NEC NP-M311X XGA LCD Multimedia Projector Review
NEC M311X Color & Image Quality
The NEC M311X looked great with any type of material. It displays a sharp image that is notable for its accurate, well-saturated colors in most modes. Colors were quite accurate in any picture mode, with the exception of the usual green cast to whites in the brightest image modes, High Bright and Presentation. There was little difference between High Bright and Presentation modes when it came to color balance. Colors appeared natural, with normal yellows and reds that were not too dark in either mode. Dropping down into Movie or sRGB modes improves the color over Presentation, with a minimal loss of lumen output. As a practical issue, unless your presentation is dependent on very accurate color or brightness in not an issue, High Bright mode will be more than adequate as a go-to mode.
As a result of the good color, photo presentations are excellent with the M311X, particularly in either Movie or sRGB modes. As mentioned in the Setup and Menu section of this review, there are a number of adjustments available to improve the picture quality. If you need to increase the contrast of your presentation, the gamma control will allow you to keep blacks from looking gray and vice versa. There is also a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen.
NEC M311X Readability
The M311X provided a sharp image at any resolution or aspect ratio. Using our usual spreadsheet with a range of text sizes and colors, there was no problem reading small (8 pt.) text on a 60” diagonal projected image. This level of readability was maintained with white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.
With resolutions higher than its default 1024 x 768, the M311X continued its sharp, readable performance. We tried switching to 1280 x 800 and then 1920 x 1080, to test its ability to scale and resize these higher resolutions and different aspect ratios. As seems to be the norm these days, there was little difference with the higher resolutions. With the exception of some colorbleed and blurring of the 8 and 12 pt. text at 1920 x 1080 (which is obviously an unlikely choice for an input resolution), the displayed text looked essentially the same as it did at the M311X’s native resolution. Unlike DLP projectors (which use a single panel with individual colors projected through a color wheel onto the panel) LCD projectors (which use separate panels for red, green and blue, and are usually pixel converged through a prism and the lens) can often be prone to color fringing around smaller lettering. This was not the case with the M311X, as small text remained quite readable and there was very little color separation or overlap except as mentioned above.
Based on our testing, there’s little doubt that the NEC M311X will do an excellent job maintaining readability at any of the supported resolutions, particularly at the normal laptop resolutions.
NEC M311X Video Performance
To check the M311X’s video performance, I used the DVD playback from my laptop computer, still connected via HDMI. Starting in Movie mode, I viewed some scenes from Casino Royale that I’ve got ingrained in my head from calibrating home theater projectors. As I expected from the Color and Picture Quality evaluation, these DVDs looked quite good on the M311X. Skin tones were quite natural and color depth was at the level we’ve come to expect from LCD projectors. The relatively high lumen output, combined with the low contrast ratio of the M311X, made viewing darker scenes less enjoyable, but then this is not a home theater projector. That being said, black levels were easily equal to most of the competition.
For video viewing in an average lit room, the good color reproduction of the M311X in the higher brightness modes provides for a pleasing image, making it a good choice for classroom video presentations. While the M311X is not really designed to be used for movie or TV viewing, it’s nice to know that it certainly could be used in that way, while still providing solid picture quality.
As a lot of video also has sound, it should be noted that the M311X’s built-in 10-watt speaker will be adequate for any normal-sized classroom, negating the need for add-on, powered speakers.
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