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Viewsonic PLED-W800 Portable LED Projector Review: Summary

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Art Feierman
PLED-W800 PROJECTOR REVIEW - SUMMARY:  Picture, Brightness, Comparison to a conventional lamp based projector  

The PLED-W800 Projector's Picture Quality

For those of you skipping the middle pages, here's the picture quality in a nutshell.

Five modes - count 2 as "bright" modes, one of which - Dynamic has passable color, use it when you need every last lumen.  Otherwise, mostly you will want to stick to the two "best" modes - Movie and ViewMatch (in the manual, they don't use the term ViewMatch, instead call it sRGB which is exactly what you would think ViewMatch would be since sRGB is a standard so that content looks the same on different displays.

Overall, I find both Movie and ViewMatch to be very good, but for HDTV in general and definitely movies, I'd recommend Movie mode.  With the default color settings etc. Movie offers the slightly warmer (more movie like) color balance.

The beauty of this Viewsonic projector is that Movie mode, right out of the box, except for adjusting contrast and brightness, looks very good, as all the images demonstrate.  That's important because there really are no color controls.  What you see, is what you get.  The color isn't perfect, but its probably at least as good as most folks have watching their unadjusted LCDTVs.  Overall, the image when watching HDTV or movies tends to be just slightly over saturated (which helps with modest ambient light present).  Some content will have faces that are a little to reddish.  That can be adjusted using the color temperature control which gives you the warm, standard and cool options.

Since we're talking picture, just a reminder - this projector does not offer 3D.  That's the second really nice, compact, LED projector in a row that we've reviewed that doesn't have 3D.  If you must - there are some competing projectors that do offer 3D.

PLED-W800 Brightness

Viewsonic claims 800 lumens.  Like just about every "pocket" or "pico" projector we've reviewed, it does not hit claim.  In fairness it gets within about 15%, we've seen some of these that could barely reach half of their claims, so keep that in mind.

The better looking of the two brightest modes delivers a measured 650 lumens. That mode- Dynamic is fine for typical presentation, but if color is important because of photos or videos, instead drop down to Movie mode, which is only 25% less bright!

Movie mode comes in at a very respectable measured 481 lumens, which for you home use folks, is more than is officially needed for movie viewing on a 100" screen in a dark room.  On that size screen, the projected image would be as bright as the picture at your local cineplex!

Movie mode works great for almost any presentation. Use Dynamic - or PC modes if you desperately need that little more brightness.

If you need that best color note that the almost 500 lumens can do a respectable job in a classroom or conference room if you have some decent lighting control.  Just turn off those fluorescents that are almost directly above the screen.  If you have to deal with that, that's when you want a 2000+ lumen projector.  At some point after this publishes, we'll have a short video showing the projector in action and how it handles ambient light on a video clip.

It should be noted that Viewsonic rates their solid state LED light engine at 30,000 hours.  It will dim slowly over that time, but considering that you won't get to 30,000 hours - even if using 20 hours a week, until the year 2044, so let's not lose any sleep over it.


A Comparison - PLED-W800 vs. lamp based PJD-7820HD

The image pairs in this player are always PLED-W800 appears first.  

There are plenty of these large pocket, or ultra-portable type projectors around, and they have different feature sets.  We will be publishing another Pocket LED Projector Report comparing the small LED projectors we've reviewed, sometime in the spring.  What I want to do here instead is offer up a comparison between the PLED-W800 and what the same money will buy you in a conventional projector.

I couldn't think of a better projector to choose for this comparison than Viewsonic's PJD-7820HD, a low cost favorite, and when it first shipped, a Best In Class award winner from all the projectors we've reviewed under $2000.  Today, the street price on the the two projectors seems to be within $50 of each other, so basic price would not be a factor.

At first glance of the images above, the two projectors look very similar, but that's because there's no scale.  Compared to the W800's roughly 6.9 x 5.4 x 2 inch size, the  7820HD is a massive 10.6 x 8.3 x 3.3.  That's roughly 300 cubic inches vs 75 cubic inches, so the W800 is 1/4 the bulk.  When it comes to weight the W800 is 1.8 pounds, but call that <2.5 lbs. with the power brick.  The PJD-7820HD weighs in at 4.6 lbs, so it's almost double the weight.  The PLED-W800 is obviously far more portable even if the bigger Viewsonic is a small portable in its own right.

There are huge differences between these two.  One of the most significant, of course is native resolution.  The 7820HD is a true 1080p projector (1920x1080 resolution) compared to WXGA (1280x800).   That is, the bigger 7820 has about 2x as many pixels for an inherently sharper image.


Projector Smarts:  Media Players and more

Media players:  - PLED-W800 Yes, PJD 7820HD No.

The W800 has a very capable set of media player capabilities and it's HDMI supports MHL, the 7820HD has neither. The W800 is pretty darn good when it comes to working presentations, photos, videos etc., from USB thumb drives, SD cards, or arriving wirelessly, or handling streaming.  It's MHL allows it to work with the likes of Roku sticks or Google Chromecast.  The PJD-7820HD is more of a traditional projector and has no media player, etc.  Want to easily project videos and photos and not use a PC, the W800 rules.

Another big difference.  Brightness:  3000 lumens claimed vs. 800!   Measured though, over 3500 lumens at brightest.  That's compared to about 680 lumens.   For best mode - Movie - on the W800 measured 481 lumens, while the uncalibrated best mode on the 7820 did almost 2000 lumens and fully calibrated, it still was over 3 times as bright at 1460 lumens!  Huge difference, whether for business/education use, or at home.   The W800 has pretty good color in Movie mode, the 7820HD though if calibrated (use our provided settings to get close), the 7820HD obviously is more accurate.

Comparing best modes, the 7820HD has the extra horsepower, for example, to handle about a 120 inch screen with the same brightness as the W800 would have on a 60 inch screen!

If you are using these projectors at home, the W800 has better input lag times (0ms most of the time, 17ms max). The 7820HD is 17ms typical and once in a while 33ms.  Even the 7820HD is considered extremely good for gaming.

Warranty on both projector is outstanding!  We're talking a 3 year warranty when most other brands are one or two years in this price range.  Even better, for the first year Viewsonic offers a rapid replacement program for those with a warranty issue.

3D:  PLED-W800 No, PJD-7820HD Yes

Lamp life:  PLED-W800 30,000 LED light source, PJD-7820 4,000 hour lamp

There's a lot more, but that's the big stuff.  It's old school (7820HD) vs new.  Power and best picture quality favor the old school choice.  Need fancy media handling, prefer to present PC free, etc., the PLED-W800 wins.

The W800 will also fit pretty easily into a briefcase or small backpack.  The 7820 might fit your backpack, but not a briefcase!

Now it's your turn - you figure out which makes the most sense for what your needs are.  Sorry, they are priced so close that's not going to help you, unless you really are using them upward of 20 hours a week, in which case with the 7820HD you might need a $200+ lamp in 3 or 4 years.

One last thought - let's say you like the "new school" approach, but really want 1080p native resolution.  There are only a couple of these pocket LED projectors so far that are.  We've reviewed the LG PF85A.  It doesn't measure any brighter, and I don't think it can math the W800 when it comes to media player capabilities.  Brightness is very similar (although the LG claims 1000 lumens it doesn't get lose), but you have to expect to pay at least $400 more at this time to get the LG.

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