NEC NP-L102W LED Projector Review - Summary

Posted on September 5, 2014 by Art Feierman
NEC NP-L102W LED PROJECTOR - SUMMARY:   Portable Use, Picture Quality, Pros and Cons,  The Bottom Line

The NEC NP-L102W is truly a portable system, but a serious one.  This isn't one of those 20, 50 or 100 lumen pico projectors, that struggle with a 40 inch screen in a fairly dark room.  Nor is it one of the many pocket projectors claiming 500 lumens or less (and usually delivering even less), which are a lot brighter, but still demand better lighting control or smaller screens.

On the other hand, the L102W isn't near as powerful as some other projectors one could buy for a price similar to the L102's street price of just under $800.  Lamp based projectors in this price range, will be 2.5 to 3.5 times as bright.

This NEC NP-L102W, however, is a great compromise.  If you don't need to do larger room presentations (say projecting on screens 8 feet or larger), this portable should do a nice job in most environments. Essentially this LED projector can handle a good bit of ambient light on screen sizes from 60 inches 80 inches and go larger if there's better lighting control.

That folks is all most road warriors need.  They will not be embarrassed by the lack of brightness.  And the good color and reasonably sharp picture for a WXGA projector will  equally impress audiences.

Want to use the NP-L102W as a portable education projector, say for moving from classroom to classroom, or perhaps given to a specialist that goes from school to school?  It's got enough brights and capabilities for that too.   In that regard, 1000 lumen projectors were as bright or brighter than most projectors installed in schools up until perhaps 6-8 years ago.  Many schools still have mounted 800, 1000, and 1200 lumen projectors in their classrooms.

Use this projector to present to 4 people or 20.  In the right room, with good lighting control, a 50+ person seminar is very doable.

Please remember, until a decade ago, 2000 lumen projectors were what most corporations used in hotel ballrooms on 20 or 25 foot screens, and they did a great job, but the rooms needed to be very dark for those huge screens.

WXGA resolution is a great resolution for normal presenting.  Higher resolution is always better, producing a crisper image, but as I pointed out earlier in this review, this NEC will project small text (10 point) sharp enough to be easily read, if people are close enough, but it's 18 to 60 point type that's normally used in Powerpoint presentations.

Picture Quality

The NEC performed well, no matter what I threw at it.  Powerpoint presentations, Word documents, spreadsheets, browser pages, videos.   It didn't matter what the source was.  photos and documents fed to the L102W from SD cards and USB sticks looked just as good as those coming in over HDMI from my MacBook Pro.

Video was particularly impressive.  the clips I loaded onto an SD card not only had good color when using a good mode, but was very nicely smooth - no hesitation or missing frames.  My testing of clips off of SD and USB included some footage from my daughter's college graduation ceremonies, as well as one of my review videos.  Both were shot in 1080p, but even higher resolution than the NEC's native WXGA, didn't cause the NEC to skip a heartbeat.

NP-L102W LED Projector - Pros and Cons

There are lots of compromises when building particularly compact projectors, still, there seemed to be not a serious weakness when using the projector.  Mostly, my cons are about what the projector doesn't have, that it could.  Still, overall, it's a great projector if compact and light and solid are what you need.   Having at least as good a warranty as any of its competitors just improves the value proposition.

Let's take a quick look at the Pros and Cons:

  • Good WXGA resolution - widescreen is a plus, and resolution is as high as the vast majority of projectors out there
  • Lots of picture modes - bright ones, good looking ones...
  • The Picture looks good, from computer, from Blu-ray, HDTV... Video is especially clean, impressively so.
  • Simple, yet functional menu system (did I mention that the projector has a timer, if desired to shut off the projector)
  • Small credit card remote - laid out nicely
  • Two USB, support for SD cards with up to 32 Gig of memory
  • Excellent media player
  • Comes with a soft carry case
  • This is the brightest compact LED projector we've worked with yet it's bright enough for serious presentations
  • Acceptable sharpness, everything's readable
  • Works well with an iPad (I used it over HDMI)
  • A true road warrior machine - 3.1 pounds and small, very small
  • Reasonably good documentation (not that common for LED projectors)
  • Outstanding warranty!


  • No zoom lens for improved placement flexibility (that's typical for small LED projectors)
  • Audio could be a bit more powerful
  • Small non-zoom lens has a bit more bowing (curving at the top/bottom) of the image than more expensive projectors - this is minor, and all projectors do this to some degree
  • A second HDMI would be nice
  • Lacks support for 3D over HDMI, including from Blu-ray 3D (frame packing)
  • Lacks more advanced color controls (not likely to be missed by anyone)
  • Compared to larger lamp based projectors it's a high cost per lumen
  • Wireless networking is optional, not standard
  • Could be quieter, but is at least as quiet as competing LED projectors

Support for more 3D modes, and using HDMI with 3D, would be nice, but few will use 3D.

Perhaps more useful would be support for MHL, basically support for smart devices using HDMI, such as a Roku stick.  While MHL is more of a consumer feature than business or education, it would have advantages for business and education as well.  For one thing, it would allow an easy interface to some Android devices.  I think MHL, being a very "smart" solution, will continue to expand and gain more support in the future, so would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker by any means.

Bottom line:  There are one or two large pico projectors, or pocket projectors that I really like.  But none are near as powerful, nor are competitors.  Of the more powerful business/education compact LED projectors, some do have more features, but the NEC is my new, overall favorite among the 4-5 competitors in this class that we've reviewed thanks to a solid feature set, and basically, at least good everything.

And the $799 street price isn't bad at all, for what you get served up with a solid state light engine projector.   Want more powerful, and long life LED... bring a bigger checkbook, significantly bigger.   No question, the NEC NP-L102W deserves  the Hot Product Award bestowed upon it!

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