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Hands on review: Viewsonic PLED-W800 Portable Projector

Back in the day using a PC meant making do with a boxy CRT screen that weighed half a tone and consumed an inordinate amount of scarce desk real estate. As bulky as these screens were, they were also tiny. Most of made do with 14” or smaller on-screen space. LCD monitors helped free up much needed desktop space, but portability was still a challenge.

Enter stage left ViewSonic’s PLED-W800 portable LED projector. Not only is it small enough to sling into a notebook bag, but it also offers plenty of connectivity options. Speaking of lightness, the PLED-W800 is also priced at a wallet pleasing $999.

A key consideration when looking at projectors are their brightness output capabilities. If the output is too dim, you’ll struggle to get a usable image under daylight office conditions. The PLED-W800 gets around this thanks to its ability to crank out 800 lumens of usable light, resulting in readable text and viewable images even when used in daylight conditions.

Under the hood

The PLED-W800 is DLP-based and has a native resolution of WXGA (1,280-by-800), at a 16:9 aspect ratio. This makes it a good choice for both presentations and catching an episode of Game of Thrones.

Looks-wise, the PLED-W800 is a black box with a protruding lens. It is also pretty portable. Measuring in at 138(h) x 175(w) x 50mm(d), it is small enough to stow almost anywhere. It also only weighs a mere 0.8kg, (although its power adapter adds a tiny amount more weight). Either way, it can be slung into a laptop bag for client visits, and won’t result in later visits to the chiropractor.

On the connectivity front, about the only thing missing is a kitchen sink. The PLED-W800 comes with an HDMI port and can also hook up to smartphones and tablets using a suitable adaptor cable. A VGA port is also present for hooking up a PC.

The PLED-W800 sports a USB port which means that it can project presentations and content from a USB stick, no PC needed. A built-in SD card slot can also display content stored on SD cards. For those wanting to go old-school, the PLED-W800 also supports composite video. Last but by no means least there's an audio-out for headphones or external speakers.

In use

Putting the PLED-W800 through its paces involved sitting it about two metres away from a patch of blank white wall. Once I’d got it calibrated and focused, I had a projected screen that was about two meters wide.

Whoever said size doesn’t matter has never played Destiny with a two meter wide screen. My 40” TV now seems so mediocre. Considering testing happened under daylight conditions, I was also surprised at the PLED-W800’s output - even with cutains open, I was still able to read a screen full of text.

In terms of white balance, colours seemed to be at the right colour temperature and saturation was fine, although larger white areas were a touch on the cold side.

Being a DLP projector I also saw some rainbow artefacts. Not everyone notices them but I’m unfortunately afflicted with being able to see red-green DLP artefacts. This said, with day-to-day use it wasn’t noticeable enough to be an annoyance.

For presentations, the PLED-W800 did a sterling job. The real test was video output. Testing under daylight conditions saw some detail lost, but this improved once curtains were closed and at night. Skin tones in video initially seemed a little pinkish, and were reminiscent of early NTSC to PAL colour conversions. Tweaking colour modes helped somewhat but didn’t fully remedy these issues.

For gaming, having access to a two meter wide screen made a huge difference, adding a whole new level of in game immersion.

I was also pleased to note that audio output from the PLED-W800’s 2-watt speakers is more than ample for presentations. Being able to plug in a pair of earphones also proved useful, especially when gaming.

Verdict

If you present on the move, the ViewSonic PLED-W800 is a solid choice. Small enough to throw into a laptop bag, It offers a plenty of connectivity options, and solid image quality. That the PLED-W800 uses LEDs is a bonus. This means that the user won’t have to shell out a pile of cash for over-priced replacement bulbs for at least 30,000 hours (which can be anything up to 10x the life expectancy of an old school projector bulb).

Although cheaper portable projectors are available, none have the PLE-W800's 800 lumen output and its portability makes it a solid choice for anyone giving presentations on the move.

Tech Specs

RRP $999 Brightness: 800 Lumens Contrast(Full On/Off): 120,000:1 Native Resolution: 1280x800 Aspect Ratio: 16:10 (WXGA) Video Modes: 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p, 480p, 480i Data Modes: MAX 1680x1050 Digital Inputs: HDMI / MHL Max Power:  90 Watts Voltage: 100V - 240V Size(cm) (HxWxD): 5 x 18 x 14 Weight: 0.8 kg Lamp Life(Full Power): 30,000 hours Lamp Type: LED Display Type: 1 cm DLP (1) Standard Lens: Fixed Focal Length Standard Lens Focus: Manual Optional Lenses: No Lens Shift: No Throw Dist (m): 0.7 - 3.0 Image Size(cm): 62 - 254 Speakers: 2.0 W × 2 Digital Keystone: Vertical Other Features: Memory Card Reader, USB Port, Soft Carrying Case

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