorting to backlighting, which can be distracting during presentations.  Buttons are appropriately grouped and allow access of many of the important functions without going to the menu.  For example, while many projector remotes allow for scrolling through the various inputs, the M311X remote allows the user to individually selecting each video input.  There are also buttons for paging through a presentation and for the remote to act as a computer mouse (when using the optional remote mouse receiver).  Also, scrolling through Picture modes and switching aspect ratios can be performed on the remote.  There are also buttons for Auto Adjustment, image freezing, audio volume, digital zoom, help, USB display and keystone correction.  One nice feature of the remote is the ability to set a Control ID for the projector, enabling a user to control multiple M311X projectors independently from a single remote.

Overall, the level of access and control available with the M311X remote is very good and exceeds that of many competitors.  Some of the buttons are a bit small and hard to read in dim lighting, but that is normal for a multimedia projector remote.

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