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If you give PowerPoint-style presentations, a digital projector can help your work look polished and professional. But in the past, a model matching the resolution of your laptop's screen and suitable for both work and play cost big bucks. Not anymore.
The first wave of sub-$1000 units with native 1024 by 768 (XGA) resolution has arrived, a significant quality upgrade from the lower-resolution 800 by 600 (SVGA) products that dropped below that same price level last year. The Epson PowerLite 76c, the Microtek CX6, the Hitachi CP-RX60, and the Sharp Notevision XR-10X--all of which make our chart--are versatile portables that match up well against our top-rated projector, the NEC LT35, at less than half the price.
These lower-cost newcomers may not have all the extras you'd find on a high-end business model like the NEC, but they do offer a reasonable mix of power and performance, whether you want to deliver a presentation in a conference room or view DVD movies in the family room.
To find out how well these bargain-priced XGA projectors would perform when tested alongside other portable models, we rounded up a total of 16 business projectors from over a dozen manufacturers. The PC World Test Center examined units from Canon, Dell, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, NEC, Microtek, Mitsubishi, Optoma, Panasonic, Plus Vision, Sharp, and Sony, and rated how well they displayed various images. (Click here for complete test results and a review of each model tested.)
The 16 projectors we corralled for this roundup represent a range of shapes, sizes, and designs. The smallest we reviewed are two sub-3-pound models: HP's diminutive MP2210 (which finished in tenth place) and Plus Vision's slender, seventh-ranked V-339. The heftiest products, at 8.6 pounds each--Canon's Realis SX50 and Sharp's XR-10X--are over twice the size of the supercompact ones. Each supports native XGA (or higher) resolution and weighs less than 9 pounds. And while none of these models is intended strictly for home theater use (see "Home Theater Wonders" for more), all of them may be used for at-home entertainment as well as for work.
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