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Six Portable Projector Comparison: Summary, Pros, Cons -2

Posted on August 14, 2006 by Art Feierman

Optoma TX-700

Like the InFocus, this is a very good projector, that just came up a little short of earning our reward.

What I liked in particular is the compact size - the smallest by a magnitude of these six portable projectors. In addition, it had no shortage of lumens, testing at over 1800 lumens in brightest mode.

Even better, it is one of the most capable in terms of inputs, sporting a digital interface as well as analog. Only the much more expensive Panasonic has more flexibility, and not in all ways (the Panny lacks a digital input).

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The TX700 projector's remote is a very good one, with large buttons, and plenty of spacing, and one that is easy to learn, so that you don't have to look at it to use it.

The warranty 2 years parts and labor, is average, so didn't help or hinder overall.

The downsides of the TX-700: First, is that the TX700 has more problems with bright reds and yellows than any of the other projectors. I can honestly say that if the Optoma did as well as any of the other projectors in this regard, it would have picked up an award.

The other downside is that the image is the softest. Small text just doesn't look sharp. Overall, it's just a little softer than the other DLP projectors, so if other factors make the TX-700 look like your best pick, this may not be a real problem. On larger text and Powerpoint type presentations it's softness is not likely to be noticeable.

The zoom lens range is also limited, but in the smallest projectors, the zoom is normally very limited, with few even offering 1.2:1. (The TX-700 is 1.1:1.)

Forget for the moment that it didn't get our award.

The TX-700 has a lot going for it. It should be very popular with those that need to travel by air, or locally, and really want a smaller, lighter projector. For an entry level priced XGA projector it is anything but entry level when it comes to brightness. It will also appeal to those who need more than the basic inputs, especially anyone who needs, or wants to plan for the future, by having a digital input.

Dell 2400MP

Maybe there is something to that "we sell direct" business model that allowed Dell to be the king of computers. Certainly the 2400MP has superb price/performance. It is certainly the brightest projector I have encountered, anywhere near its price.

The biggest strengths of the Dell include:
Excellent color handling with very good reds and yellows for a DLP projector
The brightest XGA projector around in terms of lumens per dollar, with about 2350 lumens in our test. (3000 claimed).
The image is nice and sharp

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I also really liked the Dell's remote control, too.

The downsides are far less significant. From a performance standpoint, those looking for high quality video, will find the Dell does a very good job in most ways, but has visible noise in bright areas, that hurt it for more critical use, including doing duty as a "bright" home theater projector. That same noise should not be an real problem for normal business video use, or educational video use.

Only that one video issue prevents this from being a near flawless projector in areas of performance. But let's move on.

The inputs are very basic on the Dell, a single computer input (and an output), so no way to have a computer and component video source hooked up at the same time, so some users needing a little more flexibility, may scratch the Dell 2400MP in favor of the TX-700 or the Panasonic LB60U (the non-networking version of the LB60NTU). Mind you, this group of six projectors are particularly well endowed in terms of inputs and outputs compared to the other competing projectors on the market. Remember, I was looking for exceptional projectors to start with.

Lastly, there is the warranty issue. For the Dell's great price, you get as good a one year warranty as can be had, but I would suggest their $169 extension to 3 years. That still leaves the Dell 2400MP with excellent price performance.

I really was blown away, overall with, the Dell's price performance. Before receiving it, I was already aware of it's inputs, etc. I knew I was going to be reviewing a very bright, and very affordable projector, but expected some compromises.I had anticipated that I would find those possibly in sharpness or (quite commonly for DLP projectors) color handling. The Dell, instead performed extremely well in both areas.

The combination of price, power and image quality, make the Dell 2400MP an excellent choide for a wide range of users.

The last two projectors are the most expensive. The Panasonic PT-LB60NTU, sells for more than $1500, while the Mitsubishi has dropped in price (literally while writing this). With a new MAP price of $2495 (yes I'm revising the review), pricing should be in the low $2000 range.

These wo are definitely not in competition with each other, or the others. The Panasonic PT-LB60NTU is definitely the most feature laden, and although not quite the brightest, and offers the best overall performance, while the Mitsubishi, as the only widescreen projector in the review will appeal to mostly completely different buyer than the other projectors. Those buying the Mitsubishi HD4000 will be doing so, because it is a widescreen projector. (more on this, below)

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