Niceties and Extras
All of the projectors include a remote control and provide security protection (such as user password options), economy modes for running at lower brightness (to increase lamp life and reduce fan noise), and manual keystone adjustment to correct image distortion caused by an improper projector-to-screen angle. A number of units--including the Canon LV-X5, the Dell 5100MP, the NEC LT35, and the Plus V-339--also support automatic keystoning. Out of the box, 7 of the 16 models we looked at--Canon's Realis SX50, Dell's 5100MP, Epson's 76c, HP's MP2210, Microtek's CX6, Mitsubishi's XD460U, and Sony's VPL-CX76--permit you to control your computer's mouse pointer via the projector's remote.
The two Sony models--the ninth-place VPL-CX20A and the nonranking VPL-CX76--came with the most impressive array of automated features. Not only do they provide an automatic keystoning feature, but they also include powered zoom, powered focus, and powered tilt (for raising the projector at an angle). Better yet, you can access all of these features through remote control.
The Sony VPL-CX76 is the only model we reviewed that can support a wireless presentation right out of the box (via the bundled wireless LAN card for the projector and the included USB wireless LAN module for a PC). The Hitachi CP-RX60 and Mitsubishi XD460U can deliver wireless presentations, too, but only if you obtain additional, extra-cost equipment. The Dell 5100MP comes with an RJ-45 input for use in a wired-network environment; the Sharp Notevision XR-10X has an option to add RJ-45.
Seeing Is Still Believing
When you set out to buy a projector, a range of factors come into play: price, weight, portability, connectivity, brightness, and (most important of all) image quality. While any of the models we tested will do the job, our Best Buy nod goes to the projector, NEC's LT35, that provides the best balance of performance and value. In a close contest for second place, Epson's PowerLite 76c wins out by offering a satisfying combination of features, image quality, and portability, for about half the cost of the NEC.