Bright Lights: 8 Projectors That Really Shine

Projector technology has made great strides over the past year, with brighter, sharper and more vivid displays becoming less expensive, and more available in smaller form factors. A large number of these models have made their way through the CRN Test Center. From BenQ to Panasonic, these are the projectors that stood out in the crowd.

At 2,200 lumens, the MP730 is not the lab's brightest rated projector, but in actual usage it rivals some of the brighter ones we've seen. When reviewers first turned the projector on, the blacks were noticeably very dark; this made the vibrant colors stand out even more intensely. The well-designed case keeps heat to a minimum too.

SPECIFICATIONS WXGA DLP, 2,200 Lumens, 1,280 x 1,024 Max resolution, 16:9 AR, 3,000-hour lamp life, 2W speaker, IR remote, 10.8 x 5.1 x 12 inches, 7.7 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS The BenQ MP730 has a beautiful, vivid output that stayed sharp whether displaying an online document or Hi-Def video game. Price: $1,199

Compared to equally bright projectors we've previously evaluated, the SP820 is a lightweight, but when it comes to performance, the unit is no slouch. The TI DLP BrilliantColor technology produced extremely vivid colors against noticeably dark blacks and when evaluated against 17 calibration tests in the DisplayMate suite, the SP820 needed no adjustments at all.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA DLP, 4,000 Lumens, 1,024 x 768 Max resolution, 4:3 AR, 2,000-hour lamp life, 3W speaker, IR remote, 11.8 x 9.6 x 3.5 inches, 8.2 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS The size and brightness, along with a variety of input connections, make the SP820 a portable projector worth consideration. Price: $1,999

At just under 4 pounds, the PowerLite 1735W is an ultraportable multimedia unit that has a vibrant display. Within five seconds of pressing the power button, the lamp was lit, the closest we've ever seen to an instant-on projector. Passing all but one of the DisplayMate patterns, there was some noise, but nothing that would be noticeable during regular usage. Excellent blacks make colors look ultra-bright.

SPECIFICATIONS WXGA LCD, 3,000 Lumens, 1,280 x 800 Max resolution, 16:10 AR, 3,000-hour lamp life, 1W speaker, IR remote, 11.2 x 7.9 x 2.8 inches, 3.96 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS Nearly immediate start-up time, a very bright display and an extensive feature set make this lightweight portable an excellent choice. Price: $1,649

The IN15 is by far the most compact projector the Test Center has seen in recent memory—maybe ever. Tested against 18 calibration measurements on DisplayMate's suite, it passed 16 of them with no need to adjust any settings, but its sleek form factor more than offset the minor adjustments we did make.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA DLP, 2,000 Lumens, 1,024 x 768 Max resolution, 4:3 AR, 2,000-hour lamp life, IR remote, 1.7 x 7.8 x 10.6 inches, 3.9 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS Pushes the envelope of ultraportability. It's ultracompact, easy to use and consumes very little energy.Price: $1,499

If we had to choose one word to describe this projector, it would have to be connectivity. A glance at the rear of the unit reveals a dizzying array of connectors. Throughout all of our tests, it stood up to the challenge; video quality is above par, and the two internal 5-watt speakers' volume was loud enough for everyone in the lab to hear.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA LCD, 4,000 Lumens, 1,280 x 800 Max resolution, 16:10 AR, 2,000-hour lamp life, 5W x 2 speaker, IR remote, 16.1 lbs., 15.7 x 5.9 x 14.1 inches

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS With its Hi-Definition display, multiple installations and network remote options, it's worth the price.Price: $5,000

NEC Display Solutions touts the NP60 as a mobile "lightweight powerhouse." That may be hard to argue. The device itself is small and comes with a padded carrying case that travels well. Put through DisplayMate calibration testing, the NP60 needed no adjustment after being measured in 18 separate tests. The device is plug-and-play, and laptop integration was simple.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA DLP, 3,000 Lumens, 1,024 x 768 Max resolution, 4:3 AR, 2,000-hour lamp life, IR remote, 9.7 x 7.1 x 2.9 inches, 3.5 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS The NP60 is ideal for solutions that require graphics-intensive presentations on the go.Price: $1,299

Boasting exceptionally vivid colors, the NP905 passed all 17 of the DisplayMate patterns. Like most projectors, whites leaned a little towards warm, but blacks were outstanding. Although designed to be professionally and permanently installed, the entire case stayed cool enough to allow for desktop use, with only a small area by the fan rising to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA LCD, 3,000 Lumens, 1,024 x 768 Max resolution, 4:3 AR, 2,500-hour lamp life, 5W speaker, IR remote, 12.2 x 11.4 x 4.9 inches, 8.2 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS Perfect for boardrooms and classrooms, the NP905 has a beautiful, bright display that few can compare with.Price: $1,799

The PT-F200U utilizes Panasonic's Daylight View 4 image-processing, which works with a small Ambient Luminance Sensor to optimize color, brightness and contrast according to the room's ambient lighting conditions. When compared to 17 test patterns in DisplayMate, it passed 14 out of the box, primarily falling short in the black and gray levels, while excelling on intensity tests.

SPECIFICATIONS XGA LCD, 3,500 Lumens, 1,024 x 768 Max resolution, 4:3 AR, 2,000-hour lamp life, 3W speaker, IR remote, 12.6 x 4.90 x 17inches, 13.7 lbs

BOTTOM LINE/RATINGS The PT-F200U is a flexible projector able to adjust to different needs. It will live up to most expectations.Price: $4,499